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History

Ripon College, founded in 1851, was converted from a college preparatory school to a four-year college in 1863. Its first class — four women: Luthera H. Adams, Harriet H. Brown, Susan A.W. Salisbury and Mary F. Spencer — was graduated in 1867.

Today, Ripon’s campus encompasses 250 tree-covered acres and includes 25 buildings. The original three limestone buildings which witnessed the commencement of 1867 remain in use: East, Smith and West Halls.

A traditional college of the liberal arts, Ripon looks ahead without forgetting its distinguished past. College Days, which first appeared as a monthly literary magazine in 1868, is the oldest continually published college newspaper in Wisconsin.

The Ripon football team first took the field against Lawrence University in 1893 (Ripon won 24-6) to begin what is believed to be the oldest football rivalry in the state. In 1911, Ripon College’s debate team wrote the constitution for Pi Kappa Delta, now a national honorary society for debaters and orators. The National Forensic League was founded at the College, where the first national speech tournament for high school students was held in 1931.

In recognition of its academic excellence, the College was awarded a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa in 1952, placing it among a select group of the nation’s top colleges. Ripon has had three Rhodes Scholars: Latimer Johns, class of 1911; Thomas Reinecke, class of 1968; and Zachary S. Morris, class of 2002.

Our traditions remain an important element of life on campus. Our Alma Mater, written by Sarah Clyde Mitchell Morse, class of 1900, during her undergraduate years, has been sung at College events throughout the last century and the tune chimes from the Harwood Memorial Union clock tower.

Some traditions were enjoyed for years — remember the freshman beanies or the Homecoming grease pole? — but have given way to newer traditions, such as a commemorative coin presented to new students to welcome them into our academic community and symbolically initiate their march toward graduation.

Ripon Colleges celebrates the strong traditions of its past through the Ripon College Archives and the College Museum.

The museum is located on the main floor of West Hall — one of the three original limestone buildings of the College. The Museum is an all-campus venue for relaxation, studying and enjoying memorabilia related to the history of the College.

General information about the museum is available from the Office of the Secretary for West Hall (ext. 378). Information about exhibits, related archival resources and tours is available by contacting the archivist (ext. 752).

Physical Address:
300 W. Seward St. Ripon, WI 54971
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