In the first 200 years at Dickinson College, there was a significant faction of foreign students. We have compiled a record of their existence, and their contributions to this institution.
During the first 120 years of the College, our research indicates that Dickinson had approximately fifty "foreign born" students up to the end of the Nineteenth Century. However, the bulk of these foreign born students do not meet the criteria to be a "foreign student" in a way that would be valuable to this study. Below we give and example of such a student and, from there, define the terms we have used.
As he was a 1787 graduate, he entered Dickinson eighteen years after arriving in America. Therefore, it would not seem reasonable to consider him a foreign student, as he was only seven years old upon his emigration.**
2. Dickinson College 1905 Alumni Directory
Our working definition for "foreign student" was determined to be someone who received the bulk of their elementary education in their native country. This means that the person was approximately ten years old upon arrival in United States.
The formal, present-day College definition, as provided by Brian DeMarco, International Student Admissions Counselor/Associate Director of Admissions reads as follows:
From our research, we found it quite difficult to produce even an arbitrary number of foreign students who attended Dickinson College before 1965. From the 1905 Dickinson College Alumni Record, a significant number of foreign born students was compiled. From this document, the Archive's drop files were consulted and researched. A hindrance was that drop files for students were not heavy in informational content; a great number of students did not have drop files at all. Due to this gap in the College records, it was difficult to approximate an exact number from the fifty foreign born students who attended Dickinson College, could actually be considered international students. Furthermore, we estimated that a quarter of students listed as foreign born had no recorded date of birth. For statistical purposes, it can be ascertained that this faction of students contains ten to twenty percent of students who would fit under the provided definitions for "international" students. This loose estimate must be a factor in subjective evaluation of the international history of the College.
Between the years of 1906 and 1927, the majority of foreign students came to Dickinson from the Central and South America. Latin American countries were significantly represented including: Honduras, Costa Rica and Puerto Rico. Also in attendance was a small number of students from Canada and Hawaii. (Note: Hawaii was not admitted as a state until 1954) From the years 1931 to 1940 the flow of foreign students swings to Europe. Students consistently came from from Germany and France, with Germans constituting the majority. This faction of students stops abruptly during the years of World War II. In 1949, however, Germans began to dominate the foreign student population of Dickinson College. Also in 1949, other countries such as New Zealand and Singapore entered the Dickinson family, along with a small faction of students from post-war Europe. By 1959, foreign nations were well represented by students attending Dickinson. For example, Hungary sent three students before 1959; the following three years saw four Hungarian students come to Dickinson. This was a result of Dickinson's offer to pay for the education of some Hungarian refugees. Most countries sent only one or two students to Dickinson, though the larger European sent significantly greater numbers than their smaller counterparts. Noticeably absent are students from Italy. Due to the lack of records, or our inability to locate said records, there were no recorded Italian students attending Dickinson from the years of 1906 to 1965. This is especially ironic, as Dickinson's Bologna (Italy) program is the College's oldest of its new generation of foreign programs, opening in 1963.
From the records gathered, a total of 142 students from foreign countries attended Dickinson between the years 1906 to 1965. Whether or not these students could be considered "international" students by stated definition was indeterminable for a significant portion of those documented.
As with a great number of American colleges,
Dickinson has had foreign students enrolled in its four-year program, during
its tenure. However, what is not clear is to the extent with which
Dickinson College tried to attract an international population throughout
its history. There is not sufficient evidence to support a contention
that Dickinson has been an institution making significant efforts to create
an internationally diverse campus, especially before 1900. Since
Dickinson College was founded as a primarily Presbyterian institution,
and then remade as a Methodist one, a majority of early students went on
to be members of the clergy. In more recent years, it seems that
Dickinson College's engagement with the world has been with its abroad
program, and other connections with other nations in the field of education.
Notes on Method
Our research was mostly compiled in the May Morris Room, where the Dickinson College Archives are located. We found that alumni records pre-dating 1965, were concentrated among a select amount of sources. Sources that were most helpful the Dickinson College 1905 Alumni Directory which has a list of all students, living or dead at the time, who attended or were presently attending Dickinson College, covering the 1787 graduating class to the 1908 freshman, Drop Files on individuals were helpful in getting more specific information on individuals. Other general reference books in the main research area in the May Morris Room occasionally contained helpful information.
Daniel Fleischman, Timothy Sidore, and Jared