Pennsylvania, University of

Pennsylvania, University of, in Philadelphia; private with some state support; coeducational. Planned in 1740 as a charity school, it opened in 1751 as an academy, largely through the efforts of Benjamin Franklin. In 1755 it received a college charter. Pennsylvania opened the first school of medicine in the United States in 1765, and thus became the first U.S. university, but it was called a college until 1779, when it became the Univ. of the State of Pennsylvania. It assumed its present name in 1791. A pioneer in the areas of law, botany, chemistry, and psychology, Pennsylvania has added much to the traditional curriculum. In 1881 it opened the Wharton School of Finance and Commerce (now the Wharton School of Business), the first U.S. school of its type. Well known among the many divisions of the university are its medical and law schools; the museum, which has an extensive archaeological and ethnological collection; and the Wistar Institute of Anatomy and Biology (opened 1892). Outstanding is the university library, which contains a great number of rare books and manuscripts; its other libraries have notable collections in Shakespeareana and in medieval history.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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