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Innovation and Inspiration: The Campaign for Kansas University
University Archives & Manuscripts - Exhibits
Minnie Howell: 1898-1899

George Washington Owens

George Washington Owens, K-State's First African-American Graduate " Jan 1 - 1896 I went to Manhattan (25 or 30 miles from my old home) and enrolled as a student. I found to my surprise that I was the only colored student enrolled in the college, and that they had never had a colored graduate so I resolved to be the first. I finally succeeded, but suffered much hardship.

"I entered the Kans State Agr College in Jan 1896 and graduated in Jun 1899, completing the courses in 3 1/4 years. Meanwhile working at various jobs at the college to pay my expenses, working on the school farm, in the dairy, and as a farmer during the school term and for two summers.

Early in 1899, I received a letter from Mr Booter T. Washington from the Tuskegee Inst offering me a position as assistant to Prof G. W. Carver, and I was later to have charge of the creamery at Tuskegee Inst. I accepted the offer (48.00 per month and board). My journey to Tuskegee was full of interest as I had been raised in the plains or prairie and never seen so much free wood lands and timber.

I arrived in Tuskegee in Sept 1899 and was very much pleased to meet Dr. Washington, Prof. Carver and others for whom I formed life time friendships."

Transcribed from the handwritten autobiography of George Washington Owens

Events from 1898-1899

Earning One's Way

The courses of study are based upon the supposition that the student is here for study, and a proper grasp of the subjects cannot be obtained by the average student unless the greater part of his time is given to college duties. Students in straightened circumstances are encouraged and aided in every way possible, but unless exceptionally strong, both mentally and physically, are advised to take lighter work by extending the courses, if obliged to give any considerable time to self-support. As a rule, students should be prepared with means for at least a term, as some time is necessary for one to make acquaintances and learn where work adapted to him may be had. Sometimes arrangements may be made in advance.

The lines in which employment may be had are various. The College itself employs student labor tot he extent of about $900 per month, the rate paid being ten cents per hour. This work is on the farm, in the orchards and gardens, in the shops and printing-office, for the janitor, etc. As one's ability and trustworthiness becomes established, more responsible and more remunerative work may be had to a limited extent. Many students obtain employment in the town; some work for their board in families in town or in the country near the College. Labor is everywhere respected, and the student who earns his way is honored by all. He will necessarily have little time for the lighter pleasures that may be incident to college life.

From the General Catalog, 1898-1899, pg. 113.

Course of Study, 1898-1899
Reflecting information from Minnie Howell's transcript

Fall Term
14 weeks
No classes listed on transcript
Minnie Howell missed the beginning of the term due to illness.
Winter Term
12 weeks
Chemistry of Foods
Chapel Lecture
Spring Term
11 weeks
Household Economics
XIX Cent. History
Dre. I & II
Music Instruction
[When no work outside of class required, italics are used.]


This institution is preeminently industrial in its aims, methods and tendencies. While the pure sciences, mathematics and other studies are rigorously taught, there is constantly present a practical atmosphere which incites the student to an application of the principles taught, and thus lends interest and value to the work. In nearly every term of the four years' course the student gives one hour per day to industrial training of one kind or another. This awakens and deepens sympathy with industry and toil, impresses the student with the essential dignity of labor, thus educating toward the industries instead of away from them, and lays a good foundation for a life work in industrial and technical lines. Even should students not all return to the farm, the shop, or to housewifery, the wider knowledge afforded them and the broader sympathies engendered cannot but redound to their good and to the advantage of society at large and the industrial classes in particular.

The labor of students during assigned industrial time is not paid for, as its object is educational, and the student receives full value in the training afforded. In all the instruction in industrial lines special attention is given to making the courses systematic and progressive. Students desiring to give extra attention to such work are allowed every opportunity that the departments can afford. Many students acquire sufficient proficiency to be able to turn their skill to a financial advantage during the later terms of their courses, and all who apply themselves with any diligence obtain a training that cannot fail to be of great benefit to them in after-life.

From the General Catalog, 1898-1899, p.61.

Chemistry of Foods

Williams' Chemistry of Cookery textbook This course is given by lectures during each half of the term, and embodies a presentation of the chemical composition of foods, the changes which they undergo in cooking and digestion, and their adaptation to the various needs of the animal body. Prerequisite: Organic chemistry.

From the General Catalog, 1898-1899, p.72.


More attention is given to the physical and chemical aspects of geological study than to the biological and historical sides of the subject. The aim is to teach the students something of the relations of geology to other sciences and of its importance and scope, rather than to enter into its details and technicalities. Especial emphasis is given to the relation between this science and physical geography.

From the General Catalog, 1898-1899, p.73.

Domestic Science: Cooking

Richards' Chemistry of Cooking textbook Lectures, recitations and laboratory instruction are combined throughout the year. Spring term. Advanced household cookery the first half of the term; high-class cookery the second half of the term; standard menus, and general lectures in the science of nutrition, with parallel readings are required. Instruction in general serving and entertaining is given.

From the General Catalog, 1898-1899, p.75.


The science of citizenship; law and government, municipal, state, and national; their origin and development; what they are now and what they ought to be. Lectures, with text-book work, analyses, and discussions. The students choose selectmen, governor, supreme court, etc., hold town meetings, organize as a state house of representatives, and afterwards as a national house of representatives; bills for better roads, proportional representation, income tax, electric ballot, initiative and other live issues are introduced, discussed, and acted on, as in Topeka and Washington; the constitutionality of enactments is tried before the supreme court; parliamentary usage is followed as far as practicable.

From the General Catalog, 1898-1899, p.81.


The aim of this course is to so develop the powers of the student's mind that he may be able to think clearly for himself and to express his thoughts effectively in oral form. Practical work will be done according to natural and scientific methods. Occasional lectures will be given on topics relating to this department. In all departments, personal criticisms and suggestions will be made in so far as practicable.

1. Physical Culture. The system of physical culture consists entirely of movements without apparatus, designed to give health, strength, freedom and grace to the body, in order that it may act quickly and truly in obedience to the highest thoughts, feelings and purposes of the soul. During the entire course daily drill on the exercises will be given in the classroom. The course is thoroughly practical, and will be of benefit to persons in any walk of life.

2. Voice Culture. The voice work is designed to fit the voice to fulfil its highest function, namely, to be a willing servant of the soul, and consists of daily practice on exercises for freedom, flexibility, volume and harmony of voice.

3. Rendering. The work in rendering is based upon the natural order of unfoldment in the activities of the human mind, and is in accord with the latest approved pedagogical principles, the aim being to cultivate original thought and to produce that condition of mind and heart which shall result in personal power and character. This is done by bringing the pupil into vital relationship with the masterpieces of the greatest minds and causing the pupils to reproduce in others the same mental states in which those great minds were when they wrote or spoke. The method is entirely free from mechanical dictation, working always from within outward. The results are obtained entirely by means of arousing the activities of the pupil's mind through concentration upon proper objects of thought. Drill in rendering from the platform selections from standard authors, together with criticism and suggestions for practice, will be given throughout the course. The theory and philosophy of different phases of the work will be set forth as far as may be practicable in the time.

4. Public Speaking. Each third-year student is required to appear in public speaking in chapel twice during the year, with declamations. Each fourth-year student is required to appear in chapel once during the year in an original part. For the chapel work the students are prepared by rehearsals with the professor in charge of the department.

From the General Catalog, 1898-1899, p.95.