The University of Montana opened in September 1893 to public institutional control. Located directly outside of the Hellgate canyon, the University's location was described in 1895 as, "...the playground for Hellgate blizzards." Originally accepting students as young as 14 years of age, and sporting a football team with an average weight of 151 pounds, the U of M has undergone many changes and much expansion over its history.
In 1901 the University of Montana began conducting academic sessions for college students held at the Flathead Lake Biological Station (FLBS). The FLBS was founded by Professor Morton J. Elrod in the "River House" on the Swan River at Bigfork. Within four years the work being done there was beginning to attract more and more attention of scientists throughout the country, and by 1910 the work of Elrod and the notoriety of Flathead Lake Biological Station had helped to establish Glacier National Park. Shortly thereafter the FLBS was moved to its current location at Yellow Bay, and continues its research today. For more history and information about the FLBS: head over to their website. Also in use by the University of Montana is the Lubrecht Experimental Forest (LEF) that encompasses 28,000 acres 30 miles outside of Missoula along the Blackfoot River drainage. The LEF is dedicated to the advancement of natural resource knowledge through research and education, and has been the site of numerous research and demonstration projects since the 1950s. Find out more.
Pre-dating the Mansfield Library on campus, the University of Montana's first library was established in 1895 on Sixth Street in the old Willard School. Initially only containing 187 volumes, the library's holdings had increased to 1,369 volumes, 19 periodicals, and 20 newspapers. From its then current location, the library moved to University Hall four years after its establishment. The expansion of the library continued until 1908, it was moved again to another building on campus (now known as the Jeannette Rankin Hall), and continued to expand its holdings while simultaneously becoming a designated depository for government documents. Later moved into its first structure built specifically to house a university library (now the Social Science Building), the library continued to grow and expand until in 1970 the construction of the current library building was begun and in 1974 the three floors that had been completed out of of five were occupied. Completed in 1978, and a year later during the University's Homecoming activities, the library was named after Ambassador Mike Mansfield and his wife Maureen.
A long-lost manuscript detailing the early years of the University of Montana (1893 - 1935) resurfaced when the grandson of author Mary Brennan Clapp had gone on a genealogic fact-finding mission and found two manuscripts that had been sitting dormant in his mother and aunt's closets for 40 years.