Friday, April 29, 2011

A SELF-HELP COLLEGE ON A FARM; part 5; Harriet S. Flagg; June 1919

"Three classes of young people go to college," said Dr. Hudson. "In the first class are those who can pay their way. Next come those who cannot pay but are able to battle their way through college by work and economy. Such a student was the late John Green Bradey, three time governor of Alaska, born a street Arab in New York. He worked his way through a small western college, through Yale and through a theological seminary. A boy or girl with qualities such as that, does not need the help of Blackburn. There is a third class; it is the class that Blackburn college is organized to help and includes financially-poor young people from mortgaged farms, who crave an education yet have not the worldly knowledge which is needed for self-help. They require, at the start, more individual attention than the average university can give them. They are splendid young Americans. We know this, for Blackburn proudly sent fifty of her young men to serve in Uncle Sam's army.

"This is only the third year of our self-help plan," continued Doctor Hudson. "Some of our students have gone to further studies in larger universities, other have returned to the farms. The girls who graduate are skilled in household management besides the knowledge they have gained from books. The young men have learned scientific agriculture and have had some training in farm management."

"If Lincoln were a boy today," said one of the trustees of Blackburn college, "he would, I believe, find his way to Blackburn where he would be welcomed. He would split rails and work on the farm for his education in an atmosphere that would make the most of his wonderful natural gifts."

Blackburn college is working to raise a half-million-dollar endowment fund. If it succeeds in doing this, then the little prairie college with the big idea, will be in a position to better realize its great dream of helping young men and women help themselves to fine, efficient citizenship.

Monday, April 25, 2011

A SELF-HELP COLLEGE ON A FARM; part 4; Harriet S. Flagg; June 1919

Five years ago Dr. William M. Hudson answered the call to reorganize Blackburn. He called the trustees together and proposed that Blackburn turn over a new leaf. As there are so many other colleges better equipped than Blackburn to educate those who can afford to pay, Dr. Hudson suggested that Blackburn be turned into a college for young people who without means to pay for a college education are yet eager for training. "Let the students," said Dr. Hudson, "earn money running the farm belonging to the college for young people with pluck enough to work for an education.

 "When we were ready to open the doors of the college, I wondered if we would have any students. The first year we had eighty young men and seven girls. The second year, we had over a thousand applications from students all over the world. Unfortunately we have only accommodations and equipment for about one hundred."

Dormitory room was sorely needed. There was no money for a building. Dr. Hudson asked the Pullman company for a discarded sleeping car. They gave him two. These retired Pullmans have been put on foundations, heated and equipped with electric lights. The lower berths were removed to make room for furniture and the girls sleep in the upper berths. While Pullman dormitories are picturesque, Dr. Hudson hopes soon to replace them with a modern fireproof building which will accommodate at least one hundred girls.

Recently Blackburn college received a gift of all the equipment used at the Woman's Land Army camp at Libertyville--where the war-emergency farmerettes were trained. This $10,000 equipment included horses, harness, wagons, farm implements, cows, dairy equipment and complete household furnishing for fifty people.

Friday, April 22, 2011

A SELF-HELP COLLEGE ON A FARM; part 3; Harriet S. Flagg; June 1919

Of course other college and universities offer opportunities for students to work their way through. In any college, there is a proportion of students who tend furnace, do janitor work, wait on table, clerk in the office, whatever they can do to earn their way through. But the majority are able to meet their college expenses without work. The remarkable thing about Blackburn college is that the children of well-to-do parents are discouraged from coming there; young people who have plenty of ambition but little money, are welcome.

If you could have stepped with me into the college kitchen you would have found two good-looking girls rolling paste for eighteen apple pies for dinner. I tasted the pies and rolls baked by the students that morning. They were delicious. In the afternoon I had a chance to see that these girls were just as clever in solving a problem in geometry as in making apple pies.

The girls work in groups, which rotate regularly. By the end of the year each girl has served her turn at sweeping, dish washing, bed making, laundry work, preparing vegetables, cooking and waiting on table.

The girls handle the food, plan and prepare the meals for the one hundred students under the direction of the instructor in domestic science. They run the power washing machine, and do all the laundry work. In dressmaking classes they learn to design, cut and fit their own clothes. The young women work out, in kitchen and diningroom; the lessons they have learned in the domestic science classes. In the same way the young men are taught agriculture. Then they apply what they have learned on the college farm under the direction of an experienced farmer, who acts as farm superintendent. Every student is expected to spend two and a half hours at some practical work each day.

Blackburn has a small pure-bred Holstein herd and the young men do all the dairy work studying best dairy methods.

Besides practical training in household and farm management, the college carries its students as far as the state university does in its first two years.

Blackburn was founded in 1837 by the Rev. Gideon Blackburn, a Presbyterian minister, but the old college has been born again through the gospel of self-help.

Monday, April 18, 2011

A SELF-HELP COLLEGE ON A FARM; part 2; Harriet S. Flagg; June 1919

Blackburn is not large. It has accommodations and equipment for about one hundred students. One large, brick building, built just after the Civil War, a science building, two retired Pullman sleeping cars used as dormitories, a barn and silo, with some poultry houses,complete the list. Fine old elms, maples, ash, oaks, add at the beauty of the 10-acre campus, which adjoins the prosperous prairie city of Carlinville. A seventy-acre farm, owned by the college, joins the campus on the north, and beyond this the college is working one hundred and twenty additional acres.

Blackburn College does more than "teach." It reaches out into lives with constructive, inspiring help. May I tell you the story of one of its students, Bob, as his friends call him?

When Bob was nineteen he was earning ninety dollars a month in a Pennsylvania coal mine. There was an accident and Bob lost his left arm. Through the long days he lay in the hospital thinking, "If I am to win out, I must get into a business or profession where I can use my head more than my hands. I must get an education. But how can I get it--now?

His family had no pull. He was poor. How was he, with one arm only, to get good-paying work, much less an education?

A friend told him of Blackburn College.

Bob wrote to Blackburn and the president replied, "Come along!"

Work was found for him. For a month he used a pick and shovel, holding his place with a gang of two-armed laborers. Then he rigged up an ingenious, arrangement on his left arm whereby he could punch rivets in an electric shop connected with a coal mine. A year ago he passed the Illinois state examination for mine inspector and was appointed to one of the Standard Oil Company's coal mines close to the college, at a salary of one hundred and seventy-five dollars a month. He attends college in the morning, spends the afternoons studying, snatches a few hours' sleep in the evening and begins his mine inspection tour at one o'clock in the morning.

Although sorely handicapped at the start, Bob is more than self-supporting. He has helped his family and has saved $2,200. With his savings and the education he has received at Blackburn, he is ready this fall to enter one of the large universities where he plans to begin the study of law.

Friday, April 15, 2011

A SELF-HELP COLLEGE ON A FARM; part 1; Harriet S. Flagg; June 1919

"Doctor Hudson: I am hungry enough for an education to do anything within the bounds of reason to get it. I am not afraid of hard work. I was born and raised on a farm. When I was fifteen I got a job waiting on table in a small hotel and went to school at the same time. Then I had to quit school when I was sixteen to earn more money. You surely must know what it would mean to me to go to college. If I can work my way through Blackburn College, I want to know at once so I can come right along. Don't think any work will be too hard to me. All I ask is just the chance to prove how much I want an education."

This young girl's appeal for help is like many of the letters that come to Dr. William M. Hudson, the president of Blackburn College, Carlinville, Illinois, a unique college on a prairie farm about sixty miles north of St. Louis.

 During a day which I spent at Blackburn, representing The Farmer's Wife, Dr. Hudson let me read some of these letters. They were, I found, from ambitious young men and women, from lean, mortgaged farms, mining and lumber camps, backwoods clearings, offices, small settlements, all crying out for a chance to get an education.

Everybody works at Blackburn. That is why Blackburn differs from most other colleges. The majority of students at the ordinary college or university usually have enough money to pay their college expenses and comparatively few work their way through. At Blackburn, the students form a working community under competent supervision. Everybody has some job which helps pay his college expenses. The girls do all the housework, the cooking, cleaning, washing, mending. The young men run the dairy, manage a 200-acre farm and raise most of the food to supply the college.

The student pays $150 the first year and $130 a year after that; this includes room, board and tuition for the school year. For worthwhile young people who cannot afford even $130, there is a little fund to help pull them out of these financial holes.

Monday, April 11, 2011

YES, I AM KNITTING; by A Farm Wife; May 1918

Yes, I am knitting sweaters. No, I do not neglect my housework or any other duty. Also I am practicing conservation down to the very crumbs and I am doing work that I never tired to do before. For my knitting I use time that would otherwise be wasted as far as my hands are concerned tho I have never found much time to waste--the days have never had enough hours. I knit in my car, at lectures and at club meetings, in odd moments of waiting when ordinarily I would pick up a bit of light reading or when nerves and body demand that I sit still and relax. Do you think I am ostentatious, to carry my knitting about publicly? You many think so if you like, but just the same my sweaters seem to me to grow rather magically. And you say that a knitting machine can do the work better and more quickly than a hundred women can? Probably true--undoubtedly true. But a knitting machine takes capital to set up. The knitting that I and my countless sisters are doing takes no capital to start, is redeeming thousands of otherwise wasted hours and is winning back to usefulness many women who are physically unable to render other service or who have for years regarded themselves as exempt from the common lot of toil.

Monday, April 4, 2011

BEING A SISTER TO TED; part 4; by Faye N. Merriman; 1915

Just why it took her so long to put on a ridiculously tiny hat and why she left three lace-edged handkerchiefs soaking the scarf upon the dresser, is nobody's business but Thelma's.

That young lady was cool and undisturbed when at length she appeared upon the driveway. "But where is she?" she asked before entering the car.

You'll see her soon," he promised. "It was a fancy of hers to meet us at the bungalow. Perhaps she already there."

But no one appeared on the wide porch when they reached their destination.

"Never mind," he said, "we'll look through the house first. You will see that I have adopted some of your ideas. You have most unusual and charming ideas about building. With a brother's nerve I calmly swiped many of them."

Many of them! She caught her breath resentfully. The house was the house of her own dreams conveyed to Ted in scraps at various times and places. All though the building it was the same until they came to the sewing room which opened off of the curving front porch.

"I believe I hear something," he said eagerly. "Will you wait here until I see?"

She nodded dumbly and he slipped through the door they had left open. She crossed to an opposite window and waited, blinded and deaf and oblivious, until he grasped her arm gently.

"Come," he said, "and meet my bride-to-be."

Perhaps if he had relaxed his hold upon her arm she could not have crossed the room but she started bravely. Through the doorway he piloted her.

"My fiancee," he said proudly.

Thelma shuddered and then with a tremendous effort lifted her head.

"Why-y-y! she stammered.

"My fiancee, Thelma," he said again, reprovingly.

Her hand flew to her heart and the figure before her imitated the action. Then with a little cry she crumpled down--into the arms of Ted Stover. For there was no one in the room--nothing but the long, swinging built-in mirror.

Friday, April 1, 2011

BEING A SISTER TO TED; part 3; by Faye N. Merriman; 1915

Thereafter he dropped in informally every afternoon or evening. Other young men came and went--rejected--but Ted's brotherly attitude remained unchanged.

One day he came to her with shining eyes.

"I haven't asked much of you, have I, since I became a brother?" he asked eagerly. "You have noticed, perhaps, that I haven't been bothering you so much lately?"

She turned away. "I really hadn't noticed," she said indifferently.

"Too much occupied with that young Raynor," he remarked. "But never mind that now. I come asking for your assistance. Will you give it to me?"

"Gladly. What is it?"

He looked away down the path. "Do you remember what I told you about saving my money?" he questioned. "Well, I have done so and have also made some exceedingly fortunate investments--so fortunate that I have been able to buy a bungalow and half an acre of garden--and--I am going to be married."

Still looking down the path he did not see her face whiten nor her slender body tremble for a moment. Then she held out her hand quite steadily.

"I am very glad," she said. "What was it you wanted me to do?"

"It's rather an unconventional thing," he returned. "I have the cottage all finished and she wants to come and look it over this afternoon. I have no mother for a chaperone and neither has she--would you come along in that capacity?"

"Certainly," she said evenly. "Shall we go now?" Where is she?"

"You are a good little thing," he exclaimed impulsively, "run put on your hat. I won't ask you to walk now for I have purchased a little car--not much of one, you know, but just right for two. I'll run it up to the gate while I'm waiting."