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Ogden College

Bowling Green, Kentucky



Western Kentucky University included yearbooks of Ogden College as part of university archives, digitized and placed online.    


The school opened in September 1877 and was chartered in March 1878.  It was named for Robert W. Ogden, who “bequeathed his estate to provide a free education to young men of Warren County, Kentucky.”   According to the 1917 Cardinal, the school yearbook, the amount of the gift was $50,000.   The school had only three requirements of students: that they be “regular in attendance, gentlemanly in deportment and diligent in study.”


Originally, Ogden had both collegiate and preparatory courses.  In 1900 the collegiate course of study was dropped. However, collegiate-level courses were added back in 1904 and by 1912 Ogden had returned to its original structure.  The 1917 Cardinal shows 25 men working at the collegiate level, with another 107 enrolled in three classes of preparatory school.  Another 20 students were enrolled in a commercial program called penmanship. 


College literature extolled the value of the small school, with its close-knit and caring faculty.  The Ogden faculty totaled six.  As graduates of top universities, these were expected to teach whatever academic subjects were needed.  For example, the Professor of Ancient Languages also taught geometry and modern Spanish.


In addition to athletics, the men and boys participated in literary societies, a drama club, a glee club and an orchestra.


At its peak in 1918, 162 students were enrolled..  However financial problems led to a loss of accreditation in 1925.  On November 19,1927 Ogden College signed a merger agreement with Western Kentucky Normal College.  

Bricks and Mortar

The original building was Ogden Hall, formerly the Thomas C. Calvert House. 


The 1917 Cardinal describes the seven-acre campus as “one of the most picturesque spots to be found in the county.”  Out of the “stately trees” and “rare shrubbery” Ogden Hall stands on a hill, “above the noise and bustle of the city.” 


By 1960 Ogden Hall was nearly a century old and was described as being held together only by the ivy growing on it.  It was razed in 1967 to make way for a new Ogden Hall.


In 1924 a bequest by Perry Snell allowed Ogden College to add a second building, named Snell Hall.  It was on the register of historic places, but attempts to fund a renovation, led to its razing in 2005. A new Snell Hall was later built at Western Kentucky. 



Postcard view of Ogden Hall at Ogden College, accessed 1-21-2017 (<>)


     Team name: While the yearbook was the            Cardinal, newspapers never referred

          to the team as the Cardinals, only as              Ogdenites or as the Cardinal and                  Green

     Colors: Cardinal and Green


Ogden College looked back to a time in the 19th Century when its football team defeated Vanderbilt and lost to Yale by a touchdown.  By 1917 Ogden had come from seasons when there were no football games at all or when their schedule tended more to high school teams.  The 1916 team was successful by those standards, going 4-1.  The yearbook comments on the enthusiasm which brought 35 players—one in four of the student body—to the practice field.   With only 25 college students, the team would surely have been heavy with prep players. 


In the 1920’s before Ogden closed, the team played a much stronger collegiate schedule, including Murray State, Tennessee Tech, Kentucky Wesleyan, Louisville and Transylvania. 




The 1917 Ogden College baseball team.  The yearbook notes that all were prep players. (Ogden College, "UA97/7 Cardinal Yearbook" (1917). WKU Archives Records. Paper 167. accessed 1-21-2017


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