restricted access The Founding of Whittier College
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THE FOUNDING OF WHITTIER COLLEGE By Harry W. Nerhood* ON December 24, 1887, the first issue of the Whittier (California) Graphic appeared. In this first issue it was stated that "the Pickering Land and Water Company have set apart twenty acres of land to be donated to a college. This land is now worth at least $25,000, and is rapidly increasing in value. It is believed that at least $100,000, or perhaps $200,000 can be raised here for the purpose of endowing a college. The Quakers are looking for a good location for a college, and we think Whittier will secure the prise." The editors of the first newspaper of this little California boom town were correct in their prophecy. Whittier did secure the "prise," but not until after a decade of struggle and sacrifice, then half a century of slow but steady growth. It is a far cry from Professor John Chawner's trade of five volumes of Johnson's Encyclopedia for two shares of stock in the Whittier Educational Association in 18911 to the sixty thousand books and 225 annually-received periodicals in the Whittier College Library of today; from the 1892 advertisement in the Whittier Register asking the question "Do you want an education?" and answering it by notifying the public of the "Literary Department under efficient management of Professor John Chawner, A. M. of Penn College, Iowa, and Dr. W. V. Coffin, A. B.," with drawing, painting, and music taught by Miss Mary Trueblood and Miss Ella Stalker (daughter of the Methodist minister)2 to the annual catalog of 1952 listing a faculty of seventy and hundreds of courses in all fields of learning ; from the rental of fifteen boarding rooms at $18.00 per month in a Whittier business building3 to the present campus with thirty buildings, including eight dormitories; from the treasurer's annual report of 1894, showing receipts of $7019.47 * Harry W. Nerhood is a member of the History Department of Whittier College.ffl 1 Whittier Educational Association, MS Minutes, August 10, 1891 (hereafter cited as WEA) . This is one of the principal source documents for the early history of Whittier College. 2 Whittier Regiuer, February 4, 1892. s WEA, September 1, 1892. 104 Founding of Whittier College105 and expenditures of $6927.844 to the present million-dollar budget of Whittier College; from the report of Principal John Woody of Whittier Academy for 1894-5 in which he states that "ninety-five pupils have been in attendance during the year, of whom) 75 are, members of the Friends Church"5 to the 1950-51 enrollment summary of Whittier College, which shows a grand total registration of 3,898, including regular semesters, summer school, and extended day. Yes, it is a far cry from May 3, 1887, when Acquilla Pickering purchased the acreage for a townsite in Southern California "for the purpose of locating a colony of Orthodox Friends,"6 where two months later, on July 19, the first Quakers "reached the colony of their dreams."7 By November of the same year there were 700 people in Whittier, two hundred of whom were Quakers. The first issue of the town's first newspaper stated that Whittier was "a proper location for a Yearly Meeting, a Quarterly Meeting, and a Friends' College." 8 A Friends Monthly Meeting, had been organized in Whittier in early December, "with Cyrus Lindley as temporary clerk, and already there were plans for setting up a Quaker institution of learning." Did not the Queries of the Friends' Discipline ask what provisions were being made for the education of the young? In the January 19, 1888, issue of the Whittier Graphic an item appeared telling of the incorporation of a Friends College of Whittier, to be "a school for both sexes." The same issue and two issues following called for a giant meeting to be held at the Friends Church to raise funds for the new school.9 Before this public meeting, the new Board of Trustees of the projected Friends College met on January 30, electing as officers: S. D. Coffin, President; Charley Reynolds, first Vice-President; Elias Jessup, second Vice-President; Willet Dorland, Secretary; C...