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Scarritt Collegiate Institute

Neosho, Missouri



The State Historical Society of Missouri has the catalogs for Scarritt Collegiate Institute.   The Kansas Historical Society has school images from the papers of Dr. Hermon Major, who attended S.C.I.  The papers of Will Rogers, who attended S.C.I. briefly, have been published by the University of Oklahoma.  The 1897 ad (right) is from the Neosho News.

Scarritt ad_edited.jpg


Neosho Male and Female Seminary opened in 1878 under Professor D.M. Conway.  In 1880 it was chartered as Neosho Collegiate Institute.  Forced to close for lack of money in 1887, the school received funding from Nathan Scarritt, allowing it to reopen as Scarritt Collegiate Institute in 1888.  Again out of funds, S.C.I. closed its doors in 1903.


S.C.I. was established by the Methodist Church South as "a Christian school which shall offer to our sons and daughters the same educational advantages."   Believing that there was "no true education other than a Christian education," S.C.I. imposed strict rules on its students.  These included mandatory attendance at chapel, abstaining from noise, no loitering, no vandalism, no parties, no conversing with the opposite sex, and no tobacco.   














Male students were under military discipline.  The catalog notes, "Nothing is more delightful in a young man than an erect and manly bearing, and nothing is more conducive to that than our system of drill."   S.C.I. drill teams were popular entertainments at festivals.




Students had two literary societies--the Gladstone for young men and the Vestalian for young women.  The Souvenir was a student literary publication.  Commencement featured an annual concert, and contests in elocution and essay writing.  As a Methodist school it had chapters of the Y.M.C.A. and Y.W.C.A. as well as the Epworth League.

Female students wore inexpensive but stylish black wool dresses set off by an oxford cap and a black sateen apron.  Image from the Hermon S. Major Papers “, Kansas State Historical Society, Copy and Reuse Restrictions Apply”  Accessed 2-15-2018

The exact academic structure of SCI is difficult to ascertain today.   The catalog lists a primary department of grades 1-3, a preparatory department of grades 4-5, an intermediate department of grades 6-7, an academic department of grade 8, and a collegiate department of grades 9-12.  This statement suggests a typical elementary-high school structure.  Student photos in the Hermon Major papers show young children among the students.  On the other hand, the 1898 Statistics of Higher Education in the United States and the 1895 Report of the Commissioner of Education  both list SCI among the higher education institutions, with a college enrollment of 90, taught by a faculty of nine.

Bricks and Mortar

After outgrowing two temporary homes, Neosho Collegiate Institute built a new campus.  Located in a block surrounded by Jefferson, McCord, Brook and Woods Streets,  the campus contained four buildings.  The main building was a two story brick structure, as was Burgners Hall, the women's dormitory.   Male students lived in the town.


Neosho Business College occupied the campus until 1907.  At that time, Neosho School District purchased the campus.  The buildings were all razed in 1916 to make way for a new high school.



Sanborn Fire Insurance Map of the SCI campus, showing two-story brick buildings. Missouri Digital Collection  Accessed 2-15-2018


College football Data Warehouse shows only one football game for Scarritt--a loss to Springfield Normal School in 1903.   However, S.C.I. was playing football much earlier.  A photo of the 1896 team includes Will Rogers.  Without the local newspapers, it is difficult to reconstruct opponents or results.  Small local colleges that might have been opponents included Pierce City, Webb City, Marionville Collegiate Institute, and Carthage Collegiate Institute.

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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