Founded in 1908 and named for the mother of our country’s founding father, the University of Mary Washington has a rich history of traditions and academic excellence. The institution has evolved from its beginnings as Fredericksburg’s State Normal and Industrial School for Women to one of the nation’s premier, selective public liberal arts and sciences universities today.
From 1944 to 1972, Mary Washington functioned as the women’s college of the University of Virginia. Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious honorary academic organization, established a Mary Washington chapter in 1971. Shortly after Mary Washington became coed in the early 1970s, it was reorganized as an independent college. In 2004 the General Assembly of Virginia renamed the institution as the University of Mary Washington.
For more information about the University and its history, we recommend reading History of Mary Washington College, 1908-1972 by Edward Alvey, Jr. and William B. Crawley, Jr.’s University of Mary Washington: A Centennial History, 1908-2008.
During its 107-year history, the University of Mary Washington has had nine presidents. The papers and administrative records of past presidents are housed in the University Archives, and online finding aids have been published for many of these materials. To learn more about these collections, visit the UMW Presidents Collections page.
Campus Buildings and Architecture
University Archives contains a wealth of information about the buildings and grounds of the Fredericksburg Campus. To research campus architecture and landscape features, please consult our buildings and grounds record group headings or browse through our UMW Blueprints and Architectural Drawings digital collection. This timeline, created by Historic Preservation professor Dr. Michael Spencer, provides additional context for the University’s architecture. UMW’s Center for Historic Preservation has great resources for learning more about campus buildings and history.