Reckoning with the legacy of Southwestern's four Root Colleges

Southwestern was formed and located in Georgetown, Texas, in 1872 by consolidating four root colleges--Rutersville, McKenzie, Soule, and Wesleyan--into Texas University, which was eventually renamed Southwestern University. Indeed, our current claim to be Texas' first university is derived from the first of these, Rutersville College, which was chartered by the Republic of Texas in 1840. Although Southwestern's origin stories use this history to authorize our claim to longevity, this claim ignores the ongoing problematic legacies carried with it, as all four of these root colleges are entangled in the histories of settler colonialism, chattel slavery, the Civil War, and the early iterations of Jim Crow in Texas. The entries in this theme critically engage the ways that the root colleges are actively remembered today in particular places on campus.