It's Charter Day!


Happy birthday, Columbia College!
You're looking mighty good for a 158-year-old.

On Jan. 15, Columbia College celebrates the 158th anniversary of receiving its charter from the Missouri state legislature. President Brouder will give a brief speech to commemorate the event 11 a.m. in Dorsey Gymnasium, followed by refreshments (cake and ice cream!).

Nollie Moore, instructor of music and director of the Jane Froman Singers, will then sing a few Stephen Foster songs. Foster was the most popular composer of the day, penning such tunes as "Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair," "Oh! Susanna," "Camptown Races," "My Old Kentucky Home" and "Beautiful Dreamer." The event will also be streamlined live.

Population, United States
1850* 2007

Population, Missouri
1850* 2007

Population, Columbia
1850** 2007

The college has changed a wee bit since 1851, having undergone a name change, gone co-ed, and offering evening and online classes. Here's a look.

In January 1851, the Missouri General Assembly passed an act "to incorporate a Female College" in Columbia, Mo. It was the first women's college west of the Mississippi River to be chartered by state legislature. The board of trustees later voted to name the fledgling institution Christian Female College.

The student body consisted of just 7 young women on April 7, 1851. By the beginning of the first session in September, 36 students had enrolled. That number had nearly doubled to 70 by mid-academic year.

Students, Christian Female/Columbia College
1851 2008
7 25,000 (est.)

Buildings, Christian Female/Columbia College
1851 2008
0 22, home campus;
plus 33 Nationwide Campuses

Faculty, Christian Female/Columbia College
1851 2008
3 1,240
(full-time, adjunct, evening, online, all campuses, est. )

The college began its first session on April 7, 1851, in the one-room Christian Church on Seventh Street, across from the Boone County Courthouse. The college's board of trustees bought the home of James Bennett in the summer of 1851 for the then-staggering sum of $5,500. Bennett was a local physician and landowner who died in the 1850s California Gold Rush.

The college's very first circular crowed that the "commodious new building, with five large rooms, in a retired and beautiful part of the village, has been obtained for the accommodation of the College [for] the ensuing session." It opened that fall.

What's hot in 1851?

  • The Taiping Rebellion in south China, a direct threat to European colonial powers
  • The relentless expansion of the United States
  • Stephen Foster songs
  • Slavery
  • The New York Times is founded
  • Moby Dick is published

What's hot in January 2009?

  • Wii Sports passes Super Mario Bros as top-selling video game of all time
  • Barack Obama
  • Recession
  • Israel invades the Gaza Strip
  • Coldplay, Beyonce, Britney Spears (again?)

Paulina A. Batterson, "Columbia College: 150 Years of Courage, Commitment, and Change;" U.S. Census Bureau 1850 and 2007 census.

* Free colored and slave population counted unevenly.
** White only; free colored and slave population not counted.