Posted by: Andrea Alexander | April 1, 2012

Rutgers History Comes Alive at Rutgers Day

Alumnus Alex Fanuele dressed as the first Rutgers football player William J. Leggett on Voorhees Mall at Rutgers Day 2011.

Did you know that college football started at Rutgers? Or that Alexander Hamilton fended off the British on the Old Queens Campus,  buying George Washington and his troops time to retreat?

At Rutgers, a university older than the country itself, there is lots of history to share. And there will be many opportunities at Rutgers Day to learn about the historic figures who shaped the university, and whose influence reached far beyond New Brunswick.

On the College Avenue Campus, graduates from Mason Gross will be dressed as some notable figures from Rutgers’ past. You’ll meet Julia Baxter Bates, the first black student to attend Douglass College after her light skin confused admissions counselors who granted her an interview. She went on to work for the NAACP and was involved in Brown Vs. Board of Education, the U.S. Supreme Court case that desegregated public schools.

William James Leggett will talk about how he challenged Princeton to the first college football game in 1869, payback after Rutgers was clobbered in a baseball game. Revolutionary War Colonel Henry Rutgers, Paul Robeson, Kusakabe Taro, and Mabel Smith Douglass, first dean of the college that bore her name, will also share the details of their lives.

Paul Robeson in his Rutgers football practice uniform. Photograph courtesy of Special Collections and University Archives, Rutgers University Libraries.

Have your own compelling story to tell about life in New Jersey or time spent at Rutgers? Visit the “Voices of History” exhibit to learn about the Rutgers Oral History Archives. You can also stop by Kirkpatrick Chapel to learn about Henry Janeway Hardenbergh.  He designed the chapel, part of Alexander Johnston Hall, and Geology Hall before working on many famous projects like New York City’s Plaza Hotel.

You can also test your knowledge about Rutgers history by answering trivia questions during a tour of the Old Queens campus from by the Rutgers University Historical Society. Earn a sticker for a souvenir map for every correct answer.

Spoiler alert: Winants Hall was the first dorm at Rutgers.

Can you guess the first building? Old Queens!


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