Friday, February 7, 2003

Ohio Moments

Case Western's roots in small town of Hudson


On Feb. 7, 1826, the state of Ohio granted a charter to Western Reserve College in Hudson, Ohio. It was dubbed the "Harvard of the West" by promoters. David Hudson, founder of the town of 22,000 that bears his name, is considered the father of Western Reserve College. It was he who donated 160 acres and $2,142 to build the school and served on its board from 1826 to 1836. Cleveland was the location originally suggested for the new institution, but it was thought that sailors stationed at Lake Erie would corrupt the college boys. So Hudson, 28 miles distant, was chosen instead. The campus of Western Reserve College was a place of abolitionist activity before emancipation. Not only were debates held there, but students helped runaway slaves escape to Cleveland. During the 1850s, a commencement speech was delivered by Frederick Douglass. While it grew rapidly and gained a reputation as the best college in the West, the school later ran into financial difficulty and lost a significant amount of enrollment. A stir was created when it was announced in 1872 that women would be admitted. By 1875, it was decided that the college should be moved to Cleveland in order to save it. There it became Case Western Reserve University.

Rebecca Goodman

Ohio Moments will appear here daily during 2003. Contact Rebecca Goodman at or 768-8361.

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