The eight Ivy League schools take their name from the ivy that grows on their buildings. According to the Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library at Princeton University, the term goes back to 1933. The Ivy League itself has a longer history, with the oldest school dating to the middle of the 17th century. Known for its academic excellence, the Ivy League has produced many distinguished graduates, including several American presidents, Nobel laureates and even Academy Award winners.
Founded in 1764 in Rhode Island, Brown University takes its name from businessman and philanthropist Nicholas Brown. Originally called the College of Rhode Island, it changed its name after receiving a generous gift from Brown.
Founded in 1754 by royal charter, Columbia is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of New York. The university changed its original name, Kings College, after England's King George II, during the War of Independence. According to Columbia's website, the new name "embodied the patriotic fervor that had inspired the nation's quest for independence."
Cornell was founded in 1865 by Andrew Dickson White and Ezra Cornell, from whom the university takes its name. Cornell, founder the Western Union company, founded the university to encourage the study of practical subjects in addition to the traditional liberal arts curriculum.
Dartmouth was founded in 1769 by Rev. Eleazar Wheelock, a Congregational minister from Connecticut. It takes its name from William Legge, the second Earl of Dartmouth, an early benefactor.
Founded in 1636, Harvard University is the nation's oldest college. It takes its name from its first benefactor, a young minister named John Harvard. Harvard left his collection of books and half his estate to the new college when he died in 1638.
The University of Pennsylvania traces its history back to 1740 and the formation of a trust to establish the Charity School of Philadelphia. In 1750, the trustees, who included Benjamin Franklin, purchased a site for the university in Philadelphia.
Princeton University, in Princeton, New Jersey, was originally chartered as the College of New Jersey in 1746, making it America's fourth oldest university. The college became a university in 1896 and was renamed after the town.
Yale University traces its history back to 1701, when the General Court of the Colony of Connecticut granted a charter for the formation of a college in New Haven. In 1718, the school was named in honor of Elihu Yale, a Welsh merchant who donated money, books and a portrait of England's King George I to the school.