1861 : Albion College Authorized

February 25, 2018 all-day

A 19-century woodcut of Albion College in Albion, Michigan, courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

On February 25, 1861, Albion College was authorized by the state legislature to confer 4-year degrees on men and women. The school began as an outpost that offered education to the children of early Michigan settlers and Indians. It was also one of the first schools in the Midwest to offer coed education.

Thanks to the efforts of Methodists who were early settlers of Michigan Territory, the College was awarded a charter by the Michigan Territorial Legislature in 1835. Early attempts at coeducation were made in 1850 when the legislature approved the founding of the “Albion Female Collegiate Institute.” This school for women was controlled by the Wesleyan Seminary corporation until 1857 when the two schools merged under the name of “The Wesleyan Seminary and Female College at Albion.”

On February 25, 1861, Albion was fully authorized by the State legislature to confer a full four-year college degree upon both men and women.

From the time the cornerstone was laid for the first permanent building in 1840 until today, Albion College has remained on the same site, the original part of which is now affectionately called “the Quad.” In 1861 there were only two classroom buildings. By 1901, Albion had added a chapel, an observatory, a gymnasium, a chemistry building and a library.


Today Albion stands on 225 acres with more than 30 major buildings, and from 500 students in 1901, enrollment has grown to 1,710 students. Full-time faculty today number 126, and the College has over 23,000 living alumni.

Emphasis on excellence in liberal arts education became the Albion College hallmark through the years, and in 1940 Albion was the first private college in Michigan to be awarded a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa. Today the College remains true to its liberal arts commitment.

The campus itself has also changed dramatically in recent years. Since 1975, Albion has built the Herrick Center for Speech and Theatre, Sprankle-Sprandel Stadium, the Whitehouse Interpretive Center, Dean Aquatic Center, Mudd Learning Center, Olin Hall, Dow Recreation and Wellness Center, Kellogg Center, the Mae Harrison Karro Residential Village, the Ferguson Student, Technology, and Administrative Services Building and Kresge Hall. In addition, many older campus buildings have been thoroughly renovated.

Sources :

Michigan Every Day.

Albion’s History, courtesy of Albion College.