Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Stephens: A Look Back - 1957

It’s 1957 and the Stephens Stephensophia is celebrating the opening of the new Chapel on campus. Throughout the yearbook are various religious symbols and quotes.

“The appearance of our chapel has produced a greater awareness in us of the importance of religion in our lives,” the staff writes. “Today, more than ever, mature young women feel the need of a strong faith in order to face the complexities of modern life. Through the symbols of five major religions, the editors of the Stephensophia have tried to picture this awareness of the importance of religion and the need for peoples of many faith to understand one another.”

In his address, President Thomas Spragens writes that the chapel “bespeaks the commitment and belief of its countless alumnae and friends who worked for years toward its building. It has been shaped into its feeling of serene but inspiring warmth by the imagination of President Emeritus Wood and the architectural artistry of Eero Saarinen. It has at once become a symbol for all of us of the ultimate values around which our own lives are shaped.”

Past President James Wood returned to campus to tour the chapel. You might recall, plans and fundraising for the building began in the 1930s but came to a halt when the war began. Just a side note, the City of Columbia recently found the original building plans (and Saarinen’s designs) in their old files and returned them to Stephens.

The chapel remains an important structure on campus today, hosting Vespers during the school year and numerous weddings throughout the year.

Like Stephensophias in recent years, the 1957 book is mostly photos. A few:

TV crews from “Wide Wide World” came to campus in December to document the history of American’s “girls’ schools.” Wide Wide World was a popular 90-minute documentary-style television broadcast.

Stephens also hosted some impressive guests again this year. The Foreign Relations Club brought in British Labour Politician Sir Herbert Morrison, who spoke on “the battle for peace”; Dr. Ralph Lapp, a physicist who participated in the Manhattan Project producing the first atomic bombs; and Dr. Ralph Bunche, a political scientist and the first African American to receive a Nobel Peace Prize in 1950.

And again this week, we were able to track down some info on a few of this year’s campus leaders.

Patricia Craddock, editor of this year’s Stephens Life, went on to be a distinguished professor and chair at the University of Florida, an author and an expert on historic Edward Gibbon. (We took the liberty of visiting her faculty page and enjoyed seeing this photo of her, right, on campus with Jeri Taylor, who went on to be executive producer of two popular Star Trek series and author of numerous scripts. There’s no record of a Jeri Taylor in our files or on the yearbook, unless at that time her first name was Barbara—but we couldn’t find any evidence of that, either.)

Fittingly, Craddock this year also represents the Ideal of Love of Scholarship.


Sidne Koons, this year’s president of the International Club, became Sidne Bergmanis and was a fashion designer whose designs were featured twice on the cover of Seventeen Magazine. She was also a model.


Helen Locke went on to Texas Tech and, as Helen Carter, volunteered with her community’s library board and helped improve adult literacy. This year, she represents Cheerfulness.

This is also Leslie Nassbaum’s year. She went on to be Leslie Rubinstein, music critic and journalist. So it’s no wonder she’s editor-in-chief this year of the Stephensophia.

Then there’s Janet Shaw who, as Janet Fowler has become a published poet and author, including of the Kaya and Kirsten series in the American Girls Collection. This year, she represents Appreciation of the Beautiful.


And it’s also the year of Donna Ensign started her Stephens legacy. We know her as Donna Ensign Marshall, a Stephens trustee, donor and friend. This year, she is editor-and-chief of Within the Ivy, a campus publication for juniors by juniors.


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Stephens: A Look Back - 1956

It’s 1956 and Stephens College this year is graduating some pretty impressive women.

This is the year Jeannene Thompson graduated. Thompson went on to Parsons School of Design in New York City, became Jeannene Booher and worked with some of the best designers in the country. Booher was a partner and designer for Maggy London dress company and created her own line of dresses and two-piece outfits that were sold at Neiman Marcus, Barneys, Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom’s.

Her eye for style also earned her the Appreciation of the Beautiful Ideal at Stephens.

Then there’s Freddie Weber who this year is senior class president and the Ideal of Service. Weber is a performer, singer, songwriter and author.

Paulette Vitrier—this year’s Best Private Citizen—would go on to be Paulette Blair, serving as a Republican committee woman for 10 years. President Richard Nixon appointed her to lead a White House Conference of Children and Youth. She was also a teacher, volunteer, philanthropist and socialite well known in her community.

Edith Royce is now Edith Roycee Schade, publisher of Goodale Hill Press. Also known as “Duffy,” she’s a photographer whose works can be seen at David James Gallery in Connecticut and Works of Hand in Winter Harbor, Maine. She is a member of Connecticut Women Artists, a volunteer and a conservationist. In 1956, she represents Self Discipline.

And, of course, Sara Jane Johnson, a Stephens trustee who has been an active alumna, volunteer, donor and dear friend to Stephens.

The Class of 1956 also started a tradition we continue at Stephens today. The Senior Class Council formed a gift committee and began the tradition of presenting a formal gift to the school on senior day. Today, that gift is presented at May Commencement—this year, the Class of 2014 presented President Dianne Lynch with a beautiful quilt for Dudley Hall with the signatures of every graduate on the back.

The Prince of Wales Club hosts a Christmas party for the horses at the stables—another tradition still recognized at Stephens today. This year, the club also hosts an equestrian-related fashion show, modeling correct and fashionable riding clothes.

And this is the year Firestone Baars Chapel is being built. Stephens women in the late 1930s requested a chapel on campus but the war stalled construction. Today, students still enjoy Vespers in the chapel, which is also a popular wedding venue.

President Thomas Spragens for the first time includes a message in the Stephensophia yearbook. He writes: “Underlying all your heightened awareness is the realization that life for you and around you will be what you make it. I know that each of you will assume with pride your lifetime role as a member of the great Stephens sorority now so numerously and widely spread throughout the country and abroad.”

Stephens women get the chance to study abroad again this year, taking group trips to Mexico, New York and Europe.

Guests to campus this year include French violinist Henri Aubert and singers Hugh Thompson and Marian Anderson—all part of the Burrall Concert Series. The Foreign Relations Club sponsors Gay Humphrey and Ted Curran, American students who gained notoriety when they were granted permission to travel to the Soviet Union; journalist James Reston; Senator William Fulbright and General Carlos Romulo, a Filipino diplomat.

The Playhouse hosts an opera workshop this year, producing, “The Secret,” an original operetta in one act by Val Patacchi of the voice department and William Ashbrook, formerly of the humanities department.  

The Stephensophia concludes with this blurb summarizing Stephens wonderfully: “Stephens is not just an organized body of teaching and serving. Stephens is fun; it’s laughing at parties; the thrill of formal dances; the beauty of white Sunday and the warmth of friendship.”

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Stephens: A Look Back - 1955

The 1955 Stephensophia is dedicated to Dr. Louise Dudley.

The yearbook staff writes: ““A college is more than fine buildings and semester credits, more than budgets and committees, more than books and test tubes. For a college to exist there must be minds proposing problems to the laboratory, minds stabbing the classroom silence with dagger definitions, minds feeding upon the rows of books endlessly asking. More than bricks and glass, a college is a community of thinking minds. To make this definition of a college more than a beguiling phase has been the thirty-five year endeavor of Dr. Louise Dudley. Her name, synonymous with humanities at Stephens, has come to stand for vigor in teaching, for broad scholarship, for patience and humor for intellectual adventure. To watch her work in the classroom is to witness the act of thinking in public. Therefore not for her honors or her years do we dedicate this book to her, not for her kindness, her friendliness. It is rather for her dedication to thought that we in turn dedicate, committing ourselves thereby to the high ideal in education which she leaves us as a legacy and a challenge.”

The yearbook this year, by the way, is all lowercase, perhaps styled after poet e.e. cummings who is at the height of his career.

Like last year, there isn’t much copy describing each department, rather a brief blurb and some photos.

We’re told Dr. Harry Philpott is now leading Burrall Class which continues to make religion an integral part of the life of each student. It is a non-denominational service covering a range of topics related to the problems of everyday life. Other Burrall activities include White Sundays, evening prayer and the 7:22 p.m. discussion group.

At the Playhouse this year, theatre students perform “The Circle,” “The Skin of Our Teeth,” “My Three Angels” and “Angel Street.” (The latter was produced at Okoboji Summer Theatre last year.)

Guests on campus this year include opera singer Heidi Krall, singer Patricia Bybell and classical pianist Leonard Pennario. English tennis star Mary Hardwick also visits. And the Foreign Relations Lecture Series includes John Gunther, author of “Inside Africa,” Sen. Alexander Wiley, a Republican from Wisconsin, and Barbara Ward, the British economist known for talking about the fate of western survival.

Students continue to travel throughout the semester this year visiting New York City, Mexico, Europe and Washington, D.C.

In addition to government and sororities, Prince of Wales Club remains popular, as does the Student Recreation Association and numerous honors societies.

A few notable students include Betty Attwood who is editor of Stephens Life and represents the Ideal of Forcefulness. She went on to work as a reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle before becoming Betty Collins and starting a family. She was also an active volunteer involved in numerous service and community organizations.

Robyn Cotner, who represents the Ideal of Appreciation of the Beautiful, went on to enjoy a successful career as a actor and dancer, at the peak of it dancing in New York alongside Martha Graham. She became Robyn Wright and later in life taught dancing and pursuing writing.

Jeri Emmert went on to become Jeri Stahr, a longtime school teacher-turned-school board member in Indiana. In 1955, she’s president of the senior class and writes: “These two years at Stephens have given us things that we could not have gained elsewhere and that we will never forget…the many friendships we’ve made, the faculty, vespers, the games and parties at M.U., the Bermuda Bounce, the Lounge, the singing, Stop Days and various clubs. These things and the intangible something known as Stephens Spirit cannot be forgotten with graduation.”

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Stephens: A Look Back - 1954

The 1954 Stephensophia has taken on a different format than previous years.

There’s little copy—department and club pages are, instead, full of photos representing the staff, students and respective activities.

The yearbook staff also had a chance to use full color on some pages. The result? These amazing photos:

The yearbook—dedicated to parents—says it’s a pictorial record of the seasons, a “Change in the Year.” Each section is a season represented by a poem written by Lee Saslow '55 and wonderful drawings. A few examples:

“Hi ya there,” is the cry
As the Susies, their roomies spry
Senior beanies all around
Rules and regulations in our heads they pound
Hours spent standing in line
To find out just what course and at what time
Advisers who want to help us decide
How to get our loose ends tied
Senior sisters, hall meetings, too
Learning names like Linda Lou.

And in mid-Fall:

Classes are in fullest swing
Blueroom meetings are the thing
Seniors working hard to show
Timid juniors where to go
And Sophs are learning all the ropes
While Stop Day is a general hope
And in the end
Halloween brings pranks and fun
For Stephens, too, has elves on the run.


Parties and dances fill the days
Clubs are chattering of Means and Ways
Then comes Fantasy and cool Sno-ball
And initiations in every hall
Christmas comes and home we trot
To party…and party…and party a lot.


Brown stubble grass is disappearing
White robins singing do the cheering
Southern nights but windy, too
Give us of spring a sweet preview
And spring’s finest fever consists in being
Borne on wings of beauty we’re singing.

And, finally:

A good sense of humor
And a happy heart
A knowledge of life
And of people our start
A promise of good things
And a feeling we’ll rate
All this we’ll have
When we graduate.

While copy is limited, there is a short tribute to Laura Searcy, who came to Stephens in 1921 as an English instructor. She is director of the Campus Service Board. The yearbook staff writes: “A few words and a photograph are hardly adequate to do honor to Miss Searcy for the devotion she has shown to Stephens and its students. Perhaps the greatest tribute to be paid her is a living one—the minds she has stimulated, the lives she has charged with richer meaning.”

A few 1954 graduates of note:

Norma Haddad this year is the president of the senior class. She went on to become Norma Eagleton, the first woman elected to a voting position on the Tulsa city commission when she was elected finance and revenue commissioner. A lawyer, she was inducted into Oklahoma’s Women’s Hall of Fame in 1997.

Donna Keyse, Civic Association president, is Donna Keyse Rudolph, author of the Historical Dictionary of Venezuela.

Ann Miller went on to become Ann Hargett who sang Broadway numbers and enjoyed leading roles in operas around the country and toured Europe before becoming director of the First United Methodist Church Choir in Texas. This year, she represents Appreciation of the Beautiful, one of the Ten Ideals. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Stephens: A Look Back - 1953

It’s 1953 and Stephens College has a new president.

It’s not clear, however, where President Homer Rainey has gone. His official biography doesn't pick up again until 1956 when he joined the University of Colorado faculty. There is no mention of Rainey in the 1953 Stephensophia. The official Homer P. Rainey Papers indicate there had been some concerns about Rainey’s political affiliations.

His replacement is Thomas Spragens, a Kentucky native who has worked at the U.S. Bureau of the Budget, the Foreign Economic Administration and as an assistant to the president at Stanford University. Compared to his predecessors, he’s a young man, and he and his wife have three small children.

The 1953 Stephensophia is dedicated to Frank W. Dearing, a master builder. We’re told he came to campus in 1922 when Stephens was a single plot of land.

Stephens is as active as ever with a club for most majors and hobbies. The World Citizenship Organization this year held a mock presidential election, and a campus-wide carnival included “barkers,” sideshows, guessing games, fortune tellers and dart-throwing.

The Division of Occupations, which oversees the aviation, business and fashion programs, is growing in popularity. We’re told since the “outbreak of World War II, a greater number of women have been working than ever before. With the accelerated need for women, Stephens has adjusted its programing to these changing needs of society.” Today, we call that the Stephens method—we continue to add and adjust programming around actual industry needs.

There’s also a new course called Women in Community Leadership that brings in guest instructors—women who have made outstanding contributions in public affairs.

Another campus guest this year is Margaret Bourke-White, the famous Life reporter who is just back from Korea this year. Bourke-White was the first female war correspondent and the first foreign photographer allowed to take photographs of Soviet industry.

Students also had a chance to travel the world again this year, taking Stephens-sponsored trips to Mexico, Jamaica and throughout the U.S. The Concert Chorus also toured Indiana and Kentucky as well as visiting the Rolla School of Mines—now the Missouri University of Science & Technology.

This year, the Standing Ideals Committee is charged with promoting Stephens’ Ten Ideals, including creating and hanging posters around campus—a practice still observed by our graphic design students today. 

This year, however, a single student is not assigned to represent each Ideal—or if they were, they’re not photographed in the yearbook as in past years. This year, the 

Stephensophia uses images from campus to represent the Ideals. Here are a few:

 Among this year’s class is Joan Mell, Civic Association president. Mell would go on to the Joan Mell Lansche, a founding member of a foundation dedicated to protecting the watershed of the Henry’s Fork on Snake River. She also was known for assisting breast cancer survivors.

Burrall Cabinet is headed by Dorothy Figel, now Dr. Dorothy Figel Buckner, a psychiatrist in Georgia.

And Gretel Sternberg, a member of the Aviation Club and the Council of Hall Managers, went on to be a special representative to the president of National Airlines. Gretel Coursol, as she’s known today, has worked in a number or other roles, as well. We found her on YouTube, where she posted this wonderful footage of the 1953 Stephens Commencement. Enjoy.