Coyne Electrical School

Coyne Electrical College Advertisement in True Detective, October 1930
Coyne Electrical College Advertisement in True Detective, October 1930

A Gateway to a Future in Difficult Times

Coyne College has been a respected, for-profit educational institution in Chicago since 1899. It was established as Coyne Electrical School of Chicago by B.W. Cooke. To this day, it continues to serve the Chicago and is one of the best-known vocational schools in the United States.

In 1933, when this ad appeared, Coyne was preparing students for careers in several newly emerging, fast-growing fields. These were the fields that offered opportunities for promised stable economic future to the students who pursued them.

Illustration from Coyne Electrical School of Man working at old-fashioned telephone switchboard

The ad focuses on the hands-on nature of the lessons using the best equipment of the day. Bluntly stating that it is not a correspondence school. These lessons bring you in contact with the state-of-the-art tools. “We train you on the greatest outlay of Radio, Television, and sound equipment in any school,” the ad states. They promised practical training, delivered quickly, “We give you the practical training you need in 8 weeks’ time.” In short, they promised to get you ready for your future in just 60 days.

And it was a solid, economically stable, middle-class future that the ad promised. The ad says jobs may pay, “$60, $70 and on up to $200 a week.” In 2020 dollars this is the equivalent of jobs paying $50,000-$150,000 per year. To a young man, just entering the job market during the beginning of the Great Depression, this ad promised a way to a good future.

In October 1930, the ad’s promises for job placement help upon graduate and throughout the rest of a student’s life may have been a key sales pitch. Coyne also offered students an opportunity for help finding part-time work while they studied to help defray expenses. To this day, Coyne recognizes that financial considerations are important to its students and provides financial advisors to students to help them find opportunities for scholarship and aid.

Radio, “talking” pictures (the first movies with sound had arrived only one year earlier), public address systems, stadium sound systems, the promise of televisions in every home must have seemed like a future in science fiction to a young reader of True Detective. For an ambitious young man facing an uncertain future in 1930 clipping the coupon for a free book at no obligation must have seemed a no-brainer.

The Details

Published in True Detective Mysteries
“We don’t waste your time on useless theory. We give you just the practical training you will need – in 8 weeks time.”
This full page add appeared at the highly prized place of opposite the table of contents of True Detective from October, 1930. The full-page ad sells readers on starting a career in the fast-growing field of radio and audio electronics. Lifetime career promised!
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