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On This Day: February 5

1849 - University of Wisconsin opens

On this day in 1849 the University of Wisconsin began with 20 students led by Professor John W. Sterling. The first class was organized as a preparatory school in the first department of the University: a department of science, literature, and the arts. The university was initially housed at the Madison Female Academy building, which had been provided free of charge by the city. The course of study was English grammar; arithmetic; ancient and modern geography; elements of history; algebra; Caesar's Commentaries; the Aeneid of Virgil (six books); Sallust; select orations of Cicero; Greek; the Anabasis of Xenophon; antiquities of Greece and Rome; penmanship, reading, composition and declamation. Also offered were book-keeping, geometry, and surveying. Tuition was "twenty dollars per scholar, per annum." For a detailed recollection of early UW-Madison life, see the memoirs of Mrs. W.F. Allen [Source: History of the University of Wisconsin, Reuben Gold Thwaites, 1900]

1865 - (Civil War) Battle of Hatcher's Run, Virginia, Begins

The 5th, 6th, 7th, and 36th Wisconsin Infantry regiments participated in the Battle of Hatcher's Run during the Siege of Petersburg, Virginia. Also known as the Battle of Dabney's Mill, Armstrong's Mill, Rowanty Creek, or Vaughn Road, this battle lasted three days and extended the Union trenches three miles further toward the west side of Petersburg.

1898 - Actor Sid Fields Born

On this date Milwaukee actor Sid Fields was born. Mr. Fields frequently appeared on the Abbott and Costello Show in 1952. He also appeared often on the Frank Sinatra Show in 1950 and 1951. [Source: Internet Movie Database]

1948 - Film Producer Errol Morris Born

On this date Errol Morris, film producer and director, was born in Hewlett, New York. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin, in the late 60's, he became intrigued by Ed Gein's bizarre murder crimes. He dropped out of the PhD program in philosophy at UC-Berkeley and relocated to Plainfield, Wisconsin, the killer's hometown, and moved in with Gein's next-door neighbors. Morris was also a graduate student at Princeton University. His made two innovative documentary films Gates of Heaven (1978), about pet cemeteries, and Vernon, Florida (1981), about small-town American eccentrics. He achieved his breakthrough with the feature-length film The Thin Blue Line (1988) which was influential in overturning Randall Adams' murder conviction. His 1997 film Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control won the Best Documentary Film Award from the National Board of Review and the National Society of Film Critics. His most recent film is The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons of Robert S. McNamara, which appeared in 2003. Morris has received three fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a MacArthur Fellowship. [Source: Hollywood.com; www.errolmorris.com]