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[224]

The Cambridge Manual Training School for boys.

Charles H. Morse, the Superintendent.
On November 12, 1887, at a special meeting of the City Council, Mayor Russell read a communication from Mr. Frederick H. Rindge, a former resident of Cambridge, part of which was as follows:—

Dear Sir,—It would make me happy to give the City of Cambridge, provided no considerable misfortune happens to my property within two years from date, three gifts, which are described herein.

Third, an Industrial School Building, ready for use, together with a site for the same in the immediate neighborhood of the Public Library Common, provided the following inscription, in metal or stone letters, be placed on the outside of said building and over its main entrance door: ‘Work is one of our greatest blessings; every one should have an honest occupation.’ I wish the plain arts of industry to be taught in this school. I wish the school to be especially for boys of average talents, who may in it learn how their hands and arms can earn food, clothing, and shelter for themselves; how, after a while, they can support a family and a home; and how the price of these blessings is faithful industry, no bad habits, and wise economy,— which price, by the way, is not dear. I wish also that in it they may become accustomed to being under authority, and be now and then instructed in the laws that govern health and nobility of character. I urge that admittance to said school be given only to strong boys, who will grow up to be able working men. Strict obedience to such a rule would make parents careful in the training of their young, as they know that their boys would be deprived of the benefits of said school unless they were able-bodied. I think the Industrial School would thus graduate many young men who would prove themselves useful citizens. [225]

I ask you to present this communication to the City Government of Cambridge and notify me of its action in relation to it. Should the gifts, with their conditions, be accepted, I hope to proceed at once with the work.

Respectfully yours,


The City Council accepted this offer, and Mr. Rindge commenced at once the construction of a suitable building, upon the completion of which the school was opened, in September, 1888.

From its inception it has been under the watchful eyes of its founder and supporter, who has written scores of letters to its superintendents, giving them valuable suggestions and words of encouragement. The conservative management of its supervising committee has also in no small degree been an incentive to the superintendent and the corps of able instructors. Its growth has been rapid, strong, and healthy, and with such management the successful maintenance of the school is assured. The present members of this committee are Hon. William E. Russell, Col. T. W. Higginson, Hon. Samuel L. Montague, Mr. Andrew McF. Davis, Mr. E. B. Hale, and Mr. Robert Cowen.

The school has gained an almost national reputation for its eminently practical, progressive, and unique features. During the eight years of its existence it has grown from a mere educational experiment to an indispensable factor in the school system, and its methods have been copied by cities throughout the country, wherever an effort is made to keep abreast with modern educational principles.

No one who has observed the trend of industrial and social progress doubts that the prevailing forms of education are inadequate to the needs of many boys. The founder of the Cambridge Manual Training School has provided the means of testing, under most favorable circumstances, the educational value of training based upon the mechanic arts. Every improvement in equipment and in methods of instruction suggested by nearly eight years experience has been made, and the school is now fully prepared to do the work for which it was established. In order to provide for the future needs of the youth of Cambridge, for whose benefit the school was primarily established, it has been equipped on a scale of liberality which makes it, for the [226] present, possible to accommodate a considerable number of nonresident pupils. The loyalty of its students, and the favorable impression already made by its graduates, are encouraging evidences of its success.

The training that the boys receive is broad, and, above all, practical,—a training calculated to make good workmen, good citizens, and good men. Its scope covers all branches of the mechanic arts, including carpentry and joinery, blacksmithing, wood-turning, and pattern-making, iron-fitting, machine-shop practice, and mechanical drawing.

No claim is made, however, that the school teaches a trade. Did it do so, it would not be an educational institution of the high order which it is in the minds of educators. In no sense is it a trade school, but rather a school in which the whole man is educated, the hand and the mind, and the mind more broadly than would be possible without the education of the hand. The training given emphasizes strongly the academic side of the work, and strives to make that work more interesting and effective by bringing it into intimate relation with practical applications. The school is peculiarly adapted to the needs of boys who have little aptitude for abstract study, but who wish to prepare themselves for employment in which mechanical skill and an intelligent appreciation of the principles which underlie the processes employed are essentials of success.

It is confidently believed, too, that the school offers unsurpassed advantages to boys who desire to prepare for the Lawrence Scientific School, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, or any similar institution. The manual dexterity and the thorough knowledge of tools, machinery, and mechanical processes acquired in the shops, at an age when time can be most easily spared for such training, is of great value in any scientific pursuit.

But the branches of manual and mental science taught do not compose the whole of a boy's education. The thoughtful man questions methods used, habits inculcated, and standards adopted. Here, too, we have only to look to the boys for an answer. Their gentlemanly manner, self-control, industry, and personal neatness, all testify to the wholesome and stimulating influences which only the discipline and direction of courteous, methodical, and skillful instructors can produce.

Besides the reputation which its educational prestige has [227] given it, our school has developed features which are calculated to attract popular interest and support. The most interesting of these is the unique fire drill, an application of the methods of extinguishing and preventing fire, ingeniously fitted to the uses of a school drill. The boys, during drill times, hold themselves ready for an alarm, which may come when they least expect it, just as it would happen in ordinary practice. They lay lines of hose, raise ladders, and use life-saving apparatus with skill and speed. Discipline is maintained by frequent military drills, which also afford practice in the management and handling of bodies of men. In connection with these exercises a series of lectures is given by an experienced physician on ‘First Aid to the Injured.’ About four hours per week are devoted to the drill during the first year, three hours during the second year, and two hours during the third and fourth years. A part of this time is taken from that assigned to shop work, but somewhat more than half of it is required in addition to the regular school hours. Presence of mind in emergencies is a marked result of fire drill, as well as the development of the finer qualities of respect to superiors, obedience, courage, and tact in managing others.

This article would not be complete without a word about the band, which has been so many times introduced to Cambridge audiences, and has given pleasure as well to thousands of people in other cities, always contributing its share towards good government and no license, and aiding in many charitable undertakings.

The Glee Club, composed of twenty-five bright boys, has been enthusiastically received by many audiences, and without doubt will become as popular as the band now is.

The city is under great obligations to Mr. Rindge for building, equipping, and maintaining this school, for it is developing in our community the material for skillful artisans and engineers, who are destined to exert great influence upon the questions constantly arising between capital and labor, and it is believed that the influence of the intelligent graduates of such schools will do much to solve the so-called labor problem. Cambridge is to be congratulated upon having one of the best-equipped manual training schools in the country.

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