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Dartmouth College celebrates 250th anniversary

Students hung out on the quad at Dartmouth College in May 2018.Ian Thomas Jansen-Lonnquist for The Boston Globe

Dartmouth College turns 250 years old on Friday, so it seemed like a good time for Metro Minute to recount the history of the Ivy League school.

Nestled along the Connecticut River, the Hanover, N.H., institution was founded by clergyman Eleazar Wheelock in 1769 with the intention of training Native Americans to become Christian missionaries. Samson Occom, a Mohegan Indian who was one of Wheelock’s first students, played a crucial role in the establishment of the college.

Today, the college has almost 1,000 Native American graduates, more than the other Ivy League institutions combined. It was also among the first institutions in the country to offer Native American programs as part of its curriculum.


In 1819, the college was the subject of the landmark US Supreme Court case Dartmouth College v. Woodward, which paved the way for private institutions to conduct their affairs in accordance with their charters, without interference from the state.

To celebrate the anniversary, Dartmouth will display its charter in the Rauner Special Collections Library in Hanover and hold a reception followed by an ice skating party in Cambridge, Mass. A number of landmarks around the world will be lit green to commemorate the occasion.

And what better way to celebrate than taking a look at the arrray of noteworthy Dartmouth graduates over the years.

Daniel Webster, statesman, orator, and US senator, class of 1801

Webster played a crucial role in defending Dartmouth during the Supreme Court case in 1819, which solidified his reputation as a constitutional lawyer. His oratorical style and persuasive arguments vaulted him to fame.

Robert Frost, Pulitzer Prize-winning American poet, class of 1896

Although Frost attended Dartmouth for one semester only, according to the college’s website, he was the recipient of two honorary degrees and served as a regular lecturer. Frost was notable for his colloquial writing style and admired for his depictions of rural New England.


Theodor Geisel, known to millions as Dr. Seuss, class of 1925

Geisel wrote and illustrated best-selling children’s books, including The Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham, and The Lorax. The universal themes that run through his work have won the hearts of youngsters around the world.

Owen Chamberlain, physicist and Nobel laureate in physics, class of 1941

Chamberlain is best known for his discovery, with collaborator Emilio Segrè, of the antiproton, a cornerstone for the physics theory that explains what the universe is and what holds it together.

Kirsten Gillibrand, current member of the US Senate, class of 1988

Gillibrand is Dartmouth’s first Congresswoman and arrived at the college about a decade after it introduced coeducation. A senator for New York, she briefly ran for the Democratic nomination in the 2020 presidential campaign.

Jeremiah Manion of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Maysoon Khan can be reached at maysoon.khan@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter at @maysoonkhann.