In honor of the 175th anniversary of Lawrence’s founding in 1847, and in conjunction with Lawrence Archives, and in a nod to Lawrence’s love of trivia, we’ve put together a quiz to test your knowledge of Lawrence history.

Lawrence is celebrating 175 years of history throughout 2022

A few of the questions are so easy they’re freebies. Some are from more recent happenings. Many are from long ago and will test whether you’ve been paying attention to all this 175th anniversary business. All are meant to be fun. Enjoy.

  1. Founders Day is an annual nod to the date when Lawrence was granted a charter in 1847. What is that date? Hint: You’ll want to dress warm for any outdoor celebrations.
  2. The construction of this sweet treat by Lawrence students and faculty in 1990 set the Guinness World Record. What was it? Hint: It weighed 7,080 pounds.
  3. This Lawrence alumnus stands alone in Midwest Conference football history. He is the only player from the league to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. Who is he? Hint: The three-time first-team All-America running back is an Appleton native.
  4. Who is the only sitting U.S. president to visit the Lawrence campus? Hint: He spoke on the steps of Main Hall on Oct. 26, 1911.
  5. Who was the president of Lawrence who left to become president of Harvard? Hint: He is credited with creating Freshman Studies, now known as First-Year Studies, at Lawrence.
  6. What was the year Lawrence consolidated with Milwaukee-Downer College? Hint: With the merger, Lawrence again assumed the name Lawrence University. Lawrence was known as Lawrence College at the time of the merger.
  7. This alumnus was one of the giants of biochemistry. His research on the structure of ribosomes earned him the 2009 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Who was he? Hint: A building on campus was named in his honor a year after his Nobel win.
  8. She was the first woman to serve as president of Milwaukee-Downer College. Who was she? Hint: She led Milwaukee-Downer during the merger of Downer College of Fox Lake and Milwaukee Female College, creating Milwaukee-Downer College in 1895.
  9. What was the number of graduates in the first graduating class at Lawrence in 1857? Hint: Lawrence was the first co-education institution of higher learning in Wisconsin and one of the first in the nation; the graduating class included men and women.
  10. What building on the Lawrence campus originally served as the president’s residence? Hint: It was home to the president from 1881 until 1956, when President Douglas Knight moved to what is now known as Hamar House.
  11. What is the name of the Milwaukee-Downer physics professor who was recruited to work on the Manhattan Project, playing a crucial role in America’s race to develop an atomic weapon during World War II? Hint: She’s getting new attention thanks to a current Lawrence physics professor.
  12. What was the first residence hall built on campus? Hint: It opened in 1889 and is still in use.
  13. Lawrence administrators had to push back the opening of the 1955-56 academic year due to what health crisis? Hint: It wasn’t just an Appleton crisis.
  14. What was the name of Lawrence’s first library building, built in 1906? Hint: A wing was added to the south and east sides in 1962, after which time the library was known as the Samuel Appleton-Carnegie Library. When the Seeley G. Mudd Library was built in 1974, the original side was demolished but the 1962 addition was retained.
  15. Who was Lawrence’s first president, credited with establishment of the collegiate department as well as the building of Main Hall in 1853-54? Hint: His term began six years after Lawrence’s founding in 1847.
  16. After a fire heavily damaged this facility, a larger version was built and opened in August 1996. What building is this? Hint: It led to a commitment of student-faculty shared use of the space.
  17. In 1965, a team of four Lawrence students won five games on this nationally televised show. What was the name of the televised contest? Hint: The Lawrentians retired undefeated and brought home $10,500 in scholarship money.
  18. This Lawrence basketball player set the all-time scoring record for the Vikings (men and women). She tallied 1,610 points, surpassing Lawrence Hall of Famer Chris Braier ’06. Who is she? Hint: Her dad played in the NBA.
  19. This was a fall tradition on campus from about 1910 to 1945, a manifestation of an “ancient grudge feud” between freshmen and sophomores. Competitions included baseball games, horse-and-rider contests, tug of war, and fruit fights. What was its name? Hint: This tradition was eventually discontinued because there were too many injuries.
  20. In January 1926, the sports staff of The Lawrentian held a contest to pick a new mascot or team name to replace “The Blues.” The winning name beat out other options, including the Blue Jays, Trojans, Wild Cats, Pinesmen, and Lumberjacks. What was the winning name? Hint: You should know this.
  21. Classes began at Lawrence for the first time more than two years after its charter was granted. What was the date of those first classes? Hint: It was in the fall.
  22. What radio station was the first FM radio station in Appleton? Hint: Broadcasts began on the Lawrence campus on March 10, 1956.
  23. Conservatory of Music professor John Holiday sang a duet with John Legend in 2020 as part of the finals of this popular television show. What was the show? Hint: It was on NBC.
  24. What is the title of the book written in 1994 by Charles Breunig that details Lawrence’s history from the time of its founding in 1847 to the time of its consolidation with Milwaukee-Downer in 1964? Hint: The title comes from an oft-quoted line in a letter Lawrence’s founder, Amos A. Lawrence, wrote to his wife, Sarah, in 1857.
  25. The Lawrence campus originally extended to just north of City Park. The trustees had to sell all land north of College Avenue in the 1870s; none of this was reclaimed until this building was built in 1918. What is this building? Hint: It has drawn many notable visitors to campus.
  26. This residence hall was built in 1956 and named for a woman who was part of the first graduating class at Lawrence. It was built initially as a residence hall for women and included six sorority suites and a dining hall. Which residence hall is it? Hint: At the time of its completion, it was the most expensive building on campus.
  27. What year did the faculty Discipline Committee lift the prohibition on dances in campus buildings? Hint: Prior to this time, dances had to be held off campus, if allowed at all.
  28. What was Lawrence’s original name when chartered in 1847? Hint: It would soon after become Lawrence University, then Lawrence College in about 1908; it went back to Lawrence University following the consolidation with Milwaukee-Downer College.
  29. Who is the first person of color to serve as president of Lawrence? Hint: She broke barriers at previous career stops, including The Juilliard School and Shippensburg University.
  30. Music professor Fred Sturm first launched this music event in 1981. It continues as one of the centerpieces of the Conservatory calendar, bringing high school musicians to campus to mix with Lawrence students and guest artists. What is the name of this annual event? Hint: Sturm is now part of the event’s name.
  31. What year was the first Alexander Gym built? Hint: It stood roughly where Youngchild Hall is today, and it was razed in the early 1960s. The current Alexander Gym was built in 1929.
  32. This alumnus is an actor and director who has had a long and impressive Hollywood career, starring in such films as Singles, The Amazing Spider-Man, Longtime Companion, Roger Dodger, and Secret Lives of Dentists. Who is he? Hint: His mother and father were both legendary actors.
  33. As the second longest-serving president in Lawrence history, he oversaw construction of six campus buildings: Buchanan Kiewit Wellness Center, Shattuck Hall, Steitz Hall, Briggs Hall, Wriston Art Center, and Hiett Hall. Who is he? Hint: Lawrence’s most recent building is named in honor of him and his wife.
  34. This Conservatory of Music extravaganza was first performed in 2006. It is on the calendar at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center every two years. What is the name of this performance? Hint: After being put on hold during the pandemic, it will make a return in the fall as part of Lawrence’s 175th anniversary celebration.
  35. What campus building tripled the space available for science departments on campus when it opened in 1964? Hint: New features included a radioactive research facility and a room for an IBM 1620 digital computer.
  36. Lawrence students (and some Appleton residents) succeeded in landing in the 1989 Guinness Book of World Records for this winter activity. What was their claim to fame? Hint: 187 people took part.
  37. What alumnus is a former justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, having served from 2004 to 2008? Hint: He was the first African American to serve on the state’s Supreme Court.
  38. What Lawrence class gifted The Rock (the 4,700-pound piece of granite that adorns Main Hall Green and has its own wild history) to the university? Hint: It once inspired a podcast of its own.
  39. This Lawrence alumnus is known as the “father of telecommuting” because of research and writing he did on the value of remote work. Who is he? Hint: His books were published in the early and mid 1970s; and he gained new fame when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020 and much of the workforce went remote.
  40. What was the name of Lawrence’s first building, constructed in 1849? Hint: It burned to the ground on Jan. 4, 1857.
  41. This Conservatory alumnus won a Grammy Award in 1993. Who is he? Hint: He has been a frequent guest, performer, and instructor at Lawrence through the years.
  42. This alumna, a native of India, saw her 2019 debut novel, The Far Field, draw major critical praise a decade after she graduated from Lawrence. The novel was longlisted for the Carnegie medal in fiction and short-listed for the JCB Prize for Literature, among other honors. Who is she? Hint: She returned to campus in 2019 to speak with students.
  43. When Memorial Union (now Memorial Hall) first opened in 1951, this space served as a general-purpose meeting room and a place for special events like theatre performances. It’s now a party waiting to happen. What is its name? Hint: It took on a new role beginning in March 1969.
  44. This room on the Lawrence campus includes intricate carvings that have traveled far and wide. The carvings of Lockwood de Forest were installed in 1894 in the Milwaukee home of Alice G. Chapman. Following Chapman’s death, the room was relocated to the Chapman Memorial Library on the Milwaukee-Downer campus and eventually to Lawrence. What is the name of this room? Hint: It can be found in Chapman Hall.
  45. Built in 1997, this was the first campus building to take architectural advantage of the slope of the hill overlooking the Fox River. What building is it? Hint: Two other buildings have followed, with architecture built into the hill.
  46. First held in the spring of 1966, the brainchild of student J.B. deRosset ’66, this ongoing contest is weird, wonderful, and addictive all at the same time. What is the name of the contest? Hint: It continues to connect sleep-deprived alumni every year.
  47. They arrive each spring in droves and stick around for a week or so. They are not particularly welcomed, yet they represent something positive—a healthy river ecosystem. What are they? Hint: Best to keep your mouth shut.


A banner celebrating Lawrence's 175 Years hangs on College Avenue with Memorial Chapel in the background.
Lawrence University is celebrating the 175th anniversary since its founding in 1847.


1: Jan. 15; 2: World’s largest popsicle; 3: Scott Reppert ’83; 4: William Howard Taft; 5: Nathan Marsh Pusey; 6: 1964; 7: Thomas A. Steitz ’62; 8: Ellen Sabin; 9: Seven; 10: Sampson House; 11: Elda Anderson; 12: Ormsby Hall: 13: Polio outbreak; 14: Carnegie Library; 15: Edward Cooke; 16: Bjorklunden lodge; 17: General Electric College Bowl; 18: Kenya Earl ’22; 19: All College Day; 20: Vikings; 21: Nov. 12, 1849; 22: WLFM; 23: The Voice; 24: A Great and Good Work; 25: Memorial Chapel; 26: Colman Hall; 27: 1925; 28: Lawrence Institute of Wisconsin; 29: Laurie A. Carter; 30: Fred Sturm Jazz Celebration Weekend; 31: 1909: 32: Campbell Scott ’83; 33: Richard “Rik” Warch; 34: Kaleidoscope; 35: Youngchild Hall; 36: Most People Sledding Down a Hill on a Toboggan; 37: Louis B. Butler Jr. ’73; 38: Class of 1895; 39: Jack Nilles ’54; 40: The Academy; 41: Dale Duesing ’67; 42: Madhuri Vijay ’09; 43: Viking Room or VR; 44: Teakwood Room; 45: Briggs Hall; 46: Great Midwest Trivia Contest; 47: Caddisflies (also accepting river bugs or river flies)