Bryant & Stratton Chain of Business Schools
"Interior View," Bryant, Stratton & Folsom Commercial College, Albany, N.Y., 1865.
In 1848, E.G. Folsom established Folsom's Business College, the predecessor of the Bryant & Stratton Chain of Business Schools, in Cleveland, Ohio. Only two students enrolled in the school's first academic term, but the institution grew quickly. With Cleveland gaining increasing importance as an industrial and transportation center, local businesses needed skilled workers. Folsom's Business College helped provide Cleveland businesses with qualified employees. Among the college's graduates during the nineteenth century was John D. Rockefeller, Sr.
In 1852, Folsom's Business College's first two students, a Mr. Bryant and a Mr. Stratton, purchased the school and implemented the Bryant & Stratton Chain of Business Schools. These business schools existed in most major United States cities. By 1864, almost fifty such schools existed. Cleveland's Folsom's Business College, now known as Bryant & Stratton Chain School, remained the preeminent member of the chain schools. Eventually, the Cleveland school became known as Bryant, Lusk and Stratton Business College, when James Lusk joined the original proprietors as a partner. The chain schools followed strict guidelines to maintain consistency. Tuition was forty dollars for an entire program of study at each school. The schools used the exact same textbooks, most of which were authored by the school's proprietors. Most study programs lasted either three or four months, and students could transfer to another chain school at any time. Graduated students also could return to one of the chain schools for free refresher courses.
In 1867, Mr. Stratton died, prompting the demise of the chain schools. While many of these institutions still survived, they no longer were under the governance of the Bryant & Stratton Chain of Business Schools. The Cleveland institution became known as the Spencerian College.