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Eastman Business College

Poughkeepsie, New York.


E-Travel has made a digital edition of the 1888 Eastman College Catalogue available for its subscribers.  The 1898 Catalogue and Prospectus have been placed online by Harvard University.    



Eastman Business College was founded by Harvey G. Eastman, and was for a time one of the largest commercial schools in the United States.  


The curriculum of Eastman Business College offered eight Business Courses—spelling; business writing; correspondence; business arithmetic; bookkeeping; business forms; business habits; and banking, finance and actual business.  There were three additional Special Courses in penmanship, telegraphy, and phonography/typewriting.  Foreign students and students with deficiencies could opt to take courses in spelling, reading, arithmetic, grammar or composition. 


Additionally, there were lectures offered in topics such as elements of success in business, advertising, manners and morals, and political economy. 


Classes were offered on three levels—the Preparatory or Theoretical level, the Junior Practical or Actual Business level, and the Senior Practical or College Banks and Offices level.   So rather than dealing only with business theory, students gained practical experience in the business arts of the time by actually performing the tasks that would be expected of them in their working careers.



One of the student activities mentioned in newspaper accounts was band.  The Eastman College band made frequent appearances at major parades, thus keeping the name of the school before the public.  The Prospectus notes that on Saturday mornings students were assembled for lectures, concerts by professional artists or forensic displays.


While Eastman Business College famously noted in 1898 that it did “not receive students of the Negro Race,” it stated in 1888 that tuition rates would be reduced 20% “in case the student be of the gentler sex.”

Some members of the 1888 graduating class of Eastman Business College (Courtesy of Unclaimed Ancesters <>) accessed 10-17-2017

Bricks and Mortar

Early newspaper notices indicated that Eastman College was unique in that it owned no buildings.  With 1600 students, it rented five buildings according to the report.  In 1864 it “opened” a sixth building.


However, the photo at right, the most reproduced photo of Eastman College, says that the “New Building” was erected A.D. 1883.   This building was located on Washington Street.  It was three and a half stories high, with twin towers and the school name above the front doors.   It later seems to have had a high school attached.


The Duchess County Historical Society reported that the building was razed in 1941.  Today a new Washington Street passes over the site.

 “New Building” of Eastman College.  The high school building is to the right. (Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division  accessed 10-27-2017


      School Colors:  These may be blue and gold—the colors of a student handbook. The band also wore blue uniforms.


Despite the fact that Eastman College suffered two football-related deaths in the 1890’s, the school played a few football games each season until it closed. Evolution of Early American Football identifies Eastman as playing the “American collegiate game.” College Football Data Warehouse shows only one season in which the school played a complete schedule.  In 1907 Eastman won nine of 11 games with one ending in a tie.   Victories came against Millbrook (NY) High School (twice), Walden (NY) Athletic Club (twice), Fordham JV’s, Poughkeepsie HS, Peekskill (NY) Military Academy, West Point Engineers, and St. Stephen’s (now Bard) College.  The team played St. Stephen's to a scoreless draw and were beaten by Hotchkiss (CT) School.


In that same year of 1907 the Eastman College baseball team is described as a “crack nine.”  Newspaper references in the 1920’s show that the school fielded a basketball team.


In 1930 athletic activities at the school were described as “practically at a standstill.”        



Note: Images are used in accordance with their “terms of use” as I understand those terms.  Recopying or republishing these images may be restricted or forbidden.

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