Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Stephens: A Look Back - 1932

The 1932 Stephensophia has an Alice in Wonderland theme that’s carried out throughout the yearbook’s text and images. Apparently, at first nod students weren’t all that thrilled with the idea. We’re told that after the theme was announced, you could hear students grumbling “That’s a childish idea” or “Good-night, I read that book when I was about four years old.” But yearbook staff members tell us they read it again and “decided it was clever enough for any person to read and enjoy.” The sketches throughout the book show various versions of Alice and in some cases, including the picture above, show familiar Stephens and Columbia landmark silhouettes behind her.

The book is dedicated to “you” because “we are cognizant of your power.”

Edwin Stephens

A couple of high-profile people have passed away this school year and are noted in the Stephensophia. They include Edwin Stephens, board member and son of James Stephens, our namesake; and Grace Pemberton, who had worked at Stephens since 1918 at one point serving as dean of women.
This is President James Madison Wood’s 20th year at Stephens, although not as much as made of it in this year’s Stephensophia then when he hit his 10-year mark.

Henry Bowman has joined the Stephens faculty this year and is teaching citizenship and sociology. We’ll probably be reading more about him—Dr. Bowman was the mastermind behind the “Marriage for Moderns” courses and videos in the 1950s.

The 1932 Stephensophia again gives us more insight into coursework and instruction than in earlier editions of the yearbook. If you’re new to the Look Back series, we saw a lot of sections dedicated to student poetry and prose in the Stephensophias of the early 1900s.  But that was before the college had the Standard, a literary journal that in 1932 placed 1st in the Missouri Interscholastic Press contest, and other clubs for writers, including Chi Delta Phi. Now affiliated with the national organization, the Stephens chapter of Chi Delta Phi this year is compiling a book of poetry, The Lantern, which would go on to be published the following summer. We’re told the club holds luncheon meetings at Givan’s, a place “popular for its journalistic atmosphere.”

Over in the Psychology department, we’re told Dr. Rexroad teaches his pupils that they have long had illusions. The yearbook reads: “We do not have a mind! Our reactions were just like yours probably are, but nonetheless just listen to Dr. Rexroad three hours a week and then try to convince yourself that you have a mind.”

In Natural Sciences, each room has an exhibit, including a cage of white rats.
Students in art courses designed Christmas cards (a familiar project for some of our Graphic Design students today).

Just as they do today, education students get the opportunity to work in an on-campus lab school, which at this time was a kindergarten and nursery where college students could observe “physical, mental, moral and social development of children from three to six.”

We’re told the Glee Club this year has more than 100 members who performed in Kansas City and St. Louis.

Glee Club
Equestrian students are busy, too, showing “fine horses and accomplished riders” at the annual Columbia Commencement Horse Show, the Farmer’s Fair and the Beta Sigma Beta horse show.

Over in the secretarial studies courses, students are taught to value accuracy more than speed when it comes to shorthand and typing. Students also learn stenograph and we’re told “Probably as the girls sit in their classes they have visions of future years when they shall be sitting at the president’s desk writing his personal letters for him.”

The Drama department this year put on four productions, including “The Importance of Being Earnest,” which remains a popular production today, and “Faust,” the first Stephens production to use a revolving stage.

Archery is still popular and apparently other colleges are starting to implement it, even though Stephens has had it for years. Tennis is also popular “to the modern Susie,” we’re told.

The Athletic Association, in its 15th year now, brought notable dancer Elna Mygdal to campus. She is a “unique interpreter of dance” and thoroughly delighted her audience.

Clubs are doing interesting things again this year, including the Home Economics Club, which conducts an annual “scientific eating campaign” to regulate and monitor students’ caloric intake. The Bizoochem club for science students this year is studying cosmetics, learning about the structure of skin and various products.

And Stephens Life has added a couple of new features, including a column written by anonymous students about “things that aren’t supposed to be known.” (I’m personally tempted to go to the archives and dig out the 1932 Stephens Life issues to see what they’re talking about.)

Just an interesting note since we mentioned it last week—in 1931, the freshmen and sophomore classes were organized into one unit. That apparently didn’t work out because this year, both classes grew significantly and had to be separated again.

In February, we’re told about 80 students visited the East Coast, including New York.

And a couple of interesting tidbits from the advertising section: Boone County Trust Company advertises having a “women’s department conducted by college women who know your needs and problems,” and the Tiger Hotel, which is still open today after significant renovations, in 1932 is “new and fireproof.” 

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