From Woody's Couch

Our Playbook on OSU History

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Happy 149th birthday to The Ohio State University!

Cannon Act establishing Ohio A&M,

How did the university get to such a milestone? Well, the university’s origins lie in two pieces of legislation. The first is the Morrill Act, passed in 1862, which allowed states to sell federal lands creating endowment funds for university instruction in agriculture, mechanical arts (now known as engineering), and military science. The second milestone came eight years later when the Cannon Act was passed into law in Ohio. This law, proposed by General Assembly member, Reuben P. Cannon, established a brand-new university: the Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College. This college became the university that we all know and love, The Ohio State University.

University Hall, 1881

Today we are looking back on the proud history of Ohio State but we are also looking to our future. In fact, our near future holds a very special celebration of the university’s sesquicentennial, or, 150th anniversary. The sesquicentennial celebration will span the academic year of 2019-2020 and will honor all that Buckeyes are, all we have accomplished and all that is yet to come.

The sesquicentennial celebration will include signature programming, marquee programs and department events. The signature programming will include projects such as: “The Carmen Collection,” a look into the untold stories throughout Ohio State’s history; Time and Change: The Ohio State University at 150, a photographic retrospective book; and “Buckeye Biography: Celebrating 150 Years of Ohio State,” an online course, open to all Buckeyes, taking students through the history of the university.

In addition to these exciting programs, join fellow Buckeyes for the Sesquicentennial Weekend March 19-22, 2020, for a series of celebratory activities, including a kickoff event in Thompson Library.

The sesquicentennial presents a great opportunity to honor the past, celebrate the present and prepare for the future. We hope next year you’ll join the university’s global celebration of 150 years!

To learn more about the sesquicentennial, visit


Gay Activism at OSU is Recognized in Early ’70s

The Ohio State University Archives would like to wish a happy Pride to all of our friends in the LGBTQ+ community! Pride is an annual month-long celebration and protest remembering the struggles of LGBTQ+ community both past and present. The tradition of Pride began on June 28, 1969, when a police raid on the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York City, escalated into a riot against police abuses that lasted for days. Police raids on “gay spaces” were a common practice in the twentieth century, with many on the receiving end experiencing police misconduct in the forms of assault and humiliation tactics. With the Stonewall Riots came a new wave of movements dedicated to LGBTQ+ rights unlike those before.

‘The Lantern’, May 17, 1971.

The Ohio State University and the city of Columbus felt that wave. Organizations dedicated to promoting gay liberation and creating safe social spaces for gay students at OSU began to form and vocalize themselves. The Ohio State chapter of the Gay Liberation Front (GLF), which gained official recognition by the University in March of 1971, sponsored and organized many events in the summer of that same year. These included educational events, guest speakers, film screenings, organizational meetings, and, of course, social dances. Mass meetings were held regularly at Saint Stephens Episcopal Church on Woodruff Avenue, dances took place every Monday at the Newport Music Hall (then the Agora Ballroom), and a GLF sponsored event featuring activist Frank Kameny took place in the Ohio Union.

The Gay Activist Alliance featured in the 1973 Makio, page 255.

After succeeding the GLF in autumn of 1971, the Gay Activists Alliance (GAA) continued the task of organizing the gay community. In addition to providing social events such as dances, the GAA provided counseling services to individuals. By 1975 the dances held at the Ohio Union stopped due to frequent harassment, but the Alliance continued to operate its counseling services from its office in the Ohio Union. In a Lantern article from January 1975, Robert Smith, a sophomore, said, “People call just to hear another gay person’s voice. They may call and just hang up several times before they get the courage to say anything.” The counseling was intended to help gay individuals accept themselves, though severe and complex individual situations were often referred to outside counselors.

‘The Lantern’, January 26, 1972.

Additionally, the GAA, having been funded in part by the Undergraduate Student Government, also began publishing its own newsletter called the Columbus Gay Activist, in 1971. The publication caused some controversy the next year, however, when it was denied funding by the Office of Student Accounting. Fearing legal reprisal over an article in the October 11, 1972, issue of the Activist, University legal counsel Jacob E. Davis instructed the auditing office to deny funds, claiming the article, which was about anal sex, would have violated state and local obscenity laws. Affording the money to the GAA and its newsletter would have therefore opened the University open to lawsuits for the misuse of state funds, according to Davis. Although the Archives contains records of the Gay Activist Alliance meeting with then-University President Harold L. Enarson and then-Executive Vice President Edward Q. Moulton, it is not clear how this situation was resolved.

Although this history of LGBTQ+ activism on Ohio State’s campuses is greater than what has been presented here, it is important that we share what we can this Pride season. Stonewall occurred in New York City, but the LGBTQ+ community continues to exist everywhere.

Written by John Hooton

Help preserve Ohio State memories during our Day of Giving on February 28

It’s not easy being the official memory bank for Ohio State.

The University Archives is charged with the honor – and challenge – of preserving Ohio State’s memories. Our team handles every aspect from collection and distribution of donated materials to reference requests and special projects. Increasingly our work includes online and digital archives. The act of digitizing materials

Your donation helps us preserve historical
artifacts, like this scrapbook from the 1958 Rose
Bowl, which captures the memory of OSU’s 10-7
win over Oregon.

has significantly increased both the number of donations and the number of questions we receive. The University Archives team is up for the challenge, but we need more funds to meet the demands of the digital age.

How to help

When you give to University Archives, you help Ohio State collect, store and distribute materials from our alumni, friends, colleges and departments. Your support of the Paul and Sandy Watkins Endowment will allow us to provide essential development and training to staff, fund new special projects and hire additional student employees. Your gift today is even more important as we prepare for Ohio State’s 150th birthday – our sesquicentennial – and commemorate this exciting milestone in the university’s history.

The University Archives houses more than 2
million images, including this photograph of the
first Script Ohio being performed at the ‘Shoe in

What else should I know?

  • The Archives helps individuals with a variety of personal and professional projects – everything from researching family histories to writing books, term papers and scholarly research articles.
  • Our work touches the university community, and people around the world. In 2017, University Archives answered nearly 2,000 questions from individuals ages 8 to 80.
  • In the same year, we received more than 200 items or collections, ranging from a photo album of the 1938 Marching Band to 51 GB of digital football images.
  • As part of University Libraries, the University Archives partners with units across campus including the Ohio State Alumni Association, the Lantern, and Athletics to make our archived materials widely available to the university and public.

Ready to help us preserve Ohio State’s memories? Please give to the Paul and Sandy Watkins Endowment for University Archives.

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