The initial steps which led to the founding of the great educational institutions of the world are known in very few instances. Seldom was any record even made of them, their significance not being recognized when the events occurred. The author of this work, Thomas Wakefield Goodspeed, was intimately connected with the persons and events involved in the founding of the University of Chicago in 1891. His detailed account of that institution's first twenty-five years, originally published in 1916, reveals that the chief participants were aware from the beginning of the magnitude and importance of their enterprise.
As Goodspeed shows, once the main roles were cast—in the persons of John D. Rockefeller and William Rainey Harper—the University of Chicago was irrevocably headed for greatness. Without the support of both of these men it would never have become one of the nation's major universities in a mere quarter century. Although Harper died in 1906, his innovative mind and unflagging energy left an indelible mark on the university during the fifteen years of his presidency. The study provides detailed information on the founding of the university, the procurement of funds, the recruitment of faculty, the construction of buildings, student life, and the problems of continuing growth.