Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Stephens: A Look Back - 1943

It’s 1943, World War II is in full force and Stephens College is seeing the ripple effects of a changing social landscape.

Throughout the 1943 Stephensophia yearbook, it almost seems administrators and faculty don't quite know how to respond. On one hand, they're writing messages directly in the yearbook to students stressing that the ladies are going to want to return to roles as homemakers when the war is over. 

At the same time, Stephens is clearly educating women for new opportunities.

It's almost as though Stephens this year has one foot in the past and the other in the future.

For example, President James Madison Wood’s message. It reads: 

“In the past year women have moved into more responsible positions in the conduct of the nation’s affairs than they have ever before occupied. This situation has been induced in part by the demands of the emergency and in part by the increasing competence of women to share the social and economic responsibilities which have been traditionally allocated to men. This enlarging scope of activity, however, does not mean a lessening of the fundamental responsibility of women for safeguarding the integrity of the home and fostering those ideals of service that are essential in a democratic society. After the war, the majority of young women, as now, will still look forward to assuming the duties and privileges of homemaking and motherhood. Our angle of vision must be broad enough to include education for peace as well as education for the immediate exigencies of war. The long view in education is the best guarantee against confusion of thought and distortion of purpose.”

Dr. Henry Bowman, now head of the new Division of Home and Family Life, has perhaps an even stronger sentiment (he was the creator of the “Marriage for Moderns” series), saying: 

“Most women eventually marry. Most married women are homemakers. Most homemakers also become mothers. Therefore, in spite of changing conditions, the activities involved in marriage, homemaking and parenthood are still basic for the majority of American women. At Stephens, we believe that girls can be trained for these activities and that a college should consider that training as one of the major aspects of its program.”

Dr. W.W. Charters, this year on leave to be an administrator in the Training Division of the War Manpower Commission in Washington D.C., clearly understands that this generation would be changing the rules for women in America. He writes: 

“From the capital of our nation, now resolutely pouring all her resources of manpower and money into a fight to defend our self-determined ways of life, I send a message to my good friends, the girls of Stephens…Today when you pass through the archway as a graduate you face more troubled problems than any of your predecessors have encountered. Upon you will rest the ‘setting of a trend’ that will control the future. Each in her own way will do her bit as a well-informed citizen, an intelligent mother, a dependable worker in the fields of life. Neither in panic nor in fear but in confidence and good will you will meet your destiny.”

But the programming at Stephens this year is clearly helping women pursue careers traditionally filled by men. 

There’s a new communications department that is training “the host of girls interested in fields of aviation.” We’re told many of the 19 post-graduates are working for commercial airlines after completing training to become reservation clerks, aircraft communicators or traffic controllers.

And an Aviation Club is organized with 24 members all taking aviation courses. This isn’t the flight program—that happens next year—but the students are making airplane models. They also attracted as a guest Major Alexander de Seversky, a Russian American aviator now known as an aviation pioneer.

Stephens women are also starting to train to become journalists. Stephens Life this year is partnering with the Columbia Daily Tribune, which is serving as a laboratory for advanced journalism students. We’re told they’re given the same assignments as regular reporters. Betty Weaver, editor of Stephens Life, would actually go on to be a reporter at the Tribune.

We're told a lot of media attention has been on Stephens this year, especially for war-peace activities on campus. This is the year that Vogue featured Stephens, as well.

Clubs and organizations are focused on the “war emergency,” with many dedicating service projects toward the effort. A War-Peace Organization is added to the Civic Association, as well.

Speaking of the Civic Association, Rosemary Wilmeth is president this year. She’s quoted as saying: “There’s something at Stephens you can’t put into words. There’s a certain spirit among the girls that has to be felt before you can understand or know what it is.” 

Wilmeth also represented the Ideal of Forcefulness. She would go on to be Rosemary Reeves, a former Stephens trustee and donor who create an endowed scholarship, still given today in her honor.

We’re told the presence of Navy men and Army air cadets in Columbia is shaking things up on campus. More social activities are being held in the Lela Raney Wood ballroom, including regular Saturday night “date dances.”

Eleanor Roosevelt visited Columbia this year, and Stephens students were among attendees.

Also, we found Lottie May Wing in the pages of the junior class. Wing would go on to be the grandmother of one of our incredibly talented students, Kate Rudder ’15.

The yearbook ends with autograph pages and clever quotes such as: “Your autographs and sketches and messages to me will make this book important in 1963.”

Some other great photos from 1943:

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Stephens: A Look Back - 1942

The 1942 Stephensophia is dedicated to the “good life at Stephens,” and it’s an appropriate week to look back at this particular yearbook, which has a dreamy, star-themed intro.

The book begins by praising President James Madison Wood “whose dream it has been to see each girl build a way of life which expresses the best not only within herself but in our American culture and tradition.”

In other words, President Wood wanted his students to “dream up”—the new tagline unveiled as part of Stephens’ rebranding unveiled last week.

There are a lot of similarities between Stephens circa 1942 and Stephens today. There are even a couple of  references to Stephens students as “stars” in the yearbook this year, although the “star” did not become an official mascot until the early 1990s. The heading above the athletics section says the athletes are “Stars of Sports,” and we’re told in the theatre program that “future stars will never forget” Maude Adams for her “untiring effort.”

And it’s amazing to see just how similar students then and now really are. They recognize a good Stephens president when they see one: Then it was Wood, celebrating his 30th year at the College, and today it’s Dr. Dianne Lynch, celebrating her 5th year at Stephens (and we hope she stays for another 25!). And they also recognize those who work behind-the-scenes. In the Stephensophia, special recognition goes to administrative assistants with a note saying that although students “do not always realize the amount of effort necessary to make the administrative machinery of Stephens run smoothly, they see the results of administrative staff every time they” enjoy the dining hall, enjoy facilities, etc.

We imagine students actually did realize the significance of administrative staff just as they do today—earlier this week, students honored Lita Pistono, administrative assistant, in our Vice President of Academic Affairs office for her tireless commitment to student success.

Dr. W.W. Charters, hired at Stephens in 1920, has returned to Stephens full time this year after splitting his time between Stephens and Ohio State University. Credited with the development of the Stephens’ curriculum and commitment to learning by doing (still practiced today), Charters is Director of Research.

Photos from the academic programs could just as easily have been taken today. A few:


Modern Dance


There’s a new public relations department at Stephens (that’s us!) because of increasing attention to the school. We’re told the staff includes feature writers, photographers and editors, all of whom answer hundreds of inquiries from newspapers concerning students from their local towns. Today, reporters don’t come to us for hometown news; we have a well-run system to let newspapers across the country know when women from their communities have made the Dean’s List, are graduating or have accomplished another type of milestone at Stephens.

A Council of Hall Counselors has been formed this year to offer guidance to students. Counselors help students with “their needs, interests and goals in their general human relations or social adjustment experiences, and therefore gives instruction through out-of-class activities.”

An Apprentice Plan is also new this year for women who want to spend another year at Stephens. These post-graduate students work as assistants to instructors in their fields of interest.

The senior class this year writes that it’s an “exacting task” being a senior, “but any member of the senior class will tell you that the rewards are well worth the effort of heading the various student government divisions, editing the campus publications, sponsoring school improvement and national defense projects and participating in the musical and social service activities of Burrall Class.”

Seniors are also “guardians of well-beloved traditions at Stephens,” which includes sitting in the middle section at events, using right-hand steps and selling green hair ribbons to juniors.

We read about the green hair ribbons in 1941 and get a little more insight into the tradition this year. Apparently, seniors sell green ribbons to juniors in the fall so people can distinguish them. But the juniors tell us that the ribbons should be sold in the spring instead, “when uninformed observers find it impossible to identify who’s who; saddle shoes have given way to conventional dirty gray, sweater sleeves push up above the elbow and slide down again more easily than they did and the feather-edged baby bobs have grown into long-smooth manes. Much more important, however, are changes not so easily visible. New poise and maturity, new spiritual values have become part of the personalities of these Seniors to be.”

Nancy Hertz
A couple of student notes of interest: Joan Smith (who had a twin at Stephens, too) was a correspondent to Mademoiselle magazine for Stephens this year. Janie Eslick is president of the Civic Association this year. And Joanne Sigrist is president of a new Student Congress organized to give a greater number of students a voice.

Nancy Hertz is a senior this year and involved in chorus, leading to a lifelong love of opera, and president of the public speaking club, which began her life of involvement in leadership as a volunteer in the Scarsdale, N.Y. area. Hertz is now Nancy Muskin and wrote us to remind us that a famous bass from the Met, Jerome Hines, performed in the opera Faust.

She also tells us she ended up with the perfect husband and has enjoyed a great life of travel and adventures, children, grandchildren and now great-grandchildren. “But thoughts of Stephens are happy ones,” she tells us.

It was…and still is…a good life at Stephens.

Do you have memories from the 1940s you’d like to share? Let us know in the comment section or email!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Stephens: A Look Back - 1941

County Election by George Caleb Bingham
The 1941 Stephensophia celebrates the College’s and state’s history, with a dedication to “Missouri’s historic beauty.”

The frontier theme includes a photo of “County Election,” one of George Caleb Bingham’s paintings of the region. We’re told the painting is owned by the C.B. Rollins family of Columbia.

“We often think and speak of Stephens as being a thoroughly modern, progressive school, in the sense that its curriculum is designed to include the subjects which are of special importance to women. Those facts and ideas which women will need to use in their own communities after leaving Stephens are the ones stressed in courses,” the yearbook staff writes. “Most of us fail to realize, however, that this tradition of liberalism extends back through the years to the time when Miss Lucy Wales headed the Columbia Female Academy…Today the social problems courses around campus-wide interest in the outstanding speakers on public affairs, but as early as 1841 Lucy Wales took her charges to the Boone County Court House to hear Missouri’s great senator, Thomas Hart Benton, advocate the building of the Pacific Railroad; also, during the presidential campaign of 1840, the girls of the Academy were allowed to attend the speeches for William Henry Harrison.”

It’s true. In his guide to all things Stephens history, “Stephens: A Story of Educational Innovation,” John C. Crighton writes about Wales taking her female students to political rallies and events that young women at that time weren’t encouraged to attend. And, of course, that was decades before women even had the right to vote.

We’re told Wales’ ideas and visions are alive and well in 1941 and, of course, we know Stephens continues to be ahead of her time today.

Here are the class officers of 1941. We’re told the major contribution of seniors this year has been the organization of the Council of Classes to give representatives from each class greater influence. Today, that’s known as Student Government Association.

Joyce Wahl
This is the first time in the Look Back series we’ve noticed mention of green ribbons but the phrasing suggests green ribbons have been a “thing” for quite some time. The yearbook says: “The first question of every reader will be ‘where and when did the wearing of the green ribbons start?’ This is one of the traditions which has always been observed but its beginning seems destined to remain a mystery. In the past, juniors did not always escape with a mere two weeks of ribbon wearing.” The yearbook staff goes on to talk about how modern life is making juniors “soft.” There’s really no other explanation, though. Does anyone remember wearing green ribbons?

A couple of notes from this year’s class of Ten Ideals. Joyce Wahl Treiman went on to become an award-winning painter, printmaker and teacher. The LA Times named her Woman of the Year in Art in 1965. You can read more about her work here. In 1941, she’s Joyce Wahl, recognized for having Appreciation of the Beautiful.

Dorothy Brown
Dorothy Brown, recognized for the Ideal of “Forcefulness” went on to become Dr. Dorothy Brown Walker and enjoyed a successful career in public relations and community service.

Guests on the Stephens campus this year included famous actress and radio commentator Cornelia Otis Skinner; foreign correspondent Leland Stowe; New Yorker writer Lois Long; and world champion billiards player Charles Peterson.

Maude Adams has been on campus for a couple of years now and has already become a “tradition,” known for her gentle and gracious personality and sincere love for theatre.

As in more recent Stephensophias, we’re treated to some wonderful photos of campus and Stephens women.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Stephens: A Look Back - 1940

It’s 1940 in our Look Back series, and the Stephensophia this year celebrates Missouri’s vibrant seasons: Fall, with the leaves turning wonderful colors; Winter, with its Christmas vacation; and Spring, which brings outdoor sports back again. Photos from each season are highlighted throughout the book:

The yearbook this year has “made pencil-chewing addicts of the junior staff, ink-smudged worriers of the senior staff, and gray-haired men of the sponsors.” Why? Because nothing, we’re told, could be quite so perplexing to put into words the spirit of anything, let alone the spirit of Stephens.

“How can we explain to you why the Ten Ideals stand for all this is fine and clean and admirable?” the staff asks.

And we love this warning, of sorts, in the book’s introduction:

“You needn’t hunt for a football section, nor one on Beauty Queens. Nor will you be able to find Grandpa’s picture, Susie, when you are a decrepit but well-groomed Grandmother. We hope, however, that our concern over the angle of every picture and the length of every line of copy in this ‘Sophie has produced for you a poignant memory book which will be the next best thing to reliving two happy invaluable years.”

In his annual yearbook address, President James Madison Wood writes that educating women must rest upon much more fundamental elements in her nature—the emotions of sympathy and service. “The new prominence of women in social, political, economic and religious affairs is the most important fact that confronts the world today,” he wrote, perhaps 70 years ahead of his time. Fast-forward to today and Stephens President Dianne Lynch is among a group of leaders discussing women in service and leadership as part of the international Women in Public Service Project.

The Stephensophia staff praises the faculty this year, which include Dr. Merle Prunty, director of personnel and head of the Extra Curricular Division, Dr. Paul Paustain, who taught for five years in India, and Dr. Roy Ivan Johnson, director of the Division of Skills and Techniques and author of best-selling textbooks on English composition.

“We are proud of their accomplishments,” the yearbook staff writes, “of the explorers, chess players, popular textbook writers, critics, musicians, dramatists and scholars in their midst.”

The Civic Association President this year is Jean Arthur, whom we’re told is “friendly and poised.” Arthur, along with her husband, Jay Hoel, and two friends, started the Park Forest Conservatory in Park Forest, Ill., which at one point had more than 600 music students.
Jean Arthur

The yearbook gives us a peek inside the dorms, including Lela Raney Wood, which now contains the “beautiful new ballroom.” We’re told “life is made soft for the girls by ice-water fountains, candy kitchenettes, coke machines, telephones and elevators.”

The handbook this year is now titled “Within the Ivy,” the name still used today, and acquaints the students with campus life.

The Foreign Relations Club is especially important this year. “Like everyone else interested in international events, Stephens girls have a hard time making head or tail out of the chaos. Foreign Relations Club sponsors eminent speakers who throw a great deal of bright light on the tangled situation.” Guests this year include S. Wilhelm Sollman, who shared his insights on Hitler.

Foreign Relations Club

There’s a great message found in The College Store’s ad written by Juanita Sapp. The ad reads:
What are little girls made of!
Well, we should know! For years we have seen them come and go. Thousands of them—short, lean, fat and tall.
But size and shape have nothing to do with what a girl is made of. What, then! Smiles and kind words, willingness to help others, politeness and love—that’s what little girls are made of. But time will not stand still. Little girls grow into fine ladies and must go upon their separate courses.

We know what YOU are made of—go now into the world and prove that we are right.