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.”

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