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Among the many organizations which claim time and attention from college men, there is one whose work is so unique and whose relat on to the College is so intimate and prculiar that it morits special consideration. For the Prospcct Union is a direct outgrowth of some of the best life of the Univcrsity, and is a splendid expression in concrete form of the finer Harvard spirit. The story of the birth and growth of this, "Harvard's evening college for workingmen," may be unfamiliar to many of the newer members, at least, of the student body.
Nearly five years ago a small group of Harvard men, representing different sides of college life, with a member of the Faculty and a young man then engaged in religious work in the "Lower Poit," in company with a few earnest workingmen of Cambridgeport, engaged a room in the Prospect House building on Massachusetts avenue, near Central Sqare, and organized an association for philanthrophic educational work on a purely non-partisan and unsectarian basis. The name Prospect Union was chosen from the name of the building in which it was located. Classes were formed in a variety of suljects, all taught by students from the University, and lectures were given once a week, usually by a member of the Faculty. Workingmen of Cambridgeport and vicinity came to the lectures and entered the classes, paying a membership fee in the union of twenty-five cents a month. A spirit of manly, brotherly helpfulness pervaded both the student teachers from the College and their workingmen pupils. From this small beginning has grown year by year what is now almost an evening university, with nearly a hundred classes in elementary studies and in high school and college branches. These classes and the lectures were attended last year by more than six hundred wage earners, men of many nationalities and occupations. The teachers were, as they have always been, Harvard students who gave seventy-five of them, one evening or a part of an evening a week to this work. Lectures were delivered by many members of the Faculty, including President Eliot.
This year the list of teachers is practically complete, as a ready response has been made to the request for teachers. But college men may help the union and themselves in other ways than by teaching classes. The weekly meeting on Wednesday evenings affords an opportunity for coming into touch with the spirit and membership of the union. After the adjournment of the meeting a college man may, without the formality of an introduction, become acquainted with thoughtful, earnest mechanics who are quite likely to be diamonds in the rough. Saturday evening is a good time to drop into the Social Room, where smoking is allowed, and where a spirit of ready friendliness prevails. The union is located in the old city hall, 744 Massachusetts Ave., Cambrdgeport, a little nearer to the college than Central Sq., and almost opposite the new city hall. This building is now practically owned by the union, though a slight legal technicality regarding the title has not yet been settled. Nearly $8,500 has been raised of the $10,000 desired for the purchase, and it is hoped that the balance may soon be obtained. The building is open both day and evening, though the evening is the better time for a visit.
College men who have been actively connected with the union in the past bear strong witness to the value of the experience to them. A well-known member of the class of '95 who is not now in Cambridge wrote thus in a letter received recently, of his connection with the union; "I learned more in my work there in the last two years than I could have learned from a hundred books, and I feel broader and better for my experience. The union I shall always look upon as one of the chief formative influences of my college career." There are a hundred and more recent graduates from Harvard who would bear similar testimony.
Will not the members of the University, both the new-comers and those who have been in Cambridge before but have never visited the union, drop in any evening, see the president, Mr. Ely, wh would be most happy to tell of this work, and see for themselves what is being accomplished in this most interesting Harvard intitution?
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