Although Ursinus College is a fairly young institution, there have been many modifications that have occurred throughout its history. While we as students might be tempted to fixate on the changes that we find most relatable such as the price of an Ursinus education (it was $188 a year in 1885) or the clubs and organizations in which one could choose to be involved (in the 1880s the only options were the Zwinglian, Schaff, Ebrard, and Olevian literary societies which flourished here), the overall character of the College was most heavily influenced by the presence and eventual absence of religion.
Despite always being a non-sectarian college, Ursinus was founded in the wake of a religious upheaval in the German Reformed Church which, at the time of its founding, had a particular theological character. The College is said to have been founded "in prayer and in debt," and only recently has it become the wholly secular institution that we know today. This summer I plan to explore the Ursinusiana archives in the library as a precursor to an honors paper in which I will address some of the implications of the College's shift. My primary focus will concern the religious character of the College in its early years and the eventual abolition of compulsory chapel in the late 1960s.
Boedecker, Karen, "Examining Our Roots: How Over 100 Years of Religion Yielded a Secular Liberal Arts Program at Ursinus College" (2009). Religious Studies Summer Fellows. 4.
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