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.

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