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Washington University Course Catalog Collection

Identifier: WUA-02-wua00090
University Wide Catalogs include multiple schools and departments, which vary by year.

A detailed listing by name of the departments and schools included in the (1857 – 1975) combined catalogs is available in list and narrative form at the archive, and in the administrative information section of this finding aid, under "other note."


  • 1855-2020


Conditions Governing Access


Conditions Governing Use

Users of the collection must read and agree to abide by the rules and procedures set forth in the Materials Use Policies.

Providing access to materials does not constitute permission to publish or otherwise authorize use. All publication not covered by fair use or other exceptions is restricted to those who have permission of the copyright holder, which may or may not be Washington University.

If you wish to publish or license Special Collections materials, please contact Special Collections to inquire about copyright status at (314) 935-5495 or (Publish means quotation in whole or in part in seminar or term papers, theses or dissertations, journal articles, monographs, books, digital forms, photographs, images, dramatic presentations, transcriptions, or any other form prepared for a limited or general public.)


22.50 Linear Feet

Historical Information

Course catalogs were first published in 1857.  No catalog was produced in 1861-62 due to the Civil War.  Schools and departments publish course catalogs as the official description of the courses, degree requirements, and general program descriptions.  The catalogs also list faculty members, and until 1923, a roster of students enrolled in classes.  After 1975 Catalogs were no longer bound into sets by school year for use in the library. Course details such as days offered or classroom assignments are not listed in the catalogs.  As of 2010-2011 the Undergraduate Course Catalog was designed for on-line distribution, with a printable copy available for download.


This collection is divided into two series, arranged by physical type and then in chronological order:

Series 1: Hard Bound Catalogs, University Wide

Series 2: Individual Department Catalogs

Method of Acquisition

This material is transferred to the University Archives on an on-going basis.

Accruals and Additions

Accruals are interfiled within collection.

Related Materials

For archived verisons of the Washington University Bulletin homepage including copies of the course catalogs, refer to the Archive-it collection.

Other Descriptive Information

University Wide Catalogs include multiple schools and departments, which vary by year.  The following is a listing by name of departments and schools included in the combined catalogs (from 1857 – 1975):

Early Schools and Departments

Academic and Scientific Departments: in catalogs 1857 – 1879

O’Fallon Polytechnic Institute / School: in catalogs 1857 – 1858

Mary Institute (secondary school for girls): in catalogs 1859 - 1896

Smith Academy (formerly Academic Department): in catalogs 1879-1896

Manual Training School: in catalogs 1880-1896

[After 1895-96, Smith Academy, Manual Training School and Mary Institute catalogs are located separately]

Arts and Sciences

Collegiate / College Department: in catalogs 1858 – 1882

Undergraduate Department / College: in catalogs 1882-1923

College of Liberal Arts: in catalogs 1923-1966

College of Arts and Sciences: in catalogs 1966-1975

Botany: in catalogs from 1885-1931, 1945-46, and 1948 -1975? (none published 1932-1945 and 1946-1947)


School of Commerce and Finance: in catalogs 1917-1918 ??

School of Business and Public Administration: in catalogs 1925-1926 ??

Department of Retailing: in catalogs 1946-1952


School of Engineering (and Applied Science): in catalogs from 1893-1975 (also includes Architecture from 1902-1917)

Sever Institute of Technology: in catalogs from 1955-1956, and 1959-65 (absent from 1956-1959)

School of Fine Arts: 1880-1940, and 1942 – 1975 (none published 1941-1942)

Architecture: 1917-1918 (then part of Fine Arts?)

Graduate School: in catalogs 1919-1975 (also includes Graduate School of Economics and Government: 1923-1924 ?)

School of Law: 1867 – 1975


St. Louis Medical College and Missouri Dental College: in catalogs 1891-1892, and 193? - ?? (absent 1936-1937)

Department of Occupational Therapy: in catalogs 1951-1952

Department of Physical Therapy, this section will sometimes be listed separately and sometimes within the School of Medicine catalog itself.

School of Nursing: in catalogs from 1924-1949, 1952-1958, and 1960-1967 (absent 1950-1951, and 1958-1959)

Social Work

School of Social Economy: in catalogs 1909-1910

Training Course for Social Work with School of Business: in catalogs 1927-1928

Kansas City Unit of the School of Social Work: in catalogs 1944-1946

George Warren Brown School of Social Work: in catalogs 1928-1975

University College / Continuing Education

Correspondence School: in catalogs 1906 - 1909

Extension Courses: in catalogs 1915 - 1916

Summer School: in catalogs 1924-1975

Narrative Description of Catalogs:

From 1857 to 1858 the catalog contained the Academic Department, the Scientific Department and the O’Fallon Polytechnic Institute.  In the 1859 to 1860 catalog the Collegiate Department and the Mary Institute were added.  These were the only five departments listed in the University catalogs until the 1867-1868 catalog in which the Law Department was added. Smith Academy was introduced to the catalogs in 1879-1880. The Manual Training School entered the catalogs in 1880-1881, along with the School of Fine Arts. In the 1882-1883 catalog the Undergraduate Department was added, which included the College and the Polytechnic School.  In the 1885-1886 catalog the Henry Shaw School of Botany first appears.  In the 1891-1892 catalog the St. Louis Medical College and the Missouri Dental College were added.  In 1893-1894 the School of Engineering was included in the Undergraduate Department catalog.  After 1895-1896 the Smith Academy, Manual Training School and the Mary Institute are no longer included in the University wide catalogs.

In 1902-1903 the School of Engineering became the School of Engineering and Architecture and could still be found within the Undergraduate Department.  In 1906-1907 a Correspondence School was added but after 1908-1909 no longer appears in the catalogs.  In 1908-1909 the Department of Arts and Sciences was formally introduced, which included the College and the School of Engineering and Architecture.  In 1909-1910 a School of Social Economy was added.  From 1915-1916 Extension Courses were added, later to be named the University College.  The School of Commerce and Finance was included in the 1917-1918 catalog, while Engineering and Architecture were divided into their own schools.  The Graduate School was incorporated in 1919-1920 and in 1923-1924 a Graduate School of Economics and Government was added.  Two areas were added in 1924-1925, the School of Nursing and Summer School.  The School of Business and Public Administration came about in 1925-1926 and in 1927-1928 a Training Course for Social Work was included in the School of Business section.  In 1928-1929 social work became its own department, titled the George Warren Brown Department of Social Work.  Through 1932-1945 the Henry Shaw School of Botany is absent from the catalogs, but reappears in 1945-1946.  It is also absent from 1946-1947 but again reappears in the next catalog.  The School of Medicine is absent in 1936-1937 but is once again listed in 1937-1938.  The School of Fine Arts is also missing from 1941-1942 but is back in 1942-1943.  From 1944-1946 a Kansas City Unit of the School of Social Work is included in the catalogs.  In 1946-1947 a Department of Retailing was added and lasted until 1952.  In 1950-1951 the School of Nursing is absent but can be found in the 1951-1952 catalog. The School of Nursing will again be absent from the 1958-1959 catalog but is listed again the next year.  Also included in 1951-1952 is a Department of Occupational Therapy, a Division of Auxiliary Medical Services in the School of Medicine.  Later named the Department of Physical Therapy, this section will sometimes be listed separately and sometimes within the School of Medicine catalog itself.  The Sever Institute of Technology is added in 1955-1956 but is absent from 1956-1959, reappearing in 1959-1960 only to be absent again after 1965.  The School of Nursing is no longer listed after 1966-1967.

Processing Information

Processed by Hadley Davis, November 2010; updated in July 2011. Updated by Sarah Schnuriger in Summer 2016, June 2017, December 2017, October 2018, and January 2020.
Washington University Course Catalog Collection
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Revision Statements

  • 2021 May 12: Resource record updated in ArchiveSpace by Sarah Schnuriger.

Collecting Area Details

Part of the University Archives Collecting Area

Sonya Rooney
Olin Library, 1 Brookings Drive
MSC 1061-141-B
St. Louis MO 63130 US
(314) 935-5495