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View of Georgetown campus from the Virginia side of the Potomac

View of Georgetown campus from the Virginia side of the Potomac

Georgetown University Timeline

A timeline of significant events in the history of Georgetown University



Sepia-toned stereocard with two identical images of Healy Hall  Healy Hall Stereocard, ca. 1880




Black crape is hung on the porches of North and South Buildings and over the main gate on April 15, after news of the assassination of President Lincoln reaches campus. Three Georgetown alumni, David Herold, Samuel Arnold and Samuel Mudd are convicted in the assassination conspiracy. Herold is hanged

Philosophy professor, John Guida, S.J. is mistaken for  John Wilkes Booth and  arrested in the aftermath of President Lincoln’s assassination. He is held in a military camp in Virginia until the real John Wilkes Booth is located 

338 students enroll at the beginning of the fall semester, including 75 in the Medical Department




Students play the first informal baseball games 

Bernard Maguire, S.J. becomes president for the second time

New roof is put on the North Building and its towers are remodeled and built up an additional 30 feet

Patrick F. Healy, S.J., arrives on campus




Numerical grading system is introduced

Stone wall along the eastern edge of campus is completed. Its construction is prompted by rising rates of vagrancy and theft caused by the failing post-Civil War economy

Alumni gather for their first reunion which is organized by the Philodemic Society




Patrick F. Healy, S.J. becomes Prefect of Studies (Dean of the College)




Admission requirements are reworked so that students have to be at least twelve years old to enroll

John Early, S.J. becomes president for the second time

Georgetown’s second professional school, the Law Department, opens. It is the first law school created by a Jesuit institution of higher learning in the United States. Classes begin in October with 25 students who come from twelve states and from Cuba 

A professor of pharmacy is appointed with the aim of developing a Pharmacy School. However, there is very little demand for his classes and the program disappears by 1873




Law Department holds is first commencement, June 4

Georgetown College Journal, our first printed student newspaper, begins in December




Patrick F. Healy, S.J. becomes acting president on May 22

Chemistry classes are introduced for the sophomore and junior classes




The "acting" portion of Patrick F. Healy, S.J.’s presidential title is dropped on July 31. During his tenure, he expands the curriculum and brings the professional departments (Law and Medicine), housed off-campus, more firmly under the control of the University. He also transforms campus by constructing a large new building, later named for him, which more than doubles the total square footage of Georgetown's buildings

Department of English Literature and Declamation is established




Athletic Association is formed. Under its auspices, Georgetown holds its first annual Field Day. Events include hurdles, vaulting and a tug-of-war between classes




Georgetown University Boat Club is founded in March

Blue and gray are selected as the colors for the Boat Club on May 15




Construction begins on Healy Hall, originally known as the “New Building” and later designated as the “Main Building”

Boat Club builds its own boat house.  This is destroyed in a flood four years later




Roster of Georgetown students who have attended since 1812 is compiled, organized geographically by place their place of origin. Although far from complete, it lists almost 250 international students, including 71 from the West Indies (mainly from Cuba), 44 from Mexico, 32 from Canada, and 27 from England and Ireland

Georgetown awards its first bachelor of science degree

Commencement is held in the unfinished Healy Hall, June 26. President Rutherford Hayes attends




Annie Rice and Jeannette Sumner enroll in the Medical School. They stay for one year


ca. 1881 


Medical School enacts rules which specify No other than white male students shall be admitted to this school




Healy Hall opens

Society of Alumni hold their first Reunion to coincide with commencement




The University has, by this point, spent over $437,000 on the construction of Healy Hall.  Father Healy was told by the Superior General of the Jesuit Order in 1877 that costs were not to exceed $100,000

James A. Doonan, S.J. succeeds Patrick Healy as president 




College switches to the municipal water supply and ceases relying on the pump in the Quadrangle as its water source




J. Havens Richards, S.J., becomes President on August 5

The two canons which now stand outside Healy Hall arrive on campus




Georgetown celebrates its Centennial, February 20-22

Georgetown plays and wins its first intercollegiate football game against the University of Virginia.  The score is 34-0




Twelve-inch equatorial telescope is purchased for the Observatory




Riggs Memorial Library, located in the south tower of Healy Hall, opens. It serves as the main University Library until 1970. The Library is financed by E. Francis Riggs of the Washington banking firm, as a memorial to his late father and to his brother who had attended Georgetown

Law School moves to its fifth home at 6th and E Streets, N.W., where it remains until 1971 when the Law Center opens on New Jersey Avenue. 

Riggs Library in Healy Hall opens. Previously, the College library was in Old North

Formal graduate studies, with a year-long concentration of study in three of six fields (philosophy, history, literature, mathematics, physics and chemistry) are introduced 

Senior class petition to be able to wear cap and gown at commencement. Permission is granted three years later




Tuition and board is raised to $325. It has been set at $300 since 1879

Boxing club is formed in October 




Dahlgren Chapel is consecrated on June 9. It is the first building on campus financed entirely by outside philanthropy and the first named for a non-Jesuit. It is paid for by John Dahlgren, who had graduated in 1889, and his wife Elizabeth Drexel Dahlgren. Elizabeth takes a close interest in plans for the Chapel’s design and even specifies what kind of ivy should be planted to grow on its exterior

Mandolin and banjo club begins

Medical School increases its course of studies from three to four years. This move comes two years ahead of an official mandate from the Association of Medical Colleges for four year courses




Conde M. Nast graduates from the College of Arts and Science

Robert Collier writes the words to what becomes Georgetown’s Alma Mater, “Sons of Georgetown”

Admission age is raised to 13 

Round version of the Georgetown seal, in use since around 1889, is officially adopted by the Board of Directors on April 16.  Its design elements are more tightly grouped, with much of the previous detail omitted. Somewhat at odds with this simplification is the rendering of the school’s name in Latin rather than English




Captain of the Georgetown football team, George Bahen, is paralyzed during the Thanksgiving game against the Columbia Athletic Club (C.A.C.). The playing of football is suspended

New cinder track is installed for athletes to race on

Day security force for campus is set up in addition to the night watchman




George Bahen dies from his injuries on March 26. He is buried in his home town of Richmond, Virginia

Georgetown joins the Intercollegiate Tennis Association




Graduate studies are extended to include a doctorate program

Students are able to leave the dining hall when they are finished eating, instead of having to wait to process out with their classmates as has traditionally been the practice

Temporary gym including a batting cage and running track is set up in the basement of Healy Hall after the University’s attempts  to raise money for a permanent gymnasium are unsuccessful




First section of the Georgetown University Hospital on N Street is completed in May and opens to the public in August. It includes beds for 29 patients, a lecture room, and an emergency operating room

John D. Whitney becomes president on July 3

Law  School expands the course work for the Bachelor of Laws degree from two to three years, a change made well ahead of most law schools in the country 

Varsity football restarts

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