Ohio University’s History: Where we’ve been and where we are


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Since the creation of Ohio University, humans have invented the lightbulb, human flight, automobiles, the Internet, the smartphone, the list goes on and on. For more than 200 years, OU has had a profound effect on hundreds of thousands of students, faculty members, and any other member of the Athens community radiating outwards since 1804. But in out digital age, why does it matter what happened 200, 100, 50 years ago?

It matters deeply. Ohio University and some students who have attended here have become celebrities, members of Congress, international ambassadors and more. It has come up against issues of civil rights, slavery, and suffrage. Ohio University has sustained a history of rivalry, athletics, and growth, both physical and otherwise.

Knowing where we are is incredibly pivotal in knowing where we should go as we move forward. I have produced a number of different ways with which visitors of the site can interact with the Ohio University of the past. You can look at maps, compare old buildings to the modern counterparts, and read about students that have gone here in the past. I hope that by reading my stories, you can gain a greater appreciation of how Ohio University has changed and grown in its more than 200 years of public service.

Here you can read about Ohio University’s rivalry with Miami and how it has changed over the years.

Here you can view historical sites around Ohio University, compared to what they look like today.

Here you can read about Ohio University’s history with the civil rights movement, from the nation’s fourth African American Graduate to student reactions to the nation’s recent rash of high profile police killings.

Here you can look at many of Ohio University’s famous alumni, including Ed O’Neill and Matt Lauer.

Here you can see how the physical campus of Ohio University has changed, both in the past five years, and since the university’s inception.

Photos not provided by myself were given courtesy of the wonderfully talented photographers at the local student newspaper The Post, except for the football photo in the first post, which was provided by Nate Smallwood. All historical photos were supplied by the University Digital Collections, Mahn Center for Archives and Special Collections, Ohio University Libraries.

Much of my information and any unattributed quotes came from Betty Hollow’s book Ohio University: The Spirit of a Singular Place.

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