Friday, January 15, 2010

Marion Institute in 1914

This MMI Archives Blog contains only one image – a 1914 Marion Institute letter on school letterhead – but, it speaks volumes as to the organization of the Institute.

Letter to N. Y. Quarles from H. O. Murfee, dated July 6, 1914. (Credit: H. O. Murfee Papers, MMI Archives)

Headed by Hopson Owen Murfee and his brother, Walter Lee Murfee, as president and vice president respectively, both were sons of the founder and first president of Marion Military Institute, James Thomas Murfee, a graduate of Virginia Military Institute. The sons were graduates of the University of Virginia.

Examining the letterhead, coursework at Marion Institute (“Military” had been eliminated from the name during H. O. Murfee’s “American Eton” period) included a commercial (business) program, a regular college academic program for university preparation, and the unique Army-Navy Course preparing students for West Point and Annapolis (the forerunner of our Service Academy Program today - SAP).

From the letters of this period (H. O. Murfee Papers), it appears that a number of students entered MI in the fall specifically to prepare for the West Point (and Annapolis?) examinations in March for entrance to the academies the following academic year.

We talk a lot about the college and former high school programs at MMI, but note that MI in 1914 also included an Elementary Department (ages 8-12) “for Marion children.” The Secondary Department (high school) included ages 12-16, while the College Department enrolled ages 16 to 20. MI had a summer session, and young ladies were admitted, the female boarders staying in “homes of culture.” Music and art were taught by “artists of talent and experience,” the music director at Judson College serving as “Head of Music” during the Summer Session.

In the letter itself – to N. Y. Quarles of R. F. D. (Rural Free Delivery) Akron, Alabama – H. O. Murfee is offering Quarles a position as an Aid in the College, helping him to meet the $50 tuition charges for the summer (also room and board), and allowing him to continue at MI in the fall with advanced standing and with his “preference in the appointments for the fall term.” There’s no rush, but “please come by the next train if you can do so[!]”

Finally, the MI Summer Session was headed by Frank McCutchan of “Washington and Lee and Princeton,” and the regular year College faculty included teachers who prepared at “Princeton, Yale, Chicago, Virginia, and Washington and Lee.”