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Founder and Methodist minister George Bryant Bowman presides over groundbreaking for the Iowa Conference Seminary building "Old Sem"

George Bryant Bowman

Iowa Conference of the Methodist Church becomes sponsor of the Iowa Conference Seminary

First Iowa Conference Seminary classes held; First literary society (Amphictyon) founded

Amphictyon Society

Samuel Fellows serves as principal and teacher


Iowa Conference Seminary becomes Cornell College, named for New York iron merchant William Wesley Cornell. The school has primary, secondary, and college departments

William Wesley Cornell

College Hall opens

Richard Keeler, president

First degrees granted; Mary Fellows is first woman west of Mississippi River to receive a baccalaureate degree

Frederick Douglass lectures against slavery

Railroad reaches Mt. Vernon

Samuel Fellows, president


William Fletcher King appointed president, serving until 1908

William Fletcher King  

Primary Department discontinued

Elizabeth Cady Stanton lectures

The Collegian, first student newspaper, begins publication

Harriette J. Cooke becomes first woman college professor in the United States appointed full professor with salary equal to that of her male peers

Harriette J. Cooke

South Hall completed; originally used as men's boarding hall

Compulsory military training begins for all male students

Women students demand and receive military training

First intercollegiate athletic event

Cornell defeats University of Iowa baseball team 35-18

Lower floor of King Chapel opens for daily chapel services; rest of building completed 1882; in 1886 becomes first building heated by steam

King Chapel

Conservatory of Music established; becomes department of music in 1960

Susan B. Anthony lectures

Cornellian founded

The Cornellian, Vol. 1, Issue 1  

First admission of a foreign student, from Germany

Lillian Russell sings

Bowman Hall, now Bowman-Carter Hall, opens

Bowman Women

Cornell, Grinnell, University of Iowa, and Iowa State College of Agriculture form Inter-Collegiate Baseball League

Cornell College Club of Chicago forms

The Rock is hauled to campus by members of the Class of 1889

The Rock

Edgar J. Helms graduates; later founds Goodwill Industries

Charles Goodwin, the first faculty member with a PhD, appointed professor of Greek

Ash Park purchased

Cornell-Coe football rivalry begins

Beat Coe Ribbon

Alumni Association organized

Mount Vernon gets electricity; Cornell the next year


May Music Festival inaugurated, a tradition that continues for 100 years

Booker T. Washington is one of the first Artist and Lecture Series speakers

Frank Armstrong becomes the first black Cornell student to be graduated

Frank Armstrong

First athletics director (then titled "director of physical training") appointed

Royal Purple founded

Chicago Symphony appears at the May Music Festival, then annually until 1963

Purple and white become official school colors

Carnegie Library (now Norton Geology Center) opens

First of 59 annual performances of Handel's "Messiah"

William Jennings Bryan speaks

James Harlan, class of 1869, president

Alumni Gymnasium (now McWethy Hall) built

Metropolitan Opera star Ernestine Schumann-Heink sings

First Homecoming


Charles Flint, president

Faculty adopts requirement that all students must complete a subject matter major to obtain a degree

Former U.S. President William Taft is guest lecturer for three days; Freshman beanies introduced, eliminated in 1968; Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan speak

Commercial School terminated

Student Army Training Corps established

Rood House, built in 1883, presented to the college; two other residences added to it in 1936 and 1955

First student government organized

Bachelor of music degree adopted

Cornell is the first college to invite Carl Sandberg to speak; he lectured at Cornell annually through 1939 and first played his guitar in public on campus

Carl Sandberg

Pal Day (called Flunk Day the first year) instituted; discontinued in late 1960s; resurrected 1978

Pal Day

Cornell High School discontinued

Cornell is charter member of Midwest Athletic Conference

Cornell begins participation in Teachers' Insurance and Annuity plan

Student literary publication The Husk founded; replaced in 1968 by Open Field

The Husk

Cornell chapter of Phi Beta Kappa installed

Phi Beta Kappa Key

Harlan Updegraff, president

Old Sem fire; building is reconstructed

Old Sem Fire

Law Hall constructed

Defying rules, students dance on campus for the first time; trustees lift the ban on dancing in 1927

Literary societies voluntarily disband, to be replaced by Greek-letter social groups

Herbert Burgstahler, president


Two former literary society halls converted into first on-campus student lounge

Pfeiffer Hall opens

Department of Dramatic Art established

Amelia Earhart lectures

Grant Wood's first public lecture is delivered at Cornell

Frank Lloyd Wright speaks; returns in 1946


Merner Hall opens; reopens in 2001 after renovations

Contralto Marian Anderson performs

Armstrong Hall of Fine Arts opens; reopens in 2003 after renovations

John B. Magee, president

Poet Robert Frost reads in King Chapel


Navy Flight Preparatory School established; continues through 1944

Former Russian prime minister Alexander Kerensky lectures

Navy Flight Prep School

Russell D. Cole, Class of 1922, president

Cole Bin opens in President Cole's former home as "student union," replacing the College Hall student lounge —

The Cole Bin

— replaced in 1947 by nurse's barracks on campus; by library social center in 1957; and by The Commons in 1966


College acquires Wade House, built in 1884

Cornell wrestling team wins NCAA and AAU national championships

NCAA Wrestling Champions

Ram becomes official mascot, replacing "The Purple"

KRNL-FM goes on-air; begins FM broadcasts in 1963 and Internet broadcasting in 2000


Violinist Isaac Stern performs


Field House constructed as project of centennial celebration

First off-campus program, Washington Semester, established

Ebersole Health Center and Olin Hall open


Mandatory daily chapel, begun in 1853, becomes Assembly Merit Program requiring students to attend 15 cultural or religious events per semester —

— Assembly Merit Program abolished in 1970 but Tuesday/Thursday mornings continue to be reserved for lectures

Cole Library opens

Allee Chapel opens

Cornell becomes charter member of Associated Colleges of the Midwest

Inauguration of William Fletcher King Scholarship


Men's basketball team reaches final four in NCAA tournament (small college division)

First semester abroad programs offered

NCAA Final Four

Arland Christ-Janer, president

Martin Luther King Jr. speaks

Martin Luther King Jr.

Dows and Pauley halls open

Saga hired to manage kitchens and dining rooms


Tarr Hall opens

Rorem Hall opens

The Commons opens and the Orange Carpet is ensconced as a student hangout

Orange Carpet

Ink Pond completed

Mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne performs

Dress meals end

Samuel Stumpf, president

François Mitterand speaks

Students take over Old Sem

Cornell featured in The New Yorker as "The Last Peaceful Place"

The New Yorker

John Denver performs a solo concert

African-American students given building for their social center

Women's hours end

Ralph Nader lectures in King Chapel

Aaron Copland directs St. Louis Symphony

Ravi Shankar performs

Board of Trustees admits first young trustee

Sports Hall of Fame established

First full program of jazz presented at May Music Festival

System of housemothers discontinued

First bachelor of special studies degree conferred


Women's Bureau opens

Philip B. Secor, president

West Science Center opens King Chapel named to National Register of Historic Places

One-Course-At-A-Time academic calendar adopted

Merner and Pfeiffer become first co-ed residence halls


Women's athletics moves to Field House from Alumni GymIDs first issued to students

First English as a second language courses taught

Inauguration of Chautauqua, adult education series

Norton Geology Center and Anderson Museum (former 1905 Carnegie Library, then chemistry building from 1958-76) opens

Entire campus placed on National Register of Historic Places, first such designation in the country

Chai Zemin, first ambassador to the United States from the People's Republic of China, tours campus and dedicates International Student Center

First student computer center installed in Law Hall

Phones installed in all residence hall rooms

David Marker, president


Richard and Norma Small Life Sports Center (now the Small Multi-Sport Center) opens

Small Life Sports Center  

Smoking banned in all college offices and academic buildings

Sit-down evening meals discontinued

Campus holds formal gala to announce Richard and Norma Small's $20 million challenge gift toward the Program for Cornell


Cornell is first college or university in Iowa with an institutional World Wide Web site

Leslie H. Garner Jr., president

College reaches peak enrollment of 1,166

Cole Library renovated, computerized, and brought into the Information Age

Office of Volunteer Services and Leadership Program established


Cornell leaves the Midwest Athletic Conference to join the Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference

Fiber-optic computer network installed. Administrative/educational buildings have
access in 1998, residence halls added in 1999

Cable TV available in all residence hall rooms

Feminist leader Gloria Steinem lectures

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia lectures

Law Hall renovated and reopens as Law Hall Technology Center


McWethy Hall (formerly Alumni Hall) renovated and reopens for department of

Youngker Hall/Kimmel Theatre opens

Iowa Founded Mount Vernon established

State capital moves to Des Moines and Old Capitol becomes first permanent building of the University of Iowa

Crimean War begins


Thoreau writes "Walden"


U.S. Supreme Court delivers Dred Scott decision


Darwin writes "On the Origin of Species by Natural Selection"


First run of the Pony Express

U.S. Civil War begins

Lincoln signs Emancipation Proclamation


Cornell University founded in Ithaca, N.Y.

Mount Vernon is established as a city with elected government

Louis Pasteur invents pasteurization


North Star Oatmeal Mill moves to Cedar Rapids to become Quaker Oats

The United States orders all Native Americans to move into reservations



Coe College incorporated

American Red Cross founded by Clara Barton


Mark Twain writes The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn


Cedar Rapids Canaries baseball team founded; now known as the Kernels

Thomas Edison patents the radio

  Spanish-American War Max Planck formulates theory of quantum physics

Lisbon Telephone Co. organized


Orville Wright's first documented successful controlled powered flight


Henry Ford produces first Model T car

NAACP founded

Boy Scouts founded by Robert Baden-Powell

Robert Scott's expedition reaches South Pole

Titanic sinks


World War I begins

U.S. Federal Reserve system established

Panama Canal opens


Einstein publishes general theory of relativity

U.S. introduces graduated income tax

Emma Goldman arrested for lecturing on birth control

League of Nations founded


19th Amendment to U.S. Constitution gives women right to vote

Prohibition begins in U.S.


John T. Scopes indicted for teaching Darwin's theory of evolution

  State Highway 30 (Lincoln Highway) completed and opened

Sir Alexander Fleming discovers penicillin

Walt Disney creates Mickey Mouse

Stock market collapse leads to Great Depression


Amelia Earhart first person to fly solo from Hawaii to California

Hoover Dam completed

  Japan bombs Pearl Harbor; U.S. enters World War II  

Cold War with Russia begins

Hiroshima and Nagasaki hit with atomic bombs

India gains independence from Britain and is partitioned into India and Pakistan


Amana Appliances is born from Amana, Iowa, by Howard Hall, who is also the founder of Cedarapids Inc. and builder of Brucemore estate

U.S. Hwy 30 bypass completed through Mount Vernon

Development of the hydrogen bomb


Scrabble board game debuts

Disneyland opens

Elvis Presley enters the music charts with "Heartbreak Hotel"

The FBI arrests Jimmy Hoffa and charges him with bribery

Launch of Sputnik I, first artificial satellite to orbit the Earth


14-year-old Bobby Fisher wins U.S. Chess Championship

The first successful American satellite, Explorer I, launched into orbit

Barbie doll debuts

Cuban leader Fidel Castro nationalizes all businesses in Cuba


John F. Kennedy establishes the Peace Corps

Apollo Program at NASA begins

Construction of the Berlin Wall begins

John Glenn orbits the Earth three times with the Mercury Program's Friendship 7

Cuban Missle Crisis


Martin Luther King delivers "I have a dream" speech

JFK asassinated in Dallas, Texas

Beatles release first album in U.S., "Meet the Beatles"

Vietnam War begins


First SR-71 spy plane goes into service

U.S. Supreme Court decides Miranda v. Arizona establishing Miranda rights

  The first heart transplant is performed by Christiaan Barnard in Cape Town, South Africa  

Martin Luther King Jr. assassinated

Senator Robert F. Kennedy assassinated


Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin are first men on the moon

Sesame Street premieres

Kent State University incident with National Guard; four students dead

Flight of Apollo 13

  Watergate break-in, Washington, D.C.  

Lisbon-Mount Vernon Ambulance created

U.S. Supreme Court established abortion rights with Roe v. Wade


Nuclear power plant accident at Three Mile Island, Pennsylvania


Columbia I mission; first launch of a space shuttle

First female U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Sandra Day O'Connor, appointed

E.T. premieres


Artificial-heart patient William Schroeder becomes first such patient to leave hospital

Titanic wreckage discovered by Dr. Robert Ballard

  Aretha Franklin first woman inducted into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Vatican condemns practice of surrogate motherhood, test-tube babies, and artificial insemination

NASA resumes space shuttle flights, grounded after the Challenger disaster; Cornell alum David Hilmers '72 aboard

Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska

Berlin Wall comes down

Nelson Mandela released from prison in South Africa and apartheid ends

Gulf War (Iraq-Kuwait Conflict; UN-Iraq Conflict)

Soviet Union ceases to exist

U.S. Operation Desert Storm begins, smart bombs used

Lisbon-Mount Vernon Bike Path completed

Mall of America, largest shopping mall in the U.S., constructed on 78 acres in Minnesota

World Trade Center bombing

North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) goes into effect

Church of England ordains first female priests

World Trade Organization established


Sheep named Dolly is first mammal successfully cloned from an adult cell


Human Genome Project maps genetic code of a human chromosome

Over 3,000 killed in terrorist attack on World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon

Introduction of Euro banknotes and coins


War on Iraq

Global protests against war on Iraq, 6 million+ people protest in over 600 cities worldwide

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