News & Notes

First week of classes

Posted in Special Collections Tagged with: ,

It’s the first week of classes, and so this week’s LSU trivia hearkens back to the very first day of classes at the school that would become Louisiana State University.

Barry Cowan of University Archives writes:

After much debate over location, construction, and curriculum, the Louisiana State Seminary of Learning and Military Academy, which later became Louisiana State University, finally opened. The following quote is from a circular of general information written by Superintendent William Tecumseh Sherman:

“The conditions of admission are: that each applicant shall be between the ages of fifteen and twenty-one years of age, of good moral character and free from any infectious or contagious disease; he must read and write the English language well, and to perform, with facility and accuracy, the operations of Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication and Division, Vulgar and Decimal Fractions and Simple and Compound Proportion.”

It was an all-male school and all cadets, as the students were called, had to submit to military discipline based on the code created by Virginia Military Institute. They were graded on their recitations and among the required courses were geometry and algebra, and French and Latin grammar. Military discipline and the course of instruction were, according to the Official Register of the Officers and Cadets of the State Seminary of Learning and Military Academy of the State of Louisiana, “…designed to promote method, diligence, and punctuality – all necessary qualities for the practical and successful man.”

The only image that survives of Louisiana State Seminary is this drawing by Samuel H. Lockett, post-Civil War commandant of cadets and professor of engineering.

So this week we offer you two questions.
1) When was the first day of class at the Seminary?
2) Where was the Seminary located?

Post your answers in the comments, and come back next week to see if you were right!

Also stop by Hill Memorial Library to take a look at the materials referenced in this post.

  • The circular of general information came from the Office of the President Records Range D:38 Box 51.
  • The Official Register can be found at call number LD 3106 A2 1860/62.
  • The drawing by Samuel H. Lockett is from the LSU Photograph Collection, 100th Year in Baton Rouge Exhibit, Range AA:16, Box 90.
  • More information can be found in Under Stately Oaks: A Pictorial History of LSU by Thomas Ruffin at call number LD 3114.5 .R84 2002.
Posted in Special Collections Tagged with: ,
One comment on “First week of classes
  1. Nina Shifflett says:

    I am interested in data on the first graduating class @LSU. My greatgrandfather was a member of that class. His name was Tilman Grimes and I believe he later taught there. Any information would be very helpful.
    My e-mail address is I am in Harrisonburg, Virginia,22801.

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