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.    

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Stephens: A Look Back - 1919

By 1919, the Great War was over and the Stephensophia staff dedicated the annual to those who supported the effort.

But that’s really the only mention of World War I, which dominated the pages of the 1918 yearbook.

In fact, there’s nothing especially notable about this particular school year compared to the previous, although I do find this drawing of College Town USA circa 1919 fascinating. It’s in the ad section and includes what appears to be a road leading to local landmarks. At first I thought the building on the right was MU’s Academic Hall (the structure looks similar), but it burned down in 1892.

Like previous years, the book is divided into sections for faculty, students and activities along with a section of sayings and jokes.

The most interesting tidbit actually comes from a little follow-up research. After reading a poem about a Stephens alumna who went on to be a perfect wife, I wanted to see whether I could find out anything more about the author. In the Home Ec pages, student Nelletta Ehlman tells us how her character, Mary, uses her domestic skills to give her family members meals with the ideal calorie count while making hats in her spare time. The piece ends with some matrimonial praise: “And her husband says in solemn truth/ ‘Find an efficient wife under Stephens’ roof.’ ” A quick Google search shows Nelletta Ehlman went on to teach domestic sciences in Illinois. She died in 1973, and I found no evidence that she ever married—and if she did, she didn’t take her husband’s name.

Nelletta was from Illinois, which in 1919 was the only state other than Oklahoma to have a state club at Stephens. The Oklahoma Club is the only state to have had an active chapter since 1900—and had more than 25 members this particular year. The Fire Department, created a few years before, remained active this year, and Stephens also added a jazz band. A list of faculty shows a violin instructor in addition to several piano teachers.

Stephens’ population this year is 400 students—up from 52 in the 1912-13 school year.
The book has somewhat of a nautical theme, praising faculty for being “Our Pilots,” which, of course, in those days referred to ship pilots rather than airplane pilots. The yearbook reads: “Every ship has the need of a skillful pilot—the faculty, as our faithful pilot whether we were gay or distressed, has endeavored to show us the true straight path to the right harbor.”

In various jokes and rule sections, we’re told that students were instructed not to talk to men on the street “because they might kidnap you.” 

But students came to Stephens with internal rules built in. Here’s one clever poem about it:

Those Doubtful Don’ts

My parents told me not to smoke;
I don’t
Nor listen to a naughty joke;
I don’t.
They told me it was wrong to wink
At handsome men, or even think
About intoxicating drink;
I don’t.
To dance or flirt was very wrong
I don’t.
Wild girls chase men and wine and song;
I don’t.
I kiss no men, not even one—
In fact, I don’t know how it’s done;
You wouldn’t think I have much fun;
I don’t.

It’s signed “Life.”

Students could be just as witty in 1919 as they are today. Here’s one line from the joke section: 

Teacher: what figure of speech is this ‘I love my teacher’?
Pat Smith: Sarcasm

On another page, seniors are asked what college has meant to them. Answers ranged from sarcastic, “Hours of Misery,” to sentimental, “Two years of joy,” and “Everything.”

The book leaves us with some photos of students and the Stephens Special train.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Stephens: A Look Back - 1918

The United States got involved in the First World War in 1917 and Stephens College students were quick to do their part.

They gave up butter and fudge and took up knitting that year, the 1918 Stephensophia tells us. The yearbook is full of patriotic images and opens with a series of drawings showing support for the American Red Cross.

The book is dedicated to those “who are making the sacrifices in order that the world may be free.” We’re also told:

“Stephens girls have this year in work and sacrifice and spirit tried to bear their part in the Great War which is to bring to the world the freedom and opportunity that is theirs. In the spirit of these opportunities and these obligations this record of their college year is conceived and dedicated.”

It was a year of growth for the college, too, with enrollment up 50 percent over the year prior. This is the year Wood Hall is built, as well.

The yearbook does include the joke section found in previous editions. One Stephensophia staff member quipped that she was going to name her son Stephen and her daughter Sophia.

But mostly, this is a year of war, and that’s a theme reflected throughout the entire Stephens yearbook.

In what’s titled a “Military” section, readers are given a scenario in which a student from 1918 is now older and visiting Stephens on Nov. 22, 1960. She tells the 1960 students: “When I was here the Great World War was raging. Scarcely a day passed that we didn’t see boys in khaki at the college.” Some were leaving for training, we’re told, and others were getting read to go “over there.” Half of the Stephens students, the Stephensophia says, were reading letters with the “red triangle” on them, some postmarked “Somewhere in France.”

The alumna tells the 1960 students that students enjoyed knitting sweaters, socks and scarves for soldiers. “You consider it old fashioned, don’t you?” our 1918 alumna asks. “It’s queer, but I did, too, until then.”

She also tells the 1960 students that the students of 1918 knitted at dinner. “Now don’t look so shocked,” the alumna says. “It wasn’t looked upon as a breach of etiquette then.”

The Stephensophia also includes a letter to a Private Nelson Miles serving in France. Students tout that the college went 100 percent for Uncle Same when the third Liberty Loan was inaugurated. Later, we learn that every student and employee subscribed to the loan program.

“Well,” the author of the letter writes, “we also voted unanimously to give up butter for dinner every day until school is out. You would hardly believe it, but the money saved on that butter amounts to fifty dollars and with that money we have bought a fifty-dollar bond.”

Students also cut back on sugar and developed a taste for “war bread.”

Students welcomed “Mr. Popcorn and Miss Peanut,” too, which we’re told were “more patriotic friends” than the expensive sugary fudge and bon bons that students had been used to.

Stephens organized a Red Cross chapter this year which was a branch of the Columbia chapter. Here are the Red Cross volunteers:

Although mostly a patriotic, if not somber, book this year, one of the funniest lines in the yearbook is an ad for future Stephensophia staffers. “Dispositions ruined!” the ad promises. “Simple and painless.”