The Marshall Business College

The Marshall Business College opened in 1901 and was located on the second floor of the Baldwin Building at 112 N. Third St. Course offerings were listed as bookkeeping, business penmanship, commercial law, commercial arithmetic, business correspondence, grammar and composition, spelling, actual business practice, rapid calculation, banking, civil government and commercial geography. Tuition rates were from $7 to $10 per month with a 12-month combination course of $90. (Where two or more students from one family entered at the same time, a reduction of 10 percent was made.)

A thoroughly modern course in “The Touch Writer” was also offered. It was described as follows: “Touch typewriting is the result of a thorough training of the fingers, which enables the operator to manipulate the keys without constantly watching the keyboard. This is, of course, a great advantage to the writer in point of speed. This was clearly demonstrated by Miss Schriner of Boston, who took a dictated letter in shorthand, containing 169 words, and transcribed it; the entire performance occupying only one minute and forty-five seconds, making an average of 96 1/2 words per minute.”

The marketing of the college especially targeted men: “Why is it that young men prefer to clerk from $5.00 to $8.00 per week when they might be earning twice as much if they understood shorthand and typewriting? It is a grave mistake to ‘suppose’ that stenography is a profession for girls alone.” They even quoted Frederick Ireland, official reporter for the U.S. House of Representatives: “If I were fifteen years old again and wanted to be earning $25,000 a year in some great business by the time I was thirty, I would study to become a good amanuensis and get into the manager’s office as a stenographer. There is no quicker, easier way to ‘burglarize’ success.”

Seventy-one students were listed as enrolled in 1903 from many communities in southwest Minnesota and one from New York. Numerous former students offered personal testimonials in regard to the college.

The T.J. Baldwin store on the main floor offered shelf hardware, sporting goods, bicycles, Kodaks and supplies, stationery and electrical goods. T.J. Baldwin was a brother to Ray Baldwin who owned and operated a business at 240 W. Main St. The book touts the city as follows: “Marshall is the commercial and educational center of Southwestern Minnesota. It is an ideal city for the student who is removed from the direct influences of home; for it has an atmosphere of thrift, sobriety, enterprise, culture and progress. All through the city and country there is an atmosphere of thrift; there are no sluggards here, for the activity of the town and its busy people does not foster those who ‘neither toil nor spin.’ Strangers to this modern city are met with hospitality. There is genuineness in the welcome; it is sincere. We know of no city in the Northwest where a student will be more thoroughly surrounded by refining influences than he or she will be in Marshall. Without considering the excellence of our system of instruction, we believe the environment of the student in Marshall the greatest advantage we have to guarantee to parents.”

The Marshall Business College closed in 1910. A branch of the Brown’s Business College may have opened in 1911 but did not remain in business.

On a different note: Many years ago, my 7-year-old grandson asked if I would come up to the Twin Cities and help to chaperone his Roseville second-grade class that was scheduled to visit a museum. He said, “I know that it will not be as nice as your museum, Nana, but I want you to go with us.” The tour turned out to be at the Minnesota Historical Society Museum in St. Paul, one of the most outstanding museums in the United States. After the tour, I asked him what he thought of the museum. He responded, “Well, I really liked climbing to the top of the grain elevator and sitting in the tornado house when the tornado came, but they didn’t even have a Schwan’s ice cream counter at the museum.”

Source: History of Lyon County, Minn., A.P. Rose, 1912.

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