Ruth Olson was born to Swedish immigrants Ole and Emma Olson near Carlock in 1890. She largely grew up and lived on the family farm near Shirley, moving into Bloomington late in her life. She never married and had four brothers and one sister.
Olson attended Brown’s Business College from early 1907 through summer 1908. The college trained primarily women in business office skills such as bookkeeping, stenograph operation, cashiering and other clerical tasks. Classes were offered both on weekdays and evenings and cost $20 for a ten week term in 1900.
Originally founded by G. W. Brown of Jacksonville, the school established campuses in several towns. The college opened a site in downtown Bloomington in the early 1890s and continued operation at successive downtown locations until the early 1940s.
The collection includes Olson’s 1907-08 bookkeeping tests and exercises, etc. from her time at Browns Business College.