Miami Valley Institute ~ A Hicksite Quaker College in Springboro, Ohio
According to Mrs. Ida Wright Keever, wife of Dr. Dudley Keever, both graduates of Miami Valley College, the iron balcony at the front door and French windows below showed the touch of an architect . . . The woodwork was pine and black walnut. The windows were wide and low, the stairways easy, and the halls and rooms light and airy. Furnishings were plain but adequate. Grounds surrounding the school were soon beautiful with shrubs and trees, mostly evergreens and maples, while the fields beyond yielded abundant supplies of garden and farm products (Quoted from Dayton Daily News article, “Railroad’s Location Brought End to Springboro College” by William L. Sanders, approximately 1950. Found at the Warren County Historical Society in Lebanon, Ohio.). The same article mentions that there were bathrooms with wooden bathtubs.
Members of The Religious Society of Friends of the Indiana Yearly Meeting of Friends (Hicksite) founded the Institute in 1870. There had been some rather intense discussion among Friends concerning the location of Miami Valley Institute. Many preferred Waynesville as the site since the village was located directly on a railroad (Waynesville Station at Corwin) and consequently more accessible. Waynesville was also a thriving village full of merchants and markets. More rural Springboro was selected probably because of the financial commitment and support of Springboro’s notable Wright brothers, Aron and Josiah (see the stock certificate above). Another trustee, Jason Evans had a connection with Springboro. Jason Evans’ second wife had been a member of Springboro Monthly Meeting.
According to the Report of The Boarding School given in 1870 during Indiana Yearly Meeting, the building contained two study rooms nearly 40’ square, with recitation rooms attached; three rooms of the same dimensions were used for eating and other domestic purposes; six rooms 16’ X 22’ for family purposes; two central openings 14’ X 40’ with halls attached and one corridor 14’ X 50’ which was used for a reading room and library and 40 lodging rooms that were 14’ X 15’. At its peak Miami Valley Institute (College) usually had a faculty of four to five instructors as well as a superintendent and matron living on campus.
A college charter for Miami Valley College was granted November 2, 1874. From that time on the Institute was known as Miami Valley College. As a “college” the school would be in possession of the charter, which would authorize it to offer at least one advanced degree program. The degree would be conferred after the successful completion of a baccalaureate program (an undergraduate degree known as a Bachelor of Arts Degree, A. B.). Like modern universities and colleges today, the student body consisted of both students enrolled in a baccalaureate program and other students who were taking classes for a wide variety of reasons but were not necessarily pursuing a degree. There were students who wanted an excellent “high school” education in preparation for further education. There were students who wanted a more technical or agricultural education without all the language requirements of a more liberal arts degree. There were students who already had high school education seeking to become teachers, and there were students seeking a classical liberal arts baccalaureate degree.
To learn more about Miami Valley College and Quaker education in general, see, Quaker Education and Miami Valley Institute: A Hicksite Quaker College, 1870-1883 by Karen Campbell, published by the author in 2004. For more information about purchase of this book, contact Karen at firstname.lastname@example.org.