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Franklin & Marshall College

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  • Benjamin F. Fisher (1834 - 1915)
    Benjamin Franklin Fisher was an American Brevet Brigadier General who was a Chief Signal Officer of the Army of the Potomac during the Siege of Petersburg of the American Civil War. He was also known...
  • Josiah Harmar Penniman (1868 - 1941)
    Josiah Harmar Penniman, fourteenth Provost of the University of Pennsylvania, was born in Concord, Massachusetts, on July 20, 1868. He was the son of James Lanman and Maria Davis Hosmer Penniman. His...
  • Robert H. Petry (1925 - 2012)
    Robert H. Petry, 86, of Camp Hill and formerly of New Cumberland passed away Friday, January 6, 2012 in the hospital. A WWII Navy Veteran, he was the former owner of West Shore Tire and Supply and Pet...
  • Source:
    Rev Samuel Hensel Giesy, D.D. (1826 - 1888)
    Franklin and Marshall College Obituary Record, by the Committee, Volume I, No. 1, published by the Alumni Association of Franklin and Marshall College, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, June 1897. Rev. Samuel H...
  • Brev. Brig. Gen. Henry Hensel Giesy, (USA) (1836 - 1864)
    Civil War Union Brevet Brigadier General. An 1857 graduate of Franklin & Marshall College he entered the practice of law until the outbreak of the Civil War. Major of the 46th Ohio Infantry, he was mor...


Franklin & Marshall College (abbreviated as "F&M") is a four-year private co-educational residential national liberal arts college in the Northwest Corridor neighborhood of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, United States. It employs 175 full-time faculty members and has a student body of approximately 2,324 full-time students.

F&M was ranked 37 on U.S. News & World Report's 2014 list of liberal arts colleges. The New York Times ranked F&M 26th in a ranking of "The Most Economically Diverse Top Colleges" in 2014. In 2011 F&M was ranked as the 4th Most Rigorous College/University on Newsweek's "The Daily Beast". Forbes' 2009 list of "America's Best Colleges" ranked the school 36th overall, and 33rd among private colleges. It was also ranked #1 in the nation for "Faculty accessibility" by The Princeton Review in 2003. The college is a member of the Centennial Conference. For the Class of 2012 Admissions Cycle, the acceptance rate dropped to 35.9%, making it F&M's most selective class yet while increasing the admissions profile. The average SAT score is 1311, which combines the Critical Reading and Math portions. The average class size is 19 students, and the student-faculty ratio is 9:1

Franklin College was chartered on June 6, 1787, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania on the site of a former brewery. It was named for Benjamin Franklin, who donated £200 to the new institution. Founded by four prominent ministers from the German Reformed Church and the Lutheran Church, in conjunction with numerous Philadelphians, the school was established as a German college whose goal was "to preserve our present republican system of government," and "to promote those improvements in the arts and sciences which alone render nations respectable, great and happy." Its first trustees included five signers of the Declaration of Independence, two members of the Constitutional Convention and seven officers of the Revolutionary War.

The school's first courses were taught on July 16, 1787, with instruction taking place in both English and German, making it the first bilingual college in the United States.[citation needed]

Franklin College was also America's first coeducational institution, with its first class of students composed of 78 men and 36 women. Among the latter was Rebecca Gratz, the first Jewish female college student in the United States. However, the coed policy was soon abandoned and it would take 182 years before women were again permitted to enroll in the school.

In July 1789, Franklin College ran into financial difficulty as its annual tuition of four pounds was not enough to cover operating costs. Enrollment began to dwindle to just a few students and eventually the college existed as nothing more than an annual meeting of the Board of Trustees. In an effort to help the ailing school, an academy was established in 1807. For the next three decades, Franklin College and Franklin Academy managed to limp along financially, with instructors supplementing their income with private tutoring.

In 1835, the school's Debating Society was renamed Diagnothian Literary Society at the suggestion of seminary student Samuel Reed Fisher. In June of that year, Diagnothian was divided into two friendly rivals to encourage debate. Diagnothian retained its original name, while the new society was named Goethean, in honor of German philosopher and poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. The two organizations sponsored orations and debated politics, philosophy and literature. They merged in 1955, but became separate entities again in 1989.

Having grown from a Reformed Church academy, Marshall College opened in 1836 in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania. The school was named for the fourth Chief Justice of the United States John Marshall, who had died the previous year. It was founded with the belief that harmony between knowledge and will was necessary to create a well-rounded person.

During its first year, 18 students were taught by Frederick Augustus Rauch and his assistant, Samuel A. Budd. Rauch, an acclaimed young scholar and theologian from Germany who authored the first American textbook in psychology, also served as the College’s president.

The school's small but brilliant faculty grew in both size and status with the addition of John Williamson Nevin and another German scholar, church historian Philip Schaff. Nevin became the college’s president upon Rauch’s sudden death in 1841.

Life at Marshall College was well-regimented. Students were required to attend morning prayers—sometimes as early as 5 a.m.—and were expected to study in their rooms for six hours a day. In addition, they were forbidden to associate with people of questionable moral character.

Marshall College quickly gained national recognition and attracted students from a large geographical area, with some coming as far away as the West Indies. However, despite being initially well-funded, Marshall College began to experience financial difficulties of its own. By the late 1840s, financial support and enthusiasm among the local community had virtually disappeared and the school was in danger of closing its doors for good.

Notable Alumni