What’s it worth?

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I’m sitting at the desk, the office is perfectly quiet, I have a draft in front of me to start hacking away at…

…and I manage, once again, to get distracted from the writing, and to track down the minutiae of the little thing that piqued my interest!

Here’s what it was:

$10 a month room, board, including sanitary plumbing! Source: Florida State University, Argo, 1902

$10 a month room, board, including sanitary plumbing! Source: Florida State University, Argo, 1902

This little snippet comes from the 1902 Argo, which was the yearbook of the West Florida Seminary, now Florida State College in 1902 (later, to become FSU). It was in the back of the book, with the advertisements; a little promotional piece on the merits of a degree from FSC.

Notice that this doesn’t include the cost of tuition, incidentals, transportation — which, all together, would mean about $30 a month for a student attending FSC in 1902.

Emmett and his family were certainly what I’d consider upper middle class; but never ‘wealthy’ by any stretch (as everyone was expected to pitch into the family expenditures when old enough to work). Everyone chipped in to help out; Emmett earned some of the money to attend college, but he definitely couldn’t have done it on his own.

How much of a financial stretch on the family was it for Emmett to attend college?

Here’s an interesting application called Inflation Calculator 2015. I typed in $30 to see what it really cost back in 1899 (when Emmett was enrolled as a sophomore at West Florida Seminary (now FSU):

Do the math: $30 times eight months = Expensive education in 1899.

Do the math: $30 times eight months = Expensive education in 1899.

$857.14 x 8 = $6,857.12 for an entire sophomore year at WFS in 1899.

The average family income in the United States in 1899 (according to a publication from the National Bureau of Economic Research) was $1,004. Average income for families in Florida may have been less than that (an average family was defined as two adults, two children; the Wilsons has 10 children, but according to the 1900 census, there were five children enumerated in the Wilson household).

For the record, Emmett only attended half of his sophomore year; there were a combination of reasons why he didn’t return to Florida State College (which I save for the book, because they are pretty interesting); but, if he had, then he wouldn’t have become a lawyer, then a U.S. Congressman.

All right.

Back to regularly scheduled work.

 

 

 

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