|Mrs. White Visits Oakwood in 1904|
From July 20-23, 1904, the members of the board, the faculty and students had the very rare privilege of seeing and hearing Mrs. White in a lecture. She spoke well of the work that had been done by Principal Jacobs and encouraged the faculty to continue the agricultural training that was being given at the time of her visit:
Several sears ago Brother S. M. Jacobs was in charge of the farm, and under his care it made great improvement. Brother Jacobs put forth most earnest disinterested efforts. In regard to this school here at Huntsville, I wish to say that for the past two or three years I have beau receiving instruction as to what it should be, and what those who come here as students should become. All that is done by those connected with this
school, is to be done with the realization that this is the Lord's institution in which the students are to be taught how to cultivate the land and how to labor for the uplifting of their own people. They are to work with such earnestness and perseverance that the tare will bear farm will bear testimony to the fidelity with which this donation of land has been cared for. This is the Lords land and it is to bear testimony to His glory. Those who come to this school to receive instruction on the farm or in the schoolroom, are to be taught in right lines, and are to live in close connection with God. [Ref 1]
The vocational training in 1906 included blacksmithing, carpentry, broom making, agriculture, carpet weaving, poultry raising, dairying, apiology, horticulture, cooking, plain sewing, and dressmaking. By the fall of the same year teachers and students had completed a tool house and cistern and had laid seven hundred feet of sewer line. [Ref 2]
The United States Bureau of Education Bulletin for 1916 gives this report of the industrial life at the Oakwood Manual Training School:
An elementary school with a few pupils in secondary subjects. Tuition is free and the institution provides employment and instruction for most of the pupils in a number of commercial enterprises.
The officers are energetic, hard--working men and women who insist upon thoroughness in all work. Religious training is emphasized.
The industrial activities are tent making, printing, black- smithing, sawmilling, farming and canning. The boys are employed in these industries according to the school needs. The girls are instructed in cooking and sewing, with ample practice in the boarding department. The nurse training department is small. While much good training is given to the pupils, there is a lack of system in the educational phases of the work. [Ref 3]
Principal Boyds report to the North American Division Conference council in 1917 gave recognition to the manual training work that was being given at that time:
A few manual training classes are carried, but the larger part of the industrial knowledge gained by the student comes from actual work. They learn to do by doing. It has been the policy of the institution since it has been established to make the school serve its own needs just as far as possible. On our farm we endeavor to produce such things as we consume. The girls make their own uniforms, and the larger part of our sewing is done in the sewing department. With a very few exceptions our buildings have been constructed by student labor under the leadership of their teachers. While the workmanship in every instance has not been the very best, yet our boys and girls always point with pride to work which they have done themselves. Last year we produced from own farm thirty-two bales of cotton, two thousand bushels of sweet potatoes, and produced and canned small quantities of other fruits and vegetables. We have twenty head of mules, horses and colts; twenty head of cattle and over two hundred hens on the place.
We did $1,252.59 worth of printing last year. The sawmill earned $768.89 from custom work. $3,000 worth of tents were made by the tent department. An effort is made to have things practical. Thrift, economy and simplicity characterize our work. We are teaching our students how to work with more intelligence, and how to live under more sanitary conditions; that true greatness does not consist in doing extraordinary things, but in doing ordinary things in an extraordinary way. [Ref 4]
When wages were high as they were during World War I, it was not an easy matter to persuade boys to remain at Oakwood during the summer and engage in the industrial program. However, there were some who always had enough interest in the welfare of the school to remain, and President Beardsley commended this spirit in his report to the Constituency meeting in Birmingham during the winter of l9l9 [Ref 5], and spoke at length on the products of the farm.
Other Alabama schools were promoting sound industrial progress, and brought some of their industrial exhibits annually to the Alabama Teachers' Association. Oakwood has always sent representatives to this association. In the year 1922 President Beardsley took the exhibits to the association meeting and later wrote in the Gospel Herald that the manual training and industrial exhibits of the various schools were interesting and instructive. He also added that while Tuskegee had many agricultural and handicraft exhibits, Oakwood was the only school with exhibits on penmanship, notebooks and fine art work. [Ref 6]
The industrial departments were a great source cf help to the many students who were working to defray part of their expenses. Of these, the departments that furnished the greatest opportunity were the boarding club, farm,,laundry, sawmill and shop. [Ref 7]
Before the close of the third decade of this country many schools in the south were eager for accreditation and therefore gave more emphasis to their scholastic life. Since 1930 a number of them have almost abandoned their industrial pursuits. However, some still endeavor to educate "the head, the heart and the hand." The practicality of this type of education is emphasized by many outstanding educators.
1. The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, Vol. 95, No. 36, September 5, 1918, p. 10
2. Ibid., Vol. 82, No. 40, October 5, 1905, p. 19.
3. United States Bureau of Education Bulletin, Vo. II, No. 39, 1916
4. The Oakwood Bulletin, Vol. 4, No. 1, April 12, 1917, pp. 8,9.
5. The Oakwood Bulletin, Vol. 6, No. 1, February 3, 1919, pp. 45. See also pp. 7-9. Exhibit 34, Appendix pp. 288, 289.
6. The Gospel Herald, Vol. 16, No. 5, p. 6, May 1922.
7. Exhibit 35, Appendix p. 290