History of Student Employment

on the site of Hartwell

From the 1938-1939 Catalog for the Brockport Normal School. This appears as the earliest catalog reference.

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National Youth Administration

The Normal School is enabled through the National Youth Administration to distribute Federal funds to students who, without this assistance, might find it impossible to gain an education. The allocation of this fund is in the hands of a faculty committee which passes on the questions of scholarship, financial need, and assignment of work. It is the aim of the N.Y.A. to provide renumerative employment that will be of broad educational value to the student. Thus student aid affords a greater personal growth to the students and finer contribution to the institution in return for the money expended. All work is done under the supervision of some faculty member who gives as much supervision as the work and the student needs.

During the past year the N.Y.A. has helped from thirty-five to forty students. It is limited to students between sixteen and twenty-four years of age.

Employment Bureau

A beginning also has been made to enable those not on N.Y.A. to earn money by doing special service for townspeople such as staying with children or doing housework. A record is kept of time that students have available for such work, and, as requests come into the office, students are notified. It is hoped that this service will expand and thus give part-time employment to those desiring this kind of work.

Note: the building above was torn down and replaced with Hartwell Hall. Construction began in 1938 and was completed in 1941. Gradually, operations were shifted to Hartwell as more of that building was completed and the original building was dismantled.

Below is some background on the N.Y.A., a predecessor of Work-Study.

With unemployment approaching 25% and the New Deal trying to “put America back to work,” federal programs were established to provide work. One such program, the National Youth Administration Student Work Program, focused on providing jobs to high school and college students. Established in 1935, it was the first federal program to directly aid students. Much like the present Federal Work-Study Program, the N.Y.A. was administered by individual institutions, operating with fiscal guidelines issued by the federal government. Although much latitude was given for the local operators, schools were encouraged to consider the student’s interests and aptitudes, and relate the work to the academic program.

The program operated through 1943 when the war effort, the consequent enrollment declines at colleges, and manpower shortages in industry caused its demise. At this time, it was estimated that between one-third and one-half of all college students were working to earn at least some expenses.

One interesting note about the program is Lyndon Johnson’s early and influential involvement in student employment. Johnson had come from very humble beginnings, and, by necessity, worked steadily during his college years. In fact, the president of Southwest Texas State, impressed by LBJ’s ambition, put him in charge of doling out jobs to other needy students. Johnson parlayed this power into political influence in student government. Those experiences led to his first federal position as statewide administrator for the Student Work Program in Texas. He had a sympathy and passion for the NYA and students working that made him effective, and the opportunity to travel and visit all the schools in Texas and help bright young students was the genesis of his political network.

from "A History of Student Employment" by Rick Kincaid (for more information about LBJ's early experiences, see The Power Broker by Robert Caro)

Last Updated 7/8/20

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