Before Ohio State was Ohio State, it was the Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College.
The university was founded with a federal land grant which was given to colleges to found schools for agricultural and military science, 10TV’s Kurt Ludlow reported.
Colleges fought for the funding, university archivist Tamar Chute said.
“At the time, it could have been added onto a number of colleges, Miami University, Ohio University,” Chute said. “There were a lot of universities in the state that said, ‘We will take the money and add on agriculture to what we are already doing.’”
Chute said that that the farmers lobby and the agricultural lobby were committed to a unique, stand-alone college.
“They really pushed the legislature to have one college,” Chute said.
Another argument began about where to build the college. Springfield and Urbana were among the choices, Chute said.
“The idea was to have it available to students around the state, so having it in Columbus made some sense,” Chute said.
The then-college’s board of trustees settled on farmland three miles away from the Ohio Statehouse.
Five years after the college opened to students, the Ohio legislature changed the college’s name to The Ohio State University.
“By making it Ohio State University, it covered more than just the agriculture side of the university,” Chute said. “The beginnings are very small.”
Fellow archivist and professor emeritus Raimund Goerler said that the university started off small.
“On the very first day of the opening, some 25 students signed the university registration book,” Goerler said. “More came later.”
Just like Ohio State’s name changed, so did the school’s colors. Originally, Ohio State’s colors were orange and black.
“They were very excited and then very disappointed when they discovered those were Princeton University’s colors,” Goerler said.
The student population took off by the 1940s, with enrollment reaching about 25,000 students, Ludlow reported.
“After World War I, and certainly after World War II, there was a huge expansion of students and activities, and all of a sudden, you needed these new buildings,” Chute said.
Ohio State’s first graduating class was made up of six students. The university graduated more than 2,000 students in December alone.
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