Grand Island College
Grand Island, Nebraska
College Football Data Warehouse missed Grand Island College, so I would have missed it too except that it turned up on Ancestry.com in the form of four yearbooks dating between 1917 and 1930.
Grand Island College and Conservatory of Music was founded by the Baptist Church of Nebraska in 1882. It was originally called Grand Island Academy. The 1917 Islander shows a college of 57 students—30 Freshmen, 11 Sophomores, 7 Juniors and 9 Seniors. In addition, 46 academy students attended, pushing the attendance above 100. A decade later, the academy had been dropped while college attendance had increased to 152.
Grand Island College students had two literary societies—Amphictyon and Athenian—from which to choose. As a Baptist school, it also had chapters of the YMCA, YWCA and the Life Services League. As a Conservatory of Music, Grand Island was naturally strong in music with both men’s and women’s glee clubs, a band, and an orchestra. The music department performed an operetta. GIC was also very strong in speech activities with a forensics team, and a dramatics club. Students published both a yearbook, the Islander, and a newspaper, the Volante. By 1927 the college had begun to sponsor honors fraternities based on interest and scholarship.
By 1930 the school had become a “deep concern” for Nebraska Baptists. As a result, a merger was effected with Sioux Falls College. With the merger, Grand Island College students, faculty, records, and property—other than the buildings—moved to Sioux Falls. Thus, Sioux Falls College became the Baptist college for a five-state region.
Bricks and Mortar
The 1917 Islander shows a campus of four main buildings on a “spacious” campus on the north side of Grand Island. In 1904 the main building was described as a “handsome” three-story brick and stone building with basement. Grand Island Hall, the women’s dormitory was built along the same plan. The newer Hibbs Hall housed the male students. There was also a Conservatory of Music.
After the college closed, campus buildings stood empty for the next eight years. In 1939 The Omaha World-Herald described them as “going to seed,” with equipment and furniture destroyed or stolen, windows broken, cracked steps, boarded up doors, and library books moldering away. The library of 16,000 volumes was ultimately sold to Omaha University. The government leased the dormitories for housing during the War. In 1945 The Grand Island Board of Education purchased the campus. The buildings were razed in 1953 to make way for a new high school building.
Postcard view of Main Building () accessed 1-25-2017
Team name: Islanders
Colors: Gold and Blue
Grand Island College fielded teams in football, basketball, track and tennis. Competition semed to be fellow Nebraska colleges—Hastings, Peru State, Kearney State, Cotner, Nebraska Wesleyan, Nebraska Central, Omaha, and Doane. The 1904 team traveled to Colorado Springs to play Colorado College, and the 1926 team traveled to Denver to play Regis. The 1916 team had a 4-3 record, with wins over Omaha, Kearney, Hastings and the Nebraska Freshman team.
The 1917 Islander shows a co-ed team playing intercollegiate basketball. However, the passing of women’s intercollegiate sports teams led to the creation of a spirit group for women called the Stripettes; the Cadets were a performance outgrowth of the Stripettes.
The 1916-17 women's basketball team. Image from the 1917 Islander.