Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Stephens: A Look Back - 1908

Last week, I began a weekly series taking a look at Stephens’ past based on the online Stephensophia yearbooks. I left by telling you I’d be back this week with 1901 but I didn’t look carefully enough.

Years 1901 through 1907 are missing in the online collection. It doesn’t appear as though we have hard copies, either, so I’m under the assumption that the books weren’t produced those years.

That said, the years leading up to 1908 were years of growth for the College. The 1908 yearbook staff tells us the student body increased three fold, from 50 residential students to 150, that the College’s endowment grew and the number of courses being offered increased. From the yearbook: “The progress of the college in the last few years has surprised even those who have been most closely allied to its interests and who most devoutly hoped for its welfare; but as rapid as has been the growth in these recent years, this growth is but the beginning of its prosperity.”

In addition to the psychology, history, science and math offered previously, the college by 1908 had expanded to include voice and music, with the School of Music having the largest faculty in the state at the time. Drama was also offered, and the Dramatic Club that year put on a production of “No Men Wanted,” illustrated with this lovely braided lady shooing away a poor young man:

The number of clubs also expanded. There were a dozen “state clubs,” for students specifically from those states—including clubs for students from California, New Jersey and Montana. Here’s the Colorado Club:

Stephens began its athletic program with basketball and tennis, the latter of which had previously been a club.
The yearbook also lists on its school year calendar an opening convocation, a tradition that continues today.
And, like the 1900 yearbook, the 1908 Stephensophia doubles as a collection of plays, poems, college jokes (most of which I didn’t get) and sheet music.
My favorite from the collection is a poem called Susie-Suzanne. Is it the root of Stephens women being referred to as Susies?
(The author is not listed, although she does warn “With apologies for the meter.”)

Susie lived with “Ma” and “Pa,”
On a farm in Arkansas.
She had graduated high,
From the village school nearby.

One day came a man to see
Susie’s Pa; he said that she
Would acquire still greater knowledge
If she’d come to Stephens College.

So one day in late September,
Sue will ever well remember,
She took a train at the little station,
And traveled alone to her destination.

When she arrived at the college town,
A cab she took; it set her down,
On the campus where the students walked.
And the students laughed, and covertly talked.

For Sue was tall, uncomely, and green,
The queerest girl they had ever seen.
Her hair was red, and Oh, her manner!
It was only equaled by her grammar.

Her room-mate met her with a smile,
And then they labored for a while,
Trying to make the room look better.
That evening Sue received a letter.

It was from the folk at home.
Said, “We missed you,–Wish you’d come.”
And wailing Sue sobbed, “So do I,”
Then she and “Roomy” had a cry.

Soon Sue settled down to work,
The hardest task she’d never shirk.
She conned her Math; she worked out Chem.
Her teachers said she was a gem.

And Susan went to parties too;
She learned the rarebit and the stew;
To make good fudge and light seafoam;
And other arts unknown at home.

And Susan played in basketball;
Became a goal (since she was tall),
And marvelous as the fact may seem,
She finally made the college team.

Then came the night of the year’s reception.
Suzanne’s new gown was the pink of perfection.
And friends all told her with caresses tender,
She was not “lank,” but was only slender.

And Suzanne’s hair was “auburn,” not red.
“She really is pretty,” so everyone said.
But her honors were not completed by half,
‘Til she was elected to the Annual Staff.

So through all her college days,
Her class to Suzanne honor pays,
And when from college home she hies,
Her friends can hardly realize,

That Suzanne is the self same one,
Who left them ere school days begun.
She really surprises her relation.
So much for a college education.

I love how it follows Susie’s transformation into Suzanne as she matures through college. And while I don’t get all references (seafoam?), students still refer to roommates as “roomy” today.
Like the yearbook before it, the 1908 yearbook is laced with interesting drawings. I love this one with a graduate, a Stephens pennant and a random guitar in the corner.

I found this ad for Stephens interesting. It’s a, ahem, strange shape. It also touts that Stephens has literary work approved by the University of Missouri and that the campus has the “finest gymnasium for women in Missouri.” You might notice it says the college was established in 1856, not 1833 like we tout today. You can read more about that discrepancy here.

The Stephensophia collection is online as part of the Missouri Digital Heritage Collection, so if you’d like to browse through the entire 1908 yearbook, you can do that here.

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