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.