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Chautauqua’s Hall of Philosophy

7 Aug

Isabella Alden considered The Hall of Philosophy one of the most beloved locations at Chautauqua Institution.

The Hall of Philosophy, viewed from the side

The Hall of Philosophy, viewed from the side

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The Hall of Philosophy—sometimes called the Hall in the Grove because of its location in idyllic St. Paul’s Grove—was an open-air structure that sat under a canopy of trees that shaded and cooled the Hall during the hot summer months. It was a favorite gathering place for Chautauquans, even when no lectures were held there.

The view from the top of the steps of the Hall of Philosophy; photo courtesy of TripAdvisor.com

A modern view from the top of the steps of the Hall of Philosophy; photo courtesy of TripAdvisor.com

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If you were a Chautauqua visitor, you could stand at the edge of the Hall of Philosophy and look out upon different views of the grounds. From one vantage point, you’d see the Hall of Christ and the spires of the different denominational chapels.

Chapel-Episcopal

The Episcopal Chapel at Chautauqua Institution.

Presbyterian Headquarters building at Chautauqua Institution

Presbyterian Headquarters building at Chautauqua Institution

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From another direction you’d see gingerbread-trimmed cottages and inviting expanses of green lawns.

The Colonnade Cottages, 1908.

The Colonnade Cottages, 1908.

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The original Hall of Philosophy was designed by Bishop John Vincent for the Christian Literary and Scientific Circle (C.L.S.C.). Twenty years later, when it was discovered the building needed to be replaced in order to last for future generations, the C.L.S.C. lead a fund-raising campaign and raised the money needed to erect a new Hall of Philosophy in the same location.

 

When the new concrete floor was poured in 1905, it included 51 different mosaic tiles, each designed by a different C.L.S.C. class, beginning with the class of 1882 (the first class) and ending with the class of 1924. Each tile depicts the class year, name and logo.

The floor plan of the Hall of Philosophy showing the position of the individual CLSC class tiles.

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For instance, the first C.L.S.C. class of 1882 was called “The Pathfinders.” Their emblem was the nasturtium and their motto was “The truth shall make you free.”

The class of 1915 adopted the name “Jane Addams” and used the American laurel as their emblem. Their motto: “Life more abundant.”

The mosaic tile for the 1915 CLSC class; photo courtesy of TextileFusion.com

The mosaic tile for the 1915 CLSC class; photo courtesy of TextileFusion.com

Class Tile 1903 from The Chautauquan Vol 72

Class Tile 1908 from The Chautauquan Vol 72

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Isabella Alden was a member of the 1887 class; her fellow classmates honored her by naming their class the Pansy Class. They used the pansy flower as their emblem and “Neglect not the gift that is in thee” as their motto.

Cover of The Hall in the GroveIsabella paid tribute to the Hall of Philosophy and her own experience with the C.L.S.C. in her novel The Hall in the Grove. The story centers around a diverse group of people who each spend a summer at Chautauqua for different reasons—and each end the summer changed by their experience. The Hall of Philosophy is almost another character in Isabella’s story, for it plays a prominent role in the different characters’ spiritual journeys. (You can click on the book cover to learn more about the novel.)

Thanks to the determination and rallying spirit of the members of the C.L.S.C. the Hall of Philosophy was rebuilt, and is still in use today.

This short video by Chautauqua Institution gives a brief history of the Hall of Philosophy and shows some examples of the C.L.S.C. class tiles:

 

The Heroine of the Temperance Cause

31 Jul

Isabella Alden was a great campaigner for the temperance movement. She had seen for herself the consequences of an unregulated alcohol industry. Alcoholic drinks in her time were often far more potent than commercial beer, wine and distilled liquor we’re used to today, making them much more addictive. Sometimes alcoholic beverages were laced with other substances, like cocaine; and alcohol was openly marketed to children.

This short video by documentary film maker Ken Burns describes the influence of  liquor on America at the turn of the Twentieth Century.

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Isabella’s dear friend Theodosia Toll Foster (whose nom de plume was Faye Huntington) was another tireless worker for the cause of temperance. Many of her novels were written for publication by the National Temperance Society and described the impact of alcoholism on the lives of individuals and communities.

Cover_John Remington MartyrAnd in her own books, Isabella often wove stories around the impact alcoholism had on families. She and her sister Marcia Livingston co-authored the novel, John Remington, Martyr, which chronicled one man’s efforts to fight the power of the alcohol industry and its hold on society.

Isabella, Theodosia and Marcia, as well as Marcia’s daughter, Grace Livingston Hill, were active members of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. The W.C.T.U. began in 1874 as a “crusade” of 208 dedicated temperance workers.

The Baptist Church in Fredonia, NY. Here on December 15, 1873 208 crusaders met and organized the Women's Christian Temperance Union

The Baptist Church in Fredonia, NY. Here on December 15, 1873 208 crusaders met and organized the Women’s Christian Temperance Union

When Frances Willard was named the W.C.T.U.’s president in 1879, she inherited an organization comprised of several autonomous chapters with no unified action plan to achieve the group’s goal of reforming the distribution and sale of alcohol in America.

Up to that point, the organization was known for it crusades—bands of women visiting local saloons to pray and ask saloonkeepers to close their doors and stop selling spirits. For the most part, they were seen as teetotaling moral zealots.

An 1874 illustration of crusaders

An 1874 illustration of crusaders

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Frances Willard had a different vision for the organization. By profession she was a teacher. She was educated, dynamic, and persuasive; she used those talents to redefine the W.C.T.U. Knowing that America’s high rate of alcoholism was directly related to crime, sexual assault, poverty, and domestic violence, she redirected the organization to focus on social reform and political activism.

Frances Willard in an undated photo

Frances Willard in an undated photo

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She formed alliances with politicians, instilled a sense of sisterhood in W.C.T.U. members, and cultivated powerful and influential allies.

W.C.T.U. card from about 1912

W.C.T.U. card from about 1912

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Lewis Miller, co-founder of Chautauqua Institution and a multi-millionaire industrialist, was a staunch supporter of the W.C.T.U.; his wife Mary was one of the first members of the Ohio W.C.T.U., a well-organized and militant branch of the organization.

Mina Miller at about age 19

Mina Miller at about age 19

Their daughter Mina recalled how her mother, with other “dauntless women” visited saloons and pleaded with the male proprietors to close their doors. They were often subjected to insults and even had buckets of water thrown on them.

After Mina Miller married Thomas Edison, the great American inventor, she used her influence as “Mrs. Edison” to further the W.C.T.U.’s programs.

And what programs they were! W.C.T.U. members developed and taught temperance lessons to children in Sunday schools and visited drunkards in prison. They lobbied for free public kindergartens and prison reform. By 1889 W.C.T.U. chapters were operating nurseries, Sunday schools, homeless shelters, and homes for fallen women. Members supported labor reform, suffrage, disarmament, and the eight-hour work day.

The W.C.T.U. Marching Song

The W.C.T.U. Marching Song

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Isabella often wrote about the activities of the W.C.T.U. in her books. Most striking was her novel One Commonplace Day. In that story, a group of people come together on their own to help one family overcome the effects of alcoholism; and they employ many of the  W.C.T.U. methods to do so.

W.C.T.U. headquarters building at Chautauqua Institution, New York

W.C.T.U. headquarters building at Chautauqua Institution, New York

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Isabella and Frances Willard often lectured together, speaking before different chapters of the Sunday School Assembly and at regional Chautauqua locations.

Statue of Frances Willard in the United States Capital, Washington D.C.

Statue of Frances Willard in the United States Capital, Washington D.C.

By the time Frances Willard passed away in 1898 the W.C.T.U. was an acknowledged political and social force in the United States. Under her leadership the organization united women from varied backgrounds, educated them and empowered them to form one of the strongest and most influential women’s organizations in American history.

In 1905 a statue of Frances Willard was erected in National Statuary Hall at the United States Capital in Washington D.C. Her statue was the first honoring a woman to be chosen for the National Statuary Hall Collection.


Would you like to learn more about Frances Willard and the W.C.T.U.? Click here to visit the organization’s website.

Click on this link to read more about the statue of Frances Willard in Statuary Hall at the United States Capital.

Grace Livingston Hill wrote a short biography of Frances Willard’s early years. Click here to read her 1909 article.

You can watch the full 90-minute Ken Burns documentary “A Nation of Drunkards” here:

Chautauqua Advice from Bishop Vincent

13 Jul
John Heyl Vincent

John Heyl Vincent

By 1890 the Summer Assembly at Chautauqua Institution was in its seventeenth year. Its success inspired similar assembly locations on four continents. People who could not travel to the original New York location could attend an assembly in Iowa, Illinois, Missouri or forty other locations across the United States.

Bishop John Heyl Vincent (Chautauqua’s co-founder) believed everyone could benefit from even a few days at a Chautauqua assembly.

He wrote an article for an 1890 issue of The Chautauquan magazine in which he gave plenty of advice for anyone planning to undertake the trip for the first time.

Chautauqua camping in 1908

Chautauqua camping in 1908

Here’s the advice he gave about tent kife:

If you live in a tent, remember a little fact that some innocent and unconscious souls so easily forget, or which, perhaps, they never knew: tent lights cause most curious shadows on tent walls; and folks outside, if they happen to pass, see some ludicrous pantomimic shadow effects, which, if the lights were lower, might be lost. “Let the lower lights be burning,” or study the laws of light and abridge the unprogrammed entertainments of the Assembly.

Tent Shadows

Do You Know the Chautauqua Salute?

12 May

Joseph Rodefer DeCamp_Farewell detailThere were many beloved traditions at Chautauqua Institution, and Isabella Alden often described them in her books.

“Do you know the Chautauqua salute?”

Burnham Roberts asked the question of Hazel Harris in Four Mothers at Chautauqua.

“Then you understand what a strange effect is produced by the simultaneous flutter of countless white handkerchiefs. Can you imagine what it would be to see at least five thousand of them held aloft motionless for a single solemn minute, the only sound in the great assembly coming from the great organ softly tolling out a requiem? That is the way they paid tribute to the Bishop’s co-laborer, and to other great souls who put their shoulders to the wheel in the early days of the enterprise. I never saw a more impressive sight in my life.”

Victorian woman waving her handkerchief

And in The Hall in the Grove, Carolyn Raynor was enchanted upon seeing the Chautauqua salute for the first time:

“Oh, look!”

Well she might exclaim. To one like her who had never seen it before, the sight was simply glorious; and to one who has never seen it at all, the effect is indescribable; yet the cause was simple enough. A flutter of what looked like millions and millions of white handkerchiefs!

“The Chautauqua salute,” said Mr. Masters composedly, his eyes shining their satisfaction. “Isn’t it a singular scene?”

“A summer snow-storm down among the flowers and the grasses and the full-leaved forest trees,” said Caroline.

Woman waving handkerchiefIn The Story of Chautauqua, Jesse Lyman Hurlbut told how the salute came to be.

On the 1877 program was a speaker named Mr. S. L. Greene from Ontario, Canada. Mr. Green was deaf and mute. Reverend Hurlbut described how Mr. Greene addressed the great audience in pantomime in the Auditorium under the trees:

He spoke in the sign-language, telling several stories from the gospels; and so striking were his silent symbols that everyone could see the picture. We were especially struck with his vivid representation of Christ stilling the tempest.

Wave 1910 detail

When Mr. Greene finished, the audience of “at least two thousand” burst into enthusiastic applause; but Dr. Vincent stopped them.

“The speaker is unable to hear your applause. Let us wave our handkerchiefs instead of clapping our hands.”

In an instant the grove was transformed into a garden of white lilies dancing under the leaves of the trees. Then and there the Chautauqua salute of waving handkerchiefs was adopted as a token of special honor, used only when called for by Dr. Vincent in person.

And Dr. Vincent insisted that the salute—which was a distinct and rare honor—“should be of the whitest, purest, intensest kind.” He likened the salute to lilies, and soon the gesture came to be known as The Blooming of the Lilies.

White LiliesIn later years, as Chautauqua Institution grew, the size of the Amphitheatre audience grew as well. By 1884, it wasn’t unusual to have six thousand people gathered in the Amphitheatre to give the Chautauqua salute to some distinguished individual:

“Six thousand lily-white handkerchiefs waving a salute of honor, vigorously expressing the joy of the Chautauqua hearer, is a sight long to be remembered by those who participate therein,” wrote Reverend Hurlbut.

05 Theodore Roosevelt

A crowd of ten thousand greeted Theodore Roosevelt with the Chautauqua salute when he arrived on August 19, 1899 to “preach the gospel of intelligent work” in the vast Amphitheater.

Poet May M. Bisbee was so enthralled seeing the Chautauqua Salute for the first time, she wrote a lovely poem about the experience. Click on the image to see a larger version you can read and print.

Chautauqua Salute poem by May M Bisbee v2

 

 

 

 

Follow these links to learn more about Isabella’s books The Hall in the Grove and Four Mothers at Chautauqua.

 

A Tour of Chautauqua: The Teacher’s Retreat

23 Jan

Before there was a Chautauqua, there was a Teachers’ Retreat. The first meeting was formally named “The National Sunday School Assembly,” and it was held at Fair Point, New York on Lake Chautauqua in August, 1874. In years to come, people would refer to it as the first Chautauqua Assembly; but at the time, no one who attended the modest gathering of Sunday school workers could envision what it would eventually become.

John Vincent and Lewis Miller

John Vincent and Lewis Miller

That first assembly was a meeting to talk shop about Sunday schools. Attendees studied a “definitive” course of instruction, heard lectures on “subjects illustrative of the Bible,” and learned teaching skills. At the end of the three-week-long assembly, attendees took a written examination on Bible knowledge and Sunday school work.

In charge of it all was the Honorable Lewis Miller, a Sunday school superintendent from Akron, Ohio and Dr. John Vincent of the Methodist Church.

Dr. Vincent had long held the belief that Sunday school teachers must have appropriate training to be effective in leading their classes. As far back as 1864 he wrote a regular column in the Sunday School Journal, a monthly publication of the Methodist Church, advocating that ideal.

Banner for Sunday School Journal 1883

 

Together Dr. Vincent and Mr. Miller developed a plan to bring together a large group of Sunday school workers to study a proscribed course that included Bible lectures, ancient geography, and educational theory; and issue diplomas to those who passed a written exam based on the course work.

But it was Mr. Miller who is credited with the idea of holding the retreat in the woods, rather than in a city. He chose to convene the gathering in the Fair Point area on the shore of Lake Chautauqua in New York.

Old black-and-white photo of small boats on Lake Chautauqua off the shore of Fair Point with Point Chautauqua in the distance

Fair Point with Point Chautauqua in the background.

 

The main meeting place was out of doors where a platform had been set up in an open area that would eventually become Miller Park. Someone—maybe Mr. Miller himself—ironically called the gathering area the “auditorium” and the name stuck.

Blacdk and white photograph of several rows of flat plank wooden benches spaced outdoors among the trunks of tall trees.

The original Chautauqua meeting area

 

The Assembly opened on Tuesday evening, August 4, 1874, with a brief responsive service of Scripture and song, offered by Dr. Vincent. He later wrote about that memorable first meeting:

“The stars were out and looked down through trembling leaves upon a goodly well-wrapped company, who sat in the grove, filled with wonder and hope. No electric light brought platform and people face to face that night. The old-fashioned pine fires on rude four-legged stands covered with earth, burned with unsteady, flickering flame, now and then breaking into brilliancy by the contact of a resinous stick of the rustic fireman, who knew how to snuff candles and how to turn light on the crowd of campers-out. The white tents around the enclosure were very beautiful in that evening light.”

Old photo of of men and women in late 18th century dress, seated in Auditorium benches

An early photo of an audience gathered in the original Auditorium

 

The tents Dr. Vincent mentioned were erected at each of the four corners of the auditorium where the first Normal classes were held.

The Reverend Jesse Lyman Hurlbut described how the Normal Class was conducted with precision.

“At eight o’clock the teachers of the different section-classes were called together for a conversazione concerning the subjects to be presented to the class. At ten o’clock one session of the Normal class was held for an hour. At 1:30 was a report and review of the morning lessons; and at two o’clock another session of the classes. The classes—for while all studied the same lesson there were four sections—each met in a tent. . . . Students were expected to attend the same tent regularly, but the instructors were changed daily from tent to tent. But, in spite of the rules, students would watch to see where favorite teachers entered, and would follow them.”

Black and white photograph of men and women seated in the Auditoriam amid the trees

An early gathering at the original Chautauqua Auditorium

 

The examination was held on the last day of the two-week program. There were fifty written questions: twenty-five on the topics of Sunday school and teaching; and twenty-five on the Bible.

Black and white photo of the open-air Auditorium from the back. The audience benches have backs on and they face a raised platform stage.

A later photograph of the Auditorium on the Chautauqua Sunday School Assembly Grounds. Still in the open air, the bench seats now have backs on them.

 

Reverend Jesse Lyman Hurlbut wrote many times about the exam and how tough it was. Those “who passed the examination and received the diploma were not more than a tenth of those who attended the classes.”

The first year over 200 people sat down to take the fifty-question exam. After five hours of wrestling with the questions, 184 people completed the exam; but of those, only 142 actually passed the exam and received diplomas.

In 1875, the second year of the Assembly, 123 passed the exam; and two years later, more than 300 Sunday school workers received diplomas.

Each year the course-work expanded. By 1883 the teachers’ retreat offered lessons in languages, crayon sketching, paint, choir practice, clay modeling, sciences, as well as instruction in teaching different grades. A Ph.D. from Dickinson College delivered several lectures on psychology and taught practical ways teachers could use principles of psychology in their work. Almost every form of instruction for teaching was covered.

Black and white photograph of women standing at lab desks and shelves stocked with bottles and beakers

A Chautauqua chemistry class, 1885

 

The Teachers’ Retreat wasn’t just lectures and class work. Teachers attended concerts, competed in spelling bees, and compared notes while they mingled at receptions.

From year to year the subject matter expanded. By the time the Teachers Retreat celebrated its twentieth anniversary, the original premise of training Sunday school workers had become a small fraction of the Chautauqua University academic program.

In fact, the Teachers’ Retreat had evolved into a meeting of secular school teachers by 1885, as this ad in the Journal of Education shows.

1885 Advertisement from the Boston Journal of Education listing the program and benefits of attending the teachers' retreat.

Advertisement in an 1885 edition of the Boston Journal of Education

 

There was a practical reason for the Chautauqua Teachers’ Retreat to expand its offerings as it did. In the nineteenth century, Sunday schools were often the only education many American children received. Children who could not, for one reason or another, attend school, could regularly attend church; and it was there that many received their only instruction in reading, writing, and arithmetic, in addition to training in the Bible.

As its catalog of academic classes expanded, so did the student body. Enrollment in the teachers’ retreat doubled, then tripled. By 1918 more than 3,000 students were enrolled and the faculty numbered ninety instructors.

Black and white photo of a building with aa large front porch and gingerbread trim, set among tall trees.

Chautauqua Normal Hall as it appeared in 1895. The building was erected ten years earlier by the Alumni of The Sunday School Normal Classes.

 

Every year thousands of men and women left the Teachers’ Retreat and returned home with a new ideal of Sunday school work and an inspired plan for influencing others. Very quickly, Bishop Vincent’s office was overwhelmed with requests for information about the program and for teachers.

Newspapers helped spread the fame of Chautauqua. Click here to read an article in the New York Times published August 10, 1875, about the second Chautauqua Assembly.

Soon, “daughter” Chautauqua Assemblies were established in different parts of the country so more people could attend. By 1890 there were over 30 active Chautauqua Summer Assemblies, ranging from Southern California to Maine, from Canada to  England.

At the heart of each Assembly was the Teachers’ Retreat, where the best teachers learned their craft from Chautauqua’s visionaries and leaders, John Vincent and Lewis Miller.

Frank Beard’s Chalk Talk

11 Jan

Chalk Talk

Frank Beard was one of the most popular lecturers at Chautauqua Institution. His Chalk Talk lectures drew standing-room-only crowds because of their pitch-perfect blend of humor, art and Biblical truths.

Black and white sketch of the artist Frank Beard.In an 1895 interview, Frank recalled how his Chalk Talks came to be:

“I was a young artist in New York, and had just been married. My wife was an enthusiastic churchgoer; and a great deal of our courtship was carried on in going to and from the Methodist church. The result was that I struck a revival and became converted. This occurred shortly after I was married, and like other enthusiastic young Christians, I wanted to do all I could for the church.”

Soon after he joined the church, the congregation put together an evening of entertainment. The ladies, knowing of his talent, suggested that Frank draw some pictures as part of the program. Frank agreed, but he felt that just standing in front of an audience and sketching without saying anything about the pictures “would be a very silly thing.”

He decided instead to make a short talk and draw sketches to illustrate his points. The talk was to be given as part of a Thanksgiving celebration, and Frank later joked that he rehearsed in front of his wife, his mother-in-law, and the turkey. “Well, my wife survived, my mother-in-law did not die while I was talking, and the turkey was not spoiled.”

Black and white sketch of Frank Beard drawing at an easel. Seated in chairs watching are a young woman, an older woman and a plucked, headless turkey strapped in the third chair.

When he gave his talk in front of the congregation, it was a great success. Soon, other churches asked him to repeat his talk, and in very short order he had more invitations to speak than he could ever hope to accept. His wife suggested charging a fee for each lecture, hoping that the cost would deter organizations from inviting him to talk at their functions. So Frank dutifully began charging $30 per talk. The requests continued to pour in. He increased his fee to $40, then $50, but his talks continued to be in great demand.

Newspaper announcement of a Freank Beard lecture from the 10 Mar 1890 edition of the Rock Island Argus

Announcement in the March 10, 1890 edition of the Illinois newspaper, The Rock Island Argus

That was the birth of the Chalk Talk, and Frank soon hit the lecture circuit. He was one of the first speakers at Chautauqua Institution in New York; and he lectured at many of the daughter Chautauquas. This 1899 clipping from the Los Angeles Herald recounts Frank’s Chalk Talk at the Long Beach Chautauqua (which named July 19, 1899 Frank Beard Day):

Announcement of Frank Beard Day at the Long Beach Chautauqua; from The Los Angeles Herald, 20 Jul 1899

Announcement of Frank Beard Day at the Long Beach Chautauqua; from The Los Angeles Herald, 20 Jul 1899

The topics of his Chalk Talks ranged from morality tales to stories from the Bible, each told in a casual, funny, but reverent, way. He knew that people who wouldn’t listen to a “sermon” would listen to his Chalk-Talk if the truths were presented in an entertaining fashion.

In Four Girls at Chautauqua, Eurie Mitchell proved that very point. Eurie was so opposed to listening to “sermons” at Chautauqua, she refused to go to any of the lectures; but when she heard about Frank Beard’s caricatures, she decided to go see him for herself.

If you have never seen Frank Beard make pictures, you know nothing about what a good time she had. They were such funny pictures! Just a few strokes of the magic crayon and the character described would seem to start into life before you, and you would feel that you could almost know what thoughts were passing in the heart of the creature made of chalk. Eurie looked and listened and laughed.

In Isabella’s book, Frank’s Chalk Talk was able to do what no other lecture at Chautauqua could: reach Eurie’s heart and lead her, ultimately, to salvation through Christ.

“Pictures can often tell stories quicker and better than words,” Frank once said, “and I believe that cartoons can be used in the service of religion, righteousness, truth, and justice.”

Black and white drawing of a man standing at a blackboard drawing a circle by moving his arm in a wide round motion

To prove his point, he once asked, “If you were commissioned to teach a child the nature of a circle, would you begin by stating that a circle is an area, having for its center a point, and bounded by a circumference in the nature of an endless imaginary line, which at all points is at an equal distance from the center? No! You would do nothing of the sort, but you would [show] its nature and properties [by drawing a circle] in black and white.”

Sometimes the subjects of his Chalk Talks were very simple. He told a story, for example, of how a blackboard and chalk could be used to teach a Sunday-school class of young children who had never before seen the Christian symbol of a cross inside the shape of a heart. He started by drawing the simple outline of a heart on the blackboard.

A simple sketch of a heart-shape in white chalk against a black background“What is this?”

“A heart!”

“Yes, a heart. Now, I mean this to represent a particular heart—I mean it for my heart. What is it now?”

“Your heart!”

“Don’t forget that. Now, see what else I will draw.” And he drew a child’s face within the heart.

“Now what have I made?”

Drawing in white chalk of a child's face inside the shape of a heart“A little boy!” “A little girl!” “A little child!” Variously cried the children.

“Yes, a little child; but where is the child?”

“In the heart.”

“In the heart?”

“In your heart.”

“That’s right. Now, what does it represent? When I tell you that I have a little child in my heart, what does it mean?”

A chalk sketch of a cross inside the shape of a heart against a black background“You mean you love the child.”

“Exactly. Now I will rub out the child and put a cross in the heart. What does that mean?”

“You love the cross.”

Then he went on to explain in a simple way what loving the cross meant.

He also shared an example of one of his lessons for older children and adolescents. He used this lesson to illustrate the concept of the narrow Christian path described in Matthew 7:13-14:

A young man is attracted by the appearance of beauty and the pleasure along the broad way. Timidly at first, for he is not bad and rather fears evil—but he loves play and pleasure—so he steps into it. He knows it is not the right way to take but he thinks to himself:

Chalk drawing of the head of a nicely-dressed young man wearing a hat.

“After a while, after I have had a good time, I will go over to the right path and come out all right after all.”

Chalk Drawing of the head of a frowning young man wearing a hat and smoking a cigarette

Frank went on to explain how the young man fell in with evil companions and was drawn further away from the good path.

Chalk drawing of the head of an old man with disheveled clothes and hat, smoking rumbled cigarette.

The young man learned to smoke and chew tobacco and read books “which mislead and give us wrong notions in life, that make heroes of scamps, thieves and liars.”

Chalk Ddawing of the head of an old man, hunched over, wearing disheveled clothes and hat.

As Frank continued the lesson, he amended and enhanced his original drawing to show the progressive results of the choices the young man made in his life.

Wherever he gave his Chalk Talks, he was well received, and his reputation grew. But not everyone was a fan of using a blackboard and chalk as teaching tools in the Sunday-school. Frank shared a story about one church that decided to use a man in their congregation—they assumed he had talent because he was a sign painter by profession—to illustrate Sunday-school lessons. The man decided to illustrate the story of Samuel as a child, entering the apartment of the high priest Eli in answer to his summons. His efforts were not well received.

Chalk drawing of Samuel running towards Eli who is in bed.

“Some objected to the bed-posts,” Frank said. “Some didn’t exactly know why, but the drawing didn’t conform to their idea of Samuel at all, and, more over, Eli’s nose was out of proportion.”

Chalk drawing of the Bible story of David and Goliath

The man’s next attempt didn’t fare any better, when he drew Goliath about thirty-five feet high in proportion to David. In fact, the congregation didn’t like anything at all about the poor sign-painter’s efforts at the blackboard.

Isabella Alden’s book Links in Rebecca’s Life featured a character who also disliked Chalk-Talk style lectures. She was a Sunday-school teacher who hated chalk and blackboards.

“They are such horrid dusty things. You get yourself all covered with chalk, and just ruin your clothes. I can hardly wear anything decent here as it is. If I had a blackboard, I should give up in despair.”

“I should think it would be a great help in teaching children,” Rebecca said.

“Well, I don’t know. What could I do with it? I don’t know how to draw, and as for making lines and marks and dots, I am not going to make an idiot of myself. What’s the use?”

But Frank Beard believed no special talent was required for a teacher to incorporate chalkboard drawings into Sunday-school lessons.

“Many are apt to think some extraordinary genius is necessary to fit a teacher to use the blackboard,” he said. “It is a mistake. You can teach better with a pencil than without. You can learn to draw far better than you ever imagined possible.”

Drawings of two different versions of a church and a cross; one version showing the wrong perspective and one version showing the correct perspective.

Illustrations from Frank’s book showing the right (Figures 43, 45) and wrong (Figures 42, 44) way to draw an image in perspective.

In 1896 Frank published a book for Sunday-school workers; in it he gave simple instructions for using the blackboard to illustrate Bible lessons.

Example of a simple but artistic way to write "The Lord is my shepherd" in chalk on the blackboard

Two examples of chalk talk methods for writing "what a friend we have in Jesus" on the chalkboard.

His book included how-to’s on perspective, lettering, and using easy-to-draw symbols as illustrations. Here are some of the symbols he illustrated:

Drawing of a crown with the word "Honor" written below. Drawing of a key with the word "Knowledge" written below. Drawing of a star with the word "Promise" written below. Drawing of a cross with the word "Salvation" written below. Drawing of an ancient oil lamp with the word "Wisdom" written below.

The purpose of writing the book, he said, “is to show how the blackboard can be used in the Sunday-school, and to furnish such instruction in drawing upon it” so it can be done in the most effective way.

drawing of a Victorian-era woman darwing with chalk on a blackboard in front of children seated on chairs in front of her

Illustration from Frank Beard’s book, Chalk Lessons

He was quick to say that he didn’t want the blackboard to monopolize the Sunday-school or supplant other useful forms of instruction. But, if used correctly, Frank Beard proved that the blackboard—and Chalk Talks—could be the “instrument which proves effective as a means of winning souls to Christ.”

 


 

"Taught by Pictures." "Frank Beard believes in the cartoon in religion." A Chat with the Artist." "How He Came to Invent the Chal Talk." "War-Time Caricatures"In 1895 Frank Beard gave an interview to the Washington D.C. newspaper The Evening Star. Click on this image to read the interview in which Frank tells how he invented the Chalk Talk:

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Cover_Links in Rebecca's LifeClick on the book cover to learn more about Links in Rebecca’s Life.

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Cover Box Set books 1-3 Click on the book cover to learn more about Four Girls at Chautauqua.

 

100 Years Ago at Chautauqua

31 Dec

For many reasons, 1914 was a banner year at Chautauqua Institution. Here are a few of the highlights:

Announcement in a 1914 edition of The Chautauquan

Announcement in a 1914 edition of The Chautauquan

Chautauqua Institution marked its 40th anniversary.

The anniversary was celebrated with a week-long music festival of exceptional entertainment, described in this announcement as the “greatest musical event in the history of Chautauqua.” You can click on the announcement to view a larger image.

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The Victor Herbert Orchestra gave two concerts a day during Music Festival Week.

Victor Herbert program 1904Celebrated composer/conductor Victor Herbert performed during the music festival. Famous for his operettas Babes in Toyland and Naughty Marietta, he was also the founder of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. When he came to Chautauqua, he came big, with a 50-member orchestra and a choir of 50 male voices. You can read more about it in the above announcement.

Victor Herbert conducting the Pittsburgh Orchestra in 1901

Victor Herbert conducting the Pittsburgh Orchestra in 1901

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The Chautauqua Players took the stage.
Caricatures of cast and characters in a 1907 production of You Never Can Tell

Caricatures of cast and characters in a 1907 production of You Never Can Tell

Theater productions came late to Chautauqua, due, in large part, to the Methodist Church’s ban on theater attendance that lasted into the 1920s. Chautauquans were content with illustrative lectures and pageants; but those entertainments gradually gave way to dramatic readings, then to pantomime performers. By the early 1900s, stage plays found a place at Chautauqua. To commemorate the anniversary, Chautauqua Institution’s very own Chautauqua Players presented two performances each of three different plays:

The Passing of the Third Floor Back
Ulysses by Stephen Phillips
You Never Can Tell by George Bernard Shaw

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Normal Hall was remodeled.

Built in 1885, Normal Hall is one of the oldest buildings on the Chautauqua grounds. It was originally designed as a recitation hall but in the anniversary year of 1914, it was remodeled for class rooms. Today, Normal Hall is known as the Bratton Theater, home to the Chautauqua Theater Company.

Click on the image to see how Normal Hall looks today.

Normal Hall Exterior in 1908

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The golf course opened.

Golfhere was no golf at Chautauqua in 1874 but forty years later, Chautauquans were hitting the links in addition to the traditional croquet balls. Click here to see period photos of the golf course and to read about the famous people who have played the course.

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Dean Percy H. Boynton became Principal of the Chautauqua Summer Schools.

Percy H BoyntonEducated at Amherst and Harvard universities, Percy Boynton became a Professor of English at the University of Chicago in 1903, the same year he became Secretary of Instruction at the Chautauqua Institution. He served as Chautauqua’s Principal of Summer Schools from 1914 to 1916.

He was also a noted writer and lecturer. After his retirement from teaching, he joined the Chautauqua circuit and toured the country presenting lectures on a variety of topics.

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A new highway and entrance gate opened for business.

In 1914 over 50,000 people attended the summer session at Chautauqua. With so many guests arriving—many over land from nearby Jamestown and Maywood—Chautauqua had to ensure those guests entered the grounds quickly and efficiently. The entire west border of the grounds—where guests entered from the road—was renovated. The highway was widened and paved with brick. Over time, that brick highway was extended to span the length of the grounds.

In addition, a “handsome new station for the Chautauqua Traction Company” was erected to accommodate a trolley line, along with a “suitable Chautauqua gateway.”

Chautauqua Entrance Gate original gateYou can determine for yourself whether the new entrance gate was “suitable.” Here’s an undated photo of the original entrance gate:

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Chautauqua Entrance GateAnd this photo shows the new entrance gate shortly after it opened. The new gate is still in use today.

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In 1914 Chautauqua Institution grew, adapted and expanded; and changed the entire physical front it presented to the world.

A Tour of Chautauqua: A Healthy Body

8 Nov

In the middle of the 19th Century a new craze began to take hold on American college campuses. The new fad was a revolutionary form of physical exercise called gymnastics.

Image of a Chautauqua ExerciseClass in Physical Education 1913

A Chautauqua exercise class in Physical Education, 1913

German in origin, gymnastics spread in popularity and were ultimately integrated into college sports programs. By the end of the century, gymnastics training—as well as the concept of regular exercise for overall health and well-being—made the leap into public consciousness and became a popular concept in the lives of everyday Americans.

The founders of Chautauqua Institution saw the rise of public interest in physical education and knew the concept had a place at Chautauqua. Bishop John Vincent strongly believed that a healthy body was essential to a healthy mind and soul.

Quote from Bishop John Vincent: "Self-Improvementin all our faculties, for all of us, through all time, for the greatest good of all people--this is the Chautauqua idea."

Chautauqua had always offered plenty of exercise for visitors who wanted to be active. There were athletic clubs for men, women and children. Classes were offered in hiking and riding bikes; wrestling and fencing; swimming, diving, hurdle-jumping and golf.

Image of swimmers in the lake at Chautauqua Institution, 1908

Bathing at Chautauqua, 1908

Even their courses on gardening and horticulture emphasized the mental and physical benefits of growing orchard and garden crops.

Image of beginning riders posing with their bikes in the Bicycle School circa 1896

Beginning riders in the Bicycle School, ca. 1896

Image of shuffleboard players at the Chautauqua Sports Club about 1920

A leisurely game of shuffleboard at the Chautauqua Sports Club, ca. 1920s

With the nation’s growing interest in fitness and outdoor sports came an increased demand for trained teachers of athletics. Chautauqua Institution answered the call by establishing the Chautauqua School of Physical Education. The school focused on preparing teachers for placement at schools, universities, Young Men’s Christian Associations, and athletic clubs; and they were the first to give certificates to teachers in physical education.

Image of physical education students at the Chautauqua in 1896

Students at the Chautauqua Gymnasium, 1896

As usual, Chautauqua Institution offered the best instruction that could be furnished in several lines of athletics.

And, as always, Chautauqua assembled the country’s premier instructors for each area of specialty. Here, for instance, is a roster of the faculty during the summer of 1903:

Image listing the 1903 Faculty of Chautauqua School of Physical Education

Between 1886 (when the school was founded) and 1904 the school trained an estimated 1,200 to 1,500 physical education teachers from across the United States. In addition to the Normal Course, the school offered classes “suited to the needs of men, women, misses, boys and children.”

Image of Chautauqua Class in Physical Culture dated 1896

Chautauqua Class in Physical Culture, 1896

In other words, summer visitors to Chautauqua had ample opportunity to learn track and field, gymnastics, and virtually every other athletic technique from the country’s best instructors, assembled in one place.

Quote by Carrica Le Favre: To each spiritual function responds a function of the body. To each grand function of the body corresponds a spiritual act."

A unique aspect of the physical education training offered at Chautauqua was the melding of three different physical education systems.

  • The German gymnastics system was based on strenuous exercise performed on equipment such as pommel horses, parallel bars, climbing walls and rope mechanisms.
  • The Swedish gymnastics system focused on calisthenics, stretching and breathing.
  • And the Delsartean system integrated lighted physical exercise with artistic movement and relaxation techniques. The system was named for Francois Delsarte, who devoted his life to studying the laws of human motion, gesture and expression.

Together these three systems formed the school of physical culture. As students learned to master the different techniques, they often exhibited their skills in the Chautauqua Amphitheater.

Image of a gymnastics Class exhibiting in the Amphitheatre circa 1895

A Gymnastics Class exhibits in the Amphitheatre, about 1895

Chautauqua Herald Article dated July 19 1901 about a Physical Education Class exhibition

Click on this image to read a 1901 article from the Chautauqua Herald about a Physical Education Class exhibition

The Physical Culture exhibitions were extremely popular as a form of entertainment for summer Chautauquans. At the time, most people had never before seen athletes displaying skills with light devices such as dumb-bells, rings, poles, and Indian Clubs. As a source of entertainment, these displays were something of a phenomenon.

Image of a Physical Culture Class displaying Gymnastic Compositions 1890

But athletes didn’t demonstrate strength and skill alone. The Delsartean system stressed beauty of movement. Under Delsartean teaching it wasn’t enough for students to simply lift a dumb-bell in front of an audience; they learned to lift dumb-bells in prescribed forms that created pleasing compositions, all accompanied to appropriate music.

Image of a physical culture class using dumb-bells, 1890

Physical Culture Class using dumb-bells, 1890

Image of a physical culture class using gymnastic rings, 1890

A Physical Culture Class using rings, 1890

Image of a Physical Culture Class using gymnastic poles, 1890

A Physical Culture Class using gymnastic poles, 1890

Image of a Physical Culture Class using Indian Clubs 1890

Physical Culture Class using Indian Clubs, 1890

Perhaps the most popular portion of the program was the display of mastery of Indian Clubs. Indian Clubs looked something like modern-day bowling pins. They were often hollow with removable tops so sand or other substances could be inserted to give them weight. By swinging the clubs according to Delsartean rhythms and movements, men, women and children got an effective upper body workout.

Image of a man demonstrating an Indian Club Exercise

Image of a man demonstrating an Indian Club Exercise

Isabella Alden wrote about a public performance of Indian Clubs in her short story “Agatha’s Unknown Way.” She described the exhibition as “fancy club-swinging.”

Image of a woman demonstrating an Indian Club exercise

Demonstrations like the one Isabella described were extremely popular and drew large audiences, which is exactly what happened in “Agatha’s Unknown Way.”

Image of a woman demonstrating an Indian Club Exercise

In the story, the solo performer was a woman, which would have been very unusual at the time, and she certainly would have drawn a crowd. She also probably stimulated audience members to try exercising with Indian Clubs themselves.

Quote by Carrica Le Favre: "Who can know that we are beautiful, good and true if we do not show it forth through the instrument that is given us for that purpose?"

It would have been easy enough to learn how. By the turn of the century over 20 different best-selling books had been published on Delsartean techniques. People bought the instruction books and used them to practice the system of movement and exercise in the privacy of their own homes.

Other exercise-at-home books sold well, too, such as this Ladies’ Home Calisthenics book published in 1890.

Image of frontispiece from the book, Ladies Home Calisthenics published in 1890

In this book, push-ups, weight lifting, and club swinging exercises were modified for women in consideration of the restrictions on their movements caused by their corsets.

Image of woman holding hand weights and flexing her wrists in 1890

Hand Exercise from Ladies’ Home Calisthenics, 1890

Image of woman doing push-ups against a table in 1890

How to do push-ups, from Ladies’ Home Calisthenics, 1890

Women were expected to wear their corsets at all times, even while exercising; but at least one corset manufacturer, spotting the new exercise trend, advertised that women wearing their corset could “perform in comfort any exercise of physical culture.”

. . . . . . . . . .Image of corset advertisement showing woman holding hand weights from 1890     Image of corset ad showing woman riding a bike from 1890

The physical culture movement wasn’t just about lifting weights and swinging clubs. The Delsartean system had at its core a principle of movement based on art, relaxation, balance and the natural flow of breath. Over time, the Delsartean system expanded to address areas of “self-expression.” For example, some public speaking classes at Chautauqua adopted the breathing and relaxation techniques designed by Delsarte, as did courses on deportment and “self-expression.”

Announcement in 1901 edition of Chautauqua Herald announcing class in self-expression

Announcement of a new class at Chautauqua

In Four Mothers at Chautauqua Isabella Alden wrote about a Chautauqua class on relaxation that was founded on Delsarte’s principles. Grumpy Mrs. Bradford learned about the relaxation techniques after her daughter Isabel showed her a brochure about the class.

“‘Exercise that rests.’ I wonder what kind it can be? I’m sure I have exercise enough, but I must say I don’t feel especially rested. Why in the world do you want me to go and look on at those idiots twisting their bodies into all sorts of shapes? Look at this one trying to reach her toes without tipping over! I must say I have no patience with women who make fools of themselves taking such exercises. It is bad enough for silly girls to waste their time and money in that way.”

However, she had turned from her doorway and was allowing the eager Isabel to pilot her down the avenue toward the “School of Expression.” She continued to read, as she walked, and to make comments. “‘It is not the work we do, but the energy we waste when not working that exhausts us.’ Humph, much she knows about it! I never waste any energy.”

Yet perhaps there was never a woman who wasted more than did Mrs. Bradford. The trouble with her, as with many another, was that she did not know herself.

She read on: “‘Learn to relax, to let go—physically and mentally—to untie the fuss and worry knots.’ Yes, I wonder how? It’s easy enough to talk!” But the tone was less scornful; there was even a touch of wistfulness in it.

Isabel caught at the wistful tone and answered it.

“You wait, Mother, she will tell you how. She says she has been doing it a good many years, and has rested more tired women than she can count.”

And it was a fact that as soon as the teacher began to talk, to explain, to answer with ready comprehension and sympathy the volley of questions poured at her, to move that supple body of hers that seemed to have no more weight in it than a cork, and did her instant bidding with an unfailing ease and grace, Mrs. Bradford discovered what every member of the large class had done: that here was one body that was a willing servant, instead of a tyrant demanding from the jaded spirit impossibilities.

“You want to learn how to get a good healthy ‘tired,’ that will make rest a joy, and work that follows it a pleasure;” she said brightly, as if that was a very ordinary lesson easily mastered.

Mrs. Bradford, from listening with an air of endurance as one who had been smuggled in against her will, grew interested, grew absorbed in the genial flow of talk that was not a lecture nor a lesson, and yet was distinctly both. When she came to herself, and found herself standing with the others trying to reach her toes without tipping over—the precise effort that she had so sharply criticized—she did not know whether to be ashamed, and indignant at somebody, or to laugh. But fun got the upper hand, and she joined in the hearty laugh that was going the rounds at the expense of them all. After that, she forgot that it was a class, and a lesson, and that she was a middle-aged woman with dignity to sustain. For a full half hour she did that excellent thing for such women as she:  forgot Mrs. Bradford entirely.

Mrs. Bradford laughed outright, a merry laugh such as she had not in years relaxed sufficiently to give. The comic side of this strange morning was getting possession of her.

Next stop of our tour of Chautauqua: The Teacher’s Retreat

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Click here to read more about Four Mothers at Chautauqua.

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Cover for Agatha's Unknown WayYou can read “Agatha’s Unknown Way”  for free! Click on the book cover to read Isabella Alden’s short story now.

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You can learn more about the Delsartean system of Physical Culture by following these links:

Read about “the Philosophy of Rest” in an article that appeared in the August 1895 edition of The Chautauquan

Delsartean Physical Culture, by Carrica Le Favre (1892), available on Google Books.

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Other sources from the period:

Physical Culture, by E. B. Houghton (1891)

Physical Culture, by Benjamin Franklin Johns (1900)

A Delsartean Scrapbook, by Frederic Sanburn (1890)

Gestures and Attitudes; an Exposition of the Delsarte Philosophy of Expression, by Edward Barrett Warman (1892)

 

A Tour of Chautauqua: Palestine Park

16 Oct

At Chautauqua, opportunities for learning weren’t confined to classrooms and lecture halls. Dr. John Vincent, a Methodist minister and co-founder of the Chautauqua Institute, was a great proponent of learning in the out-of-doors. He embraced the forest setting and set out to make Chautauqua the standard for open air summer schools throughout the country and the world.

Chautauqua Model of Palestine One notable example of Dr. Vincent’s vision of a fresh-air classroom was Palestine Park. He came up with the concept of making a miniature model of the Holy Land so students could get a visual sense of the settings they learned about in their Bible classes.

Sign describing Palestine Park

Text of the sign posted at the entrance to Palestine Park. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Palestine Park was constructed near the pier on the shore of Lake Chautauqua. The lake itself represented the Mediterranean Sea. Nearby were representations of the cities of the Philistines, Joppa and Caesarea, Tyre and Sidon.

The Mountain Region showed the famous places of Israelite history from Beersheba to Dan. The sacred mountains Olivet and Zion, Ebal and Gerizem were built. And there were also the River Jordan, the Sea of Galilee, and the Dead Sea.

Guide Book to Palestine ParkSmall plaques identified each place of interest and included Bible verses that mentioned the site. In 1920 Dr. Jesse Lyman Hurlbut published a guide to Chautauqua’s Palestine Park. Click on this cover image to read Dr. Hurlbut’s guide.

 

Old postcard of Chautauquans enjoying Palestine Park.

The model of Palestine was one of the most popular sites at Chautauqua. Theology students regularly walked the area of Palestine Park, notebooks in hands. And Sunday school teachers held classes there, sometimes on the hills around Nazareth to illustrate a lesson on the boyhood of Jesus.

A Lecture on the Model of Palestine 1895

A Lecture on the Model of Palestine, 1895

Isabella Alden was very familiar with Palestine Park, and described it in Four Girls at Chautauqua. In the book, Eurie Mitchell and Flossy Shipley decide to walk to Palestine together one evening:

“Come,” Eurie said, “you have been to meetings enough, and you haven’t taken a single walk with me since we have been here, and think of the promises we made to entertain each other.”

Flossy laughed cheerfully.

“We have been entertained, without any effort on our part,” she said. Nevertheless she suffered herself to be persuaded to go for a walk, provided Eurie would go to Palestine.

“What nonsense!” Eurie said, disdainfully, when Flossy had explained to her that she had a consuming desire to wander along the banks of the Jordan, and view those ancient cities, historic now. “However, I would just as soon walk in that direction as any other.”

There was one other person who, it transpired, would as soon take a walk as do anything else just then. He joined the girls as they turned toward the Palestine road. That was Mr. Evan Roberts.

“Are you going to visit the Holy Land this morning, and may I be of your party?” he asked.

“Yes,” Flossy answered, whether to the first question, or to both in one, she did not say. Then she introduced Eurie, and the three walked on together, discussing the morning and the meetings with zest.

“Here we are, on ‘Jordan’s stormy banks,’” Mr. Roberts said, at last, halting beside the grassy bank. “I suppose there was never a more perfect geographical representation than this.”

“Do you really think it has any practical value?” Eurie asked, skeptically. Mr. Roberts looked at her curiously.

“Hasn’t it to you?” he said. “Now, to me, it is just brimful of interest and value; that is, as much value as geographical knowledge ever is. I take two views of it. If I never have an actual sight of the sacred land, by studying this miniature of it, I have as full a knowledge as it is possible to get without the actual view, and if I at some future day am permitted to travel there, why—well, you know, of course, how pleasant it is to be thoroughly posted in regard to the places of interest that you are about to visit; every European traveler understands that.”

“But do you suppose it is really an accurate outline?” Eurie said, again, quoting opinions that she had read until she fancied they were her own.

Again Mr. Roberts favored her with that peculiar look from under heavy eyebrows—a look half satirical, half amused.

“Some of the most skilled surveyors and traveled scholars have so reported,” he said, carelessly. “And when you add to that the fact that they are Christian men, who have no special reason for getting up a wholesale deception for us, and are supposed to be tolerably reliable on all other subjects, I see no reason to doubt the statement.”

On the whole, Eurie had the satisfaction of realizing that she had appeared like a simpleton.

Flossy, meantime, was wandering delightedly along the banks, stopping here and there to read the words on the little white tablets that marked the places of special interest.

“Do you see,” she said, turning eagerly, “that these are Bible references on each tablet? Wouldn’t it be interesting to know what they selected as the scene to especially mark this place?”

Mr. Roberta swung a camp-chair from his arm, planted it firmly in the ground, and drew a Bible from his pocket.

“Miss Mitchell,” he said, “suppose you sit down here in this road, leading from Jerusalem to Bethany, and tell us what is going on just now in Bethany, while Miss Shipley and I supply you with chapter and verse.”

“I am not very familiar with the text-book,” Eurie said. “If you are really in the village yourselves you might possibly inquire of the inhabitants before I could find the account.” But she took the chair and the Bible.

“Look at Matthew xxi. 17, Eurie,” Flossy said, stooping over the tablet, and Eurie read:

“‘And he left them, and went out of the city into Bethany; and he lodged there.’”

“That was Jesus, wasn’t it? Then he went this way, this very road, Eurie, where you are sitting!” It was certainly very fascinating.

“And stopped at the house on which you have your hand, perhaps,” Mr. Roberts said, smiling at her eager face.

“That might have been Simon’s house, for instance.”

“Did he live in Bethany? I don’t know anything about these things.”

“Eurie, look if you can find anything about him. The next reference is Matthew xxvi.”

And again Eurie read:

“‘Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper.’”

“The very place!” Flossy said, again. “Oh, I want so much to know what happened then!”

Eurie, Flossy, and Mr. Roberts spent the better part of the day at Palestine Park, following the plaques from one location to the next and reading verses out of Mr. Roberts’s Bible.

Model of Palestine with Miller Park and Bell Tower in the background

Palestine Park was among the great attractions at Chautauqua and, as Isabella mentioned in her book, it received accolades from Biblical scholars of the time because of its accuracy and geographical precision.

But Palestine Park did have one major flaw, which was alluded to in the sign that marked the entrance to the model. In order to use Chautauqua Lake to represent the Mediterranean Sea, the geography of the Holy Land had to be flipped; north had to be south, and east was made the west.

Jesse Lyman Hurlbut, D.D.

Jesse Lyman Hurlbut, who regularly used the park as part of his theology lectures and children’s Sunday school classes, explained:

“Chautauqua has always been under a despotic though paternal government and its visitors easily accommodate themselves to its decrees. But the sun persists in its independence, rises over Chautauqua’s Mediterranean Sea where it should set, and continues its sunset over the mountains of Gilean, where it should rise. Dr. Vincent and Lewis Miller [the founders of the Chautauqua Institute] could bring to pass some remarkable, even seemingly impossible achievements, but they were not able to outdo Joshua and not only make the sun stand still, but set it moving in a direction opposite to its natural course.”

Over the years, Palestine Park was repaired, rebuilt and expanded to add a model of Jerusalem and its surrounding hills, as well as Bethlehem, Jericho, and other places of interest until, ultimately, it almost doubled in size.

 

Palestine Park as it looked in 1908

 

Palestine Park in 1914

Click on the map below to see where Palestine Park was located on the Chautauqua Institution grounds. You’ll find it on the shore of Lake Chautauqua near the steamboat landing at The Point.

Map of Chautauqua 1874

Next on our Tour of Chautauqua: A Healthy Body

A Tour of Chautauqua: Lectures and Classes

22 Sep

(Note: You can click on any of the images in this post to view a larger version.)

The Chautauqua Assembly had a modest beginning in 1874. It was originally conceived as a summer training program for Bible teachers; but from the start, the Chautauqua Assembly differed greatly from accepted Bible training of the time. At Chautauqua, Sunday school teachers gathered not in convention halls to hear reports and listen to speeches. Instead, they spent two or more weeks in the out-of-doors studying the Bible, attending classes, and collaborating together to create Sunday school lesson plans for use in churches across the country. From that modest beginning, the Chautauqua Institution grew and its mission expanded, as did its fame.

Report of a summer class on Robert’s Rules of Order, 1901

By 1885, when the twelfth annual Chautauqua Assembly was held, over seventy-five thousand people gathered—some for a day, some for a week and several thousand for the entire eight-week term of the Summer Assembly. While many still came to be trained and inspired as Sunday school teachers, others came to hear lectures and attend classes on the Bible, ancient history, science, and philosophy. They participated in experiments in chemistry, and studied the stars through telescopes. They learned languages of the world, including Hebrew, Latin or Greek; and received instruction in music and vocals.

Report of a Harvard Professor’s Lecture; 1901.

A remarkable element of the Chautauqua Summer Assembly was the level of course instruction. The best lecturers and teachers in the world came to Chautauqua. Renowned clergymen, famous statesmen, and college presidents lectured at the Assembly, as did Nobel Peace Prize winners and military heroes. Students with grade-school educations sat beside college graduates at lectures given by professors from Yale, Harvard, Cornell, Wellesley, Johns Hopkins and other prominent universities from the U.S. and Canada.

Chautauqua’s democratic culture extended beyond the classroom. The Reverend Jessie Lyman Hurlbut told of a woman who once said:

“Chautauqua cured me of being a snob, for I found that my waitress was a senior in a college, the chambermaid had specialized in Greek, the porter taught languages in a high school, and the bell-boy, to whom I had been giving nickel tips, was the son of a wealthy family in my own State who wanted a job to prove his prowess.”

1901 announcement of classes offered by a Princeton professor.

But not everyone was as open minded. Reverend Hurlbut also recalled chatting with a highly respected clergyman from England as they sat together at a hotel table. When he explained to the clergyman that their waiter was a college-student, working to earn money to continue his college coursework, the clergyman was offended. “I don’t like it, and it would not be allowed in my country. I don’t enjoy being waited on by a man who considers himself my social equal!”

Theodore Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt

 

The names of guest lecturers read like a Who’s Who of the time: G. K. Chesterton, H. G. Wells and George Bernard Shaw. Theodore Roosevelt attended four different years and when William Jennings Bryan took the podium, Chautauquans packed the Amphitheater to its utmost corners to hear him speak.

Lectures and classes were designed to educate and stimulate, to encourage Chautauquans to think globally and broaden their views. Students were urged to discuss lecture contents and ask questions so they had a full understanding of the issue or topic at hand.

06Chautauqua College

The Chautauqua College building.

The Chautauqua Summer Assembly was part of a wider Chautauqua system of education that included as many as eight different departments. Each department offered classes and lectures throughout the summer months of July and August.In July 1884 an individual could purchase a one-day admission to the Summer Assembly for 25¢. That admission cost gave them access to all lectures, classes and meetings except those conducted by the School of Languages and the Teachers Retreat. In August the cost of a one-day admission rose to 40¢.

Chautauqua Ticket, 1919

If you planned to stay longer, you could purchase admission for a week in July for $1.00, or $2.00 for a week in August. Or you could stay the entire summer term for $4.00.

Courses offered by the School of Business, 1901

Some special classes required a separate ticket. For example, 15 lessons in penmanship (including stationery) cost $2.50; a course in bookkeeping cost $3.00; 10 lessons in elocution cost $4.00; and 4 weeks of instruction in Hebrew cost $10.00.

Newsboys of the Chautauqua Assembly Herald

With so many available classes and so many activities to attend, Chautauquans had to schedule their days with precision. They mapped out their daily classes, lectures and activities by reading The Chautauqua Assembly Herald. This newspaper, published on-site every day but Sunday, listed the weeks’s offerings. It also gave an account of the speakers, meetings, and activities from the previous day. Eager Chautauquans took advantage of as many offerings as they could, often running from one event to another from 8:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m.

Click on this link to view the July 29 and July 30, 1901 editions of  The Chautauqua Assembly Herald. On page 4 of each edition you’ll find a list of the week’s programs, meetings, lectures and classes.

11 Chautauqua Chimes 1924The Chautauqua Institution kept things running in a timely manner. Five minutes before the hour a bell rang, giving notice that the next event or class would begin promptly at the top of the hour. The sound of the bell usually resulted in a throng of people streaming out the door of one class in order to get to the next class on time. Bells marked the hour until 10:00 p.m. when the last night bell rang signaling quiet.

In Four Girls at Chautauqua, Flossy Shipley overheard a man say, as he ran past her, “Confound it all! Talk about getting away from these meetings! It’s no use; it can’t be done. A fellow might just as well stay here and run every time the bell rings. I heard more preaching today on this excursion than I did yesterday; and a good deal more astonishing preaching, too.”

An afternoon class in German, circa 1895.

With each passing year, the number of people attending the Summer Assembly increased, as did the number of schools and courses offered. For instance, in 1901 the School of Languages added Arabic and Assyrian to their offerings of French, German, Spanish, Latin, Hebrew and Greek. Students took classes in mathematics, oratory and expression, mineralogy and geology.

Art Lessons

There were classes in clay modeling and china painting, as well as classes in music and singing. Small cottages were erected in a far-away corner of the grounds where music students could practice their scales and exercises without disturbing their neighbors. One instructor wrote, “I am told that forty-eight pianos may be heard there all sending out music at once, and each a different tune.”

Cooking Class.

The School of Domestic Science attracted great attention. One instructor, Mrs. Emma Ewing, erected a model kitchen and taught ladies from all walks of life to make bread, prepare meals, and serve tables with refinement.

A class in Library Science, 1904

The Summer Assembly offered career training, as well. Students learned shorthand and typing, grammar and composition, library sciences and bookkeeping.

15 School for Library Training

Announcement of the School of Library Training, 1901.

 

Standing room only at an open air lecture. About 1896.

In the early years of the summer Assemblies, classes were held in tents but as Chautauqua grew, buildings were erected to accommodate students.

The majority of the lectures were held in the Amphitheater. Erected in 1897, it could hold 5,500 to 5,600 people; but some lectures proved so popular that the Amphitheater overflowed.

Chautauqua crowds listen to a speaker in an open area.

Other lectures were held in the park, or anywhere else that could accommodate large numbers of attendees. The subjects were widely diverse, covering a broad array of topics:

  • The Last Days of the Confederacy
  • Going Fishing with Peter
  • The Women of Turkey
  • The Physiological Effects of Alcohol
  • Ideals of Modern Education
  • Christian Life in the Modern World
  • Shakespeare as a Moral Teacher
  • America’s Leadership in World Politics
  • The Knights of King Arthur
  • Does Death End All?
  • A Study of the Lynch Law
  • The Juvenile Court
  • The Drama and the Present Day Theater
  • Beyond the Grave
  • The Artisan and the Artist
  • The Ideal of Culture
  • French Literary Celebrities
  • The One-Hundred Worst Books
  • A Dozen Masterpieces of Painting
  • Mountain Peaks in Russian History
  • Growth and Influence of Labor Organizations

 Click on this link to read the text of a lecture presented July 26, 1901 by Dr. P. S. Henson of Chicago on the topic of grumbling. (Yes, grumbling!) You’ll find it on page 3 of The Chautauqua Assembly Herald.

Isabella Alden was arguably the best chronicler of the Chautauqua Summer Assembly experience. The characters she created in her books represented the diverse people who attended the Assembly and their different social and economic walks of life. She also captured the varied topics and inspirational nature of the many classes and lectures the Summer Assembly offered.

Next Stop of our Tour of Chautauqua: Palestine Park

 

Writer Jenny Berlin

Faith, romance, and a place to belong

The Hall in the Grove

Author of Classic Christian Fiction

Isabella Alden

Author of Classic Christian Fiction

Britt Reads Fiction

Reviews and giveaways for Christian fiction and sweet, clean fiction. Bringing readers information on great stories and connecting authors with their readers.

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