From the collections at the Leavenworth County Historical Society and Museum. Reprinted with permission from The Leavenworth County Historical Society and Museum and the Leavenworth Times. Donated by Debra Graden.

Job or Fifty Dollars Back Was Guaranteed by School

by Mollie Gardiner

Leavenworth Times


An introduction in a 58-year-old catalogue of the Leavenworth Business College, once located at 416 Delaware, lists many advantages in Leavenworth as incentives to attract students to the college.

The 1902 catalogue, received recently by Phil E. Reyburn, was printed by his father, William D. Reyburn shortly after the turn of the century.

"Leavenworth is pleasantly situated on the river bank of the Missouri River, 26 miles north of Kansas City," the catalogue describes. "It has a number of fine business blocks, well paved streets, 10 miles of electric railway. . . and in the course of a short time will have the best sidewalks of any city in the state, as permits have been issued recently for building more than 10 miles of brick sidewalk."

Of Ft. Leavenworth the catalogue continues, "Here everything is run by Uncle Sam, and we behold on every hand the beauty of system and order. Among the many objects of interest are the glistening cannon, military maneuvers, flying flags, scenic views, fine drives, and open-air concerts."

Work at present is well underway, the introduction continues, with the U.S. Military Prison. "This is intended only for such persons who have committed some offense against the United States Government, and is to be, when finished, one of the largest and most complete penal institutions n the United States."

The National Soldiers' and Sailors' Home (now the VA Center) is "one of the prettiest places on the continent, the catalogue describes. "There are 13 barracks, two fine hospitals, one elegant library building...a large artificial lake, beautiful private homes for officers, splendid carriage drives,a nd two elegant band stands in which open-air concerts are given by the celebrated Home Band."

In the closing remarks of the introduction it points out "This catalogue is intended to furnish the inquirer information in detail concerning our school. It may be relied on to present facts only. There are no misrepresentations, and students coming here will find this to be true...we hold ourselves responsible for all statements contained here." The statement is signed by N. B. Leach, president.

Rates of tuition varied from $90 for a 12 months combined course in business including bookkeeping, writing and spelling with all supplies furnished; a six months course in shorthand with books for $50; to a three months of typewriting (one hour a day) for $10.

Under general information the catalogue states "Students must be punctual in their attendance. The doors are closed promptly at 9:30 a.m. and 1:20 p.m., and no one is admitted after that time without a valid excuse. Punctuality is taught as one of the essentials of business success.

"All students are treated as ladies and gentlemen, and are expected to conduct themselves as such at all times. They must be diligent in study, respectful and courteous to their teachers and fellow-students."

Concerning room and board, the booklet advises "To persons leaving home to attend school the cost of board is a matter of much importance, and -- other things being equal -- a person will usually attend the school where he can live the cheapest.

"Every year young men, by renting rooms and 'batching,' live on two dollars a week, and live well, and enjoy themselves hugely. Places where students can obtain private board are numerous, and a person can get good board and lodging at from $3.00 to $3.50 a week."

Two pages are required to list the well-known citizens of the day who endorsed and testified that students of the college employed by them were most efficient.

Miss Pauline Renz was principal of the shorthand department. At that time McKee's New Standard Shorthand was recommended by the college because, according to Leach, "I consider (it) as far ahead of the system that we have formerly used, as the modern electric cars are superior to the horse cars of 20 years ago, a genuine up-to-date, 20th century system."

Pictures and letters in testimonial of graduates comprise the balance of the catalogue. they included Miss Olive Kilgore, Miss Mary Wilson, I. L. Swegle, Miss Louise Dalmas, J. T. Pett, Etta Johnson, Mollie Shea, B. F. Pennington, Hallie S. M. Honey, J. H. and Herman M. Langworthy, Katherine Madden, Emily E. Owens, G. B. Barnes, Dollie A. Terry, Goldie A. Miller, James Patterson, Bertha Eason, Belle Winchester, E. S. Springer, Bella H. Friedman and Maude M. Stafford.

Leach concluded the brochure by stating that he would agree to place persons, who had met certain requirements, in positions within 60 days after they have finished the course, or he would refund $50 of the tuition.

"After 15 years experience in Business College work, I have decided that under the following conditions I can guarantee positions," Leach said. "The student must complete both the business and shorthand courses with a grade of 90 per cent on final examinations in bookkeeping, commercial law, arithmetic and spelling, and must pass in correspondence and writing.

"He must be able to write shorthand from dictation, on new matter, at the rate of 125 words per minute for five consecutive minutes, and read this notes readily, and to transcribe his notes correctly on the typewriter at the rate of 30 words per minute. He must be able to write correctly on the typewriter, from dictation, 40 words per minute.

"This is a business proposition," he closed, "and any person who has faith in his mental powers and staying qualities can make a course at the Leavenworth Business College, confident of securing a position or of having $50 of his money returned."

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