Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Stephens - A Look Back: 1910

“In the first place, we are heroines.”

That’s how the Senior Academs describe themselves in the 1910 edition of Stephensophia, which I’m highlighting every week as part of this “Look Back” series.

Why were they heroines? They apparently pulled off one heck of a senior prank, saying not a single girl outside the class knew what was going to happen beforehand. “Who ever before knew of girls who could keep a secret so long? And Oh! How every one was sold when that stunt did come off!”

The calendar of events shows a Senior Masquerade listed in October, then there’s this photo labeled “Senior Masquerade Stunt,” so I’m concluding that the stunt was pulled off at this scheduled event. I can’t really make out what I’m seeing in the photo (although, is that a nun in the center?), and unfortunately, there’s no explanation of said stunt, so it’s again gone into the vault of secrecy.

Finally, we’re told in this introduction, the Class of 1910 is “spunky.”

The 1910 Stephensophia is dedicated to a Miss Lacy Pittman Price “whose loyalty and faithful service for the past seven years have endeared her to every student and teacher in Stephens College.” Here’s the lovely Lacy.

In the literacy section of the 1910 Stephensophia, I found an account of a Day at Stephens. The writer, identified only as F.T., describes the ivied buildings and columns on campus, the morning sermon in the chapel where the pastor pleads for “nobler lives,” then off to class where professors inspire: “They transform these thoughtless girls into whole-hearted purposeful women.” Late in the afternoon, they see their “brothers” and “cousins” pass (I assume MU gents and co-eds), they curtsy and “demurely” walk home and check the mail before heading to the dining hall. After enjoying a few moments “mingling together outside for a brief time of frolic and laughter,” the evening work begins.

Wait, they’re not done.

Then we’re told after work “out from their rooms they come, with music of laughter and singing, clad in flowing kimonas of many and various colors, gray and pink and green; with hair unbound, loosely flowing.” Then, finally, lights out, with a moment of prayer and thanksgiving.

The Dramatic Club this year put on Maid Marion. This was long before men were allowed to take advantage of our excellent theatre program, so the ladies got to portray men in the productions. Athletics and the “States Clubs” remain popular.

Again this year, the ladies treat us to some popular expressions of the day. “Pretty swell” is at the top of the list, and apparently a certain Mattie Pitts was often quoted as saying, “Wish I hadn’t eaten that.” I hear ya, Mattie.

This edition of the yearbook also provides us with the Ten Commandments of Stephens, the first being “Thou shalt play no April fool jokes in the faculty.” We’re then commanded to not take the name of Stephens in vain, keep the Sabbath holy, honor thy faculty, not wear pumps until May 25 and remove thy gloves in church. Oh, and “Thou shalt chew no gum.” Also, “Thou shalt not covet ‘co-ed’ pleasures.”

An interesting note that follows my earlier post about Stephens’ founding year. By 1910, the phrasing is that the institution was “organized” (as opposed to “founded”) as Baptist Female College in 1856. You might recall, in 1933 the College officially began using 1833 as the founding date since the female college was essentially the reopening the Columbia Female Academy.

I’m starting to notice more history and information about the college in the yearbooks and fewer fictional prose, poetry and drawings (but, spoiler alert, I’m working ahead and the 1912 book reverts to doubling as a literary journal).

As I mentioned last week, it still ends with a “Finis” drawing between the yearbook and advertising section. This one makes a little more sense that the previous two years.

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