1882-1891 Whitman Speech and Debate Team


Whitman began as a college in 1882 (it had been a preparatory school prior to that).


In these early years, the early 1880s, Speech and debate teams were not publically announced during the early years at Whitman though no doubt there were campus groups devoted to these or similar efforts (as you’ll see below such a group existed by the late 1880s). We believe the first official team appeared in 1897 with an oratory contest and an 1898 debate.


The School did offer courses in rhetoric and declamation (memorized persuasive presentations; oftentimes memorized presentations of great speeches) from 1882, Whitman’s beginnings. However, rhetoric, speech, oratory, and debate were integral aspects of the Whitman programs and continue.


Description: Description: eells1893-1894




Literary Course


Geometry.                  Geometry.                                 Algebra.

Caesar.                      Cicero.                                       Virgil.

Physiology.                Zoology.                                    Botany.



Trigonometry.            El. of Physics.                           English Literature       .

Virgil.                          Cicero.                                       Horace.

Chemistry.                 Chemistry.                                 El. of Astronomy.



Psychology.               Ethics.                                       Geology.
Rhetoric.                    Constitution of U. S.                  Evidences of Religion.
Livy.                           Pedagogics.                              Essays.

French and German may be substituted for Latin in this Course.


Normal Course


Arithmetic.                  Elementary Algebra.                 Elementary Algebra.

Geography.                General history.                         Composition.

English Grammar.      Physical Geography.                 U.S. History

Reading, Spelling.     Penmanship.



Geometry.                  Geometry.                                 English Literature.

Physiology.                Zoology.                                    Botany.

Book-keeping.            Methods of Teaching.               Methods and Ter. School Law.



Psychology.               El. of Physics                            Geology

Chemistry.                 Pedagogics.                              El. of Astronomy.

Rhetoric, or Surveying.                                                Ethics, or Constitution of US                                   Evidences of Religion.




Classical Course


FIRST TERM:  Geometry completed. Virgil’s Aeneid. Xenophon’s Hellenica.

SECOND TERM:  English Literature. Herodotus. Cicero com­pleted.

THIRD TERM:  Algebra completed. Thucydides. Livy.



FIRST TERM:  Homer’s Iliad. Trigonometry. Physiology.

SECOND TERM:  Demosthenes. Analytical Geometry. Zo­ology.

THIRD TERM:  Horace. Botany. Calculus or English Literature.



FIRST TERM:  Tacitus. Mechanics. Rhetoric.

SECOND TERM:  Physics. Chemistry. Greek Drama.

THIRD TERM:  Quintillian. Astronomy. Geology.



We believe but are not certain that the course schedule remained similar to the previous two years.






This department is in the hands of a specialist.  Reading is taught with the greatest care, both as to getting the thought and expressing it.  In the winter term a daily drill in elocution is given to first year academics who have passed a satisfactory ex­amination in reading. Private lessons in elocution will be given to such as desire them, at the same rates as for vocal music.



Compositions, essays, orations and declamations are required at stated times.



Rev. Cushing Eells, D.D., Founder of the College and President of the Board of Trustees.

A.J. Anderson, A.M., Ph.D., President and also professor of Psychology, Pedagogy and Civics.

W.D. Lyman, A.M., Professor of English Language and History.


Rhetoric was offered in Collegiate Department during the junior year of the Classical Course, the sophomore year of the Scientific Course, and the Literary Course. It was also offered in the Scientific Preparatory Course under the Normal Department during the third year.


There are four departments at Whitman College, The Collegiate, the Academic, the Music and the Art Department.  The Collegiate Department has three Courses: The Classical, Scientific, and Literary course.  The Academic department has four courses: The Classical Preparatory of three years, the Normal Course, and the Business course.


I.                 Whitman College in 1888-9

A.     The College had a total of 10 professors in the faculty.

B.     There was not yet student government.

C.    A. J. Anderson was the College President

D.    There was no debate coach.

II.               In the World

A.     Benjamin Harrison was elected as President of Grover Cleveland.

B.     Indian Wars continued in the west of the United States.

III.              At Whitman College

A.     There was not yet a Whitman Pioneer (1896) or a Yearbook (1905).

B.     Whitman was still a Congregationalist School. 

C.    There was a school of Music and a school of Academics.

D.    Tuition was $16.

IV.             Debate at Whitman

A.     There was no traveling team yet.

B.     Literary societies, such as the Adelphi society had debate contests.  They debated such issues as “that the treatment of North American Indians has been unjust” and “that the Irish are more detrimental to the United States than the Chinese.” 

C.    Courses in Rhetoric were required in the second or third year for all students.




Rev. Cushing Eells, D.D., Founder of the College and President of the Board of Trustees.

A.J. Anderson, A.M., Ph.D., President and also professor of Psychology, Pedagogy and Civics.

W.D. Lyman, A.M., Professor of English Language and History.


Rhetoric was taught in the third year of studies in the Collegiate Department, under the Classical Course.  It was also taught in the second year in the Literary-Scientific Course.

The College year included 39 weeks, and was divided in 3 terms.