Dr. Dickie’s Rules for a Successful College Career

September 14th, 2011

This month’s blog article was written by Chelsea Denault, ’12.  She is a History major and works in the archives.

When I went away to Albion three years ago, it seemed that everyone wanted to give me advice. Grandma reminded me to take extra-long sheets. Uncle Ron warned me not to light candles in my dorm room and forget about them. My mother reminded me to eat, even if the food was…sketchy. And there was the “final talk” with dad: I know you’re responsible and smart, but don’t do anything to mess it all up. Even professors and staff were handing out advice five minutes after I arrived. Yet this passing down of sage advice from seasoned elders for new Albion students is nothing unusual. In the first issues of the 1912 and 1914 Pleiad, Albion College President Samuel Dickie offered his advice to incoming freshman. Before we begin exploring Dr. Dickie’s recommendations, however, we must understand who the man giving this advice was.

Portrait of Samuel Dickie, n.d.

Samuel Dickie was born in Ontario to a relatively poor family. Though his family struggled with money, he had an enormous appetite for learning and attended Albion College on a scholarship. After graduating, Dickie was invited to join the college faculty as a professor of mathematics and astronomy and he was instrumental in building the Observatory on the Quad. He even served as the mayor of Albion.  He also was a prominent speaker on Prohibition and actually was nominated to run as a Presidential candidate by that party (however, being from Canada, he was unable to do so). Essentially, Dickie can be considered Albion’s Golden Boy of the time. The man could do no wrong apparently. Therefore, when Samuel Dickie gave you advice, as a disoriented freshman at Albion College, you felt compelled to listen.

Dickie began his advice by emphasizing that the first “business of the student is to study.” “A College,” Dickie wrote, “is an institution for the development and stimulus of intellectual life. It seeks to give information, develop latent powers, to furnish culture, to broaden one’s outlook and to increase one’s sympathy in behalf of all that is true and just.” Dickie’s great faith in higher education as a refining and liberating opportunity – the benefits of which he personally experienced as a young man – are certainly evident here. He was especially emphatic about developing sound and regular patterns of study: “If you fail at this point your failure is complete, dismal, humiliating and wicked…[a] student who does not study is foredoomed to be a failure, likely to be a fraud and certain to be a miserable creature.”

In addition to regular study habits, Dickie also encouraged students to get a full night of rest: “No student will do good work on less than eight hours of sound sleep in a well-ventilated room.” He also warned students to watch out for their health, stating, “Impaired digestion will ruin your piety and your scholarship.” This advice is certainly a far cry from the actual habits of today’s Albion students who don’t go to bed until 3am for their 8am class and engorge themselves on Hungry Howie’s and Eat Shop Chicken Cesar Wraps at all hours of the day (or night, let’s be serious). Dr. Dickie would certainly have been horrified.

After attending to their studies and health, Dickie advised students to “get into the general activities of the student body.” He then lists many of the same organizations that we would see at Briton Bash today: Christian associations, athletic life, the Pleiad, and “societies that may furnish an opportunity for self-improvement.” These “societies” refer to the burgeoning Greek system that was beginning to exert real influence on campus during his presidency. While he was initially suspicious and uncomfortable with Greek life because of its tendency to detract time from studies (as it often does now), Dickie quickly realized that these societies also provided an opportunity for personal growth beyond what the college and its existing organizations could.

Samuel Dickie, n.d.

Interestingly, Dickie also addressed the apparently real student fear of becoming a “book worm.” Writing that he had known “some thousands of students…for the last forty years,” Dickie reassured his readers that he had known only “half a dozen to whom could properly be applied the opprobrious term.” This fear among students of being seen as too bookish during their college days apparently led them to believe that star students were not generally successful after graduating. Dickie addressed this “popular delusion” and argued that it is “rare and exceptional” that “dullards in the class room are quite to shine in later years,” citing a recent Boston Herald study on the idea. While I’m sure the fear of being too absorbed in one’s studies is still pretty prevalent on campus, I think our generation of students realizes that the only way to guarantee success after graduation is hard work. We’ve read enough articles and watched enough news programs about the rough state of the job market to understand that life and success are not come by easily. Still, in many instances we could all bear Samuel Dickie’s advice in mind as this school year begins. Some of it at least – I know I’ll still be going to sleep at 1am this year.

Read the two articles here:

Dickie, Samuel. “A World of Greeting.” The Pleiad 4 Oct 1912: 1. Print

Dickie, Dr. Samuel. “An Exhortation.” The Pleiad 25 Sept 1914: 1. Print

Albion College Natural History Museum

April 13th, 2011

“The only shark in Albion College is on the third floor of Robinson Hall.  Professor Ewbank is not the individual in question, but the voracious sea-fish of that classification which swings so jauntily from the ceiling of the college museum across the hall from Professor Ewbank’s recitation room”.

Between 1881 and 1922, Albion College maintained a natural history museum.  The museum began with a donation of copper specimens by Revs. W.H. Brockway and J.H. Pitezel.  In c1860, State Geologist Dr. Alexander Winchall donated over 1,000 mineral samples.  The material was housed in cases around Central Hall (now Robinson), and in 1881, the college created the first permanent exhibit space.  The museum occupied the second and third stories of Central Hall.  At the time of the opening, the college partnered with Hillsdale College and the Battle Creek Public schools on an expedition to South America to collect artifacts.  These artifacts made up the majority of the museum’s collection.  The museum’s focus was mainly natural history, but also spanned geology, zoology, and botany, and history.  A taxidermist was on staff to handle the influx of specimens.

In 1881, the museum boasted:

  • 2,100 Geological Specimens
  • 365 Birds
  • 60 Mammals
  • 400 Insects
  • 850 Clam Shells
  • 150 Corals
  • 40 Sea Urchins
  • 35 Starfish
  • 1 Shark
  • 1 Boa Constrictor
  • 1 Alligator
  • 1 Alcoholic Specimen
  • 250 specimens of Woods, Fruits, etc., from South America America, California, and Michigan
  • Ancient Coins
  • 200 Marine Invertebrate (donated by the Smithsonian)
  • Sioux Chief Spotted Tail’s war dress, saddle, horse trappings, bows, arrows, etc. (donated by Prof. H.A. Mills)

In 1892, the museum had over 200 hundred visitors a year.  However, popularity seemed to decline; a 1920 Pleiad article writer hoped to pull it out of its “Rip Van Winkle” status on campus.  Unfortunately, timing was not on the writer’s side: on December 17, 1922, a fire claimed Robinson Hall.  The building was completely destroyed, including the museum housed inside. The Albion Evening Recorder reported on the following day that:

A number of shells, relics of the Spanish-American War, were included in the museum material on the third floor, and when the flamed reached them an effect similar to a military bombardment was produced, the explosions lasting intermittently through about a half hour.

The fire marked the end of the museum’s existence on campus.  Because so many invaluable items were lost, the college did not try to reconstruct the museum.  A full inventory of the museum’s collection has never been found, so the full extent of the loss remains a mystery.

Emma Bancroft Yinger, “Mother of Michigan”

March 16th, 2011
Emma Bancroft Yinger, 1947

Emma Bancroft Yinger, 1947

In honor of Women’s History Month, we are spotlighting Emma Bancroft Yinger, an Albion College alum and well known Methodist Minister.

Emma Bancroft Yinger was born May 9, 1875, in Lenawee County, Michigan. From an early age, Emma knew she wanted to enter the ministry.  However, she was raised Presbyterian and at that time, the denomination forbid women to preach.  She decided to leave her Presbyterian roots and began her religious education first with the Quakers at the Raisin Valley Seminary and then with the Church of Christ at Defiance College.

While at Defiance, she met George Yinger, a visiting Albion College student.  After a year of working together, they married and transferred to Albion College to complete their education.  George graduated in 1903 and his wife followed a year later.  While serving their first congregation in Concord, Michigan, Emma gave birth to her first son, Clement Yinger.  Seven more children followed: Dempster, Eleanor, Homer, Paul, Floyd, J. Milton and Marian Yinger.

George Yinger established singing schools at every church they served, and as his children grew older, decided to create a quartet with his four eldest children.  “The Yinger Singers” was born.  When the older ones got too busy with college and marriage, the younger ones took over.  There were several transformations of “The Yinger Singers”, but all included Emma Yinger’s children.  The group became quite popular across the Midwest through the teens and twenties.

Although she had been ordained in the Church of Christ in 1903, it wasn’t until 1924 that Emma Yinger was officially ordained as a Methodist minister. (Since the founding of the Methodist Church, women were ordained alongside men, but in 1880s, the Methodist Episcopal Church took away ordination rights from women.  This decision wasn’t reversed until 1924).  Her first church was in Greenville, Michigan, and was followed by Grand Rapids, South Haven, and Three Rivers.  After the death of her husband in 1934, Emma relocated the family to Indiana, but moved back to Michigan when her youngest daughter was accepted to Albion College.  She preached in Hanover and Horton throughout that time.

In 1938, Emma Yinger joined the staff of the Michigan School for the Blind, where she taught for 3 years.  Her plans to retire were thwarted due to a teacher shortage in WWII; Houston, Michigan asked her to teach and she accepted.  Hence, she returned to Southwest Michigan and continued to preach in Marshall.

In 1947, the Golden Rule Foundation named Emma Bancroft Yinger the Michigan Mother of the Year.  The ceremony took place at the First Methodist Church in Albion and was presided over by her son, G. Dempster Yinger, Pastor of the parish.  The Yinger Quartet was resurrected for the occasion.

She was named in the first edition of  “Who’s Who of American Women” in 1960 as a Minister and poet.  She passed away November 9, 1960. In 1994, her children, Marian Yinger Coppenhaver and J. Milton Yinger, donated her family’s papers to the Albion College Archives.

Her legacy lives on through the annual Yinger Family Lecture held at Albion College.  This year’s lecture will feature Ann Pancake and is scheduled for Thursday, March 17th at 7:00 PM.  For more details, click here.

Gallery of Yinger Photos:

Albion College Commemorates 150 Years of Co-Education

March 2nd, 2011
Albion College Faculty 1861

Albion College Faculty, 1861

Last Friday, the Albion College News published an article/photo gallery celebrating 150 years of Co-Educational Bachelor Degrees issued from Albion College.

On the heels of its 175th birthday in 2010, Albion marks the 150th anniversary of providing a college education to female students. On February 25, 1861, Michigan’s state legislature authorized the 26-year-old school to grant four-year degrees to women, making Albion one of the Midwest’s first co-educational institutions.  Read More…

Remembering MLK’s visit to Albion College

February 16th, 2011

Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. PortraitThis month’s blog article was written by Salaina Catalano, ’14.  She is a History and Political Science double major and works in the archives.

On January 24, 2011 Albion College had its annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Convocation in Goodrich Chapel.  Because I have a passion for history, I was very excited to attend an event designed to commemorate such an influential and legendary man.  Dr. Wesley Dick, the Chairman of the History Department, and Mr. Robert Wall, retired history teacher at Albion High School, both spoke at the convocation.  I learned that Professor Dick marched with Dr. King and is currently the Vice President of the Albion chapter of the NAACP.  I started to cry a little when I learned that Dr. King visited Albion College in 1963.  I was awe-inspired when I thought about MLK speaking in the very Chapel I was sitting in and meeting students and faculty in the very building I eat in every day.  As children we grow up hearing history lessons and memories of Martin Luther King, but it was surreal to know that I have walked where he has and that I have heard about the cause he peacefully fought for in the very place he once spoke about it.

Because not very much was mentioned at the convocation about Dr. King’s visit to Albion, I decided to utilize the resources of the College Archives, where I work.  The front-page headline of the Pleiad dated March 8, 1963 is “King to Speak on ‘American Dream’”.  The article includes a biography of Dr. King and information concerning his lecture, which was scheduled for Wednesday, March 13, 1963.  In the Pleiad dated March 15, 1963 there is a follow-up story entitled, “‘America Divides Personality’ Says Martin Luther King, Jr.”  The article includes notable portions of his speech.  According to the article, Dr. King spoke to over 1,400 in Goodrich Chapel about the problems with segregation.  King said that three things needed to happen before the American Dream could be possible for all people: “We must make [the world] a brotherhood”, the idea of superior and inferior races must end, and a non-violent action program must be started “to break down the barriers of discrimination and segregation.”  Dr. King mentioned two myths about civil rights: that time will solve all problems and the idea of “educational determinism” or believing that education, alone, will solve racial problems.   When speaking about the situation of race in the United States, Dr. King summed up by saying, “America has been a schizophrenic personality tragically divided against herself.  Racial segregation and the national philosophy that ‘all men are created equal’ are a strange paradox.”

In the College History Files there is a folder dedicated to the celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day starting in 1963 with his visit.  The first item in the folder is a newspaper article titled “Northern Segregation May Be More Serious”.  Dr. King apparently concluded by further discussing regional segregation: “The South is largely segregated.  The North is desegregated legally, but integration is absent in both.  The North may develop more tragic segregation, for it is in the North that many Negroes suffer deeper frustration.”  The most controversial part of the evening was when President Louis W. Norris announced at the end of the lecture that Dr. King would now answer “discriminating questions”: the article asks if it “was a slip of the tongue or a subtle play on words”.

After the program there was a reception in the Mary Sykes room of Baldwin Hall where over 100 people had the chance to meet and speak with Martin Luther King.  The next document in the College History Files folder was a copy of a letter from Keith J. Fennimore, Associate Professor of English, to Dr. Martin Luther King, dated January 24, 1964.  The letter congratulates Dr. King on recently being named “Man of the Year” by Time and informs him that his “presence here is still felt among us”.  Dr. Fennimore said that the Albion community is “slowly working toward ‘The American Dream’ about which [Dr. King] spoke so movingly”.

I think that Dr. King’s legacy is embedded in the Albion community and throughout the rest of the country.  Perhaps his visit here changed the intolerant opinions of some, strengthened the honorable beliefs of others, and united the people of Albion College in a mission to end inequality.  In Dr. King’s words, we must believe in “an understanding, redemptive good will toward men, a willingness to go to any limits to restore community.”


“King to Speak on ‘American Dream’.”  Albion Pleiad 8 March 1963: 1.  Print

McCrea, Ron.  “‘America Divides Personality’ Says Martin Luther King, Jr.”  Albion Pleiad 15 March 1963: 3.  Print

Fennimore, Keith J. letter to Martin Luther King, Jr.  24 Jan 1964.  ARC-0061: College History Files – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (1963-2004).  Albion College Archives, Albion College, Michigan.