Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Stephens: A Look Back - 1929

Before we move on to the 1929 Stephensophia, a pause to send a very belated congratulations to the 1928 Stephensophia staff. We learn this week that last year’s yearbook (featured on this blog last week) won first place in a national contest and was awarded the place of “Pacemaker.”

On to 1929. This year, the women of Stephens College dedicated their yearbook not to an influential administrator or peer, but rather to the concept of femininity.

It reads: “To that touch of something soft and sheer that makes a girl a girl; to that love of something dainty, sweet alluring that lies deep within her heart; to that grace and ease, and charm; to that strange, elusive thing we cannot touch—but feel and wonder at and prize—to femininity we dedicate this book.”

And the drawings that grace the first few pages of the 1929 Stephensophia portray just that.

Louise Drake
But don’t let the daintiness fool you, these ladies were serious about education and politics and democracy, too. In fact, this year, with the junior class leading the way, Stephens Life was born. Students, “feeling the need for a school newspaper,” worked with faculty the year prior and launched the publication this year. The purpose? To “help in all campus problems and projects,” and to promote active interest in government and a democratic spirit, and to uphold the Ten Ideals.

Louise Drake is credited in the book for founding Stephens Life.

This is the first year since she arrived that Jessie Burrall is no longer on faculty. Her popular Bible Classes—which will go on for many more years—still bear her name but have been taken over by a Marion Applegate, a student, whom were told is doing a fine job. Burrall does come back for a visit in November, though.

Marion Applegate
According to a calendar of events, the campus in November also hosted another popular visitor. Tom Skeyhill lectured on campus, the Stephensophia says. Skeyhill was a World War I veteran who had been blinded by an exploding Turkish shell yet became a published poet and a speaking sensation. On Veteran’s Day of 1928, he lectured to a “worshipful audience” at Stephens. Skeyhill would be killed in an airplane crash three years later.

There’s also a vague mention of Richard Halliburton—the famed traveler of the day—on Feb. 22, but it’s unclear whether he was on campus or was spotted in a newsreel or throughout another media. The campus calendar tells us only that he “talks to those who have money.”

Although we know the Prince of Wales Club was chartered in 1926 and a student last year was the first to list it on her bio, this is the first year it’s acknowledged as a club in the official club section of the yearbook. It’s described as “one of the most unique organizations on campus,” as only those who have fallen from a horse are eligible for membership. You’ll recall, the club came about after a student fell off her horse and administrators teased her that she pulled a Prince of Wales move. (The poor prince was well known for taking a tumble.)

The Book Club, formed a few years ago, is also growing and the club’s library this year is deemed one of the most popular institutions on campus.

Although a much older club, Curtain Raisers is still going strong, teaching girls not only acting but also costume design, lighting effects, make-up and the collection of “props.” Of course, today, Stephens is known for its theatre, theatre tech and costume design programs.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Stephens: A Look Back - 1928

There are a couple of notable students in the 1927-28 Stephensophia. 

Among the students embodying the Ten Ideals  this year is Jasamyn Sanders, who would go on to become Jasamyn Garrett, author of Bountiful Bootheel Borning,” a 1961 book telling in narrative verse the history of the Missouri Bootheel.
Another Stephens student of interest is Marion Grey Franklin, editor of this year’s Stephensophia. She would go on to the MU School of Journalism and marry Alvin Scott McCoy, who ultimately won a Pulitzer Prize for coverage that led to the resignation of a Republican National Committee chairman.

Although it’s still not listed in the official club pages, Dorothy Graves, a junior, is the first to ever list on the bio next to her photo that she’s in the “Prince of Wales Club.”

 There are two new clubs on campus in 1928, the Stephensophia tells us. Bizochem is organized to “further the interest of science on campus.” There’s also a new secretarial club for those interested in secretarial work.
Archery is the newest sport on campus and is quickly becoming a favorite. The Stephensophia staff predicts that it will someday be as popular as baseball and basketball. 

The senior class this year apparently made a trip east, visiting  the then relatively new Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington and staying at the Penn Hotel in New York. 

Around this time of the year some 86 years ago, Stephens students offered up a human Christmas tree.

And in February, a fashion show is held again. We're not sure what types of designs were included, but we do know fur was popular this year.

There’s a class prophesy set in the living room of President James Madison Wood in 1940, more than a decade from now. The Stephensophia staff predicts Mrs. Wood will read an announcement in the Columbia Missourian, prompting Mr. Wood to turn on the radio, which is broadcasting the first convention of the founders of the American School of Wisdom. Who’s behind this school? The Stephens College Class of 1928 graduates, of course.

Unfortunately, Mrs. Wood would not live to see 1940.

But Wood would, indeed, still be president that year. And he used the 1928 Stephensophia to outline his vision for Stephens College—a vision that would be realized during his lengthy career at the college.

He wanted enrollment to grow, he wanted students to ultimately earn bachelor’s degrees and he wanted courses to meet the physical, intellectual, practical and spiritual needs of women.

“In other words, it should be a College for Women.”

Wood, as usual, was ahead of his time, although he probably didn’t imagine that some 30 women’s colleges would go co-ed between the late 1960s and today.

He wrote that graduates should possess the broad cultural background needed in rearing children and directing the home. But, he said, they should also have the training needed for the successful pursuit of work and for some “specific form of economic production.”

Wood envisioned a little theatre for dramatic arts, a chapel and ample provision for art and exhibits. (Check. Check. Check.)

His vision for the future is at the beginning of the 1928 Stephensophia and is followed by several pages of letters from university administrators around the country praising junior colleges and Stephens specifically. There are letters from the presidents of the University of Akron and the University of Minnesota, the dean of the College of Liberal Arts at Northwestern University and the then-president of the University of Missouri. MU President Stratton Brooks wrote: “I feel confident that Stephens College, during the next five years will be able to contribute much of value to educational progress.”

He also talked about the strength of the curricula, which can be credited in large part to Werrett Wallace Charters, whom Wood hired in 1920 to be director of research. Charters was charged with building “the strongest curriculum found in any women’s college in the world.” Charters’ findings resulted in the development of study in social problems, philosophy of living, communications, physical health, mental health and humanities.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Stephens: A Look Back - 1927

Perhaps one of the more interesting tidbits from the 1927 Stephensophia is a brief mention of Miss Nellie Lee Holt’s return in April from her trip around the world. In a student’s diary account of the school year, we’re told Holt addressed the students on the “emancipation of the America woman” and shared other tales from that trip.

A little extra research reveals that Holt, at President James Woods’ behest, went on a tour of Europe, Russia, the Middle East, India and Southeast Asia to meet with various leaders about education and religion. She studied with Mahatma Gandhi and other leading thinkers of the day.

In an article for McCalls Magazine in November 1928, Holt proclaims that everyone wants the same thing—“to live peacefully together. Everywhere, youth has in its heart a longing to do justice to its neighbor’s strength.”

Holt is listed in the book as an English instructor but will later become professor of religious education. Just a side note, in 1934, she married Curtis Bok, a writer and publisher who served as a Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice.

But that’s four years from now. It’s 1927 and the College this year has established a riding academy. Horseback riding has become an intrinsic part of Stephens, and we’re told the College has nine “ladies’ horses” equipped with English or cowboy saddles. Some 200 girls have “developed into admirable horsewomen.”

The College also added a country club to campus “to furnish a setting in which the students may entertain friends as they will, later, in their own homes.”

And even though The Collections, our student designer fashion show, turns 70 next year, its roots date back further than 1944. We learned in previous editions of the yearbook that students put on dress parades, and this year, the clothing department put on a fashion show. “Betsy Ross had nothing on us,” the yearbook says.

Overall, we’re told: “Development of womanhood is the basis program at Stephens Junior College. The curriculum includes subject matter which not only develops ideals but which also aids the modern young woman to meet her problems in the home, in the community and in business.”

Mary Stuart is Civic Association president this year and is predicted to go on to become the first woman to serve as U.S. president.

In addition to the Ten Ideals, represented for the second year by 10 students, a Four-Fold Girl is selected as an individual who best represents good citizenship, high scholarship, worthy activities and true service. Edith Mullholland earned this honor. She was predicted to have a career in bookbinding, creating the “most intricate, involved complicated and ornate card index system in the world.” In reality, she went on to become a teacher.

Margaret McCarthy is named Best Private Citizen for taking a strong stand for right and having the best interest of Stephens at heart.

This is the first year we see reference to “stars” in our athletics program. We’re told that activities are “planned to benefit the mass, instead of the individual ‘stars.’” Stars became the official athletic mascot in the early 1990s when sports was brought back to campus, but prior to that, Stars had been a nickname.

The College has a new Spanish club, Carmencita, this year, as well as a New Voters Section of the League of Women Voters organized to prepare women to become interested in politics and active members of Leagues after graduation. And The Standard is recognized as the official student magazine.

The 1927 Stephensophia is dedicated to alumnae who are true Stephens because “where a Stephens girl is, there is Stephens.” We’re told there are active alumnae clubs in Kansas City and surrounding towns, St. Louis, Moberly and King City.

And we finally learn—if it was in previous issues, I missed it—why the yearbook is named Stephensophia. Sophia is Greek for “wisdom.”

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Stephens: A Look Back - 1926

It’s 1926 and Stephens College has a new radio station, KFRU.

We’re not told much about it, other than it’s “Where Friendliness is broadcasted daily!” Student musicians apparently can play over the airwaves, including the Glee Club, which we’re told is the first to enter into the new Stephens addition.

Today, of course, KFRU is a local news station. Stephens still has a radio station, Sweet 90.5 FM, and has expanded to Internet radio. (Listen here!)

This is also the year the Prince of Wales riding club is founded, although we find only vague reference to it in the yearbook. 

We know from other sources that the club was chartered that fall and is named after Prince Edward VIII, who had a reputation for falling off of his horse. The only reference to it in the Stephensophia, however, is in a fictional account of “Miss Pemberton’s diary” when she returns to Columbia for the 1936 World’s Fair (10 years in the future). She’s reflecting on the impact the Class of 1926 had on Stephens.

During the fair, we’re told Miss Pemberton has dinner with the Prince of Wales at the College. “They say he spends most of his time here now. He’s taken over Harris’s orchestra and practically runs Stephens athletics. Miss Haynes and two of the class of ’26 have just come back from Switzerland where they gave tourists lessons in riding goats up the hills. They put on a pageant to-night with the aid of some other talented classmates…but then they are a new kind invited by a ‘26er’ and in the spring they won’t fall, and vice-versa. They work on the power of suggestion.”

"Fall" in this case also refers to the club's requirement - to be a member, one must have fallen off her horse at least once. 

 Also during this world’s fair/reunion of sorts, Miss Pemberton ponders: ‘The only trouble is that there’s not much more progress to make—we have such wonders. But time will tell whether or not the brilliant winds of the class of ’26 shall ever be exhausted.”

The Prince of Wales Club, by the way, not only still exists, it’s the oldest continuously operated riding club in the country.

The president of the Civic Association this year is Lewine Hoefer. A little extra research shows she would go on to earn a Bachelor of Philosophy from the University of Chicago and became quite a philanthropist.

Students apparently didn’t get a week off for Thanksgiving like they’re enjoying this week. We’re told the junior class fixed breakfast for seniors Thanksgiving of 1925 after which the classes competed in a Thanksgiving Day hockey game. They tied.

There’s a new book club sponsored by Louise Dudley. Members have to have taken English literature and make a formal application for membership. They’re also required to give a book approved by a club committee for the club’s library, and the book is then reviewed by the club. 
Alumnae who give a book annually for 10 years become life members.

A new feature of the Stephensophia this year is selecting one girl to represent each of the Ten Ideals. Here they are:

Lewine Hoefer, Forcefulness in accomplishing what one sets out to do

Mildred Meuser, Courtesy in speech and action

Dolores Guyman, Health in body

Nell Etue, Honesty in word and deed

Louise Hiett, Willingness to discipline oneself

Sumire Okazaki, Love of scholarship

Clara Beardslee, appreciation of the beautiful

Lucy Mercer, Reverence toward the spirital

Virginia Voorheis, Dedication to service

Kathryn Lain, Maintenance of a cheerful manner

Today, we still have students representing each ideal who anonymously reward fellow students, along with faculty and staff, for good deeds.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Stephens: A Look Back - 1925

If we can say anything about Stephens College circa 1925 it’s that it was the year of the bob.

Yes, the bob as in the hairstyle. Not since the early 1900s when every student pulled masses of hair into giant buns have we seen so many similar hairstyles. 

Some are wavy, others pin straight, but every student this year is sporting some version of this:

Although there’s no section dedicated to academics in the 1924-25 Stephensophia, we are told that the first instruction of horseback riding was given this year with a few horses available on campus. Next year, we’re told, Miss Wilma Haynes, a physical education instructor, plans to make horseback riding a regular part of the P.E. curricula.

Here’s the Horseback Riders’ Club

Athletics is as important as ever, and we’re told the concept has evolved over the years. “A few years after the Civil War, conditions were much worse, and girls instead of playing tennis, hiking and living in the out-of-doors as much as possible as they do now, sat in the parlors with a milder equivalent of 'flaming youth' and ate chocolates,” the Stephensophia reports.

The Athletic Association continues to promote physical activity by offering “S” sweaters to girls who complete a certain number of activities and keep track of their diet, only this year they must rack up 150 points instead of last year’s 100.

Speaking of diet and exercise, the Home Economics Club this year sponsored a “scientific eating competition” to “regulate the eating habits of the girls and to show them how they can increase or decrease their weight.” Until said girls reach their supposed ideal weights, the club also hosts a style show, “an attempt to aid the girls in their selection of clothing which would be becoming to their type.”

Governance remains important with the Civic Association serving as a “government in miniature” on campus. A Legislature exists under the umbrella of the association to make sure every girl has a representative, and a student government division doubles as a court system and a training school for citizenship so students know what’s expected of them, reducing the need for penalties.

Here is Laura Barrett, president of the Civic Association:

The Burrall Bible Class is still going strong but the emphasis on turning everyone into a proper Christian seems to have dwindled some from the past few years. Students—at least Stephensophia staff members—seem to have some of their humor back (for a few years the book seemed more on the serious side).

This year’s Stephensophia includes a fake advice column, “Dear Patience Wornout.”

In one letter, a student complains to Patience that Ted has asked her to marry him for the 40th time but she really loves Bill—but he wears suspenders to Vespers and “of course, no girl can endure a suspendered husband.” Patience advises her to “leap before you look or you’ll never leap.”

In another, a letter writer is concerned that Junior hasn’t called since a date last weekend. Patience replies: “There is only one thing to do. Call Junior and ask him if he is going to call.”

The diary of a typical Stephens girl—the annual calendar showing what happened on campus during the school year—provides glimpses into the mundane and the historic. On Oct. 11, our typical Stephens girl “saw a grand picture show.” On March 4, 1925, she “missed dinner to hear the inauguration speech of President Coolidge over the radio.”

While many things have changed at Stephens since 1925, the foreward could easily apply today. It says: “For we realize that the years just passed are the happiest we have ever experienced and, with the exception of a few, they are the happiest we shall ever spend.”

For the first year since 1909, the Stephensophia includes no indication that the state clubs still exist. The Oklahoma Club was the only state to consistently have a club until now. We won't see mention of the Oklahoma Club again until 1951 when a handful of students list it in their yearbook photo bios. 

But sororities remain popular in 1925, hence this lovely photo:

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Stephens: A Look Back - 1924

Perhaps the best glimpse into life in Columbia circa 1924 is found on page 204 of the 1923-24 Stephensophia. 

The scene is Broadway and the “dramatic personae” comes from a “leisurely Stephenite in a contemplative mood."

It’s 5:45, we’re told, and “the Stephens College Parade is headed eastward. Pretty girls—some of them. They believe in keeping that school-girl complexion—the most usual method being to protect it carefully—from sun and wind and public gaze. 

"Everyone wears a scarf—the brighter the better. Skirts are getting shorter. Popcorn seems to be in favor. It doesn’t strain one’s allowance. There’s a girl with her date. Hurrying. They must be late.”

The writer goes on to describe “rather inane looking” men in striped bow ties and yellow shoes. Deep in her thoughts, she almost gets hit by a truck and questions where the traffic cop is. 

She then passes a bakery and wonders: “If Eve yielded to an apple, how can her daughter pass by that bakery window? Calories and a short allowance aren’t sufficient arguments against such tempting cream puffs.”

Later, she passes some university girls. “Strange how they can be distinguished from college girls so easily. They say it’s in the quantity of rouge and the kind of clothes. But I believe it’s a difference in attitude—if you understand.”

I’m not sure whether the MU or Stephens girls would have been the ones with the most rouge and distinctive clothing, but these photos might give us a hint. Here are some Winter and May Queens and attendants dressed to the nines.

But Stephens women, as you know, are more than clothes and make-up, and the ladies of 1924 are no exception. 

They’re serious about politics, and the Junior League of Women Voters on campus strives to promote “cleaner politics” and better citizenship. An International Relations Club is hosting lectures by prominent professors, many of which come from MU. 

And campaign week is fierce as you can tell by this photo of posters around campus.

Elizabeth Palmer Baker of Kansas City is President of the Civic Association this year.

We’re told the senior class of 1924 has adopted two of the Ten Ideals: Honesty and the Willingness to Discipline Oneself. 

We learned last week about the “health cards” that outline daily exercises and meal requirements. This year, the Art Club creates a booklet of “Dos and Don’ts,” providing fashion rules for different types of girls. “Illustrating the booklet were clever sketches showing such things as the absurdity of a fat girl in ruffles and the pathos of a slender girl in vertical stripes.”

Snow is mentioned several times in the calendar of events, which is written as a student’s journal. Although she doesn’t call it “thundersnow,” she notes that thunder accompanied snow on Feb. 2 and by Feb. 8, students were “up to our necks in polar weather.”

On Feb. 14, she muses “I wish I were a florist, I do, I do. Or that Mr. Whitman Sampler were in love with me.”

The 1924 Stephensophia is dedicated to Jessie Logan Burrall who continues to spread Christianity on campus. Her Burrall Bible Classes are still attracting 1,000 some students from Stephens and MU and is said to be the largest Sunday School class of its kind in the world.

Burrall, we’re told, is “our sincere and beloved friend whose personal inspiration and lessons in practical Christianity have given us new ideals of service and Christian living.”

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Stephens: A Look Back - 1923

It’s 1923, and Stephens College has opened a new Science Hall—a building still used today. It’s now Hickman Hall and houses a number of programs and offices, including newly renovated dance studios. Here it is when it opened in 1923:

We're told new labs will open there in the coming year to provide space for a growing science department.

This year marks James Madison Wood’s 10th anniversary as Stephens president, and he’s as beloved as he was when he first arrived.

“Behind any rapid growth or unusual progress, there must be a momentum either from circumstances or from personality,” yearbook authors write. “In the case of Stephens College, the vital force has been from one man, President James Madison Wood.”

Students go on to praise him for being an original thinker, for his ability to read and understand human nature and for his kindness, saying he is “first and always a true friend.”

More specifically, his accomplishments include the opening of the science building, the construction of Columbia and Wood halls, increasing the faculty “10 times in number," and, of course increasing enrollment. 

“President Wood has made Stephens College what it is today, almost as literally as though he had taken a handful of dust and fashioned from it a type of education and the school wherein to develop it.”

Enrollment growth this year is no exception. The 1923 Stephensophia is dedicated to the “the gym girls and those who lived three in a room; unselfish girls who so bravely and willingly sacrificed their personal comfort that Stephens College might go forward.” There’s no other mention of overcrowding, but this photo does show us the “gym in its barrack's days," indicating some girls had to room there at one point.

Wood also established the department of research and brought in Jessie Burrall, who this year continues to expand religious studies. This year, we’re told that Stephens purchased the First Baptist Church on Broadway across from what was then the main campus to be used as a chapel. (It will be another decade or so before Firestone Baars chapel is constructed). This year, vespers services continue to be four nights a week, all juniors are required to take a religious fundamentals course and the college hosts religious speakers from churches across the country.

In addition to religion, physical education is becoming a big deal at Stephens. Last week, we saw the first mention of “health cards.” The 1923 Stephensophia tells us that they card “is simply a guide for sane living. It forbids the eating of candy and sweets between meals, requires the student to eat three meals a day and advocates regular sleeping hours and plenty of outdoor exercise.”

And the exercise part isn’t a suggestion—it’s a requirement. The physical education department is requiring each student to do eight exercises every day. And if you have poor posture you have four more. The first four exercises are “not violent, but corrective and strengthening.” Basically, the list shows exercises involving deep breathing, arm motions, trunk twists and shoulder blade movements.

By adopting these healthy habits, the yearbook authors write, a student will become a healthier, happier and “more efficient” woman.

Not every student embraced the new diet and exercise fad, at least that’s what we learn from a poem dedicated to “V.G.” and others who have “caloric excess” and enjoy it. The poem is about eating, gaining weight and needed “extra sizes.” It’s pretty obvious who V.G. is, but don’t feel too badly for her. She was president of the senior class, in numerous organizations and president of the dance club.

Art is a growing department this year. We’re told every Stephens woman should have a knowledge and appreciation of the arts if for no other reason than to support the Ten Ideals, which were adopted the previous school year.

The number of clubs is growing—and a lot of state clubs have returned. Clubs for students from certain states were popular at Stephens in the early 1900s but seemed to drop off over the years. Oklahoma was the only state that had a consistent club. This year, Iowa, Louisiana and Kansas have clubs—the latter, we’re later told, yells “Rawk-chalk-jay-hawk” at MU vs. Kansas games.

Tulsa has its own club this year and touts that it has the distinction of being the first city club ever established at Stephens. Alas, we know this is not true. In 1913, Kansas City had its own club. Sorry, Tulsa.

Stephens also has a Junior League of Women Voters this year, a Glee Club and a Curtain Raisers Club for those involved in dramatics.

This is the first Stephensophia since the Look Back series began that includes photos of the Board of Curators (today, they’re trustees). The board includes President E.W. Stephens and has a total of 14 members, including two women.

Like previous yearbooks, the 1923 Stephensophia concludes with an intricate drawing of a Stephens woman and a Mizzou man.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Stephens: A Look Back - 1922

The 1921-22 school year brought about a new tradition that’s still recognized on campus today.

The Ten Ideals are born.

The 1922 Stephensophia tells us the Civic Association “decided that there were ten ideals which the all-around Stephens girl should possess.” The yearbook does not list them other than to say the senior class decided to stress “courtesy” as the main ideal that year, and seniors organized a campaign—posters, lectures and sketches—to emphasize the importance of that ideal.

The junior class also got in on the action that year, listing the promotion of the Stephens ideals as the chief aim of the class—in addition to helping establish a “bigger, better Stephens.”

We know from other sources that the original ideals also included: Forcefulness, health, self-discipline, reverence toward the spiritual, honesty, love of scholarship, service, cheerfulness and appreciation of the beautiful. Those ideal characteristics were updated in 1983 and now include: Respect, courage, independence, support, sensitivity, responsibility, belief, creativity, intelligence and leadership.

Lela Raney Wood & Jimmy Jr.
The ideals weren’t the only bundle of joy to arrive that school year. This year also marks the arrival of James Madison Wood Jr.—or as one page of photos lovingly describes him “Jimmie Junior.” This is indeed a happy event—the Woods had lost an infant child in 1919.

Jessie Burrall, who arrived the year prior, continues to promote religion…or perhaps that’s putting it mildly. The yearbook tells us the goal of the religious education department is to make religion a normal part of each girl’s life, “to make Christ so real to her that she will open her heart to Him and ask Him to be her friend, and her Lord and Master.”

Vespers is now held four nights a week and focuses on prayer and praise.

Burrall’s Sunday School program is attracting University of Missouri men and women, and we’re told attendance has grown into the thousands. A calendar/diary later in the book gives one student’s perspective: “I didn’t know I could enjoy a Sunday School class as much as I enjoyed the Burrall Class. Miss Burrall certainly is a live wire.” We’re told the campus hosted a Baptist convention this year, as well.

The Young Women’s Christian Association is also supporting this movement, organizing a “Big Sister” program to help “bring young women to Christ.” But not just any woman. YWCA girls, we’re told, are recognizable by following these standards:

They play fair with the rules of the school
They stand for clean speech and purification of campus speech
They have a high sense of honor
They stand for modest dress
They stand against familiarity in relations with boys. They put their relations on a basis of comradeship
They do not engage in questionable social conduct

Even the annual jokes section, this year called “Timely Tidbits,” seems to adhere to these rules—the language and jokes seem less edgy or cynical than they had in previous years.

Religion isn’t the only academic program growing. Science also expanded this year to include zoology. We’re told students this year are anticipating the opening of a new science hall the following year.

Theatre and music are also swelling with some 300 students taking private lessons in music, and the conservatory is now one of the largest departments. And art is also popular. Check out this great photo of a painting class:

The Pan Hellenic Council has been formed this year to oversee seven sororities, and athletics is also being promoted, not just through organized teams but also daily life.

Points are given to those who participate in athletics or do physical activities such as hiking. Students can also get points for keeping “health cards” (the 1923 Stephensophia explains what those health cards are – so we’ll get into that next week.) Any student who reaches 100 points gets an “S” sweater, and an “S” blanket is given to the best all-round girl athlete each year.

Roy T. Davis
A couple of other highlights from the year: We’re told students were invited to the home of Mr. and Mrs. Stephens that fall to honor their golden anniversary. “All the girls who had not met Mr. and Mrs. Stephens before immediately fell in love with them,” the yearbook says. “Each girl carried away a piece of the wedding cake.”

The Oklahoma Club had a float in MU’s Homecoming Day Parade this year before the Tigers took on Oklahoma University.

We’re also told that Stephens students wrote a water play the week of commencement, which was performed by some of the school’s best swimmers.

This year’s Stephensophia was dedicated to Roy T. Davis, United States Minister to Costa Rica and formerly Secretary of Stephens College. We’re told he’s “a real friend whose big visions and small kindnesses have given him a place of high esteem and great respect in the heart of every Stephens Girl.”

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Stephens: A Look Back - 1921

It’s 1921 and Miss Jessie Burrall--and religion--have arrived on the Stephens College campus.

Burrall came in February of that year to head the newly reorganized religious education department. The Stephensophia tells us the department is now one of the most vital departments on campus.

“Founded primarily for a religious purpose, Stephens College has never emphasized the importance of the religious phase of cultural education, with its appeal to all that is finest and noblest in the girl-nature.”

We’re told she holds Sunday School in the auditorium and attracts hundreds of students with special themes such as “Blonde Sunday” and “Date Sunday.” A special feature of the class is Glee Club, which promotes pep songs and special music. 

Burrall is pictured left. Here's a photo of her popular Bible Class:

Students seem very receptive of her. “Brimful of the joy of the task, and radiating the happiness that comes when a soul is in accord with its Maker, she has brought to Stephens the inspiration of a life of service for others and the vision of that ideal, best of all womanly virtues, a Christian personality.”

The 1921 Stephensophia’s dedication reflects that mission, as well.

‘To that ideal of superior womanhood for which Stephens stands – a life four-square, harmonious and true in all its proportions, mental, moral, spiritual, physical – we dedicate the Stephensophia for 1921.”

Later, we read on the Young Women’s Christian Association’s page: “ever before our eyes, we see uplifted the ideal of a ‘four-square’ life.”

The use of the phrase “four-square” twice in the yearbook suggests some influence of Aimee Semple McPherson, a wildly popular evangelist during that era. McPherson—who isn’t mentioned in the Stephensophia—was holding tent revivals around the country in the early 1920s preaching four principals of the gospels that she dubbed “foursquare.” She was also the first woman to preach over the radio, so students might have been listening to her even if they weren't attending her revivals.

A new Eastern Star Club has also been organized this year, as well as a new “mystic order of the Sisters and Daughters of Shriners” club.

Other than the 1918 Stephensophia, when the war was raging, the 1921 yearbook has a more serious tone than previous annuals. There aren’t as many jokes or short stories, perhaps because more pages are being dedicated to a growing number of clubs and organizations. 

This year, there are eight sororities at Stephens, a new Hypatia Club focused on math, Le Circle Francais, or French, club and a new Social Democracy Club “to aid wide-awake girls in becoming women informed in international and national issues.” The club is affiliated with the International Relations Club, a division of the Institute of International Education, and fosters discussions of “important social and political problems.”

This is also the year in which the Stephens Standard debuts. The Standard is a literary publication and the precursor to today’s Harbinger. 

There’s also a “dress parade” under the home-ec department—a precursor to today’s student designer runway show, perhaps?

Here’s a view of Stephens circa 1921:

 and some of the lovely ladies of 1921:

The Stephens: Look Back series is made possible by the Missouri Digital Heritage project. You can view the entire 1900-1965 Stephensophia digital collection here.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Stephens: A Look Back - 1920

It’s 1920 and Louise Dudley is back.

Dudley, now the name of one of Stephens’ primary academic buildings, taught at Stephens in 1913-14 but had left after that year. Dudley is basically the mother of humanities, having co-authored “The Humanities” which is designed to develop literacy in the arts. I know there are some Dr. Dudley fans out there, so expect to hear more about her in future editions of this “Look Back” series. (In the meantime, her 1910 dissertation at Bryn Mawr College, “The Egyptian Elements in the Legend of the Body and Soul” is available for free through Google books.)

During the 1919-1920 school year, Stephens appears to be developing its education degree. The Stephensophia tells us girls were divided into groups that year, and each day, a group would go to Robert E. Lee Grade School—Lee Elementary today—to practice teaching for a half hour. Stephens women would supervise play, and the story telling hour in the primary and third grade was also “handed over to college girls.”

The Stephensophia reports: “This new subject in our curriculum is entirely a success.” How right they were! Spoiler: The Stephens College Children’s School would open five years later, and students today still reap the benefits of working directly with children in our education program.

A new violin club has been added to the activity roster, which still includes a duck club for swimmers, a fire department, an orchestra and four sororities. The Oklahoma Club is still around, and this year, Kansas students have their own club, as well. There are also new clubs for students coming from Northeast, Northwest, Central, Southwest and Southeast Missouri.

A popularity contest in 1920 crowned Miss Dorothy Means and twins Floy and Flora Rhoades among the most beloved students. Here's Means and a portrait of the twins.
Means was also Student Council president, and we find out later that the twins liked to attend class for one another.

Girls were also named for being most studious and most loyal and for being the “biggest man hater” and the “fattest.”

In a student Q&A section, Stephensophia asked women why they came to Stephens. 

“To get away from my suitors,” a Miss Alice Peck replied. 

“Ask Dad,” Ruth Ohmer quipped. 

And Marjorie Stewart joked: “Because the penitentiaries in Kansas were full.”

Asked what had been her most thrilling experience at Stephens, Marjorie Uhley replied: “The time I almost went to a frat house.”

The Stephensophia again includes a joke section. My favorite:

Lillian (studying the Constitution): “When a man marries, does he lose any of his rights under the Constitution?”

Vera; Yes, indeed, the pursuit of happiness.”

The yearbook this year includes an sketch of the Stephens College campus of the day. Let me know if you recognize any of the buildings.