Hanover College
The Student Experience from the 1830s to the 1970s

Prepare for our discussion by considering the following questions:

(NB. Paragraph numbers apply to these excerpts, not the original sources.)


Memorial of the Life and Character of Mrs. Sophronia R. McKee,
edited by John F. Baird (c. 1889)

From 1836 to 1841, Sophronia Crosby (later Sophronia McKee) was the principal of the Hanover Female Seminary, a woman's college associated with the all-male Hanover College. When she died in 1889, some of her students gave testimonials to her long-lasting influence on their lives.

{1} Mrs. C. E. Coulter, formerly missionary to China, now Secretary of the Freedmen’s Department of the Woman’s Board, who completed the four years’ course under her at Hanover, says: “If asked what was peculiar in Mrs. McKee’s manner of teaching, it would be hard to tell. It was not perfunctory. She did not teach as if it were a task, nor did she teach as one who merely delighted in imparting information, but she had the advancement of the individual in mind. She loved to teach, and she threw herself into the work. She instilled some of her own enthusiasm into her classes. Class drill was not irksome. She inspired her pupils with confidence in her and in themselves, and consequently, as a rule, they were ready to put forth their best efforts. In looking back upon those days, I think the great secret of Mrs. McKee’s success was her every-day, practical Christianity. She was a woman of indomitable energy, fertile in resources, instant in season and out of season. She never forgot her responsibility to the Great Teacher, nor did she ever forget the worth of an individual soul. I do not suppose that she ever had a pupil with whom she did not hold private conversations in regard to her personal relation to God. Eternity alone will reveal the result of these serious, prayerful talks. Every pupil felt that she was personally interested, not only in her advancement in her studies, but in her eternal welfare. As the result of this Christian faithfulness, there was always a healthy religious influence pervading the school. . . .

{2} [Susann W. Moffett reported that] another marked characteristic of her as a teacher, always and everywhere, was her thoroughness. At an annual examination, Dr. McMaster, the President of Hanover College, being present, conducted the examination himself in Butler’s “Analogy,” and pronounced it a great success. It was an evidence of the esteem in which her school was held, that in those early days, when such a thing as co-education in colleges had never been thought of, her classes had access to the lectures and laboratory experiments of the College.


"Discourse on the Ends and Uses of a Liberal Education,"
by Alexander Kinmont (1836)

Alexander Kinmont delivered this speech in 1836 to Hanover College's Union Literary Society, a student organization founded "to promote friendship and good feeling among us, and cultivate literature and science in general and eloquence in particular." Excerpt from the complete text published in the Hanover Historical Review.

{1} There are two kinds of Education  --  the liberal and the servile. I define a liberal education to be that which puts us in possession of the principles and reasons of actions and things, so far as they are capable of being known or investigated; a servile education, on the contrary, is that which stops short at the technical rules and methods, without attempting to understand the reasons or principles on which they are grounded. . . . "The planets are held in their orbits by the law of universal gravitation" [is]  a most sublime theory; but if you have no other illustrations of the truth of it, than such as may be found in the most popular works on astronomy; unless you have made yourself acquainted with those laws or facts, the grand discoveries of Kepler, and satisfied yourself by an examination of the evidence, that the ascertaining of these lies within the scope of observation and geometrical measurement, and after having settled that point to your satisfaction, followed up the mathematical reasonings of Newton, through all the principal theorems, by which steps, he at last demonstratively deduced, the grand law of universal gravitation, and established it on grounds that cannot be shaken; -- unless you have passed through this ordeal of investigation, your knowledge of astronomy is not liberal, not solid, but like the faith of the multitude in the Christian Religion, without either substance or evidence, -- whereas a true faith is possessed of both. . . .

{2} Gentlemen of the Union Literary Society, I have pointed out some of the ends of a liberal education, and have shown that the pursuit of principles is its main business. . . . Let me recommend to you, gentlemen, in the most earnest manner, as you value the well-being and freedom of your own understandings (and I am sure my recommendation is seconded by the voice of your instructors) that you make it your constant endeavor to seek for these principles of truth, as for hidden treasure; and to seek diligently till you find them. They are sometimes near at hand  --  sometimes remote. They are not always couched in some set form of words; there are truths beyond the compass of delinition; the most precious truths are generally such. . . . There are truths, I say, gentlemen, of such a stamp, that they cannot be reduced to a verbal form: they are to be felt rather than seen; and yet they must be known, in order that we may act from them. How, then, are we to come at such truths as these? By a knowledge of men and things; not as presented in the abstract, but livingly and in the gross; these are the great hieroglyphics of nature, and they must be deciphered by everyone. But . . . where shall we find -- to read them? In our own age and country only? Gentlemen, that is one page of the book, and we ought to peruse it; but it is but one; and from its very nearness, we may magnify its importance, and take its partial views of truth and nature for the universal. This is the mistake which . . . [uneducated men]  so often fall into. They are often better acquainted with the single page before them than the educated; and take pride to themselves for their knowledge, and think they know all, because they know all that they see. And I would advise you, gentlemen, to gather their knowledge, and to gather it carefully; but it is not liberal education to be possessed of that merely, however practical; but you must peruse the other pages of the vast book of human history -- not the contemporary page merely -- nor look only at a single segment of humanity, but take in its wide circumference, and read its universal lessons of experience, and from an extensive and commanding circumduction of facts, and feelings, and sentiments of all known ages, arrive at something like a firm, and adequate, and just philosophy of Man. -- You may say, let others gather the facts for me -- I will be satisfied with the conclusions; they will serve my turn. Gentlemen, this is to enslave our minds: it is not the gathered faded facts that have the moral truths upon them, so really as the fresh contemporaneous ones. So, if you would read the genius of an age, peruse none but the writings of the time. . . .

{3} There is a prevailing delusion in this country, that because we have a large region, and a fine soil, and spontaneous productions, on that account there is less necessity for hard study or extended reading -- and that it will rather interfere with the bold originality of native genius, which, it is believed, would otherwise shoot up with the spontaneous exuberance of the wild forests. Gentlemen, the fancy would be a good one, if the fruitfulness of the mind sprung from the same causes with the fertility of the soil; but it is not so -- it is not so. Our minds and bodies are of different orders of being. . . ; and the well-being and strength of the mind are derived from one order of causes -- those of the body from another. But even to pursue the analogy taken up, what is the cause of this immense fertility of our lands? Is it not the decay and decomposition of many ages of vegetation, that have formed the soil. . . ? The first productions on the barren rock are but lichen and moss -- curious but not valuable; it is the accumulated mold of a long series of years of vegetation, that makes [rich soil].  And the analogy holds in mind; it is the accumulation of thought and sentiment of ages of history and experience that forms the right kind of soil, on which our minds must strike root, and grow downwards and upwards. . . . It is folly, then, to exclude ourselves from the benefit of a large mental experience, under the hope of being original, from the silly wish of producing the mere lichen and moss of intellect. No, gentlemen, let us transplant our minds into the best soils, whether these be Greek, or Latin, or English, or American. We intend not to exhibit a resurrection of ancient thoughts; that is far from our intention; but from this mixture of soil to produce fruits in our minds worthy of America -- to exhibit intellect, and power, and liberality, as near to the extended standard of the taste of our day, as were those to the standard of theirs. This is the object of a liberal education; this is that consummation so devoutly to be wished for. . . .

{4} But, gentlemen, the task remains with you and your compeers in our happy seats of learning; with you it remains; for it is the privilege of academic learning, to re-assert the great Principles of Thought among your countrymen, as they have appeared from age to age. and in various lands, and now appear, and in this land. May the studies of a just and noble learning qualify you for this grand  --  this illustrious enterprise. May Wisdom be shed down upon you from above; --and may you have large and capacious minds to receive it. In you may Education prove a blessing to the commonwealth;  -- freely you have received, and freely may you give; -- and from such well-springs and fountains of pure and benevolent minds, may Knowledge, and Education, and Virtue, and Religion, circulate abundantly into every corner of the land.


Charles Alling diary, Jan. 17-19, 1884

Charles Alling was an 1885 graduate of Hanover College. His diary is available in the Duggan Library archives. An online transcription is in progress.

{1}My choice of profession. . . never troubled me to any extent till last year. When we boarded at Dr. Fisher's, I used to talk it over sometimes with Howard. We would say partly in fun, but with some considerable earnestness, that we would be ministers. Doctor told us that he "fully expected to hear that Revs. Howard Fisher and Chas. Alling had exchanged pulpits." When we would say anything to the boys about our expectations they would laugh at the very idea. Still, beneath this seeming improbability, there was a conviction in my mind that it would not be an improbable event. There are many incentives in this direction; more than one would think at a first glance: Grandma Scovel seemed to think that I ought to be a [minister] of the Gospel; Uncle Rufus also talked to me about it, telling me that it is the best calling in which one may engage. I agree with him in this, that it is the noblest calling a human being may choose; to be a co-worker of the Almighty, in toiling for the salvation of our fellow-mortals; besides this labor concerns not only the paltry issues of time but its every effort tells upon the souls of men, as to their condition through eternity. Its fruits are to reaped not only in this life but in Heaven especially. Oh! what a joy it would be to meet in Heaven even a few saved through our instrumentality. Besides there is hardly any calling which may be made more pleasant, more interesting even in a secular point of view. How great a field for literary attainments and the pleasures of scholarship is to be found in the [strikeout: pastors] preacher's work. It has always seemed to me that a man ought in a certain degree to be measured by his influences and what profession can have a greater influence upon the hearts and lives of men than the pulpit. I have come away from church sometimes thinking upon some important point which has been presented forcibly to my mind, and which, to a greater or less degree, will influence my life; at the same time the thought would suggest itself - - would it not please me to pursue such a noble end in life? Besides, the position of a clergyman, even in the world, is among the highest in the esteem of his fellow men.

{2}Other considerations have come in, however, to wield a greater influence. My circumstances and surroundings are such as to alienate me from the ministry. Although I have always had a good reputation at home among my acquaintances, yet a certain amount of frivolity -- so to speak -- has been one of my characteristics. Especially in the company of the girls, I have got a way of talking which, though generally proper, impresses them with the idea that I am up with the times. It would be hard for me to counteract this sentiment and become a steady -- going, embryo preacher. My extreme youthful appearance would also act as another hindrance. These and other considerations make me have a sort of inward feeling that I should turn my attention elsewhere.

{3}Last summer, I read Matthew's Getting On In the World, and thought of studying law. It seemed to me that I was capable of succeeding if so many men had gained a footing; men, that is, of very limited education and of exceedingly small energy or prominence of character. Graduates of Hanover College, whom I know, have gained success, and, not to be egotistical, I think I have as much of the elements of success as they had. John Wiggam and Frank Swope both intend to be lawyers and I would hate to say I was not the mental equal of either. But the idea of learning stenography was suggested to me by Mr. Korbly, saying something about it at home last term. I thought then that the acquisition of this art would be a good preliminary step to the profession of law or to journalism in which latter direction my thoughts seem somewhat definitely to settle. My youth, the opportunity of at once sustaining myself, the fair prospects of honorable success, the opportunities of travel as a correspondent, the importance of the journalists profession, etc. seem to tell me that this is my most congenial sphere.

{4}I do not desire to be a business man; there are enough in the family now to represent the hardware trade. Besides my education is too valuable to squander by tying myself down to the petty, irksome restraints of a business life. As to wealth, I care not, whether I ever become a five hundred thousand man. Of course, I expect to live very comfortably and to know how to manage my finances.

Hanover College Classes of 1970 and 1971, Reunion Memory Books (2005 and 2006)

Members of the Hanover Classes of 1970 and 1971 contributed their remembrances for "memory books" to share with their classmates at their thirty-fifth-year reunions. The following alumni agreed to share those memories here as well.

Carolyn Hurley Wade, Class of 1970

Memories of Hanover:

[2013 addendum: Bob asked me to drive his car to a dance, and (as a freshman in October 1966) I had never driven on that road.]

Linda Hankey Young, Class of 1971

{1}Hanover College, in addition to the excellent educational aspects, was a wonderful place to transition from the teen years into adulthood.  In a somewhat protected environment, it was a time to learn to balance those things that needed to be done with that which I just wanted to do.  For me as a Theo/Spanish major, it was a time to examine most closely what I believed, and to learn to begin to separate denominational traditions from what the Word calls us to.  During my freshman year Spring term trip to Mexico, I had to make a number of "adult" decisions, which in the end led to a sense of self-assuredness.  That trip was one of the highlights of my four years at Hanover, even though I had been to Mexico previously.  Career wise, I did not go in the exact directions that I thought I might, although I have not gone too far astray.  I consider the years that I stayed home to raise two sons (who have been such a blessing) a ministry of sorts, as was the past fifteen years of working with high school special needs kids.  I considered studying for a Special Education certificate, but decided that I was not all that fond of the mounds of paper work that go with the job. 

{2}So . . . I help teach and train with less of the hassle!  I always think of my years at Hanover, my professors, and the friendships I made with great fondness.

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