A Newcomer Looks at American Colleges
Translated and edited by Karen Larsen (Volume X: Page 107)
On May 7, 1866, Laur. Larsen, the president of Luther College, took the stage to the railroad junction at Conover, Iowa, and set out to study some of the leading educational institutions of the Middle West. Since the founding of Luther College, nearly five years earlier, most of his efforts had of necessity been devoted to the material affairs oŁ the school. But now that the building had been completed, more of his attention could be centered upon the inner development of the college. Larsen knew that Luther College, though built to preserve the traditions of the Norwegian immigrants, must gradually adapt itself to American conditions. He was therefore "completely convinced" that the venture upon which he was embarked was "absolutely necessary."
It was his first visit to any institution of learning outside his own church. This trip, he wrote in a private letter, was quite another matter from his earlier travels among the Norwegian settlements. He was alone among strangers, and, though he had mastered English well enough for practical purposes, it was still a foreign language to him.
In Wisconsin he visited the university and Beloit College, and both were almost as primitive as the college he represented. He was probably right in concluding that in thoroughness and scholarship his own college, where Old World standards had not had time to deteriorate, was superior to both. In Ohio he visited Oberlin College. He had no opportunity to observe the class work there, as he had at all the other places, but he seems to have found the general atmosphere there repellent. He did not understand the New
England background of Oberlin College, nor its ideals or past achievements. He did not know of the adversities it had suffered during the Civil War, which had left an impress on the physical plant of the college. He had only been told that this college was "very radical" Perhaps, also, there was more than a trace of snobbishness in the New Englander's manner toward the newcomer. He went as far east as the University of Michigan. Time had already exerted a little mellowing effect at Ann Arbor, and the university had a rather close contact with the East. Here, Larsen felt, was a really good institution where he learned more than he had at the other places. Yet he found little in the course or the methods that was quite adapted to the needs of his own college.
In Fort Wayne, among German friends, he spent some "exceedingly pleasant" days, which "quite made up for all that was wearisome" at the other schools. There he visited Concordia College of the Missouri Synod. No wonder he felt at home, for he had taught at Concordia while it was still at St. Louis. In 1861 the college had been moved to Fort Wayne, while the theological department remained at St. Louis.
When his task was completed, he set out to make a brief visit to his old haunts in St. Louis before returning home. "I am feeling," he wrote, "light of heart because at last I am through with the Yankee schools for this time."
While Larsen's letters add intimate little touches to our knowledge of this trip, most of the information about it is contained in a little memorandum book which he had constantly at hand. He not only made hasty notes of the many little items he wished to remember, but, in order to reap the greatest possible benefit from his observations, he kept a detailed daybook. This document gives us a glimpse of our mid-western colleges in the sixties, seen through the eyes of a man with an Old World training. It also shows, as do many other sources, that the leaders among the Norwegian
pioneers did not expect their racial group to remain an isolated island in a sea of Americanism. And finally it pictures the first step taken in the development of Luther College from a European gymnasium into an American liberal arts college.
The diary was not written with any view to publication nor as an official report, and the translator has tried to follow the original as closely as possible.
May 8 . I left Decorah on May 7; but, because the railroad was in a poor condition after the flood, I did not reach McGregor before almost five o'clock and Prairie du Chien at six o'clock, thus too late to catch the four o'clock train for Madison. So I did not arrive there before the following noon, met the pastors It. A. Preus
I was invited to be a guest both at Solberg's
and at Fleiseher's.
As I had little time, I had to avail myself chiefly of the former invitation, which enabled me to stay near the center of town. The first night, however, I slept at Fleischer's and so I had an opportunity to talk over several matters with him also.
H. A. Preus told me a little about conditions in Chicago, and I had a chance to consult him about sending secuncla
to St. Louis
next summer, which he did not quite seem to favor. His correspondence with A. Torgerson,
he was to forward to me at St. Louis. He asked me to preach here on Wednesday evening, the tenth, which I did, using the text for Ascension Day.
At the office of Emigranten, I left a list of acknowledgments for gifts and an announcement about the admission of new students.
With Fleischer ! talked about half fare for our ministers, representatives to the Synod meetings, and students; he promised to do all in his power in this matter. He also showed me a sample of some weatherstrips, which cost one shilling per foot. To install them in all the college windows would cost about $250. In Conover I had already seen a model of waterworks which might possibly be used at the college instead of the ram pump.
I made a short visit at the university on Tuesday afternoon and spent most of Wednesday there. One thing that struck me as soon as I entered was some admirable school desks and benches, which made me regret that we had already equipped our classrooms. The seat is attached on the desk back of it; the desk and seat thus joined stand on two slender legs, which are not fastened to the floor. They are held in place by a long board which extends across a whole row of seats and at the same time separates the two places on each bench. Another arrangement that is worth imitating is the abundance of blackboard in all recitation rooms, applied on the wall with a substance which can be procured in Chicago (probably at Henry M. Sherwood, 21 Lombard Block). A handy little device is the use of small cards for recording the recitations of students in every subject. The teachers' desks are essentially like those we have just procured from Cleveland, but with a platform which extends farther out on both sides.
Sometimes the teacher has only a plain table. In some rooms where no writing is to be done, there are only benches without desks. Some are stationary, arranged like an amphitheater; others are loose almost like garden benches; also there are chairs fastened together with a board screwed onto the under side of the seat.
As to the living arrangements: the whole large central building --- which five years ago cost 865,000, and now probably would have cost $100,000, but is not so large or beautiful as ours --- is used for classrooms, library, and museum, plus unnecessarily
large rooms for two debating societies. By using the dome style of architecture, much space has been wasted in the middle of the building. Some of the rooms are vacant.
In the southern building lives the dean, Professor Sterling,
and another teacher, Professor Pickard,
who is obliged to board at cost the students who wish it. The rest of this building is occupied by the "young ladies" among the students, while the whole northern building is rented to the "young gentlemen." Only a few of both sexes board with Professor Pickard; a large number board themselves, and many both room and board in town. The rooms of the students in the buildings are so arranged that there are small study rooms with two (sometimes three) adjoining sleeping rooms. Such a suite is occupied by three or four students.
The great cleanliness in the central building also attracted my attention; but then I was told that it takes almost the full time of a man to keep the building clean. Perhaps additional help is also employed for the scrubbing.
Of classes, I first attended a recitation in Virgil in the preparatory department, third year. They did not translate so badly; but there was little questioning about analysis and little explanation, and some of the answers given were poor.
Next I listened to Xenophon's Memorabilia in the freshman class. Professor Butler
was hoarse and could only hear translation, which went moderately well. There was, however, one student who could not translate, and when questioned said so. I was surprised both here and in Beloit that the students so often said they were not prepared, and that was all there was to it. I was also surprised that as far down as in this class there were only four or five who studied Greek. On the whole, said the professor, there are few who complete a full course, and especially few who study Greek. For graduation all the studies designated in a particular course are required; but most students pursue "a course of selected studies." Nevertheless they must
be present at ail recitations unless they have an excuse acceptable to the professor.
The Greek recitation was finished in less than half an hour, and, after I had talked a little with the professor, I went into another class; but I found that here, too, the teacher had dismissed his class on account of indisposition. On the whole, it seemed to happen often, both in Madison and in Beloit, that the teacher was through before the hour was up. (Splendid wall map of the ancient world, by Kiepert.)
So I conversed with this teacher, Professor Read,
until eleven o'clock. He has been a teacher for forty-one years, ten of which have been spent in Madison. Like all the others in Madison and Beloit, he talked against the boarding school system, as well as against too strict rules. The students should be treated as ladies and gentlemen, and so they were also called. One thing pleased me very much, namely that all these ladies and gentlemen, both in Madison and Beloit, in small as well as large classes, always stood up while they were being examined.
At eleven o'clock, there came into the room a class, chiefly of girls from the normal school, who were to have mental philosophy --- terrible humbug. The question came up as to whether it was right to shoot game or catch fish during the time when it is forbidden by law, and the answer to this seemed too difficult for the philosophical ladies and their professor. One of the former thought it was right, the professor thought it was wrong. And so the matter was dropped with no further discussion. Finally from twelve to one, I heard Professor Carr
a in botany. The audience consisted of about equally many ladies and gentlemen. This lecture seemed to be good.
I had to hurry to town to eat dinner and to be back at the university at two o'clock for a German class. Schiller was being read, also by a class of both sexes. It went miserably, although the teacher, Professor Fuchs,
From three to four I listened to Professor Pickard lecture to the normal school --- something about the best method of
controlling and disciplining a school. It was quite dry. Corporal punishment was approved in certain eases. But some absurdities came up --- as for example that to be a good craftsman, architect, or the like, one must first and foremost be good, a good human being.
With regard to discipline and behavior, I could not form an adequate judgment in such a brief time; but in the northern dormitory things seemed at times to run pretty wild. In the relations between teachers and students, there is a smirking friendliness on the part of the former, while among the latter there is no evidence of any true respect. I did not find, however, that the students have any bad reputation in Madison on account of their behavior.
I left the university at four-thirty without caring to stay for a class in French from five to six.
May 10. Next morning at eight o'clock I went to Beloit, where I arrived early enough to be at the college a little before eleven. I looked up Henriksen,
who introduced me to Professor Blaisdel.
From eleven to twelve, I listened to him teach mental philosophy in the junior class. This too was humbug; much time was taken up in discussions between the teacher and a student, in which the teacher was not able to handle the question. One knotty point was concerning free will, of which the professor seemingly had very little understanding. As to the question whether the knowledge of good and evil is innate in man, the professor seemed to insist that only the capacity for such knowledge, not the knowledge itself, is innate.
After this period, I accepted Henriksen's invitation to eat with the students. I found the table neatly set and the food good. There are only a little more than thirty of the circa two hundred students at the institution who have formed this boarding dub, and during the winter it had cost them $2.36 --- $2.25 --- $2.20 a week. Henriksen makes the purchases for the club, and for
this he receives free board and half a dollar a week. They engage a cook (fem. gen.) who gets five dollars a week; but for this she also furnishes table linen, dishes, and a maid besides.
After dinner I looked over the place. The college is beautifully located on a flat hill. The grounds comprise about sixteen acres, almost the whole of which is seeded in grass and planted with trees. In a cottage lives a sort of caretaker who sees to the cleaning, the ringing of the bells, and the like. The college has three rather large buildings, which lie quite far apart. In the central building there are only classrooms and collections, among which the mineralogical is especially comprehensive. To one side of this lies the building in which the students have free use of space for their kitchen establishment, and rent their lodgings. Above the basement there are three stories. On each floor there are four rooms, fourteen by eighteen, and adjoining each of these two small bedrooms, six by nine. So there are only twelve such suites in the whole house, and, as the students are not required to be more than two in each suite, the whole house is really arranged for only twenty-four students who pay $240 in rent. There may, however, be three in each living room, thirty-six in all, who then have a proportionate reduction in their payment. In Madison the rooms are of about the same size, but they house three or four in each suite, and, as the building is twice as large, they can accommodate many more. Of course, all for whom there is not room must find it elsewhere. It should be noted that where there are two in one bedroom, they sleep in the same bed.
In the third building, there are on the first floor one large and one smaller room for the normal and preparatory department, and on the second floor, a chapel. Round about the campus the teachers have their private homes, which they have to procure at their own expense. They have a salary of $1,500 and the president, $1,750.
In the college, there are three recitations a day: from seven-thirty to eight-thirty, from eleven to twelve, and from four-thirty to five-thirty. The normal and preparatory school has sessions from nine to twelve and from two-thirty to five-thirty.
From two-thirty to three-thirty, I attended a Latin recitation
for the very beginners; it went poorly, they had studied only three weeks.
From three-thirty to four-thirty, I listened to the class in first year's Greek; the junior class in the preparatory department, which now was studying Greek in the third term under a student of the college senior class. They had [Greek word in Greek letters] and [another Greek word] but knew very little; and then translation, which went a little better. It was the most wretched teaching I have heard.
From four-thirty to five-thirty, I heard the elementary principles of geometry in the freshman class, which, however, did not last more than half an hour. They used Loomis and had the figures already drawn on cardboard.
Next I attended the all-college chapel exercises, which consisted of Scripture reading, song, and prayer. Next morning, I also attended the devotions, both for the college at seven-fifteen, as well as for the preparatory department at nine. They were similar in content (though at the first there was no singing and at the second only a song by a choir). In both cases the chapter from the Bible was read without mention of book and number. The prayers made little or no mention of atonement and forgiveness of sins, but said much of this great nation and its liberty. There was no Lord's Prayer, hands were not folded.
At the last meeting, I was asked to lead in prayer, but naturally I refused. Some of the students made note of who attended chapel and also of who went to church on Sunday. I was told by the professors themselves that the main aim of the institution is to procure pastors for the Presbyterians and especially the Congregationalists, and the teachers are to a large extent ministers of the latter sect.
Yet they are, of course, very tolerant in admitting anyone, and have no religious instruction except Sunday school and Bible study on Sunday evening, in addition to Greek Testament for the whole college on Monday morning. As the lesson for next Monday, I heard that about twenty verses from Matthew 26 and the same from John 18 were assigned.
From the president, Dr. Chapin,
I also found out about the
incorporation of the college. It has a charter from the Wisconsin legislature and is owned by a number of trustees. They form a self-perpetuating board, but are nevertheless morally dependent on the people of the surrounding districts, because the college needs financial support from them.
The evening of the first day, I had a long visit with Henriksen and I tried, though discreetly, to win him for our church. He has a good reputation in Beloit and seems to be an upright and sincere man. He thinks we Lutherans are entirely too severe in judging people of different faith, and he has found that the people among whom he is living show their faith by their works fully as much as the Lutherans. I promised to procure for him Der Lutheraner and Graul's Unterscheidungslehren, and also to talk to Saxer
about his attending Fort Wayne for one year and then going to St. Louis. Saxer thought, however, that the difference was so great that two years would be needed, and then I think he should rather go directly to St. Louis.
On Friday I heard Professor Emerson
read Greek with the freshman class. The students had to recite the metrical rules very accurately, and then they read and translated a poem of ten lines (" The Honey Thief ") in Doric dialect; all the peculiarities of the dialect in the poem were carefully gone over. The recitation lasted over an hour and a half, and it was the best I heard.
From seven-thirty to eight-thirty I had heard Horace's odes read in the same class. They went through one hundred and thirty verses in the period.
From eleven to twelve I heard the president teach international law in the senior class, using a text by Woolsey (teacher at Yale College). It went fast --- over thirty pages in an hour --- and the book was interesting, but did not seem suitable for the students' stage of development.
With regard to the behavior of the students I heard Fisk,
a teacher in the preparatory department, say that he had never
seen a crowd of young people behave so well, and the reason for this, he thought, was the religious training and the fact that many of them were planning to become ministers. Henriksen also said they behaved well, but, he added, when anything wrong happened in town, folks were inclined to put the blame on the students. Then he told also that they had wrecked an outhouse built for the house where they lodge, and the teachers had threatened that the students themselves would have to pay for a new one. And there was a rowdiness in their behavior; they tore down the stairs so that they almost broke off the balustrade, they yelled roughly when they went out from classes or chapel, and it did not affect them in the least if the teachers stood right there.
In speaking of Madison I should have mentioned that, in reply to my questions, the teachers declared that having both sexes together caused them no difficulties. I suppose it depends on how you take it.
May 11. Friday noon at twelve-forty-five I had to leave Beloit. After I had by mistake gone way around by Racine and stayed over in Chicago from nine to six, I came to Fort Wayne the following noon, May 12, and remained there until eleven o'clock on the fifteenth. As I expected and knew, I have here received the greatest benefit from my trip, all the more so because, outside their class periods, the teachers have devoted almost all their time to me, discussing with me, chiefly as a group, our school problems. I can scarcely enumerate, nor count and measure, the many suggestions, the amount of information, the comfort and encouragement I received through this brotherly discussion with men who are doing their work with a view to the welfare of the same church as we do --- men who assuredly are not below us in self-sacrificing faithfulness, while in experience and efficiency they are far ahead of us. I will jot down briefly only a few points:
The thought that we ought to study a little more mathematics and natural science, as the English schools do, had troubled me somewhat. After discussions with the teachers in Fort Wayne, I concluded that, for the present, we probably have enough
mathematics, and that the natural sciences might perhaps be studied through a brief popular text and voluntary lectures, attended by those who think they can afford the time, though as a rule only by members of the upper classes.
Of philosophy, which I had also been considering, the teachers in Fort Wayne think nothing is needed beyond a little logic, for which Lange
has made an abridgment of Drobisch;
moreover logic is studied in St. Louis.
They have found useful the class monitor system and the concentration on certain subjects.
The kitchen department is operating very well; I found out about a rye coffee which can be procured in Chicago and which perhaps we too might use.
With regard to the spirit and inner life at the school, both Sihler
and Saxer said that conditions are very good, and there are seldom any serious offenses to discipline; but there is lacking genuine vigor even in scholarship.
Recitations begin at eight o'clock so that most classes and all the more important subjects come in the morning.
I attended the following classes: Monday, Latin in quinta
) and sexta (Sihler); English (Milton) in I and II; Bible history and Greek in III. On Tuesday, Virgil in I and I! (Schick
), history in IV (Achenbach), English in VI, geography, Latin grammar and exercises in III (Schick) and IV (Achenbach), and singing.
As Latin text in V and VI a book by Rechtardt is used, which seems to me exceptionally suitable. As it cannot be used before the students understand German, I have considered the possibility of having sexta concentrate in such a way that, during the
first part of the year, German only is studied instead of German and Latin, and later only, or almost only, Latin. In IV, Achenbach went over the exercises rather lightly, and in tertia one student said nemino and totae (genitive), but otherwise good. Virgil in I and II went well.
I heard Greek only in III, where it went well. Translation into Greek is also used.
The English instruction was good. Lange is well satisfied with the physical geography he is using in quarta. Grammar is finished in VI. Swan's text has long ago been dropped.
In history, Achenbach used the narrative method, but both he and Schick have come to the conclusion that they want to discontinue it. Sihler teaches geography to V and VI together, without any text, using Stichler's atlas only.
The Bible history went too slowly.
In mathematics, about the same is studied as with us, but German texts are used.
In writing German compositions the selection of subject is often left to the students themselves.
The singing, as far as I can judge, went well.
May 16. It was suggested that one of the teachers, preferably Lange, go with me to Ann Arbor, which is highly praised on all sides, and Sihler encouraged this; but I left alone, and rived here Wednesday noon, the sixteenth.
I had left behind in Fort Wayne a letter of introduction, but I introduced myself. I went as soon as possible to the university, which is pleasant and attractive in appearance, as is the whole town. I had a chance to hear the sophomore class in United States history taught by Assistant Professor Adams
--- quite dry, merely following the text, but he showed me Sprimer's historical wall maps, which I should like very much to have. Then I heard Frieze
(known for his edition of Quintilian and Virgil) review, with the freshmen, Latin exercises using Arnold's
composition. It was evident beyond a doubt that he was a capable man. He showed me some splendid maps of Rome by Canina. He took me around and introduced me to President Haven, D.D., LL.D.,
and I finished the afternoon looking over the library by myself.
Frieze told me that in the upper classes the German pronunciation of Latin was used.
May 12. I attended morning chapel at the college, eight to eight-forty. The fifth chapter of I Thessalonians was read, and the chapter announced; then followed an impromptu prayer, long, better than in Beloit. But many of the students did not come in until the reading had commenced. The president, who conducted chapel, told me that he was through with his teaching for this semester, and so had no classes.
I became acquainted with the professor of Greek, Boise,
(editor of Xenophon's Anabasis) and heard him teach Demosthenes pro cor.
with the junior class. It was review and therefore had to go quite rapidly, still he was particular and wanted the translation as literal as possible. It seemed strange, however, that a class so advanced should give the teacher a chance to make the kind of corrections he did. They did not know, for example, how to explain [Greek word in Greek letters} and [Greek word] with the accusative was translated "from," and they did not know the meaning of this preposition with the genitive and dative.
From ten to twelve, I heard Professor Evans
teach French in the junior and German in the senior class. Both were beginning classes. Everything was taken somewhat superficially and not thorough]y, and I am not surprised that after this kind of study everything is forgotten in a few years. I could see how it is possible to give a rather fluent translation without grammatical knowledge. These recitations gave me a clearer insight into the method which, no doubt, is generally used in this country also in Latin. Professor Evans seemed to be very well satisfied
with his method, and said that here they did more with the living languages than in most of the eastern colleges, where, in some cases, German is not taught. It is strange that French is given preference over German. However, I found a German reader which perhaps can be used by us.
In the afternoon from two to three I did not get to any class, but looked over the museum, about which see the catalogue.
From three to four, I listened to mathematics in the sophomore class taught by Professor Olney.
It was integral calculus of which I did not understand a word, but I saw a very practical method. There are blackboards on all the walls, and many students worked their problems at the same time and then, one by one, explained their method. From four to five I heard a lecture by Professor Chapin
on the history of philosophy, in which he followed up his earlier lecture on Locke by speaking of his successors, Barclay, Priestley, and the Frenchmen Helvetius and others, to the Encyclopedists. The professor told me he used fifty periods for psychology, fifty for moral science, and then twenty lectures about both of these subjects, then twenty-five hours for evidences of Christianity, and thirty for the history of philosophy (for which he would not recommend the text translated from Schwegler), and finally he would like to have twenty periods for aesthetics, but generally did not get that far (yet it is in the catalogue). Professor Haven did not use a text either. I mentioned Drobisch's logic.
At five I looked over the medical department, and after supper I went to Professor Frieze to talk with him about the teaching of Latin and the classical studies in general. He received me very cordially and I stayed with him until nine-thirty. He questioned me in detail about our Latin course and jotted down what we read in each class. He wanted to procure Fischer's Übungsbuch, and, as he gave me his Virgil and Quintilian, I promised to send him a copy. I asked him how it was possible to get the students so far in the classical languages when they in addition had to study so much science. Then I learned that they really have less Latin and Greek in the college than we
have, as only the freshman class has five periods a week for each of these branches; the sophomore class, only five hours for a semester, the juniors, for one-third of the year, and the seniors less. No emphasis is placed on writing Latin, and exercises in translating into Latin are used only in the freshman class to drill in grammar, which is reviewed in this class, though it is supposed to have been mastered earlier. The entrance requirements for the college Professor Frieze thought too high; but the institution is adapted to the English system, presupposing a longer academy course. Especially did Frieze think Virgil too difficult for the preparatory department. He said that every effort was made to enforce the requirements strictly and that out of one hundred and fifty applicants twenty-five or thirty were refused; that many were admitted on probation; and that the requirements had been found to be just as high as in the best colleges in America. He seemed to think, however, that it might be desirable to emphasize the ancient languages more, but that conditions here are such that it cannot be done. Even what is achieved has to be done by coaxing, so to speak.
In the course of the conversation he expressed himself against the current temperance agitation. He is Episcopalian in faith, a gentle, kindly, conservative man. I asked him whether he knew anything about what the experience was with regard to having the two sexes together. He did not quite know; the matter was yet so new and unestablished, but the president of Antioch College, Yellow Springs, Ohio (a boarding college), had written to Dr. Haven that occasionally accidents happen, which he thought meant elopements. This college, like Oberlin, is said to be radical.
May 18. I looked over the chemical laboratory and then, from nine to ten, I listened to Frieze read Quintilian with the junior class. Here too there were grammatical blunders, a dative was translated as genitive and the conjunction quod as a relative pronoun.
From ten to eleven I listened to Adams in Roman history. They went through about twenty pages of Liddell. The teacher did not ask questions, but started the students and then they
told all they could in their own words. For general history Lord is used, about which Adams said that it is full of mistakes, but vivid.
From eleven to twelve I listened to a lecture on chemistry for the junior class by Professor Douglas
(who has been a teacher there for twenty-five years); very interesting.
Right after dinner I went to see Professor Curtis.
I had not been able to visit any of his classes. He told me of different books used in rhetoric and in the history of English literature; but, when I asked him about books for the lower classes, he did not seem to be very well posted. He was inclined to favor Parker's Readers, or the reading of the works of individual authors, as Irving's Sketch Book or Goldsmith's Vicar of Wakefield. He did not approve of Parker's Aid to English Composition.
Then I visited the library, where so far I had spent very little time. I tried to get a general impression of its contents. found a large number of travel books, encyclopedias, and the like, United States public documents, historical works, books on the classical age, belles lettres, and so forth --- I could not look over it all.
With regard to the religious situation, the president and several others are Methodists, but almost all the Reformed sects are represented among the teachers and students, among the latter even Catholics. Presence at morning chapel is required of all students, and attendance at church is recommended.
Here too the manner of the students was noisy. Applause and tramping was often heard in the middle of a class period. When Professor Chapin introduced me to the senior class it seemed as though they were going to greet me with tramping, but they gave it up.
About five o'clock I left Ann Arbor and went to Detroit, and in the night from there to Cleveland, where I arrived Sunday morning the nineteenth. There was nothing to do that day
except to confer with Griese
and visit Schwan
In the latter I was hindered by the unfortunate accident that Griese broke his leg. On May 20, I visited Wyneken in the forenoon and Griese in the afternoon.
May 21, I visited the city high school from nine to two, the regular time for classes. The course is planned for four years and the students are therefore divided into four classes.
It happened that during the four first periods I could observe the Latin teaching in all classes, in regular succession from the beginning up, and I chose this rather than all those natural sciences which occupy so much of the time. The lowest class was conducted by the chief woman teacher (whose salary is said to be $1,000). The children did not behave well and knew little. They had the verb possum and did not give a single tense correctly. Some little selections were translated, analysis received slight attention, and the teacher could not decline ostia. In the next class they were already reading Sallust's Jugurtha (!). The teacher let grave pass as an adverb. In the third class, Virgil. In the fourth, Cicero's orations against Cataline; in this class there were present only one "gentleman" and three "ladies." During the fifth hour, I heard Professor Rüger teach Xenophon's Anabasis, and this was certainly the most thorough of all I heard.
At twelve o'clock there was a recess of twenty minutes, and two times there were gymnastic exercises. As to whether they were of the most profitable kind, I shall not express any opinion. However, all went with military precision.
The material equipment of the school was splendid. There were two pianos, pictures, and other things which had been bought for private contributions amounting to about $2,000.
[May 21.] In the evening I went to Oberlin where I spent all of the next day. There are four large and two small buildings;
one of the latter is used for a museum, and the other for a chemical laboratory.
Of the large buildings, one is a huge three-story frame structure in which the two upper stories stand open and empty, woefully dilapidated. On the first floor there are four large recitation rooms, in not much better shape, and to one of these I saw a door stand open at eight in the evening.
Another, a large stone building, is also badly maltreated. It contains rooms for the male students and four recitation rooms where there are drafts and breezes from all sides. No wonder that in such quarters they cannot keep the school in session through the winter. The third large building seems to be newer and is in better shape. On the first floor, there are offices for the principal and treasurer, library, classrooms for the theological department, and perhaps some others; and, on the second floor, a chapel And finally there is a fourth important building which is quite new. It contains the boarding establishment and rooms for the women students. In the basement I found only a bakery and storerooms. The oven is small and of iron, and can only bake a hundred pounds of flour. On the first floor is a kitchen with a splendid stove costing $450 (from Redway & Burton, Van's Patent, October 6, 1853, No. 5, Cincinnati, Ohio), and a large dining room with plenty of space for more than two hundred persons, where everything is splendidly arranged; the steward's and the principal's office; an assembly room (for use when announcements are to be made to all students); society room; a reading room (a similar one was in the men's building, full of newspapers, such as New York Tribune, etc.); a large parlor with piano; and a reception room. On second and third floors are rooms for the women students, two in each, at from two to four dollars per person, according to the location. It is characteristic that those who have carpet pay a shilling more per week. There is room only for a hundred and yet the building seems quite a little larger than ours.
Through the sale of scholarships, the college has acquired a capital which now amounts to $185,000. But it is not adequate; the teachers have too small salaries ($1,000), so they cannot get
along without seeking some extra income, and there is need of more buildings. There are, I was told, thirteen recitation rooms (though I cannot comprehend where they are) and, as the lower classes, on account of their size, have to be divided into many sections, those rooms are in use from seven in the morning until five in the evening.
Most of the teaching in these lower classes is done by students who teach one or two hours a day for twenty-five or thirty cents an hour. To correct these deficiencies, the collection of another $150,000 through free gifts is contemplated, and there is the best of hopes that the plan will succeed.
The institution is Congregationalist, but in the two Congregational churches in the town it has been decided to preach no doctrine offensive to the views of any Christian group. People there seem to have a very high opinion of the moral influence of the institution, and attribute this to its religious character. They have reached the conviction that schooling without religion is not much good; but they believe that the English district school can be made into a religious school "of a truly catholic character" by prayer and the reading and explanation of the Scriptures. The day I was at Oberlin there were examinations, and almost every period was opened with prayer.
<1> Herman Amberg Preus of Spring Prairie near Madison, president of the Synod for the Norwegian Lutheran Church of America.
<2> Styrk Sjursen Reque served Roche a Cree and other congregations in the neighborhood; he was later pastor at Spring Grove, Minnesota.
<3> C. F. Solberg, editor of Emigranten, the leading Norwegian-American newspaper of the day.
<4> Knud Johan Fleischer, Norwegian-Swedish vice-consul, a businessman and a leader in Norwegian cultural and religious enterprises.
<5> The junior class; according to the usage of the German gymnasium, the senior class was called pr/ma, and so on down the line.
<6> To Concordia Seminary of the Missouri Synod, where the theological students of the Norwegian Synod received their professional training.
<7> Torger Andreas Torgerson, pastor at Silver Lake, Iowa, where he was then serving a large mission field.
<8> Two days later he wrote to Mrs. Larsen directing similar platforms to be built in the classrooms at Luther College.
<9> John W. Sterling, dean of the faculty, 1860-65; vice-chancellor, 1865-69; vice-president, 1870-84; professor of mathematics, natural philosophy, and astronomy.
<10> Joseph C. Pickard, professor of modern languages and literature, 1859-65; he was in the normal department, 1865-66.
<11> James D. Butler, professor of ancient languages and literature, 1858-86.
<12> Daniel Read, professor of mental philosophy, logic, rhetoric, and English literature, 1855-68.
<13> Ezra S. Carr, professor of chemistry and natural history, 1855-68.
<14> John P. Fuchs, professor of modern languages and literature, 1855-56,1861-68.
<15> Peter Hendrickson, listed in the Beloit College catalogue as a junior; residence, Norway (Racine County, Wisconsin).
<16> The Reverend James J. Blaisdell, professor of intellectual and moral philosophy.
<17> Of the nine men on the faculty, five were theologians.
<18> The Reverend Aaron L. Chapin became president in 1850.
<19> G. Alexander Saxer became teacher at Concordia College in 1856 and Direktor in 1858. He moved to Fort Wayne with the college in 1861, continued as Direktor until 1872, and resigned as teacher in 1873.
<20> Larsen did not succeed in drawing this young man back into the Norwegian-Lutheran fold. Hendrickson was professor at Beloit College from 1870 until 1885. Later he was editor of Skandinaven.
<21> The Reverend Joseph Emerson, professor of Greek language and history.
<22> John P. Fisk, principal of the normal and preparatory department.
<23> Rudolf Lange became professor at Concordia College in 1858, moved with the college to Fort Wayne in 1861, returned to St. Louis in 1872, and taught there until his death in 1892.
<24> A German compendium of logic.
<25> Wilhelm Sihler, Ph.D., pastor in Fort Wayne, also taught at the college repeatedly when there was need until 1881. He was one of the most prominent leaders among the early Missourians.
<26> The classes, beginning at the top, were called prima (I), seeunda (II), tertia (III), quarta (IV), quinta (V), sexta (VI).
<27> Wilhelm Aehenbach, Ph.D., from Berlin, professor from 1863 to 1871, carried the title Konrektor.
<28> Georg Schick, professor at Concordia College from 1856 to 1914, had the distinction of teaching a greater number of years than any other man on the faculty, holding the titles first of Konrektor and later of Rektor.
<29> Charles Kendall Adams, at this time assistant professor of Latin and history; professor of history, 1867-85; became president of Cornell in 1885; and was president of the University of Wisconsin, 1892-1901.
<30> Henry Simmons Frieze, professor of Latin language and literature, 1854-89; acting president, 1869-71 and 1880-82.
<31> Erastus Otis Haven, president, 1863-69; professor of logic and political economy, 1865-68; later president of Northwestern University; then chancellor of Syracuse University; and finally Methodist bishop.
<32> James Robinson Boise, professor of Greek language and literature at Michigan, 1852-68; he went to the University of Chicago in 1869.
<33> Pro corde, by heart.
<34> Edward Payson Evans, professor of modern languages, 1863-70.
<35> Edward Olney, professor of mathematics, 1863-87.
<36> The Reverend Lucius Delison Chapin, professor of moral and intellectual philosophy, 1868-68.
<37> Silas Hamilton Douglas, professor of chemistry, mineralogy, pharmacy, and toxicology; he was a member of the faculty from 1844-77.
<38> Allen Jeremiah Curtis, professor of rhetoric and English literature, 1865-67.
<39> The architect employed in building Luther College.
<40> A Missourian pastor in Cleveland.
<41> Friedrieh C. D. Wyneken, the president of the Missouri Synod until 1864, when he retired and became a pastor in Cleveland.