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A Brief History of Pomona College

The Pomona College Timeline

To learn more about the history of Pomona College, visit our interactive timeline that chronicles the first 125 years of the College.

Banner image for timeline

Pomona College was incorporated on October 14, 1887, by a group of Congregationalists who wanted to recreate on the West Coast “a college of the New England type,” one that would represent the very best of what they had experienced as students in the finest colleges of the Eastern and Midwestern United States.

Instruction began on September 12, 1888, in a small, rented house in the city of Pomona. The following January, an unfinished hotel in nearby Claremont, along with adjacent land, was given to the College, which subsequently relocated there. The name "Pomona College" stuck. Pomona awarded its first diplomas to the Class of 1894. With the freedom characteristic of colleges founded in the Congregationalist tradition, Pomona was soon entrusted with its own governing board.  Today the College stands as an independent college, with no sectarian affiliation.

By the mid-1920s, the growth of the College presented its leaders with the difficult choice of limiting its expansion to retain its unique character or allow growth to transform it into a university? Guided by President James A. Blaisdell, Pomona chose a third path. Using Oxford and Cambridge as a model, Pomona led the way in founding a consortium of institutions unlike any other in America. Over the next 75 years, two graduate schools and four other undergraduate colleges joined Pomona as members of The Claremont Colleges consortium, located on neighboring campuses, allowing cross-registration and sharing important facilities such as libraries.