Michigan State University

Land Selected under the Morrill Land Grant Act of 1862

Kathleen Weessies

An interactive map has been created which displays the land parcels selected by the State of Michigan under the Morrill Land Grant College Act. 

In 1863 Michigan participated in the program established by the Morrill Land Grant College Act of 1862 to establish an agricultural college using funds gained from a grant of federal lands. This map displays the 240,000 acres selected.

The legal land description of each parcel is listed in the book, The State of Michigan and the Morrill Land Grant College Act of 1862. Author Herbert Berg had obtained photocopies of the list from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, since the records in the State of Michigan government had been lost in a fire.  This book is available in the MSU Main Library in the Special Collections Department.

The purpose of the Morrill Act was to grant free federal land to the state so that its sale would create a perpetual endowment to fund the founding and future financial needs of the college (but not to be used for constructing buildings).  Michigan Agricultural College (now Michigan State University) was already in existence at this time, in fact it had been the prototype that had inspired the design of the program.  The 240,000 granted acres (the number of acres varied from state to state depending on a formula) were slowly sold over the course of several decades resulting in an annual income which benefited the college for many years.

For more information, Berg's book contains the full text of the Morrill Act and a detailed history of the Act's passing and it subsequent deployment in Michigan.  Also see MSU's webpage, "The Nation's Pioneer Land-Grant University."

A page from Appendix G of Herbert Berg's book

Appendix G of Herbert Berg's book lists every land parcel included in the land grant.


Land Grant parcel around Copemish

Image from the Interactive map


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