If we except the public schools, there is, perhaps, no other institution in Grand Rapids of so much value to the city and its citizens, at this particular period, as the Grand Rapids Commercial College and Telegraphic Institute. If we speak in reference to other colleges of a similar course of study, we should say that, for thoroughness and appointments, it is the best in America. The author of this little work has had san extensive acquaintance with business colleges, both in the Eastern and Northwestern States, and is now able to say, with truthfulness, to the citizens of Grand Rapids, that they can justly boast of having the most advanced, the most elevated and best conducted Commercial College in the United States. In short Prof. C. G. Swensberg, the principal of the institution, has raised it so far above the ordinary business colleges of the country as to convince all who become acquainted with the course of study pursued at his college that the science of business is equal, in point of importance and accomplishment, to any art or science generally classed among the "higher studies." Many have an idea that persons attend a commercial college merely to study book-keeping. This is a mistake. It is not so, at least, with those who attend the Grand Rapids College. The discipline and course of study through with they have to pass, under the constant and thorough conduct of Prof. Swensberg, in point of mathematical and commercial science and moral training, is equal to a course of study in many of the regular colleges.
Only a few days ago it was my pleasure to listen to the second lecture of the law course, delivered before the students of this college by Hon. H. M. Look. The discourse was alike instructive and interesting, and was scarcely less an exercise in eloquence than commercial law.
The reputation of this college has become almost national, and its many students have gathered from nearly half the States of the Union, leaving the business colleges in their own neighborhood, and passing others on the way, to obtain the superior advantages offered in the Commercial College of Grand Rapids. This is alike flattering to Prof. Swensberg and to the citizens of Grand Rapids.
Mr. Henry S. Chubb, Secretary of the Northern Michigan Agricultural and Mechanical Society, in writing a sketch of the principal institutions of Grand Raids, makes the following appropriate remarks concerning this college and its principal.
"Prof. Swensberg, Principal of this College, has long held a high place in the esteem of the people, especially the young people, of Grand Rapids, from the fact that his influence has been exerted for their especial good. He has shown a genuine interest in their welfare, not merely in insisting on their perfection in the arts of penmanship and book-keeping, to which he is especially devoted, but in their general character and conduct. Many a now prosperous business man looks back with gratitude to the period when, under Prof. Swensberg’s instruction, he imbibed those honorable principles which are recognized among all men as t he foundation of good citizenship and commercial prosperity. How much the enterprise, the spirit and integrity of the city, is owing to the influence and power of the Commercial College, enforced by the example of its ever zealous Principal, can never be told or realized. Suffice it to say, the influence is exerted just at the period when young people are most sensitive; and being exerted for a continuous period, has the best possible effect. The students, finding immediate and profitable employment after graduating, the effect on the business functions of the city soon become apparent.
The business course consists of book-keeping, commercial law, commercial arithmetic, business correspondence, composition, orthography and penmanship.
Book-keeping is taught in a thorough and scientific manner in all its various forms commencing first with the most simple transactions from which to make up and arrange sets of books, and gradually increasing to the most difficult that can occur in any department of trade or commerce,
Each student is required to open, write up- and close over forty different sets of books, with particular forms and illustrations, adapted to every kind of business; and in connection with these sets, the student is also required to write up for rigid inspection all drafts notes, bulls of exchange, receipts, orders, checks, bulls, accounts current, account sales, bulls of lading bonds, contracts, leases, general averages, statements, letters-in short, all papers in any way connected with the business.
The methods of partnership, settlements, business correspondence and information concerning all the methods of varied business transactions and the fundamental principles on which business is or should be transacted, are taught in the most thorough manner, so that the pupil graduates with a practical knowledge which fits him to enter the actual duties of life without the embarrassment usually incident to beginners.
German, French, Phonography and Telegraphing are all taught if desired, and students are fitted for any particular line of business."
Prof. C.G. Swensberg, while devoting his time and attention to his duties as Principal of the Commercial College, does not fail to lend his influence and means to encourage other enterprises. He is a stock-holder in several manufacturing enterprises, and was for many years closely and honorably identified with almost every movement of importance in the city. He has contributed not a little to the success of the Young men’s Christian Association, of Grand Rapids, having served in the capacity of Secretary and Vice-President of the Association for several years, and on different committees.Document Source: Tuttle, Charles R., History of Grand Rapids, Grand Rapids: Tuttle & Cooney, 1874.