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EDF 5519: The History of Higher Education

This research guide supports the major research project assigned in EDF 5519.

Overview of Florida State University History

Throughout the course of its history Florida State University has functioned as various educational institutions. The school was chartered in 1851 by an act of the General Assembly of Florida that called for the establishment of two seminaries of higher learning, one to the east and one to the west of the Suwannee River.

The first iteration of the school physically opened in 1855 and was alternately called "The City Seminary" and "Tallahassee Male Seminary." In 1856, it was renamed the Florida Institute. In 1857, the school was designated as the official seminary west of the Suwannee River and renamed the West Florida Seminary.

In 1901, the school was renamed "Florida State College" in order to reflect changes that had been made to the curriculum.  By this time, the school had expanded, boasting clubs and organizations, participation in intercollegiate athletics, and dormitories.

In 1905, the Florida legislature passed the Buckman Act in an attempt to reduce duplication in Florida's institutions of higher education. As a result, Florida State College was renamed "Florida Female College" and was transformed into a college exclusively for white women. In 1909, the name of the institution was changed to the more grammatically correct "Florida State College for Women."

With the end of World War II and the Congressional passage of the GI Bill, there was an enormous influx of male students looking to earn a college degree. In 1947, Florida's governor signed a bill transforming both Florida State College for Women and the University of Florida, which had been exclusively for white male students, back into coeducational institutions. The Florida State College for Women was then renamed Florida State University.

For more information about Florida State please visit the university's About FSU page.


Seminary West of the Suwanee River




  Florida State College


  Florida State College for Women



  Florida State University

  1947- present

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