In Perspective - Rockford University in History
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Old Rockford College campus

1818 - Illinois became a state.

1830 – Chicago had its beginnings as a town on Lake Michigan.

1832 – New technology: the modern sewing machine and the telegraph by Samuel Morse.

1834The beginnings of Rockford: Germanicus Kent and Thatcher Blake co-founded Midway, Ill. on the west shore of the Rock River. Midway was renamed Rockford the following year.

1836 – Germanicus Kent established a ferry across the Rock River. First election held in Rockford. The Alamo at San Antonio (Texas) fell on March 6 of that year.

1838 – The first stagecoach arrived in Rockford from Chicago.

1844 – Rev. Aratus Kent, brother of Germanicus Kent, founded the Rockford Female Seminary and became first president of the board of trustees both of Rockford Female Seminary and Beloit Men’s College. This was also the year that the YMCA was founded in London by George Williams.

1847 - Rockford Female Seminary received its charter. The city of Rockford had grown to a population of 2,500 residents.
1849 – The first classes were led by the Seminary’s first principal, Miss Anna Peck Sill, in a former county courthouse located on North First Street, itself a converted horse barn.
1850 – Sparrows arrived in the new world; eight pairs were imported by the Brooklyn Institute.

1852 – Construction was started on the Rockford Female Seminary original eight-acre-site along the Rock River. Also, this was the year Rockford was incorporated, the first Chicago and Galena Railroad reached Chicago, and the first Holstein cow arrived in America.

1854 – State Street Bridge, the first bridge built across the Rock River, linked east and west settlements.

1861- The Civil War began. A Western Union telegraph line was completed between New York and San Francisco; Indianapolis tinsmith turned grocer, Gilbert Van Camp, supplied cans of pork and beans to the Union troups.

1863 – President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. 30,000 people died during a scarlet fever epidemic in England.

1865- The Civil War ended.

1871- Poker introduced. The Chicago fire destroyed 3.5 square miles of the city. On the same night, fed by a month long drought and high winds, fires destroyed more than a million acres of Michigan and Wisconsin, killing 1000 in the town of Peshtigo, Wis.

1873 - Two American missionaries, including a Rockford Female Seminary graduate named Julia Dudley, and another Rockford area woman, Eliza Talcott founded Kobe College, Kobe, Japan.

1877- Jane Addams started classes at Rockford Female Seminary.

1878- Bell Telephone Company of Illinois began service in Chicago.

1879- Thomas Edison demonstrated the first practical incandescent bulb.

1882- Jane Addams returned to receive one of the first four bachelor degrees. Rockford Hospital Association is formed.

1884 - Miss Martha Hillard became the second principal of Rockford Female Seminary.

1885 – Rockford High School constructed on South Madison Street.

1888 - The first passenger train of the Illinois Central line arrived in Rockford. Miss Anna Gelston became the principal of Rockford Female Seminary.

1889Jane Addams (1860-1935) and Ellen Gates Starr (1859-1940) founded Hull-House. Year of the Oklahoma land rush and the start of the worldwide influenza pandemic that affected 40% of the world’s population over the next two years.

1890 – Prof. Sarah Anderson became principal of Rockford Female Seminary.

1892 - Rockford Female Seminary changed its name to Rockford College. Sarah Anderson, on the completion of her service as principal of Rockford Female Seminary, was named the first president of Rockford College.

1896 – Phebe Temperance Sutliff became president of Rockford College.

1898 - The Spanish American War begins.

1899 – Saint Anthony Hospital, Rockford’s second large hospital, opened its doors.

1901 – Emily Knox Reynolds became president of Rockford College.

1902 – Rockford College celebrated its first Promenade (Prom). Prof. Julia Gulliver became president.

1904 - The Rockford Public Library opened.

1914 – The Great War began (World War 1).

1916- The Morgan and Chestnut bridges opened across the Rock River.

1917 - The January 20 headline in the Rockford paper announced "Rockford College Raises Prices; High Cost Of Living Cause” "... trustees have found it necessary to raise the price of board and tuition $50 a year for each student. This means that the cost of tuition will be $125 and the cost of Room and Board will vary from $325 to $385 per year.”

1918- Influenza epidemic strikes Rockford causing 323 deaths in the city and 1400 in Camp Grant. There were 32,000 deaths in the state. Swedish American Hospital opened as the third major hospital. World War 1 ended.

1919 – Minnie the Mermaid was "born in the dell" on old campus. William Arthur Maddox became president.

1922 – President Maddox initiated sister college relationship with Kobe College in Japan. Jane Addams delivered the 75th anniversary address.

1926 – Jefferson Street Bridge opened, television first demonstrated, the first motion picture with sound presented, and Harry Houdini died.

1928 – Blanche Walker Burpee, class of 1895, obtained options on 400 acres of land that would comprise the present campus.

1929 - Black Friday, the start of the Great Depression, hit the stock market in October.

1931 - Jane Addams received the Nobel Prize for Peace.

1933-34 - Rockford College Trustee Dr. John Gordon was acting president of Rockford College.

1934 - Gordon Keith Chalmers became president of Rockford College.

1937 - Mary Ashby Cheek became president of Rockford College.

1941- World War 2 began.

1947 - Jane Addams medal awarded for the first time; the recipient was Dr. Florence Sabin.

1950 - Mary Ashby Cheek presents the first Jane Addams Medal award.

1953 - Mary Ashby Cheek established the Phi Beta Kappa Chapter at Rockford College (Eta Chapter of Illinois).

1954- In Des Plaines, Ill., Raymond A. Kroc opened the first in a chain of McDonald’s fast food restaurants. Dr. Leland Carlson became president of Rockford College.

1955 – Rockford College began admitting male students. Vietnam War began.

1960 - Dr. John Howard became president of Rockford College. Work on new State Street campus begun (July).  John F. Kennedy elected president.

1963 – President John F. Kennedy assassinated.

1964 - Moving day from the old to the new campus was August 16. First classes were held on the new campus, September 17 in Scarborough Hall. This was a big year for the institution with the completion and opening of all new dorms, Burpee Center, the gym, and the infirmary (Lang).

1968 - Old campus demolished (March) marking end of an era. New library (Colman) opened.

1974 - Sears Tower, at the time the world’s tallest building, opened in Chicago.

1975 - Vietnam War ended.

1977-79 - John Spence was acting president of Rockford College. 

1979 - Rockford College President Norman Stewart inaugurated.

1985 - Rockford College Music Academy was established.

1988 - Alumna Gretchen von Lowe Kreuter inaugurated as president of Rockford College.

1992 - William A. Shields became the 15th president of Rockford College.

2000 - Football was introduced at the college for the first time.

2002 – Dr. Paul Pribbenow became the 16th president of Rockford College.

2006 - Dr. Richard Kneedler, served as the interim president.

2008 - Dr. Robert Head named 17th president of Rockford College.

2012 - Rockford College celebrates 165 years... (learn more about our 165th anniversary celebration)

2013 - Rockford College becomes Rockford University
... (more info)

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