Blogging about UW-Whitewater: Where do we start?

Blogging about UW-Whitewater: Where do we start? 

How do we begin to tell the history of the university through the archives? As with any historical research the best place to begin by asking questions:

  1. When and how was the university founded?
  2.  How did the university become a university?
  3. What is a good source to use for background information?

The best place to start in the archives is with the go-to book on the history of the university. M. Janette Bohi’s A History of Wisconsin State University-Whitewater 1868-1968, published in 1967, is heralded as the go to for the basic history of the university. Bohi methodically recounts the history of Whitewater and the first 100 years of the university.

UW-Whitewater originally began as Whitewater Normal School, a teaching training college, in 1868 with 48 students matriculating. In the first catalogue, the intention of school was clearly stated. The school, “being composed of teachers and those preparing for the work of teaching, its discipline and moral tone can be maintained at a much higher average than in ordinary schools.” The school flourished in the community and the classes, school, and Whitewater all continued to grow.[1]

Whitewater has always held its students to high standards. Students who wished to enroll were required to take a fairly rigorous exam. The Board of Regents Twenty First Annual Report, 1878-1879 included the exam. What do you think?

Sample Entrance Exam,Twenty First Annual Board of Regents Report, 1878-1879, UW-Whitewater Archives

The school continued to grow throughout the 1900s adding business education courses in 1913. Whitewater became Whitewater State Teachers College in 1927, when the school became the first normal school in Wisconsin to grant bachelor’s degrees. This shift in both name and degrees marks a significant change in the university’s history.

The creation and establishment of University of Wisconsin system in 1971 marks the final name change in the history. The campus became the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

For additional information and a pictorial timeline of the evolution of the university check out te Sesquicentennial timeline here.

References: For Additional Information: Please visit the UW-Whitewater website for the sesquicentennial and the archives page on campus history for additional information.

[1]M. Janette Bohi, A History of Wisconsin State University Whitewater 1868-1968 (Whitewater: Whitewater State University Foundation, 1967), 27-41. This book is available in the library, the archives, and online was published on the centennial anniversary of the university and therefore covers from 1868-1968.


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