This 60-minute documentary produced by Penn State Public Broadcasting (WPSU-TV) brings to life the people and events that have taken the Commonwealth’s land-grant university from its humble roots as the Farmers’ High School to an internationally recognized pinnacle of scientific research, sports, academic achievement, agriculture and more.



LENGTH:  60 Minutes
MSRP: $24.95
CATALOG #: 20403
UPC #: 6-4603204039-5
ISBN #: 1-56839-353-9
PRODUCER: The Pennsylvania State University
TECHNICAL NOTES: 16 x 9 Anamorphic Widescreen, Enhanced for 16 x 9 TV, Stereo, Color, English Subtitles
NARRATOR: Bill Wallace

In addition to being available as a DVD for home-use only, this title is available to colleges, universities, non-profit institutions and community groups with both Public Performance Rights (PPR) and Digital Site Licenses (DSL). For PPR and DSL ordering information, click here.


Since the charter of the Farmers’ High School was adopted in 1855, America has seen 30 presidents, a civil war, the women’s suffrage movement, the Great Depression, two world wars, the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War, the Cold War, and the September 11 terrorist attacks—but through it all, Penn State has become one of the world’s foremost teaching and research institutions, touching nearly every important era and event in American history.

Football fans will be pleased to see coverage of the Penn State Nittany Lions football team and its beloved coach, Joe Paterno. Viewers may be further inspired by the efforts of the largest student-run philanthropy in the world – the Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon (THON), whose mission is to conquer pediatric cancer.


1. The Great Democratic Experiment
2. A Grand Vision
3. The New Woman
4. The College That was to be
5. The Pink and Black Mules
6. Military and Mandatory
7. An Alternative to Unemployment
8. Training a Nation for War
9. Do You Want a College Education?
10. Water Tunnels and Satellites
11. A Time of Great Change
12. Getting to the Heart of PSU
13. Dance!
14. Cultivating a New University
15. Investing in Education
16. The Big Eleven
17. Education for Planet Earth
18. Conclusion

Download the sell-sheet here.


“A fine example of unabashed boosterism, Raise the Song draws on a wide variety of archival material—from artwork and stills to news footage—combined with narration and interviews with administrators and faculty to trace Pennsylvania State University’s history from its founding as Farmers’ High School in 1855 to the present day. The documentary emphasizes Penn State’s importance, not only as one of the country’s first land-grant institutions, but also its significance for being open to women and working-class students—offering a truly “public” alternative to existing colleges with their “classical” curricula catering to elites. The first presidents are eulogized with mini-biographies testifying to their central role in Penn State’s early success, after which the film looks at the rapid expansion beginning in the 1950s under Milton Eisenhower and his successors, including the establishment of the Hershey Medical School. Of course, the football program and legendary coach Joe Paterno (one of the interviewees) receive attention as well. Along the way, director Patrick Mansell inserts amusing bits into the narrative—like the story of how the athletic teams switched from their original colors (pink-and-black) and mascot (mule) to the famed blue and white and the lion. Raise the Song will appeal mostly to Penn State alums, but the film also should have wider appeal since it tells an important story in the history of American education. Recommended.” – September/October 2010 Video Librarian

“Please accept my congratulations on a fantastic program that is enlightening, informative, entertaining, and extraordinary. You really hit this one ‘out of the park.’ I can’t help but think that somewhere, Evan Pugh has a big smile on his face. For the Glory!” – Doug Robb, 1977 Penn State Alumnus, Texas

“An insightful look at an educational institution’s humble beginnings and its rise to prominence.” – Pete Croatto, Home Media Magazine

“RAISE THE SONG is an absolute treasure for anyone who has ever attended or had an interest in Penn State, and it tells the Penn State story in a way that will fascinate, entertain and inspire.”
- Graham Spanier, President, Penn State University

Raise The Song: The History of Penn State
Key Dates in the Film
• 1855 Centre County, Pennsylvania is selected as the location for the Farmer’s High School.
• 1857 Justin Morrill, a congressman from Vermont,  introduced a bill that would permit monies earned from federal land sales to be used for any institutions that prioritized agricultural and mechanical arts, enabling those of modest means to afford an advanced education.
• 1861 First graduating class from Farmer’s High School.
• 1862 School name was changed to the Agricultural College of Pennsylvania.
• 1864 Death of first school president, Evan Pugh, at the age of 35.
• 1812 George Atherton became school president.
• 1887 Passage of the Hatch Act, which established agricultural experiment stations which enabled farmers to learn locally how to farm without having to attend college.
• 1905 The Great Strike occurred when students walked out of class for ten days to protest attendance policy. This led to the creation of student government which became recognized as a means for students to express concerns or grievances and negotiate on their behalf with the faculty.
• 1907 Nittany lion chosen as school mascot.
• 1940 Penn State provides support for the war effort during World War II and becomes training school for several aircraft manufacturing companies and other specialized training needed for wartime.
• 1990 Penn State joins Big Ten Conference to become 11th.