Albion Interactive History / People / Minna Berdsley

Albion Interactive History

Albion Interactive History / People / Starr Commonwealth

Minna Beardsley
Personal Assistant


By the time the Commonwealth was four or five years old, Starr realized the need for an assistant. He advertised for a full-time field secretary. Only Mrs. MinnaBeardsley responded, and he had second doubts about the whole idea. Evidently she was a persuasive lady, for Starr hired her during that first interview and the two “talked over the work” in some detail. Minna Beardsley was the second in a long list of field secretaries, young and old, who “went about the State telling ofFloyd Starr’s work at Albion.” In those days oftrains and interurban, they led a hectic life for a meager $5.00 a week. According to his son’s wife, Elta Starr, the worker would go unannounced into a community, stroll along Main Street taking mental notes on the mostprosperous stores, then register at the local hotel. If circumstances permitted, she was instructed to seek out the manager, explain her mission in the town, and provide opportunities for him to offer her a free room. The nest morning she beganher rounds, again taking notes on whoever seemed the most civic-minded, the most influential – and the most affluent.

In the main, Mary Boehm, Minna Beardsley, Ida Kerl, and their successors were not only loyal but eminently productive. Starr himself marveled at their success. Once they had learned their maps and schedules, once they had befriended their lists of donors, “they began bringing in the money needed to keep the place going.” As the years went by, their duties grew with the school and their status rose accordingly.

Source: Keith Fennimore. Faith Made Visible: The History of Floyd Starr and His School. Albion, Michigan: Starr Commonwealth. 1988.

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