"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.