If your colloquial knowledge of Ivy League schools extends only as far as Yale’s Skull and Bones Wikipedia page or Jesse Eisenberg’s performance in The Social Network, then you’re in for a treat! Check out 12 interesting—and, to the best of our knowledge, true—tidbits about eight prestigious schools whose “official” histories are well known, but whose minutiae are frequently the stuff of legend…
1. In his dorm room at Harvard, Theodore Roosevelt kept a small menagerie of pets that included lobsters, snakes, and a tortoise.
2. At the time of its founding, Brown was the first Ivy to welcome students of all religious faiths.
3. Cornell is actually a branch of the—gasp!—State University of New York.
4. Nassau Hall at Princeton served as the United States capitol for approximately five months in 1783.
5. In the late 1970s, a cache of nude photos—whose purpose is still up for debate—was uncovered, featuring incoming freshmen at Yale, Harvard, and Princeton, among other schools.
6. One of Dartmouth’s most famous alums is Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss.
7. The first Chinese graduate of a Western institution came to Yale in 1850.
8. Columbia was originally named King’s College after its founder, King George II of England.
9. In the absence of an official mascot, students at Dartmouth adopted Keggy the Keg, a life-sized keg of beer, in 2003.
10. A midnight campus recital of death-themed organ music is attended by Brown students each year on Halloween.
11. In 2012, Harvard reported the largest endowment of any institution in the world at $30.4 billion.
12. The University of Pennsylvania has a long history that was shaped in part by nine signers of the Declaration of Independence and 11 signers of the Constitution.