The Agricultural College of the State of Michigan was founded on February 12, 1855, as a bold experiment in higher education. The College opened the doors of higher education to the common man - and, later, woman - and brought science into everyday life by teaching the mechanical and agricultural arts alongside the liberal arts.
Situated on 677 acres extending south of the plank road from Lansing, the campus took shape under the axes and spades of students themselves-between classes in chemistry, English, mathematics, and agriculture. A women's course focusing on "domestic economy" was added in 1896.
Democratizing higher education on a rapidly developing frontier, the college quickly became a national model and was cited by advocates for a system of federal support.
U.S. Representative Justin Smith Morrill of Vermont won congressional approval of such a measure as civil war splintered the nation.
Signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln on July 2, 1862, the Morrill Act called for federal lands to be sold to fund colleges "where the leading object shall be, without excluding other scientific and classical studies and including military tactics, to teach such branches of learning as are related
to agriculture and the mechanic arts."
Designated Michigan's Morrill Act beneficiary in 1863, the institution that became Michigan State University introduced the nation's first course in scientific agriculture in 1865. It was an early milestone on a continuing journey of knowledge discovery and its application to everyday life.
The Women's Building, which included a dormitory and was completed on this site in 1900, was converted into strictly instructional space in 1937 and named in Morrill's honor. In 2013, it was razed due to structural deterioration, and Justin Morrill's name was given to the university's historic Agriculture Hall.
Panel 1 Image Caption: President Lincoln signing the Morrill Act.
Stained glass, Alumni Memorial Chapel.