Chattanooga University Class of 1888

Arrow indicates William Fritz Nobel Willis


77 Year Old Photo on UC Campus Donated to the College Archives


               A remarkable photograph of the student body at Chattanooga University – forerunner of the present University of Chattanooga – 12 years before the turn of the century, has turned up in an attic in Rockwood, Tenn., and has been turned over to Dr. James Livingood, professor of history and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

               The old picture, in unusually good condition despite its 77 years, was found by Miss Elizabeth Wilson in her Rockwood home. It is a group picture of collegians, theologians, faculty, and members of the preparatory school department, in front of “Old Main,” the university’s sole building for many years. “Old Main,” with its five stories and towers, was an impressive as well as useful edifice: the dinning hall and kitchen, the science laboratories and the boiler room shared the basement, while administrative offices, classrooms, library and museum rooms, the chapel, music rooms, meeting places for the literary societies, faculty apartments and dormitory rooms took up all the other available space.

               Two of the posing students are known, as they are the elder brothers of Miss Wilson, who reports that Dr. J. C. Wilson is standing at the lefthand corner of the porch while her brother Henry A. Wilson – who later became a physicist – is shown at right center, peeping from behind a porch pillar.

               In the academic year 1888-89, there were 161 students registered at Chattanooga University (from 1889-1904 the school was known as U.S. Grant University). Of these, 20 were taking college work, 13 were enrolled in the theological school and the remainder were preparatory or special students. An inspection of the 1888 group reveals several boys in knee pants – evidently prep-schoolers – while a goodly number of the men were wearing frock coats. Several of the more mature males are probably faculty members, especially two black-hatted figures with canes. There are no loafers, bobby sox, blazers or shorts worn, although watch chains are much in evidence.

               The only touch of humor in the picture is the young man – possibly the class cut-up – perched high upon a cornice at the left.

               UC students today may sigh with envy over the low rates then in effect: tuition was $20 for three quarters; board cost $2 a week, and room rent, which included light and heat, amounted to the astronomical sum of 50 cents. The eight faculty members, including President Edward Samuel Lewis, presided over classes and shaped a curriculum which led to the A.B., B.S. and Ph. B degrees.

               Dr. Livingood is elated at being able to add the photograph to the university archives.

The Chattanooga Times 1965


Submitted by Linda Shipley Rompot