BeginningsThe Post-War YearsThe New MillenniumStudent Work Off-Campus

Founded in 1866 by the Minnesota Conference of Congregational Churches, many of Carleton’s first engagements with the wider world were associated with its Christian mission. A number of Carleton’s earliest graduates went on to undertake missionary work in China, Japan, India, Turkey, as well as throughout the United States. Some of Carleton’s earliest international students first become acquainted with Carleton through these missionary connections.

The study of foreign languages at Carleton also has its roots in Carleton’s earliest years: initially, Latin and Greek, with French and German joining them soon thereafter. The early 20th century saw an international dimension introduced to new areas of Carleton’s curriculum, from international relations to geology, with the help of notable figures like Frank B. Kellogg and Laurence M. Gould.

Isabella Watson’s table in Gridley Hall dining room

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Jack Caton ’40 and Paul Clifford Domke ’40 walk along the mission wall.
Jack Caton ’40 and Paul Clifford Domke ’40 walk along the mission wall.
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German lunch table
German lunch table
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Isabella Watson's table in Gridley Hall dining room


Opportunities to use foreign language skills outside of the classroom have been an important part of language study at Carleton for well over a century. Carleton’s 1898-99 catalog informed students that, in addition to language coursework and library resources, “practice in speaking French and German is also secured at the French and German tables at Gridley Hall.” Isabella Watson (seated 5th from right). graduated from Carleton in 1885 and joined the Carleton faculty as a professor of French and German in 1887 after further study in France.

19 January 2018