Model Programme of Study, Georgie Robertson Christian College, 1899-1900

With the start of a new year and a new semester upon us, let’s take a look back at the ‘model programme’ laid out by Arvy Glenn Freed for pupils in the ‘Teacher’s Course’ at Georgie Robertson Christian College for the year 1899-1900.  G. R. C. College, in Henderson, Tennessee, billed itself as a “college for the masses”…the “largest normal college in the south.”* In 1899-1900 it sustained the following departments: Primary, Preparatory, Teachers’, Scientific, Classic, Psychology and Pedagogy, Engineering, Elocution and Oratory, Medical, Musical, Art, Commercial, Telegraphy, Shorthand, Law, Typewriting, Select, Post-graduate and Review.**

Through a carefully arranged curriculum administered in a regimented daily schedule (“daily recitations in each subject of one hour each; no vacation, no holidays, no “blue Mondays,” as we have school on Saturdays…we work every day in the week.”) students were taught not only to value time but to use all of it well.***

Here is the “Model Programme of Study and Recitation of a Student in Teachers’ Course”, p. 11.

5.00 Rising
5.00 – 5.30 Toilet
5.30 – 6.30 Study Arithmetic
6.30 – 7.00 Study Orthography
7.00 – 7.45 Breakfast
8.00 – 8.30 Chapel Exercise
8.30 – 9.00 Study Grammar
9.00 – 10.00 Recite Grammar
10.00 – 11.00 Study Arithmetic
11.00 – 12.00 Recite Arithmetic
12.00 – 1.00 Dinner
1.00 – 2.00 Drills in Penmanship
2.00 – 3.00 Recite History
3.00 – 4.00 Recite Geography
4.00 – 5.00 Study Grammar
5.00 – 6.00 Study History
6.00 – 7.00 Supper and Recitation
7.00 – 8.00 Study Geography
8.00 – 8.30 Reading Pedagogy
8.30 – 9.00 General Reading
9.00 Retire


Faculty for this course could have included A. G. Freed and/or N. B. Hardeman for arithmetic; L. B. Mather and/or A. G. Freed for orthography; A. G. Freed and/or C. B. Ijams for grammar; A. G. Freed for penmanship; N. B. Hardeman for history and geography; Freed may have supervised the course of reading in pedagogy.

All citations and quotations are from The Annual Catalogue of the G. R. C. College and Business Institution. Nashville: Gospel Advocate Publishing Company, 1899.  This catalogue is for the second session, 1899-1900, and notes that “G. R. C. College” [Georgie Robertson Christian College] succeeds “W. T. C. College” [West Tennessee Christian College]. In time this institution would be renamed Freed-Hardeman College.

*Catalogue, front cover.

**Catalogue, p. 5

***Catalogue, p. 10, with emphasis on all.

5 thoughts on “Model Programme of Study, Georgie Robertson Christian College, 1899-1900

  1. Georgie Robertson Christian College was associated with the instrumental Christian Church side of our fellowship. When the school closed and reopened (1908?) it had changed to a strongly a capella stance mirroring the change of Hardeman and Freed from instrumental to a capella. This change in Henderson, Tennessee greatly affected the Stone-Campbell churches in the region over the next generation. The division between Christian Churches and Churches of Christ was by no means over in the Mid-South in 1906 which is the date generally given for the division. Stone-Campbell churches in Mississippi were overwhelmingly instrumental in 1906. By the 1920’s and 30’s the situation had flipped with a large majority of our churches identifying as a capella Churches of Christ. Why the change? I’m convinced the militantly anti-instrumental position of Freed-Hardeman College was the primary factor for the change in Mississippi where most of our churches were in the northern part of the state and close enough to Henderson to regularly hear preaching from F-H preachers. Many members of Churches of Christ in northern Mississippi would be surprised to learn that their congregation or its predecessor in their community was instrumental only a century ago. One congregation like this that I am very familiar with has steadfastly refused to acknowledge their instrumental past despite ample documentation and lists their starting date some 70 years later than their documented beginning in the 1860’s in order to ignore their instrumental past!

  2. It always amazes current students when I explain to them the average daily activities from Freed’s time. The fact that there is so little free time apart from supervised study would comes as a shock for most students.

  3. For several years, beginning in 1872, the Henderson church worshipped without the instrument. Instrumental music was introduced in the Henderson church in 1878 shortly after the death of Knowles Shaw who had used his instrumental in a meeting he had with the church in Henderson a few months earlier. The introduction of instrumental music was meet with opposition at the beginning but there was not a formal withdrawing until 1903. Freed and others worshipped with and preached for the Henderson church while instrumental music was used but they did not approve of it and tried to teach the members against its use. Freed had at least one debate during this time in which he opposed the use of instrumental music in worship. The church now known as the Henderson church of Christ began in 1903 only after over twenty years of pleading for the removal of the instrument. It is my understanding that in 1890 there were only four churches in the whole state of Tennessee which used instrumental music, Memphis, Henderson, Nashville, and Chattanooga. Being from north Mississippi and having spent a considerable amount of time researching the Restoration Movement in that state I am curious as to what church is denying its instrumental past. And speaking of ignoring ones instrumental past, I have tried to document when each Christian/Disciples church in West Tennessee began using the instrument in worship. While I have seen several detailed histories, I have yet to see the first church that documents the date they began using the instrument. Its almost as if they had always used the instrument which is not the case. I have wondered why there is never a mention of the introduction of instrumental music when writing the local church history? GRCC never reopened. The school was closed because it lost support of money and students. Freed and Hardeman built a new school building across the street from the GRCC building. National Teachers’ Normal and Business College was incorporated in 1907 and the college opened in the fall of 1908. In 1919, the college was rename Freed-Hardeman College and in 1990, it became Freed-Hardeman University.

  4. Tom, FH has long given its starting date as well before the 1907-08 reopening as an a capella-Church of Christ related school so the university does acknowledge, at least implicitly, continuity with the Christian Church related GRC. The significance of Freed’s and Hardeman’s change in practice from instrumental to a capella is not diminished by their longstanding dislike of the instrument. Lots of folks today in a capella congregations like the instrument and lots of folks in instrumental congregations could do without it given their preference so that has not changed. The historical significance of the change in Henderson both in the church and the college is a change in fellowship and the embracing of a line of division between a capella and instrumental churches that continues among many down to the present. That change in Henderson was an impetus I believe for the overwhelming change in allegiances in Stone-Campbell churches especially in Mississippi from instrumental/Christian Church to a capella/Church of Christ.

    Interestingly, 1878 seems to have been a popular year for churches to begin using instrumental music due perhaps to Knowles Shaw as you point out. The Christian Church here in Baltimore also became instrumental in 1878. Shaw was an enthusiastic advocate of the organ eespecially and was often described as “organ-izing” the churches!

    I am quite sure of the instrumental history of the Mississippi Church of Christ I referred to. It is where my ancestral roots lie and I have collected historical materials on it for the last 30 years. I have family there and have no wish to stir up controversy or problems. I have presented the church twice over the years documentation of their beginning soon after the Civil War and their identification with Christian Churches. Yet they continue to list their beginning date as being in the 1930’s in our national church directory. An elderly great aunt who was born in the 1890’s told me about 30 years ago that a woman played a “horn” in church there when she was a child. This aunt was also adamant that this church had always met for worship throughout her lifetime even when they were without a church building. In addition, a receipt from the 1880’s was kept down through the years by another great aunt which stated how much a Brother Sharp was paid for his preaching. James Sharp was at various times the state evangelist and editor of the state paper for our Mississippi churches. He was always strongly identified with the Christian Church/instrumental music side of the developing controversy.

    If you check the federal religious censuses for Mississippi for 1906, 1916, 1926 and 1936 you will find documentation for a remarkable shift among Mississippi Stone-Campbell churches from being predominantly Christian Church/instrumental in 1906 to being predominantly Church of Christ/a capella in 1936. This means that Missisippi is a strong contradiction of David Harrell’s (and other’s) sectional thesis that Southern churches (other than in Republican East Tennessee) were naturally inclined to identify with Churches of Christ and an assertive a capella stance. Mississippi Stone-Campbell churches were strongly identified with the Christian Church side of the Restoration Movement for over two generations after 1865. The shift in allegiances of Mississippi Stone-Campbell churches was not due to the social climate of the South after the Civil War but rather, in my opinion, to the influence of the Gospel Advocate and Freed-Hardeman College.

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