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"Is This the Twentieth Century?" Facts and Trivia about K-State in 1900

Exhibit title from "Is This The Twentieth Century?" Editorial, The Student's Herald, Kansas State Agricultural College, January 11, 1900

The arrival of the new millennium has given numerous individuals and organizations the opportunity to reflect upon the past, the University Archives is no exception! In the year 2000, Kansas State University has over 20,000 students and 5,000 faculty and staff, and offers no less than 200 majors and options, 60 master's degrees, and 40 doctoral programs. Looking at Kansas State Agricultural College one hundred years ago, there were approximately 50 faculty and staff and 1,094 students enrolled in one of the following courses of study: 1) four year courses in agriculture, domestic science, general science, mechanical engineering, and electrical engineering; 2) short courses in dairying, domestic science, agriculture and mechanics, and horticulture and mechanics; 3) apprentice courses in the shops and printing office; 4) special courses. The only present day buildings on campus in 1900 were the original section of the engineering shops that face Denison Hall and Hale Library (built in 1875, it is the oldest building at KSU), Holtz Hall (completed in 1876 as the chemistry building), Anderson Hall (constructed in three phases: north wing 1879, central section 1882, south wing 1884; named for John Anderson, the second president of K-State, in 1902), oldest section of Fairchild Hall (1894 as the Library and Agricultural Science Hall), original section of Kedzie Hall (1898 as Domestic Science Hall), and Holton Hall (1900 as the agriculture and dairy building). The original college building, Bluemont Central College, was completed in 1859, on what is now the northeast corner of Claflin Rd. and College Ave., but it was destroyed in1883. Two other buildings on campus in 1900 were destroyed later, Farm Machinery Hall (built in 1873 and razed in 1963 to make room for Cardwell Hall) and Illustrations Hall (constructed in 1876, where Denison Hall is located today, and destroyed around 1913).

According to the college catalog for 1899-1900, K-State accomplished the following five objectives to meet the expectations of a land-grant college:

  1. Give substantial education to men and women.
  2. Teach the sciences applied to various industries of farm, shop, and home.
  3. Train in the elements of the arts themselves, and impart such skill as to make the hands ready instruments of thoughtful brains.
  4. Strive to increase our experimental knowledge of agriculture and horticulture.
  5. Seek to extend the influence of knowledge in practical affairs beyond the College itself.

When the new century began in 1900, contributors to K-State's "official" newspaper, The Industrialist, did not reflect about the past as they wrote about weather conditions, crops, meetings, and alumni. One of the editor's (perhaps editor-in-chief and acting president Ernest R. Nichols) did consider the future as he posed the question, "What will the year 1900 do for the Kansas State Agricultural College?" He answered his own question with the following:

Chemistry class in Holtz Hall, 1899

"It will complete the new dairy building... it will build a sewer system from the campus to the Kansas river; it will add several thousand volumes of modern scientific works to the growing library; it will add a large quantity of scientific apparatus to the departments of Physics and Chemistry; it will enable the College to plan for more thorough and valuable work in the Experiment Station and for the farmers' institutes; it will add enough students to the present enrolment to reach or pass the long-coveted thousand mark; it will make the several short courses popular among those who can not remain at College the full four years; it will provide more experienced and thorough instruction in many departments and banish all political intrigues of each and every kind. It will do much more in many lines and details, but as the writer of this is neither a prophet nor a Cassandra, he will simply predict that it will be a year of genuine growth and healthful, harmonious development in every respect–a year of expansion, peace, and good cheer."

Readers are invited to read the historical information below to determine if 1900 brought these accomplishments!

Article printed in the Jan 11, 1900 issue of the Students Herald

In contrast to The Industrialist, the editors of The Students' Herald, K-State's weekly newspaper "of the students, for the students, and by the students," asked the question, "Is This The Twentieth Century?" They went on to state that "we may endeavor to prove that the nineteenth century still exists" because of the confusion that "arises from associating the method of reckoning time with the method of reckoning the ages of men." The following is their explanation:

"...when a child is born the poor infant must pass 365 long days before an unfeeling race will design to ascribe an age to him; but when the sun rose on the Christian era the people named it and the 364 following days, year 1. So if a child, born with that sunrise, still held his grasp on life the poor child would have to say that he was only 1899 years old, while his twin brother, time, would arise and say, 'I am 1900.' However, between 12 and 1 o'clock, on the night of the 31st of December next, they could grasp hands and bid farewell to the departing nineteenth century, as both would have just reached the end of the 1900th year."

This brief introduction and the following historical information provides a glimpse of life at K-State at the turn of the last century. This information is presented in two sections. The first is a summary of interesting facts found in the 12th biennial report. It is followed by a chronology of tidbits distilled from minutes, record books, and newspapers of the college for the year 1900.

Information Gleaned from the 12th Biennial Report, 1898-1900

The faculty suspended some students with 10 or more unexcused absences because they felt students should be willing to attend classes since the state and nation furnished education free to all who applied.

College library in Fairchild Hall, 1900

"Our library is little more than a stack room, there being but little room where students may use the books."

Short courses were introduced for the first time during the 1899-1900 school year to enable students to take classes who were unable to participate in the four year program. Included were courses in domestic science for women and agriculture and related subjects for men.

All instructors taught four hours a day, including some of those in experiment station work. "...the classes were very large, many of them being between forty and sixty."

Acting President Nichols wrote that "we should have at least twenty more instructors in order to reduce the size of the classes to a reasonable number."

The college paper, The Industrialist, was changed from a 64 page monthly to a 16 page weekly to provide better communication between faculty, students, and others.


Unless otherwise noted, the dates are those in which the description of the fact or event was reported in the Board of Regents minutes, Faculty Records, or newspaper.

Jan 17 The cash balance in the agricultural college permanent fund was $20,075 plus $6,956 in the interest account, "yet there are professors who have not received their pay for last year's work." (Manhattan Mercury)
Jan 18 Julius T. Willard, 1901 The Agricultural Experiment Station was reorganized providing for a station council of which the college president was chair ex-officio and a director to be the executive officer of the station; the council was given authority over all experiments; Julius T. Willard was appointed director. (Board Minutes)
Jan 19 The YMCA was allowed to use the chapel for a lecture and the proceeds went to the Athletic Association (Board Minutes)
Jan 20 The balance of funds due on the heating plant was drawn against the appropriation for an addition to the library. (Board Minutes)
Jan 23 Chapel in Anderson Hall, 1888 The chapel (once an auditorium in the central section of Anderson Hall) became so crowded during assemblies that chairs had to be placed in the aisles and "swings suspended from the ceiling will have to be the next recourse." (Industrialist)
Jan 23 Henrietta Calvin, Class of 1886, was to take charge of the children's department of the Topeka city library on February 1. (Industrialist)
Jan 30 Football coach, Albert Hansen, purchased the Harlan (Iowa) American newspaper and became its "editorial chair." (Industrialist)
Feb 15 A student was suspended until reinstated by the faculty because he returned a composition book that belonged to another student. (Faculty Records)
Feb 19 Joseph Denison, first president of Kansas State Agricultural College (1863-1873), died at the age of 85. (Industrialist, Feb. 27)
Feb 20 The Dairy School received enough milk from Manhattan and Rossville, and cream from Paxico, Alta Vista, and Clifton, so that the daily output of butter was 400 to 500 pounds. (Industrialist)
Feb 25 Upon the death of a student the faculty voted to display the flag at half mast for two days and that appropriate mention be made in chapel. (Faculty Records)
Feb 22 For the holiday observance of George Washington's birthday, C.E. Boyd, professor of economics and history, presented a lecture and the faculty gave a formal reception for the students in Kedzie Hall. (Industrialist, Feb. 27)
Feb 27 Two "entertainment lectures" were described in the newspaper, "The New Woman and the Old Man" by Col. George W. Bain, and a performance by "Durno" the magician. (Industrialist)
Mar 10 Ernest R. Nichols Acting President Ernest Nichols and his wife, Marguerite, gave a reception for the faculty and each person in attendance represented the title of a book, poem, or newspaper. "The effect was highly amusing." (Industrialist, Mar. 13)
Mar 13 Rainy weather was the cause of many student absences because the roads between the town and college were almost impassable. The students complained about "insufficient sidewalks and bottomless streets." (Industrialist)
Mar 15 There was little interest in the K-State Athletic Association and its members were urged to "wake up." (Students' Herald)
Mar 20 Dr. George A. Coe, professor of philosophy at Northwestern University, agreed to present five lectures on "The Spook Family; or, A Study in Obscure Mental Phenomena." (Industrialist)
Mar 24 Faculty authorized the Athletic Association to produce "The Merchant of Venice" and charge admission with students playing the parts; later the Athletic Association withdrew its sponsorship because several students failed their mid-term exams. (Faculty Records, March 24 and May 12)
Mar 24 A student was excused from military drill because he had to walk 2.5 miles to work for his meals. (Faculty Records)
Mar 27 A newspaper article described that the female students in calisthenics class participated in an "English fox hunt" with Professor Lockwood , Assistant Parrott, and several students playing the foxes, and Professor Boyd, Miss Ball, Mr. Huycke and the remaining students, playing the hounds. The students were served bananas and oranges at the end of class (hare and hound chases became regular class activities that year). (Industrialist)
Mar 28 Agricultural Experiment Station at Fort Hays, 1902 U.S. Congress approved a law giving the state of Kansas the abandoned Fort Hays military reservation to establish an experiment station for K-State. (U.S. Statutes at Large, Vol. 31, Part 1)
Mar 29 An article about golf indicated that the game was just developing at the college. (Students' Herald)
Apr 03 Governor William E. Stanley and F.D. Coburn, Secretary of the State Board of Agriculture, visited the campus. (Industrialist)
Apr 03 The role the Agricultural Experiment Station played in the state was significant as correspondence averaged 10,000 letters annually, and one in one week Julius T. Willard, director, received 205 letters and 148 post cards. (Industrialist)
Apr 05 Mr. D.C. Manchester lost an eye when a piece of hot steel flew into it in the mechanical shop. (Students' Herald)
Apr 10 Former Kansas governor G. W. Glick spent a morning inspecting the work of the agriculture department. (Industrialist)
Apr 10 Holtz Hall, ca. 1885 The sad state of the chemistry laboratory was described in a newspaper article; "The present structure–a one story shed without basement or attic–is entirely inadequate for the requirements of even the Chemical Department." This building is now Holtz Hall. (Industrialist)
Apr 10 Julius T. Willard, professor of chemistry, received 300 pounds of sorghum seed from Mary Best of Medicine Lodge to distribute among farmers wishing to experiment with improved varieties for syrup purposes. (Industrialist)
Apr 16 Kedzie Hall The YMCA and YWCA gave a reception for the faculty and seniors in the Domestic Science Hall (now Kedzie Hall). (Industrialist, April 17)
Apr 19 "The students' hearts were all made to rejoice last Thursday by the appearance of the new College Lyric. This is a magnificent volume of songs, having many additional features over our previous college song books." (Students' Herald)
Apr 27 K-State had a 2-1 lead in the baseball game with KU when a forty minute argument occurred over a Jayhawk trick play. "The local editor did not see the game...but knows that several of the Lawrence boys acknowledged that their tactics were at fault." (Industrialist, May 1; Students' Herald, May 3)
May 01 The juniors and seniors squabbled over a "May-pole" the juniors erected in front of Anderson Hall bearing their colors. During a scramble between the seniors, who were assisted by members of the freshmen class, and juniors, the pole was broken and the "class emblem and a number of collars and cuffs were torn to shreds." No one was injured and "sweet peace reigns once more on Agricultural Science hill." (Industrialist, May 8)
May 03 Construction of a tennis court on campus was "very encouraging to all lovers of good, healthy sport. With tennis, golf, basketball, baseball, and field day exercises, the KSAC student need not lack for exercise this term." (Students' Herald)
May 04 Holton Hall Agricultural Building (now Holton Hall) accepted from contractor; final cost, $21,450. (Board Minutes)
May 12 It was announced in chapel that a student was caught copying an examination in bacteriology. (Faculty Records)
May 12 Faculty voted that students who failed in two or more courses at mid-term were to be considered on probation for the remainder of the term. (Faculty Records)
May 15 Overview of Manhattan, ca. 1890 Construction of a sewer line from the college to the Kansas River was almost complete and this improvement "will add greatly to the comfort and health of the residents of the northern part of Manhattan." (Industrialist)
May 17 Students sent a resolution to the Board of Regents complaining of a professor's "inability to create or maintain the interest of the students in the subjects taught, to teach in a systematic manner, to command the respect and honor of the students, or to inspire students to do noble and manly work" The professor later resigned. (Topeka Capital, May 18)
May 26 Faculty voted to request seniors to present their theses in typewritten form. (Faculty Records)
May 31 Holtz Hall in flames, 1900 Chemistry Building (now Holtz Hall) was destroyed by fire; Board of Regents voted to thank the students who fought the fire and to send $10 to the Manhattan fire department as an expression of gratitude to the firemen; they also voted to repair the building for use as a gymnasium. (Board Minutes, June 16)
Jun 05 The library was to be open every day during the summer vacation and all books had to be returned by June 7. (Industrialist)
Jun 05 Military cadets, 1900 The College military battalion took part in the Memorial Day ceremonies held in Manhattan and when President Ernest Nichols thanked them in chapel for their "faultless appearance...the young women showed by their vigorous applause that they were in entire accord with his remarks." (Industrialist)
Jun 11 Ernest and Marguerite Nichols entertained the graduating class at an informal party at their house on Houston Street. The seniors reported "a charming program, delicious refreshments, and a good time." (Industrialist, June 12)
Jun 12 The yearly postage bill for the Agriculture Department was $140, the equivalent of 7,000 letters. (Industrialist)
Jun 12 A total of 369 pigs had died on the college farm due to hog cholera. (Industrialist)
Jun 12 Enrollment for 1899-1900 was 1,094. (Industrialist)
Jun 12 Third year students in agriculture presented the new office of the Professor of Agriculture with a revolving and reclining office chair with a carved and gilt inscription on the back, "Ag. Class of '01." (Industrialist)
Jun 12 $100 was appropriated for advertising K-State in the weekly papers of the state. (Board Minutes)
Jun 13 After serving as acting president, the Board of Regents elected Ernest R. Nichols president of K-State. (Board Minutes)
Jun 13 Commencement address given by Secretary of Agriculture James Wilson; he was paid $100 by the college (Board Minutes, June 16)
Jun 14 A group of juniors carried some seniors to a water hydrant and washed their heads while a crowd laughed and cheered. President Ernest Nichols appeared and informed the gathering that "there is danger of washing all knowledge out of the seniors' heads, and the fun had better stop." It did and "since then, things have been rather dry, unless tying juniors down in the dewy grass of a night can be reckoned wet." (Students' Herald)
Jun 15 Regents approved motion indicating that the president should call meetings of the faculty and assistants to discuss the "art of teaching and philosophy of methods." (Board Minutes)
Jun 16 Board of Regents voted to request faculty to attend morning chapel; they also approved motion that faculty attend all meetings unless excused by the president. (Board Minutes)
Jun 16 The Regents approved the motion that the director of physical training become a member of the faculty. (Board Minutes)
Jun 26 Maud Gardiner (Class of 1893) was selected as the chair of the newly created department of domestic economy at Oklahoma Agricultural College (Oklahoma State University). (Industrialist)
Aug 16 The Students' Co-operative Association operated a boarding hall and a bookstore. (Students' Herald)
Sep 26 The Board of Regents appointed a committee to "investigate the character of books in the Library." (Board Minutes)
Sep 26 The Board of Regents adopted a resolution advising departments to select fewer books of a technical nature because they should be purchased for the students not the faculty; Regents also approved motion that all books selected by department heads should be approved by the President of the Board of Regents. (Board Minutes)
Sep 27 Sewing class, 1899 A reception was held in the Domestic Science Hall (Kedzie Hall) for the Board of Regents and faculty during which time the Regents observed the work of the therapeutic cooking class and the short course in domestic science. (Industrialist, Oct. 2)
Sep 28 The Board of Regents voted to purchase 9 fire extinguishers. (Board Minutes)
Sep 28 The Regents approved the appointment of C. E. Goodell of Franklin College, Indiana, as professor of history and economics at a salary of $1,450. B.F. Eyer of Topeka High School was approved as professor of physics for the same salary. (Board Minutes)
Sep 28 Three "shower baths" were purchased for use by female students in the gymnasium. (Board Minutes)
Sep 28 Regents voted to request the legislature to appropriate $2000 for the library in next year's budget (Board Minutes)
Sep 28 Josephine T. Berry The Regents denied Librarian Josephine T. Berry's request for an increase in salary. (Board Minutes)
Oct 2 A large number of men and teams graded and "macadamized" (laid broken stone) the college roads. "Our private roads and walks have never before been in such fine shape as they are now; but what is the city going to do with their long-talked-of road from our gates to the business quarter and the depots?" (Industrialist)
Oct 16 The Students' Co-operative Association reported total sales in the amount of $13,351 for books, groceries, uniforms and incidentals during its first year of existence (Industrialist)
Nov 10 After K-State lost a home football game with Kansas State Normal of Emporia, 11-0, a reporter penned that "The only disgraceful feature of the whole game was the crowd that witnessed it....The gate receipts did not pay one-third of the expenses....Not until there can be free co-operation of both students and college authorities for the support of the cause can K.A.C. ever hope to be successful on the intercollegiate athletic field." (Students' Herald, Nov. 15)
Nov 13 Faculty voted that students who fail mid-term exams were to be notified that if allowed to stay in college they were to remain on probation until the end of the semester; those students and their parents were to be notified by the chair of the Failures Committee. (Faculty Records)
Nov 13 Faculty voted to require that two-thirds of a student's work towards a master's degree should be taken in one department. (Faculty Records)
Nov 13 Students on the college payroll received $969.45 for 9694.5 hours of work during the month of October. (Industrialist)
Nov 15 Titlepage of Kansas Kook Book for Kansas Kooks Recipes Domestic Science students prepared a cookbook to benefit the YWCA entitled, Kansas Kook Book for Kansas Kooks; it sold for 50 cents. (Students' Herald)
Nov 17 The football team defeated Kansas Wesleyan University even though a third of the Wildcats had been suspended for failing mid-term exams; the Students' Herald reported that "It is a shame that the rules regarding players are so strict. To be a football player and avoid a failure in examinations one must be an exceptional student. A man playing football has to attain a higher standard than the average student. This is the greatest blow of all to athletics in this college and is the great reason for lack of interest in the student body..." (Students' Herald, Nov. 22)
Nov 20 The Veterinary Department continued to send blackleg vaccine to farmers and stock raisers throughout the state because of the increase in demand; the charge was one cent per dose to defray packing and postage expenses. (Industrialist)
Nov 20 President Ernest Nichols moved into the Dewey Mansion at Poyntz and Juliette, and Professor B.F. Eyer moved into the house vacated by Nichols at 4th and Houston. (Industrialist)
Nov 22 An employee at the college barn made out 15 time sheets for one day of eleven hours; those who worked there seemed so dissatisfied with the time sheets that it was stated, "It might have been worse!" (Students' Herald)
Dec 07 Dr. Tait Butler of Indianapolis was elected to the chair of veterinary science vacated by Dr. Paul Fischer. (Nationalist)
Dec 08 A motion that would allow department heads to exempt students from taking final exams when satisfied of their proficiency was defeated by the faculty. (Faculty Records)
Dec 11 Florence Ball Florence Ball, director of physical training for women, died of "malerial fever." (Industrialist, Dec. 11)
Dec 11 During the calendar year the Veterinary Department sent out 89,645 doses of blackleg vaccine to farmers and stock raisers in the state at a cost of one cent per dose. (Industrialist, Nov. 20 and Dec. 11)
Dec 25 "The College library is one of the most important supplements to classroom instruction. It consists of over 22,000 bound volumes and about 17,000 pamphlets....The College subscribes for the leading literary, scientific and agricultural journals..." (Industrialist)
Dec 25 Title of The Sledge The class of 1900 published its own yearbook, "The Sledge," that sold for $2.00 (the first Royal Purple was published in 1909). (Industrialist)
Dec 25 The first two wings of a private "dormitory" being built for K-State students at 11th and Fremont by C.P. Dewey, a wealthy rancher, neared completion. (Industrialist, Nov. 27 & Dec. 25)