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Florida State University

Local, State, and National


On January 24, 1851, the General Assembly of Florida orders the establishment of two “Seminaries of learning” on both sides of the Suwannee River.  While Ocala is chosen as the site for the East Florida Seminary (later moved to Gainesville as it becomes the University of Florida), the cities of Quincy, Marianna, and Tallahassee battle over the selection for the future site of the West Florida Seminary for the next few years.  Through the urging of prominent Tallahassee residents, the legislature finally settles on Tallahassee as the site of the West Florida Seminary in 1857; later that year, the campus of the Independent Florida Institute is transferred over for use by the Seminary.

1845, Florida enters the United States as a slave state.


1850, Compromise of 1850 keeps the nation united but puts into place the controversial Fugitive Slave Act


1861-1865 The Civil War


1868, Florida is readmitted to the Union


The West Florida Seminary absorbs the Leon Female Academy in order to provide women with fair resources to academics and financial support.  As a result, the Female Department of the West Florida Seminary is established, providing the female students with instruction in the buildings of the former academy. Under the Florida State Constitution and the City Council of Tallahassee, the Female Department received the same benefits and financial support guaranteed to the Male Department.


A company of cadets from the West Florida Seminary, reorganized in 1863 as the Florida Collegiate and Military Institute, fight in the Battle of Natural Bridge on March 6, 1865.  The cadets and other Confederate forces stop Union troops from advancing in Florida and prevent the capture of the capital of Tallahassee.  The people of Tallahassee hold the cadets of the Seminary in high honor for their actions.  Despite the endeavor, the Confederacy lost the war six weeks later and Union forces moved into Tallahassee. A garrison of federal troops occupied College Hall for four months while pacifying the former rebel capital.


West Florida Seminary officially renamed itself Florida State College on June 5, 1901. The process of recreating itself into a college began in 1887. In that year, George M. Edgar becomes the first to hold the title of “President.” Under Edgar’s leadership, the West Florida Seminary developed a four-year liberal arts curriculum. Albert A. Murphree, the third President, pushed for the name change to signify the new focus of the institution implemented by Edgar. Murphree decided to make the name change since the word “seminary” refers to a specialized school in theology or teaching. The Board waited until plans were under way for the construction of two dorms, East and West Hall, before making the name change. The institution did not become fully accredited until 1915.



The state legislature passed the Buckman Act after the state colleges submit a $700,000 budget. The Act abolished all state schools and sets up four new ones in their place: the University of the State of Florida in Gainesville, the Institute for the Blind, Deaf, and Dumb in Saint Augustine, and the Florida Female College and Florida Normal and Industrial School for Negroes in Tallahassee. Papers throughout Florida hail this as a great cost cutting move and improvement to the education system. Classes for the new Florida Female College begin 27 Sep 1905. FFC changed its name to Florida State College for Women in 1909. Students and faculty pushed for the name change since they felt the title was demeaning and demonstrated poor English. They commonly called the institution “Florida Women’s College” for several years, making the name change a mere formality.



The first ever Odds and Evens basketball game is held. The school decided to prohibit intercollegiate competition for women. In its place arose the Stars and Crescents, predecessors of the Odds and Evens. When a student entered college, she was either an Odd or Even depending on the year she came in. The tradition ended in 1953 after coeducation arrived at Florida State.



Workers finish the construction of Bryan Hall, the oldest building still standing on the Florida State campus. The W. T. Hadlow Company built the structure. Funds were set aside for the new building after the old building, West Hall, burned to the ground in December 1906. A defective furnace started the fire and it engulfed the interior of the building. At the time West Hall served primarily as an academic building while East Hall served as a dormitory.



Edward Conradi takes over as president of FSCW following the resignation of Albert Murphree. Murphree steps down from FSCW to accept the presidency of the University of Florida. Conradi accepts presidency on the condition that FSCW would receive equal funding to UF, which never materializes. This is the beginning of a tenure lasting 32 years until Conradi’s death in 1941.



On March 8, 1910, the Florida State College for Women laid the cornerstone for the Administration Building, known today as Westcott Hall.  The ceremony, which was reported on the front cover of the Tallahassee newspaper, The Weekly True Democrat, was attended by a large crowd, including Florida Governor Albert Gilchrist.  During the event, a large copper casket was placed in the cornerstone by President Edward Conradi. The casket held various items associated with the school including, but not limited to, copies of the college catalogue; a list of students, faculty, and class officers; a history of the College written by A.A. Murphree, the first president of the College; and a copy of the Buckman Bill.


The Administration building replaced College Hall, constructed in 1855 and used by West Florida Seminary.  Today, a courtyard with a fountain and brick gate pillars occupies the space where College Hall once stood.  Completed in 1916, the Westcott Gates were a gift from the classes of 1916 and 1918. In 1917, the fountain was presented as a gift from the classes of 1915 and 1917.     


1911, Ronald Reagan is born.


1912, Titanic sinks


1914-1918: World War I, America enters in 1917


1914, Panama Canal is opened.


1915, D.W. Griffith’s, Birth of Nation, is released.


1917, Russian Revolution



1919, 18th Amendment is ratified establishing prohibition


1919, Race Riots in cities across the United States.


On January 23, 1915, the Florida State College for Women published the first issue of its weekly newspaper called the Florida Flambeau.  The name Flambeau, which means “torch” in French, was chosen by student Lucille Freeman, circulation manager of the newspaper.  Miss Freeman’s choice was explained in the January 30, 1915 issue.

Florida,” of course, quite naturally: but “Flambeau,” by what right?  Look at the great seal of our Alma Mater: on it you see three primal ideals enumerated,  for which our College stands, and for each ideal stands its symbol the classical torch, which our Dear Mother hands on to succeeding generations. And let us hope that each shining emblem symbolizes a greater light that “never was on land or sea.”


The Florida Flambeau remained a campus publication for fifty-seven years, until funding cutbacks in 1972 forced the newspaper to become an independent publication off-campus. The newspaper continued to operate independently until 1998, when the Florida Flambeau, due to financial shortfalls, ended its publication after eighty-three years.  That same year, the newspaper was purchased by FSView, another Florida State University student newspaper established in 1992.  Today, the official independent student newspaper is called FSView & Florida Flambeau.   



The United States entered the First World War, April 6, 1917.  Across the country, Americans began adjusting to the realities of wartime.  In Tallahassee, the students and faculty of the Florida State College for Women (FSCW), through a variety of activities, did their part to support the war effort and cope with the deprivations of wartime.


Throughout 1917 and 1918, articles related to the war appeared regularly in the FSCW weekly newspaper, the Florida Flambeau.  Articles encouraged students to show their patriotism and help in the war effort through such activities as conserving food, joining the Red Cross, or buying liberty bonds.  One such article appeared in the April 14, 1917, issue of the Florida Flambeau.  It clearly illustrates the College’s pledge to support the war.  The article read in part,

And indeed women of the College wherever opportunity offers to take money usually spent on good times, we want to spend it for those who are in actual want for meat and bread, to do the little bit that Florida women can in helping heal the horrible wounds of the European war.


To counter food shortages, the College regularly encouraged food conservation as an important priority.  The administration looked to the resources available at the college.  The livestock of the campus farm provided meat and milk for the Dining Hall and College Cooks substituted ingredients when necessary.  Students and faculty worked in the campus garden to increase the production of vegetables and students were taught the skill of canning vegetables.


Students joined the Tallahassee Red Cross by the hundreds.  Members sponsored sewing classes and knitted garments for the military.  In 1917, the Junior Class canceled the Spring Prom and donated the money to the Red Cross.  Faculty offered classes on first aid and nursing, as well as hosting special programs on subjects related to the war. Students attended Liberty Bond meetings and created Christmas care packages to send to soldiers overseas. All around the College, students and faculty worked to do their part in supporting the war effort.


However, the college was not immune to the Anti-German sentiment spreading throughout the country.  Within days of the declaration of war, Miss Selma Bjorgo, a piano instructor and native German, was dismissed for “disloyalty to the Country and the Institution,” for failing to suppress her pro-German sentiments.  In spring of 1918, the State Board of Control ordered the College to remove courses in German from its curriculum. This anti-German sentiment was even directed at President Edward Conradi, whose parents were of German descent.  Through it all, Conradi remained steadfast in his support of the war and continued to encourage his students to participate in the war effort.


When the fighting ended on November 11, 1918, the students of the Florida State College for Women marched down College Avenue in song and cheer to celebrate the end of the First World War.


On July 22, 1918, the Florida Flambeau reported the appointment of Dr. Raymond Bellamy as professor of Social and Political Science.  Born in Indiana, Dr. Bellamy taught courses in sociology, economics, history, political sciences, and anthropology.  During the 1920’s, Dr. Bellamy was the focus of a heated controversy over the moral content of the state funded educational system. 


For nearly three years, the Florida Purity League, led by L.A. Tatum, fought for the dismissal of Bellamy who they accused of “teaching atheism, being pro-German, being a Bolshevik, teaching free love, teaching evolution, and being a Damn Yankee.” In addition to the removal of certain faculty, the Florida Purity League and its allies, which included Governor Sidney Catts, sought to remove materials, deemed offensive by the League, from the libraries of state funded schools.[1]      


By 1926, the controversy had become a part of a state-wide debate on evolution.  Tatum produced lists of books used by Bellamy and other professors as evidence of a pro-evolutionary sentiment at Florida State College for Women.  When President Edward Conradi refused to dismiss Bellamy, the Purity League turned its focus on Conradi. President Conradi responded to the accusations by restricting access to certain books and by requiring all professors of science to provide a list of texts to be examined by the President personally.


By 1928, the controversy began to subside as newspapers and organizations such as the Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce spoke out against Tatum’s accusations. Attempts in the Florida Legislature to ban the teaching of evolution had twice failed.  By the fall of 1928, Tatum had abandoned his crusade against the Florida State College for Women and Dr. Raymond Bellamy remained Professor of Social and Political Science


FSCW graduated its first blind student, Mabel Bates


In the 1920s, FSCW witnessed a tremendous amount of construction. First, the East Hall, the “social hub of FSCW, burnt to the ground on 31 October 1920.  No one was hurt, but twenty-eight girls lost all of their possessions. In 1921, the front portion of Jennie Murphree Hall was built and additions to Reynolds and Broward Halls were completed; Science Hall (where Diffenbaugh is now located) was built; In 1922, Bryan Hall was built, College Avenue was paved in brick, the west wing of Jennie Murphree Hall was added, and Dodd Hall (the school’s library until 1956) was built; In 1925 Albert Gilchrist Hall was built; In 1926, the Arthur Williams Building was built, in 1928, the south and west wings of Gilchrist hall were completed, and in 1929, the Board of Control authorized the construction of a new gymnasium that would later be named Montgomery Gym.

1920, Nineteenth Amendment (women’s suffrage) is passed.


1923, Florida  passes a law saying evolution cannot be taught in schools


September 18, 1926 a category four hurricane hits Dade county, killing ninety-two and another three hundred were killed by flooding


1927, The Jazz Singer, the first movie with sound, was released.


1929, Stock Market Crash


The American Association of Universities placed FSCW on its approved list of Colleges and Universities.


Men are allowed to come to the Junior Prom for the first time


In 1928, social parlors are created in Jennie Murphree and Reynolds Halls thereby allowing for a place where men can visit the women in a chaperoned environment


The Great Depression created a large influx of transfer students when, due to the expense, Florida women returned to the state instead of attending northeastern institutions. Some students were able to attend FSCW when the college began accepting bartered goods, such as sweet potatoes and oranges, in lieu of tuition.  In 1930, FSCW enrolled a record 2,663 students.

1932, FDR elected president


Students and alumnae planted live oak trees between Jefferson Street and Gilchrist and Landis Halls, which are still standing. The activity was part of a national tree-planting project meant to celebrate the two hundredth anniversary of George Washington’s birth.


John Boyton joined the Alumnae Association as the first male graduate of FSCW. Boyton completed both his bachelor and master degrees by attending summer school sessions, which males were allowed to enroll. He would later receive his Ph.D. in sociology from Duke University and return to Florida State University as a member of the faculty.


FSCW is the third largest women’s college in the U.S.

1939-1941, World War II; America enters in 1941.


Special war emergency courses, such as Botany 335: vegetable gardening, “Radio Code Practice,” and “Defense Mechanics” are offered.


May 15, 1947 FSCW is officially changed to FSU


The Florida Flambeau reports that “Seminoles” will be the athletic team name. Some of the other proposed names were the Crackers, Statesmen, Tarpons, Swamprats and Tally Whackers.


FSU’s circus called the “Flying High Circus” makes its debut.


The dedication of Doak Campbell Stadium October 28, 1950, marked a turning point in FSU history.  As a football stadium, it redefined FSU as a college no longer just for women.  As a site for future commencement ceremonies, it focused attention upon FSU’s dramatic increase in attendance—the class of 1950 graduated 635 seniors, yet September 1950’s enrollment hit an all-time high of 6,399.  

1951, color television is introduced.


December 31, 1952: The Tallahassee Democrat cites a finding of the Tuskegee Institute declaring, “Mob action claimed no lives in the U.S. during 1952—the first lynch-free report since it began keeping records in 1882.”


1953, DNA is discovered


1954, The U.S. Supreme Court rules racial segregation unconstitutional in public schools


1954, U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy begins televised hearings investigating alleged Communists in the army


1955, Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat on a public bus in Montgomery, Alabama


Burt Reynolds—Miami high school football star and future actor—favors FSU over Miami University, swayed by Coach Nugent telling him, “There are 14 girls for every guy.”


FSU’s Inter-fraternity Council signed Duke Ellington for the “Greek’s annual dance,” co-sponsored with Florida A&M.  But, concerned with negative consequences should Florida Legislators get wind that Ellington’s band was African-American, FSU administrators urged the Council to neither show a picture of the band nor suggest the band’s race.


May 10, FSU’s dress policy relaxed to allow female students “to wear Bermuda shorts on campus uncovered by raincoats,” but only on Saturdays


On April 20, Florida State University suffered the loss of their President Dr. Robert Manning Strozier. President Strozier died from a heart attack while in Chicago to give a speech. Students, Faculty, and friends attended a memorial service to pay tribute to their fallen President. The service was held in Tully Gymnasium the following Friday, April 22, 1960.


On September 20, 1960 WFSU adds Television Broadcasting.

1963 JFK assassinated


1964 Gulf of Tonkin Resolution


1969 Woodstock


Maxwell Courtney, a native of Tallahassee, is the first African-American undergraduate student admitted to Florida State University. Courtney was also the first African-American student to graduate from Florida State University. Courtney graduated cum laude in 1965 with a degree in mathematics and minors in English and French, and would go on to earn a Master’s degree from the University of Maryland.


The phrase “The Silent Majority” is coined by J. Sid Raehn at 3am, in the kitchen of Florida State University President Marshall’s home. This gives the movement a name as Florida State University joins other school across the state in a petition that states “We are the majority and we are not involved. We choose no longer to remain silent.” This counter-student movement quickly gains national attention, CBS sends Lee Townsen to film the group. Walter Cronkite airs these student activities and reports on their progress. This quickly gains the attention of President Nixon, who asked for permission to use the phrase “The Silent Majority” in his State of the Union address.


March 4, as reported by the Flambeau became known as the “Night of the Bayonets.” The Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), a radical student organization, which was not recognized as a registered student organization attempted to meet in the University Union. A temporary injunction was obtained by Florida State University’s legal advisors, barring the SDS from meeting in the Union, as the injunction was read most of the students dispersed. The remaining fifty-eight students were arrested at bayonet point, for violating the injunction.


Doby Flowers is the first African American crowned homecoming queen.  Flowers entered the University in 1967.  She earned her B.S. and M.S. degrees at FSU, graduating in 1973.  Her achievement of breaking social barriers to become the first African American homecoming queen was memorialized in the Integration monument on FSU’s campus in 2004.


FSU makes several changes to the way the University uses Native American names and symbols in the 1970s: 1970 - At the request of leaders of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, clownish mascot Chief Fullabull is retired after one year; 1972 - At the request of leaders of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, the caricature Sammy Seminole is retired as a mascot; 1974 - The titles “king” and “queen” are abandoned for Homecoming, with the crowning of the first Homecoming "chief" and "princess;" 1975 - FSU creates the Osceola image; 1977 - The culturally inaccurate headdress (of Plains Indian origin) of the homecoming princess is replaced with a turban; 1978 - Chief Osceola and Renegade make their debut at Doak Campbell Stadium; 1979 - FSU mascot at football games is officially called Osceola.

1972, The Tallahassee chapter of the National Organization for Women is created.

1972, Title IX legislation was enacted, prohibiting gender discrimination in any educational program or activity that receives Federal financial assistance; the legislation has had particular impact on athletics.

serial killer Ted Bundy attacked five FSU female students in January; two of the students he attacked in the Chi Omega house on campus were killed.



Due to increasing battles over censorship with University presidents, and the Florida State Attorney General’s ruling that "a university president has no power of prior restraint over the material published in a student newspaper," FSU gives notice to the Florida Flambeau that all university funding will be cut off.  The Flambeau moved off campus and continued printing independently until 1998, when the publication ended due to financial difficulties.  The FSView purchased the Flambeau shortly thereafter and the publication is now known as the FSView & Florida Flambeau.


The Black Student Union is established at Florida State University.  The BSU was conceptualized on campus in 1968, and established in 1972, ten years after FSU integrated.  The organization’s primary goal is to promote and provide for the social welfare of the Black Student Body at the University.  Today the organization represents 11% of FSU’s student population.


Streaking at FSU starts a craze that swept the nation; it began on campus in March, and became so popular that Landis Green was officially opened up to streakers for 24 hours.


Bobby Bowden begins the fall season as FSU’s seventh football coach.  He had been an assistant coach at FSU from 1962-1965.  He had applied for the head football coach position at FSU in 1971 but was passed over by FSU President J. Stanley Marshall, who hires him in 1976 after the University went through two coaches in five seasons.  FSU had won only four games in the previous three seasons.  Bowden went on to coach the Seminoles to two National Championships and became the coach with the most wins in NCAA Division I-A history in 2003.


Bill Wade wins the title of Homecoming princess by some 150 votes, running as “Billie Dahling”.  He ran as an effort to prove that the election was a sexist popularity contest dominated by Greeks.  Consequently, many Greeks (and most of the court) threatened to boycott Homecoming festivities in the event that he won.  In an effort to appease both parties, Wade was crowned Princess at Pow-Wow and his name announced during halftime, but was kept off the field during the ceremony. 

1986, Hurricane Kate causes extensive damage to FSU campus and demands a curfew for all of Tallahassee


The 1980s were a good decade for women’s sports.  In 1981, the women’s golf team won first place at the Dick McGuire Invitational and the South Florida Invitational, and the women’s softball team won the State Title in the FAIAW State Tournament.  In 1984 women’s track won outdoor championships, succeeded by women’s track winning indoor championships in 1985. 


The 1980s were an important decade for computers and science.  The Supercomputer Computations Research Institute opened in 1987 along with the New Science Library (Dirac).  In 1989, the Institute of Engineering shared between FSU and FAMU opened.  Also in 1989, a proposal was submitted to the National Science Foundation by Drs. Jack Crow, Don Parkin, and Neil Sullivan for a new national user laboratory supporting research in high magnetic fields.  In 1990, the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory would be awarded to FSU.


In 1987, phone registration for classes replaced in-person registration that used to take place at the Leon County Civic Center.  This new method certainly made the process more convenient, but no less tedious.  Students today have the advantage of registering via the internet, but oftentimes the process is still frustrating.  Nonetheless, with the adoption of phone registration students no longer had to endure the wait in line at the Civic Center.


Deion Sanders won the Jim Thorpe award as the nation’s top defensive back.  Sanders played Football, Baseball, and ran Track during his career at FSU.  He is widely considered to be the best cornerback in college football history, and his jersey, #2, is only the second to be retired at FSU


Students marched on FSU campus to protest a 7.8 increase in student tuition.


The use of the running warrior at Florida State athletic events is retired.


Florida State wins the national championship in football in 1993 and again in 1999. Two FSU students, Charlie Ward and Chris Weinke, win the Heisman Trophy (1993 and 1999 respectively) during these years.


Shayne Osceola becomes the first Seminole to graduate from FSU.


© Jennifer Koslow | 453 Bellamy Building | Tallahassee FL 32306-2200
History Department | Arts & Sciences | Florida State University


[1] Ibid.,