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Transforming the Oklahoma Prairie a

David Ross Boyd, the University of Oklahoma’s first president, served from 1892 to 1908 and saw the university grow from a single building to a small campus of five buildings. In addition to his academic leadership, Boyd is known for his interest in horticulture and especially for his planting of trees to beautify the university’s campus.

The university in its entirety, as shown on the Sanborn Map Company’s 1901 insurance map of Norman, Oklahoma Territory.

Soon after the completion of the university’s first building in 1893, President Boyd planted a belt of elms around it to act as a windbreak and to provide shade. To the southeast of the building, he planted an additional five acres of trees in rows. “Boyd’s nursery,” as it became known, provided seedlings for the president’s future plantings. The trees encircling the building may be seen in the forefront of this photo. The nursery is at the far left.

When Vernon L. Parrington, a 26-year old Harvard graduate arrived to teach at the University of Oklahoma, he noted that the “first building stood in a grove of elm trees and across the front and, especially, about the door was a fine growth of ivy.”

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