Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Stephens: A Look Back - 1934

The women of Stephens College in 1934 understood their place in history—while the 1933 Stephensophia celebrated the first century of Stephens, this year, the yearbook celebrates the next century.

The book opens by declaring: “Because we of Stephens College are this year beginning a new century, because we wish to make it a century of classic loveliness—the dignity and beauty of these pages reflect a dream for the future.”

The 1934 Stephensophia is dedicated to “our generation” and to “modern youth,” a theme that’s reflected in drawings throughout the book.

And President James Madison Wood in his message says the next century “depends upon the continuation of that type of courage, loyalty and foresight which characterized the pioneer citizens of the New West a century ago.”

(It seems like years from now, but we’ll have completed that next century in just 19 years when the College turns 200 in 2033.)

This year’s Four Fold Girl is Adeline Clarke (pictured) who is the first in Stephens’ history to be both Junior Class president and president of the Civic Association. We’re told she “represents to the fullest the balanced perfection of the ideal Stephens girl. Her high scholastic standing, her literary achievements, her democratic friendliness and her real campus service are tangible proof that she is genuinely a Four Fold Girl.”

This is the first time we read about an advisory system at Stephens that allows faculty to become personal advisers. They're charged with helping students not only navigate coursework but also with “keeping in touch with her personal relationships” and social activities.

Sciences at Stephens this year mostly center “around the nature of the universe and of living things.” Each course, we’re told, “has possibilities of making the world meaningful and interesting.” Star-gazing groups as a hobby “may seem startling, but many Stephens girls have found emulation of Dr. Van Buskirk’s scientific observation of the constellations most fascinating.”

Louise Drake is assisting with a hygiene class. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because she was the student who founded Stephens Life in the 1920s.

In Humanities, Miss Eleanor Dunlap is teaching a special class in news writing for juniors “with journalistic ambitions.” Remember, it’s 1934 and there aren’t many women in journalism right now.

The Cosmopolitan Committee, sponsored by Nellie Lee Holt, is new this year and aims to “further interest in foreign countries through learning of their customs and modes of living.”

The group sponsors guest speakers who are authorities on foreign countries and this year hosted Maurice Hindus, a famous Russian American writer, Curtis Bok, grandson of Edward Bok, the Dutch born American editor and Pulitzer Prize-winning author who was editor of the Ladies' Home Journal, and Ataloa, a Native American dancer and singer.

The Skills and Techniques division “is concerned with the development of special abilities needful in the performance of tasks in school or out.” 

We’re told it’s the aim of a Dr. Claude Kantner, instructor of speech, “to make Stephens girls talk only in pleasing, soft, well modulated tones by correcting speech defects in his voice clinic.”

While the senior class touts that it’s the first to graduate from Stephens during her second century of existence, this year’s junior class has the distinction of being the largest entering class in the history of Stephens. 

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