The Revoluntionary College Project
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ABOVE - Detail of the front-page banner of the Herald and Eastern Shore Intelligencer, established in 1790 as the earliest newspaper on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Image from the August 2, 1803 issue; collection of Adam Goodheart.

 

About the Project

The Revolutionary College Project is a collaborative endeavor of the students, faculty, alumni, and staff of Washington College, under the auspices of the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience. The idea grew out of a blog begun in 2006 by recent alumnus Jack Bohrer '06. Research for the Revolutionary College Project began in the spring of 2007, at the start of the institution's 225th anniversary year, and this website went live at the conclusion of the anniversary festivities, at the 2008 Commencement.

It is our hope not only to bring to light some of the history of a fascinating institution, but to inspire more students, faculty, and others to explore this rich legacy. For anyone at Washington College who is engaged in the study of the past, the College's own history - embodied in its Archives, the files of local newspapers, and the memories of those who have studied, taught, and worked here - is a rich and still largely untapped resource. Moreover, the story of Washington College opens windows into the history of American higher education (itself a long-neglected subject) and even into the history of America - from the Revolutionary era, through the early Republic, the Civil War, the Progressive era, the rise of feminism, the Civil Rights struggles of the 1960s, and beyond.

Many of the student contributions to this project were completed as coursework for classes at Washington College, or as senior theses. More will be posted soon, and as more students and faculty continue to explore the institution's history, this website will continue to grow and evolve.

The name "Revolutionary College Project" derives from the fact that Washington College was the only American institution chartered during the Revolutionary War; it was established literally while the Continental Army, under George Washington, was still in the field fighting for the nation's independence. And its founders harbored revolutionary ideas about education, which they - unlike most 18th-century educators - believed must prepare students to serve their communities, nation, and world. "The souls of our youth," William Smith wrote, "must be nursed up to the love of LIBERTY and KNOWLEDGE; and their bosoms warmed with a sacred and enlightened zeal for every thing that can bless or dignify their species."

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The editor of the Revolutionary College Project is Sheila Austrian '03. The design of the site is by Francoise Sullivan of Moo Productions, Worton, Md. The project is directed by the staff of the C.V. Starr Center at Washington College.

Special thanks to the staffs of the Clifton Miller Library and the Office of College Relations, and especially to the following people for their participation and support: Meredith Davies Hadaway, Charles A. Hohman '05, Benjamin G. Kohl, Marcia Landskroener, Jennifer Nesbitt, Ruth Shoge, and Baird Tipson.

Also, a tip of our tricorn hat to the many students and recent alumni who contributed to the site, including John R. Bohrer '06, Will Bruce '09, Kaitlin Edwards '07, S. Neil Hayes '06, Justine Hendricks '07, Charles A. Hohman '05, Peter W. Knox '06, Albin Kowalewski '07, Leslie Meredith '06, Gina Ralston '04, Brandon Righi '07,  Amy Uebel '07, and Dr. Peregrine Wroth (Class of 1803).

We welcome your contributions and comments, either in the "Your Stories" section of the site, or by emailing rev_college@washcoll.edu Or write to: Revolutionary College Project, c/o C.V. Starr Center, The Custom House, 101 South Water St., Chestertown, MD, 21620.

The Washington College Archives

Although Washington College suffered two disastrous fires, in 1827 and 1916, that destroyed much of its early history (including the trustees' original minute book with George Washington's signature), there is much that remains. In the 20th century, several researchers, especially President Gilbert W. Mead, assiduously preserved what had survived, and gathered additional material from private collections far and wide. This material is preserved in the Washington College Archives in Miller Library, where it is a resource for students, faculty, and other researchers. The Archives are open by appointment only; materials are subject to limited use and do not circulate. Please contact the College Archivist, Jennifer Nesbitt, at jnesbitt2@washcoll.edu; (410) 778-7292.

Further Reading

On the history of American higher education:

Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz, Campus Life: Undergraduate Cultures from the End of the Eighteenth Century to the Present (University of Chicago Press, 1988).

John R. Thelin, A History of American Higher Education (Johns Hopkins University Press. 2004).

Barbara Miller Solomon: In the Company of Educated Women: A History of Women and Higher Education in America (Yale University Press, 1986).

On Washington College:

Fred W. Dumschott, Washington College (Washington College, 1980).

Thomas Firth Jones, A Pair of Lawn Sleeves: A Biography of William Smith, 1727-1803 (Chilton Book Co., 1973).

John Lang, ed., Here on the Chester: Washington College Remembers Old Chestertown (Literary House Press, 2006).

William L. Thompson and Marcia Landskroener, eds., Washington: The College at Chester (Literary House Press, 2000).


For more information on Washington College, please visit its main website by clicking here.


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