The Early Years in Shreveport

“Provision will be made for the instruction in music
of young ladies who may attend Centenary, if the
demand justifies the expense of equipment.”
(Announcements for 1909-10, Centenary College of Louisiana.)


Centenary opened on its present-day campus in 1908. However even a cursory glance at early Shreveport catalogues shows that little besides physical location parallels the College we know today.

…Students will not be permitted to leave the College ground day or night, without permission. We believe that the moral influences in Shreveport and vicinity, are as good as in any other city of the country. There are no saloons in Shreveport. It is a prohibition city.19

The 1909-10 announcements declared, “The purpose of our school is to develop a fine type of manhood,”20 but reserved music offerings for the “young ladies.” However, the next year’s catalogue extended the invitation to male students as well. Mrs. Rebekah Ellison Johnston, the accomplished wife of the Dean, will be prepared to give instruction in music to such young ladies who may wish to receive it. She will also give instrumental or vocal training to young men who may desire to avail themselves of such an opportunity…21

It seems that some male students did “avail themselves of such an opportunity” for the catalogue of 1910-11 mentions a Glee Club under Mrs. Johnston’s direction. By the early 1920s, the College even employed a director of brass band and orchestra.22 Furthermore, the Centenary Quartette would fast become a favorite of the community, and, in 1925, the Shreveport Journal proclaimed it “the best amateur number to appear on any local stage.”23