How PC Was Different 100 Years Ago
Starting in the spring of 2009, we had something new here in the archives – interns! In the spring, we had Lance Poston with us, and this summer it was Caroline Todd. Their big project was to trace the history of PC’s campus and buildings; you’ll be seeing the results of that research on our webpage. Caroline also helped us by preparing a number of entries for our blog, including our August blog, which will appear in two parts. We thought it might be fun for incoming students to see what PC was like 100 years ago.
When you’re an incoming freshman, stepping onto the PC campus that first day of orientation, your life is in for a bit of a change. You’re on your own for the first time and you have a new home. For the next four years, the campus of Presbyterian College becomes a home away from home. After a while, the campus is as familiar as your other home.
Presbyterian College gives off this timeless feeling, like nothing has changed or will ever change. Then reality sets in, and you realize PC is an ever-changing organism. Who knows what the future will bring to the campus? But we do know what the past was like. Actually, we have a pretty good idea what PC was like a hundred years ago.
To start off, Clinton was considered to be a progressive town. It was located on the Seaboard Air Line and the Atlantic Coast Line Railways (which was a big deal back in the day). It also could pride itself on not just having regular mail, but also Clinton had a telegraph and long distance telephone lines. Another big selling point of Clinton in 1908 was that the town was free of malaria (which is still true today but not as big of a deal). If you think Clinton is small today, back a hundred years ago the population was less than half of what it is today. In 1908 Clinton had a thriving population of 3,000.
The campus of PC was a lot smaller back then as well. Now we have over twenty buildings that make up the campus, compared to nine they had one hundred years ago. That’s right, nine buildings. Here’s the breakdown: Administration Building (known today as Neville), Judd Dining Hall, Laurens Hall, the President’s home, the Vice-President’s home, a home for professors, two other dorms, and an old dining hall. The Administration Building was pretty much the hub of campus life. It had eight recitation rooms, two society halls, a large auditorium, offices, and a library room. And that was it. The PC campus took up all of thirty-three acres.
Crazy, right? Well, it just keeps getting weirder. PC wasn’t even called PC. Yes, the name was really similar, but it was proudly known as the Presbyterian College of South Carolina.
However, PC was a bit of a progressive college in 1908. Women were allowed to go to classes, but the school didn’t provide anywhere for them to live. For the most part they lived in Clinton or had to make their own boarding arrangements. Also they only had to listen to the faculty during school hours, otherwise they were free. This may seem a bit odd, but just wait till you hear what the boys had to do. We’ll get to the boys later.
There is a joke that floats around PC now that pretty much says no one here pays the full price for tuition. This speaks really well for the college. Many people are only here because of the financial aid opportunities. Well, in 1908 they were able to offer three scholarships. They were all funded by Mr. John H. Young of Clinton, and could pay the tuition of one student each. Also, they would give preacher’s children a deduction, which is something we still do today.
Ok, yes, there was hardly any financial aid a hundred years ago, but things were cheaper then, too. A student could pay their expenses by term (they had three) or for the entire session. For comparison purposes we’ll just look at a breakdown of expenses for the entire session:
Incidental Fee: $10.00
Alumni Hall/Cottage Dorms: $10.00
Laurens Hall: $20.00
Board at Judd Dining Hall: $76.50 (it was $8.50 per month)
Chemistry course and Lab fee: $5.00
Diploma fee (one time fee at graduation): $5.00
The grand total comes out to be about $141.50 for an entire year at PC. So, what is that in 2008 dollars? Many have asked that same question. After e-mailing one of the professors in the Economics department, we now have somewhat of an answer. According to Professor Lipford CPI (consumer price index) only goes back to 1913. Even if you’re not sure what CPI stands for, it is needed to figure out how much $141.50 equals by today’s standards. Assuming (incorrectly, but I’m not sure how incorrectly) that the CPI and the expenses were the same in 1908 as they were in 1913 we discover that $141.40 in 1908 is the same as $3,077.31 by 2008 standards. So what does this mean? It means that the price of PC has gone up more than the cost of all other goods and services on average. Think that’s unfair? Well, maybe it is, but the students in 1908 also had to bring their own furniture and pay for fuel and lights.
Having said all of this, let’s look at how much it costs to go to PC today. Here’s the breakdown:
General Fee: $2,038.00
Technology Fee: $406.00
Double Room and 17-Meal Plan: $8,345.00
Now before you get too excited about how much less it cost back then, just wait till you hear how many days off they got. They had a total of twelve days off. That’s it; one for Thanksgiving, one for Washington’s Birthday (go figure), and then ten for Christmas. Big difference from how much time we get off today. They also had three terms that lasted three academic months each, and at the end of each term they would have exams. Parents were also very well informed about exactly how well their children were doing at school. After each round of exams, reports were sent home. These reports showed attendance, deportment and class standing. So what happened if you failed an exam? You were marked as “conditioned.” If you failed to remove this “conditioned” mark in the given time period, you were put into a lower class. If you were conditioned after the June exam, you had to take a special test at the beginning of the next session to have it removed.
The entrance requirements were much different back then as well. First off, you couldn’t be younger than sixteen. Second off, they didn’t have SATs or ACTs obviously, so they had entrance exams. The entrance exam covered several subjects. Starting with English. The entering student needed to have a firm grasp of spelling, punctuation, grammar and how to break up an essay into paragraphs. They also needed to know how to analyze sentences, needed to know about inflection, parsing, and the elementary principles of rhetoric and composition. The students also needed good training in literature and were given an extensive list of recommended reading. For “careful study” they were told to read: Burke’s Speech on Conciliation with America; Macaulay’s Essay on Addison and Johnson; Milton’s L’Allegro, I1 Penseroso, Comus and Lycidas; Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. Then, in case that wasn’t enough they had some recommended reading for general reading: Addison and Steele’s Sir Roger de Coverley Papers; Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner; George Eliot’s Silas Marner; Irving’s Life of Goldsmith; Lowell’s Vision of Sir Launfal; Scott’s Ivanhoe and the Lady of the Lake; Shakespeare’s Macbeth and The Merchant of Venice; Tennyson’s Gareth and Lynette, Lancelot and Elaine, and The Passing of Arthur. And that’s just for English.
The students also had to be tested on four Caesar books or its equivalent, four books on Caesar’s Great War (or its equivalent), and needed to have knowledge of forms and elementary syntax of Latin. They also had to have some knowledge of Greek. They would be tested on White’s First Greek Book or something like it, and needed to have knowledge of forms and leading principles of syntax. Then, as far as Mathematics went, they needed to know Algebra and plane Geometry. It doesn’t stop there. They also needed to have taken traditional high school classes: Geometry, Physical Geography, US History, General History, Physics, Physiology, etc.
That seems like a lot compared to today’s requirements. To enter PC today you must have completed a four-year high school course of study. This should include four units of English, four units of Math, two or more units of the same foreign language, two or more units of laboratory science, and three of more units of history and/or social science. Additional units in the last three categories are encouraged, but apart from that, sufficient SAT or ACT scores and a good essay, that’s as far as our entrance requirements go.
Now we all know about the required General Education Requirements here at PC. They seem a bit daunting sometimes, but we all make it through. We have freshmen experience, intercultural experience, humanities requirements, social and natural science requirements, a senior capstone and need to have forty CEPs by the end of our time here. In 1908 the requirements were a bit different. The students didn’t have the freedom to choose when they would take what. No, it was all pretty much laid out for them. As a freshman and a sophomore students were required to take English, Math, Bible, and Public Speaking. As a junior, students had to take English, Math, Bible, Economics and Logic, and Public Speaking. Then, seniors had to take Astronomy and Geology, Ethics, Psychology, and Public Speaking. They were also required to do some lab work (some things haven’t changed in 100 years).
Also, in order to get a B.A. (Bachelor of the Arts) the students had to complete one of ten various course studies and needed a minimum of sixty-nine recitations. Nine of the ten courses of study involved Latin. However, they were all broken down like this:
1. Latin, Greek, French, German, etc.
2. Latin, French, German, History, etc.
3. Latin, French, German, Math, etc.
4. Latin, Greek, English, History, etc.
5. Latin, French, Science, etc.
6. Latin, German, Science, etc.
7. Latin, Math, Science History, etc.
8. Latin, Math, Science, English, etc.
9. Latin, English, Science, History, etc.
10. Special, Greek, and either French or German
Having completed one of these a student was then able to earn a Master of the Arts. This was done by completing post-grad work in any three of the following subjects: Latin, Greek, Math, History, English, German, and Chemistry. Also a student needed to chose two electives from the regular B.A. course. On top of that, the student had to take two years of German or French for it to count for a degree. Today we have something much different. We don’t just have ten courses of study. If you really want to see all that PC offers today go to the PC majors and minors page at http://www.presby.edu/acad/departments.html.
The number of professors was much lower back in the day. There were a total of six professors. That was it. Many of them taught more than one subject. For example, Professor Bean taught German, Logic, Psychology, Ethics, Economics, Civics and shared the Bible classes with one other professor. The entire student body for the 1907-1908 term was made up of one hundred and seventeen students. One hundred and ten of them were from South Carolina while the remaining seven were from Cuba (four students), Japan (two children of missionaries), and Georgia (one). So if you think PC is a small campus you might want to put that into perspective with how small it used to be.
Posted by Nancy Griffith, Archivist
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