Summer Classes in 1923

Are you taking classes this summer? Sometimes students don’t have a choice but to take a few summer classes so they can complete their degrees on time.

In 1923, summer tuition was $60. Not $60 per credit. Not $60 per class. Just $60, which equates to $474 today. That’s quite a lot less than today, to say the least.

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Back then there were only two schools: the College of Expression and the College Normal School of Physical Education.  Here are some of the classes that were offered 91 summers ago:

  • Basic Principles of Expressive Reading
  • Studies in Modern Poetry
  • Power and Intensity of Expression
  • Readings for Public Entertainment
  • Platform Reading for Professional Entertainers
  • Interpretation of the Bible
  • Pantomime
  • Play Acting
  • Play Production
  • Theatre Appreciation
  • Religious Drama
  • Pageants, Festivals, and Masques
  • Speech
  • Practice Teaching
  • Stage Settings
  • Costume Design
  • Storytelling
  • Children’s Theatre
  • Gymnastics
  • Folk Dancing
  • Outdoor Sports
  • Swimming

Our college’s c0-founder, Mary Blood, taught many of these courses.

What classes are you taking this summer?

View the full summer of 1923 course catalog, filled with course descriptions, textbook requirements, and fees here.

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What Was Happening Today at CCC in 2000?

spring break

On March 20, 2000, students were as stressed as ever (passing out in class, to be specific), flights to Myrtle Beach were $59, and a poll revealed that one student’s favorite game was Contra (you know, that game from the original Nintendo).

The music reviewed in this issue included Oasis, Garage d’Or, and Yo la Tengo. Do you recognize any of these aside from Oasis?

An article about WWF reveals that it was still cool in the year 2000, where Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock were still popular. I saw someone wearing an Austin 3:16 shirt the other day and wondered if I’d been sucked into some black hole that took me back to the early 2000s.

The first “Final Destination” debuted in 2000, and the reviewer wrote, “Trust, you won’t be disappointed!” I wonder what he thought of the second, third, fourth, and fifth movies in this series.

To see more about what was going on at Columbia College exactly fourteen years ago, read here: Be sure to check out page 10 if you want to see how stylish swimming suits from 14 years ago were!

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Happy Birthday, Ida Riley!!!

Ida Morey Riley2

Ida Riley, the forgotten co-founder of Columbia School of Oratory, was born on April 11th 1856 in Mercer County, Illinois. Today, the founder of your college turned 158 years old. So have a cupcake, have a beer, and make a toast to the woman who made your education.

Ida was raised in Union Township, Iowa where she grew up on a farm. Her parents were farmers and in the words of Heidi Marshall, the head of the Archives Department, “Ida was a mid-western girl through and through.”

Ida became the principal of her childhood public school in Iowa after her husband Heston Riley died of influenza in 1879. In 1877, while teaching at the State Agricultural College in Ames, Ida met Mary. Mary was sent to Iowa from Emerson College in Boston to teach elocution and expression and the two women became close friends, Mary encouraging Ida to study at Monroe College of Oratory. She moved to Boston with Mary and got her Bachelor’s and Master’s in Oratory at Emerson. Ida joined Mary in Chicago, establishing Columbia School of Oratory together in 1890.

Up until her death, Ida was on the board of directors for the National Association of Elocutionists, serving as secretary.She died on March 7th, 1901. She is buried next to her husband in Ashley, Ohio.

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Who is Mary Blood? What is the Blood Ball anyway?

In Mary Blood’s honor, Columbia hosts an annual “Blood Ball”. This year, the formal dance will be held on March 7th in the 1104 S Wabash building. Doors open at 7pm.

Mary Blood's Birthplace

It is easy to confuse Columbia’s first president with Mary Queen of England. Bloody Mary and Mary Blood actually share no relation, not a distant cousin, not a game for children, nor an alcoholic beverage.

Mary_Blood 01

Mary Blood attended what is now Framingham State University. After graduating, she taught at the Eliot School in Boston, during a time when the school began teaching courses that “satisfied that instinctive desire of human beings to create” including sewing, cooking, drawing and painting.

Mary went back to school in 1880 for a degree in Oratory. She was a faculty member at Emerson College in Boston from 1883 to 1890.

In 1890, Mary and Ida Morey-Riley, co-founder of Columbia, left the New England area to establish Columbia School of Oratory in Chicago. It was generally a teacher’s school and graduates were qualified to teach English, Speech and Drama. Many courses were also offered for people wanting to lecture or preform.

Miss Mary A. Blood

While being a president and educator at Columbia, Mary was also an active member of the National Association of Elocutionists, The Women’s Christian Temperance Union and other community groups.

Mary died at age 76 on July 25th, 1927 at the college. Her funeral service was held near the school, and many alumni attended. Her epitaph reads “She was one of the founders and for 37 years the president of the Columbia College of Expression in Chicago, Illinois.” She is buried in Hollis, New Hampshire, her hometown.

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Before the South Loop Campus

Below I’ve collected and annotated a few pictures from Columbia College Chicago by R. Conrad Winke and Heidi Marshall. As you can see, Columbia has modest roots, shifting classes, offices and dorms from one building to the next around the Chicago area.


The above building was once on 24 East Adams Street. It was built in 1888 for the sake of artists, with offices and art galleries. The college moved out in 1895 and into the seventh floor in Steinway Hall on 64 East Van Buren Street.

In 1916, Columbia relocated to the Libby mansion on 3358 South Michigan Avenue where the college rented it for everything from office space to dorms to classrooms from the widow of a wealth meat-packer until 1925.


Here is the reception hall of the female dormitory:


And the dining room:


The music room:


The bedroom:


Below are pictures of female residence halls on 3409 and 3415 S Michigan Avenue taken in 1922.





Stay tuned for pictures of the early South Loop campus as you know it today.

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Student Perspective: Chicago Winter

I bet you my job that you cannot go one day on campus without talking to at least one person about the weather. Given that this winter has been one of the worst in Chicago in over a century, I feel as if this is a sound bet.

According to CBS news, “Chicago has broken a record this year for most days of measurable snow: 32 so far. It’s added up to 61.2 inches, ranking No. 3 all time…It hasn’t been this cold since 1984 when the average temp was 16.7. Add that to another bone chilling stat: We’ve had 21 days where the temperature has dropped below zero. The record is 25.”

At this rate, we are set to beat the record. I experienced some sort of déjà vu watching this news clip from the winter of 1979. Look familiar?


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History of the Columbia College Library


The South Loop was known in the mid to late 20th century for its clubs: strip clubs, dance clubs, night clubs and bars. In the midst of the partying was the Columbia College campus and Library.

1890 –  Ida Morey Riley and Mary Blood create Columbia’s library from scratch, combining their personal bookshelves. By 1905, they have more than 1,000 books available to students.


This book was from Mary Blood and Ida Morey Riley’s personal libraries.

1927 – Pestalozzi-Froebel Teachers College and Columbia College Chicago merge their libraries. The library was eventually split after 36 years in 1963, Columbia receiving less than half of the books.


1920s reading area


Students studying in the Library in the 1950s

1977 – The library moves into the 600 S. Michigan Ave. building, with a collection of over 20,000 books.

1982 - The local YMCA community college shuts its doors and Columbia acquires its library.

1984 – Students gain access to Roosevelt University’s library.


Student reading periodicals

1995 – Columbia moves into the 624 S. Michigan building on the first 5 floors where it remains today. It replaced a night club called the Blue Angel. The building was also previously an opera house and a movie theater.

Today Columbia’s library also includes a college archives, Art In The Library, a special collections unit, and the one of the most comprehensive art and photography selection in the state of Illinois. No longer is the Library surrounded by clubs, but by other Columbia campus buildings, various hotels, restaurants, apartments, colleges and businesses.

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Student Perspective: My Crazy Finals Week


Somewhere in the making of modern academia it became common for every assignment, every test and every speech to be due on the same week. This pressure seems to accumulate during the days leading up to finals where you find yourself in a sort of hysteria.

Life becomes dreamlike, and you may feel mentally unstable due to the sleep you’re not getting and the Red Bulls that you are. Showering might not be a top priority and you may feel bloated and nauseous from TV dinners and frequent 7Eleven runs. Most of your stress is probably due to procrastinating and if you are not stressed out, then you are most likely anxious for the semester to end anyway.

The above symptoms are common for the typical college kid before finals, but art students are a rare breed and attending one of the largest art schools in the nation, there is a sense of heightened craziness especially at the end of the semester. I speak from experience.

Yesterday I woke up a half an hour before class. I immediately ran to the kitchen and made a pot of coffee, throwing all of my second draft papers into my book bag before running down Michigan Ave. alongside rush hour traffic.

In my first writing workshop my professor told me that a friend of his was releasing an EP and was wondering if I wanted a copy. Not one to turn down new music, I decided to take him up on that offer. In his class I read a couple pieces about my recent fascination with time machines and felt slightly embarrassed for stuttering over my handwriting’s heightened sloppiness while my peers’ eyes glazed over and shut with final’s fatigue. I tried not to take their excitement personally. One of the songs off of the EP was coincidentally about time machines and I think that might be a sign that I’m up to something.

In my next class, which is largely memoir based, one of my pieces was sung aloud. Usually, I steer away from writing anything sappy, but to my mortification, this was. I had forgot I turned it in or wrote it at all until my professor handed out copies to the class and asked them to sing it. He asked me if I wanted the lead part  and I declined, horrified. They ended up making up a tune as they went, serenading me with my mediocre poetry about the jealously I had when my boyfriend moved to the city and I was stuck commuting to a liberal arts college the size of my high school for a year. Needless to say, it was an embarrassing experience. My professor did say that it took guts to write a song, but I think it takes more guts to listen to your class sing it.

We read some heart wrenching (but not sappy) final pieces in the same class. There was one memoir that I had the pleasure of reading that was intentionally hilarious. There is a part in it when the narrator steps on the front porch of his childhood home and his mother asks him, “when are you leaving?” as she opens the door. I thought this was so funny at the time that I started laughing so hard that I cried and nearly had to excuse myself.

After class, realizing that I had 50 pages of writing to complete for next week in total, I could have cried again. But instead of writing, I ran by Trader Joe’s to make a meal for my boyfriend whose week might be more strenuous than mine with an exam this week, 30 hours of work and a friend coming into town, all on top of finals.

After making pumpkin ravioli and sharing a bottle of sparkling lemonade, I began to break out in hives, which is something I have only been known to do when I walk into Barnes & Noble for whatever reason. One time, I got such a bad reaction that I had to go to the hospital. They hooked me up to an IV and the hives went away, but a day later they were back and my whole body looked like a red cauliflower the week before I moved to Chicago. Seeing a new outbreak, I was distressed. My boyfriend and I argued about big agriculture and organic foods to get my mind off of my hives, but they grew worse. I took Benadryl and had to leave because my argument was becoming sloppy with my speech. And I left shouting, “GMO is class warfare!” He walked me home despite me losing my mind.

Needless to say, it was a strange day for procrastination and I ended up passing out on the couch sitting up, sleeping through the next day’s alarm, foreshadowing another strange day.

My hand now looks like this and I think it is from writing too much:


And the finals week hysteria continues…

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Oldest Item in the Archives: The Voice of Phi Sigma


The oldest item we have here in the College Archives is an issue of “The Voice of Phi Sigma” from 1879. Although Phi Sigma wasn’t directly involved with Columbia College, they are dedicated to public speaking and is the oldest organization of its kind in Illinois. The “Voice of Phi Sigma” collection honors Columbia’s early passion for oratory arts and what Columbia still strives for today.

Phi Sigma originally consisted of a group of six men who met up at Beard Brothers Books at 453 West Madison (now 1308 W Madison) on April 25, 1878. In March of 1882, five women joined the group. Its purpose was, “to devise ways to aid in the study of literature and history and to afford an opportunity for practice in debate.”

The group debated about book reviews, Greek poets, Norse legends, philosophy, history, drama, the Greek Church, realism, idealism, Reformation, mythology, immigration, sociology, psychology and much more. They also wrote stories and poems.

Though the paper from this 1879 Volume II issue has yellowed, the content is as lively as ever. I was so intrigued by its content that I spent a good chunk of the day reading the entire thing. The first thing I read was the obituary of a Mr. Brigg, which begins by saying, “It is with extreme grief that we record in this issue the sudden demise of our esteemed enemy.” It went on to say that this Mr. Brigg fellow was in “the prime of troublesomeness when the sickle cut him down.”

I don’t go around reading obituaries, but this is one of the most fascinating epitaphs I’ve ever stumbled upon. The writer in me wants to know why they were enemies. I’ll leave out all the possibilities running through my mind. Who writes an obituary for their enemy? What a way to word the fact that he died!

At the beginning of the document, editor F.E. Whitman answers questions from correspondents. A correspondent from Milwaukee asked, “Is it right for a temperance man to drink whiskey?” At this time, the Temperance Movement was going through its second wave (1872 – 1893). To this question, Whitman responds, wittily, “Well, no it is hardly right. Hardly unless he likes it. That makes a difference and even then it is hardly right unless he likes it very much.”

Also in this issue are statistics about how many people in the United States are followers of each religion and an in-depth look at mythology. It is full of intelligence, mystery, and humor.

This issue will soon be posted on our website. Stay tuned and we will let you know when you can read it for yourself. In the meantime, take a look at the cover here:

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What Was Happening Today at CCC in 1993?

Twenty years ago today, gun control and abortion were hot topics, a student was petitioning for a napping room, Michael Jackson was in trouble, the classifieds were bizarre, was an issue, and the Addams Family Values was soon-to-be released.

Victoria Berlin, a junior in 1993, wanted a quiet place to nap or hear herself think. UIC had an actual room for napping with cushioned couches and an attendant who administered wake-up calls and Columbia didn’t even have a single study area. At the time of the article, she had 361 signatures, approximately 5% of the student body. Maybe we have Berlin to think for the study areas we have today.


A law was passed in Mississippi that a woman under 18 must have written consent of both parents to be able to have an abortion. In an op-ed somebody ranted about the Tribune supporting gun control. Some issues never get resolved or changed, do they?


There was a warrant out for Michael Jackson, for allegedly molesting young boys. First he said he had to finish his world tour, then he had a questionable illness, he canceled his tour and said he was addicted to pain medication, Pepsi canceled his contract, and he went to rehab.

A classified ad:
Warning ladies. I’m the man your
mama warned you about. I’m
married, wild and crazy. I ride the
hell out of bikes, pick some
guitar, love to party and am very
untamable. Looking for
Amazonian princess to ride into
the sunset with me.

I love that this is in poetry format. I wonder if this “wild and crazy” man ever found his Amazonion princess.

Check out more fascinating news from November 22, 1993:

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