Insight into Daily Routines

The U.S. Census is not the only historical document that can provide insight. Locating and gaining access to archival and historical documents can be a little bit tricky, but a bit of practiced and deliberate searching can reveal interesting and unexpected tidbits. I found Augusta listed on the 1874-1875 University of Minnesota student roster as a Collegiate Department student pursuing Scientific Course work. This is not a guarantee she actually attended classes at U of M. All persons over the age of 14 who passed the entrance exams in reading, writing, spelling, English grammar, arithmetic, and geography could attend classes. There was no tuition, but the student provided their own books and also paid a $5 fee for incidental expenses to get their registration card, which would admit them to their classes. Once students completed their coursework in the Collegiate Department, they could gain immediate admission into a degree program.  Augusta would have been studying History, Physiology, Astronomy or Philosophy (Cicero or Xenophon), English Composition, Mathematics, and Geography. Collegiate students also had language requirements, one of the course options was a German grammar and reading course in which they studied Fredrich Schiller’s Wilhelm Tell.
The University of Minnesota campus is described in the 1874-75 catalog:
The University is situated in the East Division of the city of Minneapolis, about one mile below the Falls of Saint Anthony, on an elevated bluff in full view of the same. The grounds are about twenty-five acres in extent, undulating in surface and well wooded with native trees. [U of M 1875:58]
The students’ daily routine is described as being divided in to two sessions, morning and afternoon. The morning begins with an assembly at 8:00 A.M. consisting of a “brief and simple devotional” and recitations by upperclassmen. Morning classes consist of lectures and recitations. Afternoon is dedicated to practical coursework such as lab work, field work, and military exercise.
Through these clues, a picture of Augusta’s daily life is emerging. I imagine her as she walks from her home near the St. Anthony Falls to the campus of the U of M to attend the morning assembly before her Algebra lecture. The woods that surround the campus must have been quite peaceful compared to the busy industrial district that used the falls to power its mills.

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