Hamline News

Happy Birthday Hamline!


The vision of an institution where Minnesotans could pursue higher education in the Minnesota Territory was initially realized on March 3, 1854 when Hamline’s official charter was signed. The Methodist leaders who founded Hamline named the institution in honor of Leonidas Lent Hamline, a Methodist bishop who donated the funds. While the University of Minnesota was chartered in 1851, Hamline graduated its first college classes before the University of Minnesota even started operating as a college. Hamline is considered Minnesota’s first university and was one of the first co-educational institutions in the United States.

Following the signing of Hamline’s charter, preparatory classes started at its original location in Red Wing, Minnesota on the second floor of the general store in November of 1854. A university building was later built, and college classes were first offered in 1857. A few years later, Hamline marked two more important ‘firsts’ with its initial graduates. Those graduates where two sisters, Emily and Elizabeth Sorin, who were also the first women college graduates in the state. Both women went on to be the first women in Minnesota to receive their master's degrees (also from Hamline). Hamline moved to a prairie plot in Saint Paul in the late 1880s and has secured its place in the history and future of Minnesota and in higher education. You can learn more about Hamline's history of taking the lead with some momentous firsts:

First university in Minnesota and one of the first coeducational colleges in the United States

Offered Minnesota's first legal curriculum

Conferred Minnesota’s first bachelor's degree(s) - (to Emily and Elizabeth Sorin)

Conferred Minnesota’s first master's degree(s) - (to Emily and Elizabeth Sorin)

Hosted the world's first intercollegiate basketball game and introduced five-man basketball

Hamline’s first African American graduate Anna Arnold Hedgeman who went on to become a civic leader. Among her accomplishments, she helped recruit more than 40,000 people for Martin Luther King’s historic March on Washington.

Established America's first exchange program with Peking (Beijing) University

Implemented America’s first computer literacy requirement for undergraduates

Offered Minnesota's first advanced writing degree

Offered the Midwest's first doctorate of public administration

Established first master's degree in writing for children and young adults in the Midwest

Won the first baseball game ever played at the newly built CHS Field in Lowertown Saint Paul, the new home field for Hamline Pipers’ baseball and the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball’s Saint Paul Saints

Named Hamline’s first African American university president (and second woman president), Dr. Fayneese Miller