Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Stephens: A Look Back - 1929

Before we move on to the 1929 Stephensophia, a pause to send a very belated congratulations to the 1928 Stephensophia staff. We learn this week that last year’s yearbook (featured on this blog last week) won first place in a national contest and was awarded the place of “Pacemaker.”

On to 1929. This year, the women of Stephens College dedicated their yearbook not to an influential administrator or peer, but rather to the concept of femininity.

It reads: “To that touch of something soft and sheer that makes a girl a girl; to that love of something dainty, sweet alluring that lies deep within her heart; to that grace and ease, and charm; to that strange, elusive thing we cannot touch—but feel and wonder at and prize—to femininity we dedicate this book.”

And the drawings that grace the first few pages of the 1929 Stephensophia portray just that.

Louise Drake
But don’t let the daintiness fool you, these ladies were serious about education and politics and democracy, too. In fact, this year, with the junior class leading the way, Stephens Life was born. Students, “feeling the need for a school newspaper,” worked with faculty the year prior and launched the publication this year. The purpose? To “help in all campus problems and projects,” and to promote active interest in government and a democratic spirit, and to uphold the Ten Ideals.

Louise Drake is credited in the book for founding Stephens Life.

This is the first year since she arrived that Jessie Burrall is no longer on faculty. Her popular Bible Classes—which will go on for many more years—still bear her name but have been taken over by a Marion Applegate, a student, whom were told is doing a fine job. Burrall does come back for a visit in November, though.

Marion Applegate
According to a calendar of events, the campus in November also hosted another popular visitor. Tom Skeyhill lectured on campus, the Stephensophia says. Skeyhill was a World War I veteran who had been blinded by an exploding Turkish shell yet became a published poet and a speaking sensation. On Veteran’s Day of 1928, he lectured to a “worshipful audience” at Stephens. Skeyhill would be killed in an airplane crash three years later.

There’s also a vague mention of Richard Halliburton—the famed traveler of the day—on Feb. 22, but it’s unclear whether he was on campus or was spotted in a newsreel or throughout another media. The campus calendar tells us only that he “talks to those who have money.”

Although we know the Prince of Wales Club was chartered in 1926 and a student last year was the first to list it on her bio, this is the first year it’s acknowledged as a club in the official club section of the yearbook. It’s described as “one of the most unique organizations on campus,” as only those who have fallen from a horse are eligible for membership. You’ll recall, the club came about after a student fell off her horse and administrators teased her that she pulled a Prince of Wales move. (The poor prince was well known for taking a tumble.)

The Book Club, formed a few years ago, is also growing and the club’s library this year is deemed one of the most popular institutions on campus.

Although a much older club, Curtain Raisers is still going strong, teaching girls not only acting but also costume design, lighting effects, make-up and the collection of “props.” Of course, today, Stephens is known for its theatre, theatre tech and costume design programs.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Stephens: A Look Back - 1928

There are a couple of notable students in the 1927-28 Stephensophia. 

Among the students embodying the Ten Ideals  this year is Jasamyn Sanders, who would go on to become Jasamyn Garrett, author of Bountiful Bootheel Borning,” a 1961 book telling in narrative verse the history of the Missouri Bootheel.
Another Stephens student of interest is Marion Grey Franklin, editor of this year’s Stephensophia. She would go on to the MU School of Journalism and marry Alvin Scott McCoy, who ultimately won a Pulitzer Prize for coverage that led to the resignation of a Republican National Committee chairman.

Although it’s still not listed in the official club pages, Dorothy Graves, a junior, is the first to ever list on the bio next to her photo that she’s in the “Prince of Wales Club.”

 There are two new clubs on campus in 1928, the Stephensophia tells us. Bizochem is organized to “further the interest of science on campus.” There’s also a new secretarial club for those interested in secretarial work.
Archery is the newest sport on campus and is quickly becoming a favorite. The Stephensophia staff predicts that it will someday be as popular as baseball and basketball. 

The senior class this year apparently made a trip east, visiting  the then relatively new Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington and staying at the Penn Hotel in New York. 

Around this time of the year some 86 years ago, Stephens students offered up a human Christmas tree.

And in February, a fashion show is held again. We're not sure what types of designs were included, but we do know fur was popular this year.

There’s a class prophesy set in the living room of President James Madison Wood in 1940, more than a decade from now. The Stephensophia staff predicts Mrs. Wood will read an announcement in the Columbia Missourian, prompting Mr. Wood to turn on the radio, which is broadcasting the first convention of the founders of the American School of Wisdom. Who’s behind this school? The Stephens College Class of 1928 graduates, of course.

Unfortunately, Mrs. Wood would not live to see 1940.

But Wood would, indeed, still be president that year. And he used the 1928 Stephensophia to outline his vision for Stephens College—a vision that would be realized during his lengthy career at the college.

He wanted enrollment to grow, he wanted students to ultimately earn bachelor’s degrees and he wanted courses to meet the physical, intellectual, practical and spiritual needs of women.

“In other words, it should be a College for Women.”

Wood, as usual, was ahead of his time, although he probably didn’t imagine that some 30 women’s colleges would go co-ed between the late 1960s and today.

He wrote that graduates should possess the broad cultural background needed in rearing children and directing the home. But, he said, they should also have the training needed for the successful pursuit of work and for some “specific form of economic production.”

Wood envisioned a little theatre for dramatic arts, a chapel and ample provision for art and exhibits. (Check. Check. Check.)

His vision for the future is at the beginning of the 1928 Stephensophia and is followed by several pages of letters from university administrators around the country praising junior colleges and Stephens specifically. There are letters from the presidents of the University of Akron and the University of Minnesota, the dean of the College of Liberal Arts at Northwestern University and the then-president of the University of Missouri. MU President Stratton Brooks wrote: “I feel confident that Stephens College, during the next five years will be able to contribute much of value to educational progress.”

He also talked about the strength of the curricula, which can be credited in large part to Werrett Wallace Charters, whom Wood hired in 1920 to be director of research. Charters was charged with building “the strongest curriculum found in any women’s college in the world.” Charters’ findings resulted in the development of study in social problems, philosophy of living, communications, physical health, mental health and humanities.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Stephens: A Look Back - 1927

Perhaps one of the more interesting tidbits from the 1927 Stephensophia is a brief mention of Miss Nellie Lee Holt’s return in April from her trip around the world. In a student’s diary account of the school year, we’re told Holt addressed the students on the “emancipation of the America woman” and shared other tales from that trip.

A little extra research reveals that Holt, at President James Woods’ behest, went on a tour of Europe, Russia, the Middle East, India and Southeast Asia to meet with various leaders about education and religion. She studied with Mahatma Gandhi and other leading thinkers of the day.

In an article for McCalls Magazine in November 1928, Holt proclaims that everyone wants the same thing—“to live peacefully together. Everywhere, youth has in its heart a longing to do justice to its neighbor’s strength.”

Holt is listed in the book as an English instructor but will later become professor of religious education. Just a side note, in 1934, she married Curtis Bok, a writer and publisher who served as a Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice.

But that’s four years from now. It’s 1927 and the College this year has established a riding academy. Horseback riding has become an intrinsic part of Stephens, and we’re told the College has nine “ladies’ horses” equipped with English or cowboy saddles. Some 200 girls have “developed into admirable horsewomen.”

The College also added a country club to campus “to furnish a setting in which the students may entertain friends as they will, later, in their own homes.”

And even though The Collections, our student designer fashion show, turns 70 next year, its roots date back further than 1944. We learned in previous editions of the yearbook that students put on dress parades, and this year, the clothing department put on a fashion show. “Betsy Ross had nothing on us,” the yearbook says.

Overall, we’re told: “Development of womanhood is the basis program at Stephens Junior College. The curriculum includes subject matter which not only develops ideals but which also aids the modern young woman to meet her problems in the home, in the community and in business.”

Mary Stuart is Civic Association president this year and is predicted to go on to become the first woman to serve as U.S. president.

In addition to the Ten Ideals, represented for the second year by 10 students, a Four-Fold Girl is selected as an individual who best represents good citizenship, high scholarship, worthy activities and true service. Edith Mullholland earned this honor. She was predicted to have a career in bookbinding, creating the “most intricate, involved complicated and ornate card index system in the world.” In reality, she went on to become a teacher.

Margaret McCarthy is named Best Private Citizen for taking a strong stand for right and having the best interest of Stephens at heart.

This is the first year we see reference to “stars” in our athletics program. We’re told that activities are “planned to benefit the mass, instead of the individual ‘stars.’” Stars became the official athletic mascot in the early 1990s when sports was brought back to campus, but prior to that, Stars had been a nickname.

The College has a new Spanish club, Carmencita, this year, as well as a New Voters Section of the League of Women Voters organized to prepare women to become interested in politics and active members of Leagues after graduation. And The Standard is recognized as the official student magazine.

The 1927 Stephensophia is dedicated to alumnae who are true Stephens because “where a Stephens girl is, there is Stephens.” We’re told there are active alumnae clubs in Kansas City and surrounding towns, St. Louis, Moberly and King City.

And we finally learn—if it was in previous issues, I missed it—why the yearbook is named Stephensophia. Sophia is Greek for “wisdom.”