Williams College Timeline

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18th Century

March 7th, 1715   Ephraim Williams Jr., Founder of Williams College, is born in Newton, Mass.   more 

November 13th, 1735   Rev. Stephen West, first Vice President of Williams College, was born on this date at Tolland, Conn.   more 

December 5th, 1753   Williamstown's first proprietors' meeting is held in Seth Hudson's house near Hemlock Brook.

July 22nd, 1755   Ephraim Williams, Jr. writes the will that leaves funds to establish the Free School that will later become Williams College.   more 

September 8th, 1755   The college's founder, Ephraim Williams, Jr., dies at Lake George in the Battle of the Bloody Morning Scout.   more 

June 21st, 1765   West Hoosac is renamed Williamstown, fulfilling the first condition attached to Ephraim Williams, Jr.'s funding of a school near Fort Massachusetts.   more 

March 8th, 1785   The Massachusetts General Court grants the charter to establish the Free School in Williamstown.   more 

April 28th, 1790   Advertisements announce the sale of lottery tickets to support construction of the schoolhouse that will eventually be named West College.   more 

October 26th, 1791   The Williamstown Free School, precursor to Williams College, opens its doors to its first students.   more 

May 22nd, 1792   The trustees of the Williamstown Free School write to the Massachusetts General Court asking to convert the School to a college named Williams Hall.   more 

June 22nd, 1793   The Williamstown Free School becomes Williams College.   more 

October 9th, 1793   Williams College first opens on this day in 1793.   more 

September 2nd, 1795   Williams celebrates its first Commencement in the old town meeting house.   more 

November 5th, 1795   The Adelphic Union--the first extra-curricular society at Williams--is officially established.   more 

September 3rd, 1799   Williams College trustees abolish the position of professor of French.   more 

19th Century

February 4th, 1802   Mark Hopkins, Williams's fourth president, is born in Stockbridge, Mass.   more 

September 1st, 1802   "Voted: That the Treasurer be directed to procure a New College Seal, and also a screw for the same." (Board of Trustees minutes)   more 

February 8th, 1812   Gordon Hall (Class of 1808) and Luther Rice (Class of 1810) are ordained.   more 

November 2nd, 1819   President Moore and the Trustees petition the Massachusetts General Court to move Williams College to Northampton.   more 

February 1st, 1820   The Massachusetts Legislature refuses the petition of the President and Trustees to remove Williams College to Northampton.   more 

July 17th, 1821   Zephaniah Swift Moore, second president of Williams College, resigns his presidency.   more 

September 5th, 1821   Williams alumni approve the newly composed preamble and bylaws of the Society of Alumni, thereby forming the first alumni society anywhere.   more 

April 17th, 1822   "It was directed by the Faculty that there shall be no instrumental music at Commencement . . .   more 

December 22nd, 1824   Four members of the Class of 1827 are fined $5 for playing cards. (Faculty Meeting Minutes)

May 7th, 1828   Edward Clark (Class of 1831) is fined $5 and suspended for a term for firing off firecrackers. (Faculty Meeting Minutes)

May 25th, 1829   John R. Hickok (non-graduate of the Class of 1831) is fined 50 cents for attending a dancing school. (Faculty Meeting Minutes)

December 10th, 1829   Erasmus D. Towner (Class of 1833, non-graduate) is expelled for repeatedly setting a college out-building on fire.   more 

November 19th, 1831   James A. Garfield, Williams Class of 1856 and the 20th President of the United States, is born in Orange Township, Ohio.   more 

July 4th, 1832   July 4th riots result in the expulsion of several students.   more 

October 29th, 1833   Kappa Alpha is the first fraternity established at Williams.   more 

August 25th, 1835   The first expedition of Williams's Lyceum of Natural History sails . . .   more 

November 10th, 1836   The faculty vote on the time the prayer bell will be rung.   more 

June 12th, 1838   Hopkins Observatory is dedicated.

August 15th, 1838   Nathaniel Hawthorne attends Williams College's Commencement.   more 

January 30th, 1839   Samuel Chapman Armstrong, Class of 1862 and founder of Hampton Institute, is born on the island of Maui.   more 

October 17th, 1841   The original East College--featuring four floors--burns to the ground.   more 

July 18th, 1845   Prof. Ebenezer Kellogg sells the West College garden plot to the college.   more 

August 5th, 1850   David Dudley Field, Jr. (Class of 1825) gives a 'literary picnic' for Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville on Monument Mountain in Great Barrington, MA.

August 11th, 1851   Herman Melville, with a party of friends and relatives, stays overnight in the observatory on Mount Greylock.   more 

August 15th, 1854   Ralph Waldo Emerson speaks before the Adelphic Union, the student literary-debating society.   more 

August 14th, 1855   Members of the Lyceum of Natural History dedicate Jackson Hall, their new headquarters located in the Berkshire Quad.   more 

July 1st, 1859   The first intercollegiate baseball game is held between Williams and Amherst. Amherst wins 66-32.

May 7th, 1861   "Third term begins at Williams and undergraduates form a battalion and drilled an hour daily."   more 

October 9th, 1861   Williams faculty vote to allow students to go out of town without excuse . . .   more 

May 2nd, 1863   The Alpine Club, the oldest mountain climbing organization in the country, takes its first walk to Birch and Prospect Glens.   more 

September 23rd, 1863   The Williams faculty vote to require student attendance at military drill.   more 

July 15th, 1864   A group of seniors and juniors meet to establish a provisional chapter of Phi Beta Kappa at Williams.   more 

July 28th, 1867   Williams President Mark Hopkins dedicates the Mission Park Monument.   more 

July 28th, 1868   The Soldier's Monument is dedicated on Alumni Day.   more 

November 10th, 1868   Williams students rebel against a faculty ruling that awards a zero for any absence from recitation.   more 

June 29th, 1871   The Society of Alumni appoints a committee to "examine into the expediency of admitting women as students to college."   more 

October 28th, 1871   The student newspaper, the Vidette, announces that East College has been wired for telegraphic communication.

December 28th, 1871   One of Williams's favorite sayings is born: "The ideal college is Mark Hopkins on one end of a log and a student on the other."   more 

July 2nd, 1881   James A. Garfield, Class of 1856 and 20th President of the U.S., is shot by a disgruntled office seeker in a Washington, D.C. railroad station.   more 

July 3rd, 1883   A violent storm destroys the setting for the annual alumni dinner, smashing dishes, tables, and the building itself.   more 

March 17th, 1896   Students vote 247 to 42 in favor of inaugurating a campus-wide honor code.

March 20th, 1896   A portion of the east side of (old) Clark Hall is loosened by the rain and tumbles to the ground.   more 

May 28th, 1898   Cap & Bells offers its first production, a comedy "For one night only."   more 

20th Century

November 24th, 1904   With Morgan Hall ablaze, President Harry Hopkins calls in the North Adams fire department.   more 

June 21st, 1905   President Theodore Roosevelt attends the dedication of Thompson Memorial Chapel during Commencement weekend.

November 3rd, 1908   The Williams Record posts Tuesday evening election returns in the office at Jesup Hall.   more 

October 12th, 1912   The Williams Record reports that the Trustees have voted to demolish College Hall, best known for serving the worst food on campus.   more 

November 7th, 1912   The "Apple Growing Committee" of the Good Government Club sets the date for Orchard Day.   more 

January 24th, 1913   Eben Burt Parsons, secretary of the Faculty and Registrar of the College for 21 years, passes away.   more 

March 17th, 1914   The cane contest is deemed so disorderly and raucous that the President and Dean abolish this Freshman-Sophomore rush.   more 

November 11th, 1918   James Alexander, Jr. (Class of 1917) is one of the first Americans to hear of the signing of the Armistice.   more 

December 6th, 1918   Charles W. Whittlesey (Class of 1905) is awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.   more 

October 1st, 1919   The World War I Victory Celebration is held at the college.   more 

January 6th, 1920   Dean Howes investigates the whereabouts of a distillery on campus.   more 

June 20th, 1920   Ephraim Williams Jr.'s remains are reinterred at Williams College.   more 

October 20th, 1920   The cornerstone of Stetson Library is laid.   more 

March 11th, 1927   Carl Sandburg delivers a speech titled "An American Miscellany" before the Williams Forum in Jesup Hall.

April 19th, 1927   The Lawrence Hall Art Museum opens with an exhibit of paintings and drawings by the late Mrs. Asa Morton.   more 

May 7th, 1927   The Williams Record reports on the new road over Petersburgh Mountain pass.   more 

January 24th, 1935   The Steamship Mohawk disaster claims the lives of Prof. Herdman Cleland and three seniors bound to the Yucatan for a geological expedition.   more 

March 2nd, 1935   The Williams Record reports that Latin will no longer be considered a requirement for admission to the college.

September 21st, 1935   The Williams Record reports that compulsory daily chapel attendance has been abolished.

March 13th, 1937   The Williams Forum announces that Andre Malraux has canceled his speaking engagement.   more 

February 21st, 1938   The college seismograph records a 14 second "earthquake" as the 75 foot brick chimney of the Greylock Hotel falls.   more 

February 4th, 1940   The Shakespeare first folio is stolen from the Chapin Library . . .   more 

April 15th, 1941   Williams ambulance on its way to Africa   more 

October 25th, 1945   The term ends and three seniors graduate. There are no Commencement exercises.

October 31st, 1945   The V-12 program at Williams, in which 1076 men were trained, ends.

March 27th, 1949   The Williams Glee Club broadcasts from Adams Memorial Theatre.   more 

June 18th, 1950   Williams awards 328 B.A.s at the college's first outdoor commencement exercises.   more 

January 2nd, 1951   A fire reduces West College to a sagging shell.   more 

September 29th, 1951   Gelett Burgess, author of "Purple Cow" verses, dies at age 85 in Carmel, Calif.   more 

September 27th, 1961   Hopkins Observatory begins its move to make room for Prospect.   more 

June 30th, 1962   The Angevine Committee releases the report that will lead to the eventual demise of the Williams fraternity system.   more 

December 3rd, 1966   Williams students attend the first annual Inter-Collegiate Conference of African-American students held at Columbia.

October 8th, 1967   Lady Bird Johnson speaks at Convocation and helps launch the Williams Center for Environmental Studies.

January 5th, 1968   The first Winter Study Program begins at Williams.

October 1968   A Trustee Statement abolishes fraternities at Williams.   more 

April 5th, 1969   Members of the Afro-American Student Association take over Hopkins Hall to raise awareness of their demands to improve opportunities for African-American students.

October 8th, 1969   Pres. Sawyer announces that Williams will admit women as transfer students in fall 1970.

May 4th, 1970   In opposition to the Vietnam War, Williams students vote to strike.   more 

July 1st, 1970   The first female Assistant Dean at Williams, Nancy McIntire, begins work.

October 1st, 1982   The Women's Center moves from Mears to Hardy House.

September 9th, 1984   Pres. Chandler announces the creation of the Williams-Exeter Programme with the purchase of four buildings in Oxford.

October 14th, 1990   The Jewish Religious Center is dedicated.   more 

21st Century

October 22nd, 2000   Morton Owen Schapiro is inducted as the 16th President of Williams College.   more 

November 10th, 2007   Williams hosts the 150th Saturday morning edition of "ESPN College GameDay"   more 

July 7th, 2008   College Archives and Chapin Library begin to move their collections out of Stetson Hall in anticipation of the renovation of Stetson Hall and the construction of a new library.   more