Dickinson College History Department and Dickinson College Library Special Collections 

Senior Orations
From the early days of the College until the start of the twentieth century, oratory was an important part of the curriculum.  During this time, students were required to speak in a public examination, often with most of the trustees in attendance and the general public invited, and at the commencement ceremony.  The importance of oratory as an essential part of education held sway in America through much of the nineteenth century but thereafter waned, as research and written intellectual efforts supplanted spoken exhibitions of knowledge.  Towards the end of the life of this requirement, sadly, standards of thought and presentation also declined.

Students' own copies of their senior oration survive in some numbers in the College Special Collections, and Dickinson students in introductory history methods classes use them now in various forms of methodological exercise.  The collection below consists of such efforts.  Today's students have examined some of these latter day efforts, placed them in an appropriate historical context, transcribed them from the original, and added scholarly notations of explanation.  Click on the links below to be taken to their work.  Use "back" key to return to this list.

The following transcriptions all deal with Dickinson and the wider world

The Columbian Exhibition
delivered by Clarence Balentine,  June 14, 1893
transcribed and annotated by Drew Kaiden, October 1999
Why is Brazil in the Background?
delivered by Matthias S Messler,  May 17, 1895
transcribed and annotated by Regan Winn, October 1999
Has Israel a Future?
delivered by Walter Gelston McNeil,  June, 1894
transcribed and annotated by Robert Reeves, October 1999
Cultured Florence
delivered by Arthur Leigh Storm,  June 14, 1893
transcribed and annotated by Laura Dettloff, October 1999
An African Missionary's Qualifications and Work
delivered by Walter G. Steel, June 1896
transcribed and annotated by Daniel Fleischman, Oct 1999 
Russia Today 
delivered by Douglas C. Appenzellar, June 1899
transcribed and annotated by Amy Hanners, October 1999