Sunday, May 13, 2007

'Springfield Present and Prospective (1905), Educational Institutions,' Excerpt II

My apologies to all of the local history aficionados who missed last Sunday's excerpt of EWM's historical book transcription series. I was a bit under the weather and had no choice but to give my fingers the day off from pounding the keyboard. I'm back today though, with this week's excerpt of 'Springfield Present and Prospective,' a book published and printed in the city in 1905 by a contingent of city fathers, the hardcover home for some of the local literary cheerleaders of Springfield's past, present and hopeful future.

This week we continue the second chapter, 'Educational Institutions,' with the section, 'Certain Other Schools,' authored by William Orr.

Continued from: 'Educational Institutions, Excerpt I.'

Educational Institutions

Certain Other Schools

Springfield, through the enterprise of her citizens, aided by her advantages of easy access to New York and Boston, and by her attraction as a residential city, has been selected as a home for two institutions of learning that are doing interesting, unique and valuable work. These are the International Young Men's Christian Association Training school and the American International college, formerly known as the French-American college. The International Training school was founded in 1885 by Rev. David Allen Reed in connection with the School for Christian Workers. In 1890, it became independent, and in 1891 was established in its present home on the shores of Massasoit lake. Here it possesses a property of thirty acres of land with the use of the lake two and a half miles long for boating purposes.

The first building, a model gymnasium, was erected in 1894. Connected with this is a fine athletic field. Since 1894, there have been added a dormitory, boat house and Woods hall, a building that provides a dining-room and kitchen, together with facilities for social purposes. The total value of the property is estimated at $150,000.

As its name indicates, the special function of the school is to train workers for the service of the Young Men's Christian association. Two distinct fields are recognized, secretaryship and that of physical director. This work has been done with great success and the reputation of the school is so high that application for its graduates are five times greater than the number of men available. Universities, academies and high schools are also looking to this institution for men to take charge of their athletics and physical training. Graduates of the school are to be found in many of the important cities of the United States and Canada and widely scattered through the foreign field.

As an equipment for instruction the school has a library of seven thousand volumes and over sixty thousand pamphlets and magazines. Many of these books are of unique value as they relate to the history, methods and development of the Young Men's Christian association. Laboratories are also provided for practical experimentation in physiology, physics and psychology.

The faculty is composed of nine professors whose work is supplemented by the assistance of eleven instructors and twelve lecturers. Among the courses given are those on history and literature of the Young Men's Christian association, anatomy, psychology, sociology, physiology, anthropometry and the Bible. The graduates of the school are exerting a potent influence on the youth of America by their teaching and example. Purity of life and high ideals are inculcated through the medium of the associations, while a positive work is being done through schools and universities to elevate the tone of athletics and to make out-door and in-door sports a means of character building.

As a factor that makes for a vigorous manhood the International Training school is winning general recognition and the generous support of men of means. Its location in Springfield is an advantage to the school and a credit to the city.

The French-American college was founded in Lowell May 1, 1885, to provide for the needs of the great and growing French population of New England. Immigration from Canada had assumed such proportions as to cause serious concern to those interested in the social and religious condition of Massachusetts and neighboring states. To train up teachers and leaders for this new element of our citizenship was felt to be an imperative need of the times. After an interval of three years the college was transferred to Springfield, where a building, Owen Street hall, was erected for its accommodation. A dwelling-house known as the Cottage, was purchased and put at the disposal of the institution. The college now possesses in addition a gymnasium hall, a printing office, a dwelling-house, occupied by one of the professors, and the Woman's hall. The last structure was finished in 1899 and contains a chapel, reception hall, dining-room and kitchen, and dormitory provisions for young women in attendance on the college. The college grounds contain five and one-half acres, and the total property is valued at $90,000.

Since its foundation the institution has broadened its scope to include, besides French speaking peoples, students from the Italian, Greek, Armenian, Polish and Spanish races, and in 1905 the name was changed to American International college. Rapidly changing conditions in New England have made advisable such a widening of the influence of the college. To meet the needs of its constituency two courses of study are offered by this institution. The college proper aims to provide instruction similar in range and thoroughness to that commonly accepted as included in the requirement for the degree of A.B. Those who complete the collegiate course are qualified to enter on professional training and to become teachers among their own people.

The second department, known as the French-American academy, covers the ground of a secondary education. Its regular classical course calls for a term of study of four years. In connection with the academy is the Gymnasium Hall school, which provides special training for pupils who are deficient in some branches. It supplements admirably the work of the academy proper. Religious training constitutes an important part of the curriculum in both college and academy.

Students are given the opportunity to learn the art of printing and to care for the grounds and the buildings under supervision. The American International college has under great difficulties succeeded in doing a valuable work in training the young people who come under its care in the duties and responsibilities of Christian living and good citizenship.


Springfield is fortunate in possessing two private schools of high grade. The older of these is The Elms, a school for girls, with fully organized courses of instruction of high, intermediate and primary grades. This school was opened in Hadley in 1866, and in 1881 it removed to Springfield, where it has an attractive location on High street. The removal involved no change in management. The Elms has a high standing and is recognized for the excellence of its college preparatory work by the leading women's colleges, such as Smith, Vassar, Mt. Holyoke and Wellesley. All these institutions have granted this school the right of admission by certificate. The Elms has a reputation for thorough instruction in all branches. It offers good courses in music, art, physical culture and the study of current literature.

The MacDuffie school for girls is most fortunate in its situation. It occupies the homestead of the late Samuel Bowles on a spot near the center of the city and yet quiet and retired. Well organized courses of study are pursued in this school under competent instructors. The departments cover the entire period from kindergarten to entrance to college. Music, language and art are given careful attention. Graduates of the school are accepted on certificate by New England colleges for women. Preparation is also made for the examination for admission to Radcliffe. The school is attended by day pupils from the city and has a number of resident scholars who come from a distance.

William Orr

1 comment:

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