OCTOBER 7, 1938
NEW YORK, Thursday—In the brief time I spent in Nashville, Tenn., yesterday, one visit stands out in my mind. Secretary Hull had asked me to see Mr. Floyd Bralliar and when I met him I was immediately struck by the fine earnestness of his face. He came to tell me of an educational project in which he is deeply interested. Mr. Bralliar inspired confidence, and anyone who knows Secretary Hull is predisposed to interest in whoever appeals to him. It took only a few words, however, to make me realize that here was no more question of a personality, but something entirely new from the educational point of view.
I was told of an educational institution, Madison College, which had received contributions for its original investment amounting to 430 acres of land outside the City of Nashville. Thereafter the college was run in a unique way. The faculty earned its own living on the side while making teaching a full-time job. Mr. Bralliar and his wife lived on $15 a month those first years, now they live with greater comfort on $35 a month.
The students earn their living while making studying a full-time job. The buildings were put up with student labor, directed by the faculty. They built their own houses. No student receives a degree until he or she has acquired two skills in any line which seems to fit their capacity. The college built a hospital and operates it for its own profit, and it is in good standing with the medical profession and trains the college girls as nurses.
Madison College products are selling in a moderate and healthy way, sales are increasing gradually but not sensationally, because they cannot afford advertising on a national basis. Thirty-five similar institutions have started up in various places under the leadership of graduates.
Now they suddenly find themselves up against a new difficulty. A magazine wrote an article about their work and they are flooded with applications for entrance. The hunger of young America for a chance to enter the field of life better equipped is apparent in these applications, for here is a chance for people who have no money to acquire a college degree.
Mr. Bralliar says they can probably use a hundred more students profitably in their industries, but they have no buildings in which to house them. They have the labor, but materials must be paid for in cash. $14,000 would meet their needs. Mr. Bralliar, looking a little weary, told me how much the other educational institutions in Nashville had helped them when they built their library and how cooperative they always were in giving Madison College all the help they could, but now, in the next few months, he must raise $14,000 if he is to meet the demands already made by young people throughout the country.
He mentioned that two young North Dakota girls whose name is Roosevelt and who claim cousinship with President Theodore Roosevelt, are among his students. He added that he had made a survey of 1000 of his graduates and not one among them had been forced to accept help either from the government or private agencies during these difficult years.
I wonder if this story will not make some people want to investigate and find out if here is a real answer to some of our youth problems which deserves our support.