1884 : Big Rapids Industrial School, Now Ferris State, Founded

September 1, 2023 all-day

Woodbridge Ferris founded the Big Rapids Industrial School in Big Rapids on this date in 1884. It is now called Ferris State University.

The Big Rapids Industrial School actually opened  in temporary quarters in the Vandersluis Block (present location of JC Penney Co.) in Big Rapids.

Mr. Ferris was a pretty strong advocate for equal access to education. Early in the 20th century Ferris forged a relationship with Hampton Institute to bring Hampton students to Big Rapids to take the courses they needed to get into places like U of M. There are lots of prominent African Americans who came through Ferris.

Sources :

Michigan History, September/October 2011.

Fran Rosen, Ferris State University Library

Founding Ferris Industrial School at Big Rapids

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