The History of Genesee County, MI
Chapter I
Educational Advancement

Online Edition by Holice, Deb & Clayton



With the material advancement of the state has gone hand in hand the expansion of Michigan's educational system. Rural schools, primary school, grammar schools, high schools, academies, colleges and the State University--all have advanced together. Over the state are thousand of school districts, with a school population of near a million. In the cities, manual training has gained headway in recent years, and industrial schools, of the type of the Ferris institute, have multiplied, where the talents and inclinations of boys ands girls, in any given direction, are developed and that training of hand and eye given, which in after life is useful in a thousand ways regardless of vocation. These schools have a sociological as well as an educational aspect, for through their training, genius may be discovered, to the manifest advantage of humanity. Another feature of recent progress is the kindergarten, starting the very youngest children along lines of healthful instruction to education in the schools.

Teachers' institutes mark a notable advance in improving the quality of the teaching force in all the schools, and the training of teachers in normal schools has enlisted the service of some of the best trained educators of the state. The oldest of the normal schools is that at Ypsilanti, opened in 1852. Others are the Central State Normal School, at Mount Pleasant; the Northern State Normal School, at Marquette, and the Western State Normal School, at Kalamazoo; in their names the word "College" has not been substituted for "School."

The crown of this system of school is the University of Michigan. From the kindergarten to the university, the Michigan boy or girl will the successive studies carefully graded to each stage of development and to the general needs of a great variety of vocational and cultural attainments. Since the Civil War the university has had three presidents, including Erastus O. Haven, who was president at the close of the war; the others have been, the well-beloved and late lamented Dr. james B. Angell, and the present incumbent, Dr. Harry B. Hutchins. Dr. Henry S. Frieze was acting-president for one year, between President Haven and president Angell. Doctor Angell served from 1871 to 1909, and during this long period under his wise guidance the university gained, recognition world-wide as ranking among the first of the leading universities of the United States. In 1870 women were admitted on an equal basis with men, a courageous step, in view of the fact that no institution of similar rank had yet taken it. Women are now to be found in all its departments--in literature, science and the arts, engineering, medicine and surgery, law, pharmacy and dentistry. These department are housed in over twenty-five principal buildings at Ann arbor, on tracts of land containing over one hundred and fifty acres, valued at nearly six million dollars. During the current college year over seven thousand students have there received instruction. Since its organization over thirty thousand graduates have gone out from its walls into every leading profession, into public life, into educational work, and are to be found today in every state of the Union and in nearly every foreign country helping in every good work of the world.

Two other state colleges, each in its line doing a great work for the honor of Michigan, are the Agricultural College, at East Lansing, and the Mining college, at Houghton, in the upper peninsula. The former, established in 1857, and endowed by the national government wit two hundred and forty thousand acres of public lands, is the oldest institution of its kind and standing in the United States. Besides being a professional school in the sciences upon which agriculture depends, it aims to prepare its students for the duties of social and civil life. In connection is an agricultural farm for purposes of experimentation. Women are now admitted to all its classes. Like the state university, it receives part of its financial support through the Legislature. The Michigan college of Mines is on the heart of the great "copper country," of Lake Superior. It was first opened in 1886. It is also supported by the state.

In addition to these state institutions of high and special learning are the denominational colleges. Of these, the most important are at Albion, Olivet, Kalamazoo, Hillsdale, Holland, Detroit, Adrian, Alma and Battle Creek. Albion was founded by the Methodists in 1861; Olivet in 1859; by the Congregationalists; Kalamazoo in 1855, by the Baptists; Hillsdale was founded in 1855, and Hope College, at Holland in 1866. The latter was contemplated from the establishment of the Dutch colony at Holland in 1847, and was preceded by the Holland Academy in 1851. Detroit University, organized in 1881, was established by Roman Catholics of the diocese of Detroit, and is in charge of the Jesuits, an order of the church devoted to education. Adrian College was founded in 1859. Alma College was founded by the Presbyterians in 1887. Battle Creek College was established in 1874 by the Seventh-Day Adventists. Besides these there are many denominational academies, seminaries and schools.

Michigan's unparalleled advantages for agriculture, her unequaled inducements to labor in a great variety of factories and mines, and her unexcelled system of common schools and higher education, have brought to her farms, cities and mines, a diverse population of all nationalities--Scotch, Irish, English, Dutch, German, Scandinavian, Hungarian, Polish, and Italian--to make homes for themselves in her two peninsulas. At an early day the French came in from Canada and settled along the shore above and below Detroit and to the Mackinac country; and, later, the pine lumbering brought numbers of French-Canadians to Saginaw and farther north to the lands above the bay. Direct immigration from France has never occurred to any extent. During the period of the British occupation of the Northwest, English settlers came in considerable numbers, mainly to the vicinity of Detroit, and also some persons of Scotch and Irish descent. The great immigration of the Irish came with the troubles in the homeland in the first half of he nineteenth century.


History of Genesee County, Michigan, Her People, Industries and Institutions
by Edwin O. Wood, LL.D, President Michigan Historical Commission, 1916

Transcribed by Holice B. Young

HTML by Deb

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