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History Lessons: Registration Flashback

An alumna shares her memory of registering for classes in the 1960s.
By Gregory Lucas-Myers, ’10

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As U-M gears up for a new academic year and a return to more in-person learning, Karen W. Morse, MSCHE’64, PhD’67, reached out to Michigan Alumnus to share her memory of class registration in 1964.

“Enrolling in classes in the early ‘60s was a personal experience. There were even comments from some U-M grads that it was where they met their future spouse. That is one aspect of registration that no longer occurs. But it’s no wonder that it happened, looking at the long line waiting to enter Waterman Gymnasium to register.”

Originally constructed in 1894 northeast of the Diag on North University Avenue, Waterman was the first gym facility on campus. As U-M was not fully co-educational yet, Waterman’s schedule had to be divided between both the male and female students. Barbour Gymnasium was completed in 1896 as an addition to Waterman exclusively for women’s athletic endeavors.

The photo is taken from the fourth floor of the older part of the chemistry building, before the Willard Henry Dow Lab was built. Students waited in line and entered to find signs that directed them to where they signed up for classes. Though records for 1964 aren’t available, the fall 1966 report indicates a student population of around 36,000.

“A receipt, recently found when my husband and I moved, listed that, for one semester for an in-state graduate student, the bill was $75.”

As time went on, U-M’s student population boomed and the Waterman and Barbour gymnasiums soon fell into disuse as newer, larger facilities like the Intramural Athletic Building (1928) were built. Waterman and Barbour were demolished in 1977; Dow Lab, an extension of the chemistry building, now stands in its place. Other buildings such as Angell Hall took up registration duties and the process went on to evolve … in spite of problems.

If you met your spouse while waiting in line at Waterman to register, please email alum.editors@umich.edu with your story. We might include it in our February “love stories” feature.


Gregory Lucas-Myers, ’10, is senior assistant editor of Michigan Alumnus.

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