An Endowment for Education: Nebraska & the Morrill Act 1862-1890

The federal government, under the auspice of the Morrill Act, endowed the state of Nebraska with 90,000 acres of land to create a state agricultural college. The profit from land sold allowed for the creation of the University of Nebraska. Yet the correlation of federal land and physical university is not one of spatiality, but rather of ink and paper.

This project traces the origins of the University through laws from Congress to the Board of Regents and is  focused on the federal land endowment that allowed for the creation of the University of Nebraska.

 The University of Nebraska is a land grant institution. This means that the University of Nebraska, like many other public universities, has its roots buried deep in the state and federal governments. An ambitious federal law passed in 1862 put in motion a tremendous initiative. Federal land was gifted to the states of the Union to create their own systems of higher education. Nebraska would declare its intent in 1869, less than two years after gaining statehood.

This project traces the creation of the University of Nebraska through officially published legal documentation.  In short, the Federal Government passed a law, which the state of Nebraska accepted verbatim. The Nebraska state government in turn created the University of Nebraska, further appointing the Board of Regents as overseers of the University. These three separate entities are connected through the land endowment. It is the goal of this project to detail the endowment through the three levels of influence.

Presented in a typical linear format the data follows a chronological order, beginning in 1862 and ending in 1890. Following a chronological order, the process of land endowment ranges from the top-down, from the federal level to the university. It is suggested to follow this path if the reader wishes to best understand the subject matter. Yet the very nature of the internet and digital navigation allows for the typical historical narrative to take many different forms. The presentation of this project is no exception as each element is designed to stand-alone. Users may freely access information in whatever order they so desire.





Editor: Alex Wheeler, History 470: Digital History, Fall 2009