Dear College friends of the next century:-
In writing so unusual a letter as this, perhaps a bit of biography is the best beginning. I was born in New Bedford, Massachusetts, December 8th 1866, my parents being Frances Dennison and Francis Lyman Gilman. After finishing the public school course in New Bedford, I entered Wellesley College, in Wellesley, Massachusetts, in 1884 and was graduated in 1888. After teaching school a year in Detroit, Michigan, and then for several years in Dana Hall Preparatory School in Wellesley, I was married July 8th 1896 to Louis A.E. Ahlers, who was professor of Modern Languages in Colorado College. Thus I came from the east, where college life follows its beloved traditions of two hundred years, to the west, where a young and struggling college is in the experimental age, seeking to find the best things to become its traditions, which you perhaps are now following. My own college life had been in an institution for the education of girls alone, and I immediately found that a co-educational college life differed essentially. After five years of the life here, I feel that a girl is better off in a girl's college, but I do not know whether I prefer a boy to be educated in a co-educational institution or not.
Soon after coming here, I became a member of the Board of Managers of the Woman's Educational Society of Colorado College, an organization for the purpose of aiding the college, especially the students, financially. Mrs. Slocum, wife of the president of the College, has been the president of the society since its beginning nine years ago. Through the efforts of this society, Montgomery Hall (for girls) was built, an addition made to Hagerman Hall (for boys), a building furnished, which was hired and used as a girls dormitory, called South Hall (from which I now write), and large sums of money loaned to students, the greater number of students here are working their way through college: in fact there are a very few who do not have to earn a part, at least, of their expenses.
As the boys have more opportunity for earning, the society has offered its scholarships to girls, sums of money are loaned to both boys and girls. No interest is required on these loans while the student is in college, but after graduation six per cent is asked.
The society also finds positions in families, where girls may earn their board b taking care of children a few hours a day or waiting on tables. At the monthly meetings, the Dean reports needy cases, and their wants are met as far as possible.
The Dean of Women is Miss Ruth Loomis, who graduated from Vassar College and taught English Literature there for nine years. The difficulties of her position will not confront you of a hundred years from now. Eastern boys and girls have college bred ancestors and friends, and grow up with the value of education firmly fixed in mind, and their college life conforms to tradition. The far western student comes, in the majority of cases, from the ranch or mining camp, (for children of Eastern parents generally go from their western homes to the college of their father or mother) because he has heard of the value of education, but with no knowledge of what a college life is or should be. Therefore these growing western colleges must teach the requisites of life in a college community as well as instruct in the courses of the college curriculum. Western freedom is a by-word, and no where is it more easily exemplified than in the young people who come together in the college. Restrictions are odious, and unpopular is he professor who has to make rules and regulations the details of student life you will have given by two of our representatives, a boy and a girl who have earned the respect and affection of teachers and students by their conscientious work. This college differs from most of the far western colleges in its beautiful location, and many students come from the East because of the climate of Colorado. These add strength to the college life, and even now our Glee Club, Debating Societies and Athletic Teams compare favorable with those of older and larger institutions. The loyalty of the students is delightful and there is a charming friendship between teacher and student. With very hearty interest in you who read, I am,
Very sincerely yours,
Mary Gilman Ahlers.
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