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Bob Lind, Published March 04 2014

Neighbors: What were the first Boys' and Girls' Institutes like in ND?

The first of the annual Boys’ and Girls’ Institutes at the North Dakota Agricultural College was a great success.

At least, that’s what “The Spectrum,” the newspaper of the AC – now North Dakota State University – reported in a January 1911 issue about the initial institute held in December 1910.

A copy of a Spectrum story about that event was sent in by Don Larew, Moorhead, NDSU professor emeritus, following a story that ran here about a group of students from Penn, N.D., who attended an institute in 1913.

The first institute was attended by about 100 students from around North Dakota. “These young people had one of the best experiences of their life,” the Spectrum story said.

Lectures and laboratory work were provided by AC personnel. The boys studied grain, corn, horse and cattle judging, tree and fruit growing, milk testing, butter scoring, soil physics and agriculture in general. The girls studied food values, food preparation, hygiene, home decoration “and kindred topics,” the story said.

In addition, the boys played indoor baseball in the Armory and the girls played games in the Ceres Hall gym.

One evening was spent visiting Fargo places of interest, including the YMCA gym, where the boys swam.

Another evening Dr. Bell gave a lecture on birds, while another time, Miss Grasse of the music department and Prof. Arvold, head of the department of oratory, and his wife presented a musical and storytelling program.

Each school district superintendent selected eight students for the institute, who got there thanks to free passes given them by the three railroads in the state – the Northern Pacific, the Great Northern and the Soo. Various commercial clubs and the counties from which the students came paid their expenses while at the AC.

All in all, it was a big week for those kids from all around North Dakota.

If you have an item of interest for this column, mail it to Neighbors, The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, N.D. 58107; fax it to 241-5487; or e-mail blind@forumcomm.com