What lives inside the Campanile? Who was Phoebe Apperson Hearst? How many Olympic medals have Cal Bears amassed over time? What is Cas9? Explore historic milestones, traditions, major discoveries, influential people who helped shaped our university, and more below. Come back as we add more stories throughout the year.
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In 1874, Berkeley’s fledgling library was housed first in South Hall, then moved to Bacon Hall in 1881. Yet as the collection continued to grow, so did the need for a bigger home.
On our rugged eastern foothills,
Stands our symbol clear and bold,
Big C means to fight and strive
And win for blue and gold.
— Excerpt from the song “Big C,” written in 1913 by Harold P. Williams and N. Loyall McLaren
While elite Eastern universities such as Yale and Columbia waited to admit women until the late 20th century, the University of California began admitting women two years after its founding.
By today’s standards, Lillian Gilbreth 1900, M.A. 1902 was a superwoman. She studied literature at Berkeley in anticipation of becoming a teacher — and was the first woman to speak at a commencement ceremony — but her path took a dramatic turn. In 1915, she earned a Ph.D.
The University of California began on March 23, 1868, when Gov. Henry Haight signed an act catalyzing the audacious idea that California should have a great public university — one that would serve equally the children of immigrants and settlers, landowners and industrial barons.
The university colors of blue and gold were chosen in 1873 by a committee of representatives from each class. Blue was considered because it reflected the sky, student cadet uniforms, and Yale, from which many of the university’s founders and early administrators had graduated.
“America has brought the nation and the world to an awe-inspiring threshold of the future … And yet we have not learned the simple art of walking the earth as brothers and sisters.”
If Samuel Clemens, better known as Mark Twain, had lived today, his nonstop outpouring of observations on American life might fit neatly on a medium-size hard drive.
“He had this great talent for making things appear simple. … That is the ultimate best thing in mathematics, if you have an insight that something seemingly complicated is really simple, but simple after the fact.”