Battle Creek College
Battle, Creek, Michigan
Some issues of the Cauldron, the school yearbook, are available on Ancestry.com and Internet Archive. HathiTrust has catalogues from the four components of the college as well as other publications from the college and the Battle Creek Sanitarium.
The roots of Battle Creek College lie in the Battle Creek Sanitarium. The Battle Creek College Training School for Nurses opened there in 1884 and graduated its first class from the two-year program in 1886. Since the sanitarium was based on Seventh Day Adventist principles of proper diet, fresh air and exercise, the Battle Creek Sanitarium School of Health and Home Economics was founded in 1906—primarily to train dieticians. The Normal School for Physical Education was founded in 1909. Dr. John Kellogg, head physician and director of the sanitarium, brought the three professional schools together, and by adding a liberal arts school, was able to charter Battle Creek College in 1923. After the professional schools all had developed four-year programs, the college achieved accreditation in 1926.
The principle of Battle Creek College was “race improvement through eugenics and euthenics.” It was expected that all students, faculty, and staff would follow those principles—especially as regarding diet, exercise, and abstinence from smoking and drinking. School menus did not include meat. Kellogg’s brother Will developed Kellogg’s Corn Flakes and other cereals as dietary staples. Another name associated with the sanitarium was C.W. Post, who created Postum, a cereal-based coffee substitute, as well as other breakfast cereals.
Bricks and Mortar
Dr. Kellogg’s Battle Creek College took over a campus that had previously housed the first Battle Creek College (until 1901) and the American Medical Missionary College (until 1910). The seven-acre campus adjoined the Battle Creek Sanitarium, with which it shared some facilities. Main College Building, the original structure, had been much enlarged by 1888. The three-story brick building contained basement laboratories, two floors of classrooms, and a large third-floor lecture hall/chapel.
West Hall—also a three-story brick structure--housed 150 female students. Kellogg Hall, another women’s dormitory, had previously been a competing sanitarium. North Lodge, the home of the Home Economics department, had originally served as a station on the Underground Railroad. Union Building, a physical education facility shared with the sanitarium, opened in 1927 and still stands as the Battle Creek Central Fieldhouse.
Enlarged Main Building in 1888. Image from the 1888 Battle Creek College Calendar https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uiuo.ark:/13960/t6d237t71;view=1up;seq=4
Team name: Bobcats
Colors: White and Blue
Even before Battle Creek College formally opened, sports teams from the Normal School of Physical Education were active. The 1916 Normal School for Physical Education catalog has photos of a football team and a women’s field hockey team.
The 1932 Cauldron reports that after a single win in 1926, “football was found to be unsuccessful at Battle Creek College and was discontinued the next year.” Basketball was the main sport, with a team as early as 1910. After 1930 the Bobcats competed in the Michigan-Ontario Conference, fielding teams in basketball, tennis, golf, and swimming.
Women’s sports were played primarily on an intramural basis. Teams from each class competed in field hockey, basketball, swimming, baseball, and track. Composed mainly of women from the physical education department, each team was required to have a percentage of nursing and home economics students. In 1934 a school team was selected to play a three-game series of field hockey matches against Chicago schools.
Kellogg claimed initial enrollment as “almost 600.” History of Education in Michigan shows an enrollment of 900 in 1929. But as the case with many schools, enrollment fell after the Great Depression. My count of enrollment from the 1935 Cauldron is around 275. History notes that Dr. Kellogg “lost interest in [the school] suffered financial losses and suddenly announced it would be closed in 1938.”
Students enjoyed a full range of activities including student government, publications, debate, drama, and glee clubs. BCC had professional organizations for nursing, home economics and physical education. Cauldron's also show numerous receptions, banquets, dances, and special programs. The school operated a summer camp for women at Lake Pottowatomie.
Students from the Normal School of Physical Education. Image from Battle Creek Idea
Men's Basketball Team. Image from the 1932 Liberal Arts College Bulletin https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mdp.39015071503844;view=1up;seq=39