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Berea College Founding Dates: Home

Written by Jaime Bradley

Berea College Founding Dates

FAQs: What year was Berea College founded?
When did Berea College open?
The official founding date used on the Berea College seal is 1855. Why?

List of Important Berea College Founding Dates


  • In the fall of 1855, Fee becomes one of three local school board members in the Southern Madison County school district, and begins to tend to a small, one-room school close to his newly constructed home on the Berea ridge.
  • Fee first discusses the idea of a college with George Candee, some time between 30 October and 9 November 1855.
  • Fee writes a letter to S. S. Jocelyn regarding the idea of a college on 9 November 1855.
  • In April 1858, J. A. R. Rogers and Elizabeth E. Rogers arrive and reinvigorate the small, struggling district school.
  • On 7 September 1858, the first meeting of the Berea College Board of Trustees convenes in John G. Fee’s study, in order to begin drafting a college constitution and by-laws.
  • On 8 April 1859, the local school district votes (23 to 7) to allow the school to operate as "anti-caste"; 3 previous board members resign.
  • The first Constitution, Articles, and By-Laws are finalized between 15-18 July 1859, then signed and adopted on 18 July 1859. By fall, it is discovered that the document can not be officially filed, as many of the signers/trustees are not yet legally considered Kentucky residents.
  • Beginning in late 1859, the Berea exile begins; Bereans are run out of town by subsequent mobs. Bereans do not begin to return until 1865.
  • The American Civil War takes place, 1861-1865.
  • The first meeting of the Berea College Board of Trustees, Prudential Committee following the exile is held on 24 April 1865; members regroup and make plans to reopen the school. Serious consideration of an integrated, anti-caste school commences; several pre-exile trustees again brake ties. Over the next year, revisions to the original documents are made, new trustees recruited.
  • Classes are held in Berea, under the local school district, during the fall 1865. Primary education classes are still held separately for whites and blacks.
  • The first classes held under the Berea Literary Institute start on 2 January 1866.
  • The Berea Literary Institute integrates on 6 March 1866.
  • Per State law, the corporate entity of “Berea College” receives its official Charter on 5 April 1866, with the formal filing of the second, revised Constitution and By-Laws at the court house in Richmond, Kentucky.
  • On 7 July 1869, Edward Henry Fairchild is inaugurated at Berea College's first president.
  • The first actual college class is held on 1 September 1869.

Works Cited

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