Astonishing “Ivy League” History Facts
There are eight (8) Ivy League schools in the United States. But why are they called the “Ivy League”? What makes them such prestigious and famous Colleges? Also, what does it take to be part of this exclusive club?
8 Ivy League Schools
- Harvard University
- Yale University
- Cornell University
- Columbia University
- University of Pennsylvania
- Princeton University
- Brown University
- Dartmouth College
Why They’re Called “Ivy League” Colleges
The term “Ivy League” appeared around the 1930s to 1950s, mainly to give a name to the group of colleges that had huge endowments, were old, and whose student-athletes excelled in major sports like basketball and football.
The Ivy League universities had been around longer than the name. was built in 1636. was founded in 1701 (and named after benefactor Elihu Yale). came to be in 1746 (it was formerly known for more than a century as the College of New Jersey). In the same year, Brown University was founded.
These colleges were grand rivals in many sports. The popularity of their players and games spurred many spectators to group the eight schools and elevate them to a higher status than the rest.
Nobody can tell for sure what the “Ivy” stood for, although many of these colleges in the Northeastern part of the country had ivy growing on their walls. The oldest record, though, was from a sports reporter, Caswell Adams, who used in his report on the football match between Columbia and UPenn.
Because he wasn’t assigned to cover his alma mater, Adams complained about the elitism of the “ivy-covered” universities.
This happened around 1936, but the schools only officially entered into a formal agreement and group in 1945.
It was written down as the “Ivy Group Agreement”, and originally only covered intercollegiate football games. In 1954, there was another agreement. This time, the group would cover all sports.
Ivy League Style
Because of the popularity of the Ivy League schools, the dress style that many of the students wore trickled into the mainstream.
In the 1950s, it was trendy to wear the casual attire that many upper-class American and British citizens wore when they did golf, football, hunting, or tennis.
Usual summer attires involved two-button blazers, striped blazers, Ascot ties, Oxford shirts, and wingtip shoes or penny loafers. Cardigans were also a favorite, for men and women. The tweed sweaters and vests were also in, and many of the men styled their hairs to look like their favorite players from the magic 8 school.
The look remained popular until the 1960s, when the hippie movement began to spread across the West.
The Flower Power revolution began to invite people to wear more casual attires, eventually adopting bell-bottom pants, bold and bright colors, long hair styles (even among men), full skirts, and other clothing inspired by Native American, Asian, or Latin American.
In 1967, SE Hinton wrote about the rivalry between leather-clad Greasers and Ivy League dressers Socs in her novel “The Outsiders”, keeping alive the Ivy League trend.
How Yale-Harvard Rivalry Really Began
image courtesy sportsblog.com
Yale had a lot of founders, namely Samuel Andrew, Thomas Buckingham, Israel Chauncy, Samuel Mather, James Noyes II (son of James Noyes), James Pierpont, Abraham Pierson, Noadiah Russell, Joseph Webb and Timothy Woodbridge, and Rev. James Pierpont. All, except for Pierpont, were graduates of Harvard.
These Harvard alumni, with Pierpont leading them, were disappointed that Harvard no longer required their new students to study Biblical Hebrew. These ministers wanted to keep the Puritan spirit alive, however, so they started their own institution, originally simply called “Collegiate School”.
The school was built with the help of Elihu Yale, a businessman. Cotton Mather, whose father was then the president of Harvard, encouraged the college administration to change the name to .
At this time, Harvard was becoming more liberal with religious and philosophical courses, which angered the alumni and even Increase Mather, its then-president.
This difference in teaching sparked the infamous Yale-Harvard rivalry that would rear its head every now and then, particularly in 1875, when the competition in football really began, and in 2000 when sparked another famous Yale-Harvard match.
Ivy League “Big Three”
image by inosaurbear.com
Many people know about the Ivy League, but youngsters now probably don’t know or don’t remember that there was another prestigious group before it: The Big Three. In fact, the Ivy Group Agreement was patterned after this earlier club.
The group involved Harvard, Yale, and Princeton. It started in the 1880s, with the three schools being the best and most watched in football matches.
One thing that made these colleges different from other schools was that most of their board members and administrators were “” or White Anglo-Saxon Protestant (WASP), an informal term popularized by Edward Digby Baltzell.
Now that you know these fun facts about the , prepare yourself for hype of the next intercollegiate games.