Pennsylvania, University of

Pennsylvania, University of, in Philadelphia; private with some state support; coeducational. It dates to 1740 and plans for a charity school, and the first predecessor opened in 1751 as an academy, largely through the efforts of Benjamin Franklin. In 1755 a charter was obtained for the College of Philadelphia, which opened the first school of medicine in the United States in 1765. It thus became the first U.S. university, but it was called a college until 1779, when the state took control and rechartered it as the Univ. of the State of Pennsylvania. It assumed its present name and status in 1791, when it was merged with the reestablished (1789) college.

A pioneer in the areas of law, botany, chemistry, and psychology, Pennsylvania has added much to the traditional curriculum. In 1881 it opened the Wharton School of Finance and Commerce (now the Wharton School of Business), the first U.S. school of its type. Well known among the many divisions of the university are its medical and law schools and the museum, which has an extensive archaeological and ethnological collection. It also collaborates with the Wistar Institute of Anatomy and Biology (opened 1892), an independent biomedical research center located within its campus. Outstanding is the university library, which contains a great number of rare books and manuscripts; its other libraries have notable collections in Shakespeareana and in medieval history.

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