This week’s post features an 1866 newspaper advertisement that announced the opening of the University of Kansas and the very first day of classes. According to one online resource, the $30 annual tuition for college-level courses would cost about $490 in 2020.
When KU opened in 1866, it consisted of the following:
Zero on-campus housing options for students. According to the KU History website, “during KU’s early years, housing was catch-as-catch-can, with many of the students in attendance usually hailing from the surrounding area. As such, many lived at home, or with faculty, or in other private residences.”
One building: the newly-constructed North College. The structure was fifty feet square with ten rooms and no central heating. Located where Corbin Hall now stands, North College was demolished in 1919.
Fifty-five students: twenty-six women and twenty-nine men. KU was open to African Americans and women from the beginning. While co-education of women and men was becoming more common by the 1860s, it was still notable enough that a newspaper reporter traveling through the state in 1867 observed that “Kansas is sufficiently civilized to mingle the sexes in the higher schools without danger of folly or impropriety.”
Kansas did not yet have high schools in the 1860s, so the state’s handful of colleges provided that level of education. At KU, the Preparatory Department taught students who were not ready for college work.
After a five-month hiatus while Spencer Research Library was closed, we’re excited to resume these weekly snapshots of KU history.
We’re also excited to welcome research and visitors back to Spencer. Remember to bring your face covering! But, don’t follow the lead of the students in this week’s photo: a basketball net is not an approved or effective option.