Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Stephens: A Look Back - 1935

Carl Sandburg
It’s 1935 and poet and historian Carl Sandburg has visited Stephens College.

Sandburg was already pretty famous at this time—he had several collections of poetry published in the 10s and 20s, but at this time he was particularly interested in the history of Abraham Lincoln.

The Stephensophia yearbook tells us Phi Theta Kappa, the national honorary scholastic society of the Junior Colleges of America, co-sponsored his lecture and that he is pictured as being “in a quizzical mood” but that’s about it. 

Even though the yearbook didn’t give him much real estate, we know his visit had a profound impact on at least one student, though. Junior Annette Tucker’s “love of poetry deepened by meeting him” – she was so inspired by his visit, her family mentioned it in her 1994 obituary.

Famed German dancer and choreographer Harold Kreutzberg also visited this year and was well received, according to the yearbook.

Stephens women gather around famous German dancer Harald Kreutzberg
The theme of this year’s Stephensophia is a Chinese heroine, a theme carried out throughout the book. It’s not an “idle fable,” the yearbook staff explains, but rather “it is the very core of the Stephensophia for it is parallel to many Stephens girls who, like Su-zi (get it?) have their own individual records of experiences in school.”

In the introduction to the yearbook, we’re told Su-zi’s father decides she has a capacity for higher learning. “I wish you to go to college where women learn to climb the Tower Whence They Pluck the Stars,” he tells her.

The yearbook is dedicated to that father, to all Stephens fathers “our honorable dads who willingly pay our bills, overlook our scholastic shortcomings and fullheartedly appreciate our occasional accomplishments.”

Joy Schultz
You’ll recall Stephens at this point just celebrated her 100th anniversary and much of last year’s Stephensophia was dedicated to the notion of the next century. In his message, President James Madison Wood continues this theme: “Thus far the cooperative support of students, alumnae, patrons, faculty and friends seems to open a bright vista in the future.” He goes on to say the frontiers have shifted to intellectual, spiritual and social achievement.

This year’s Four Fold Girl is Joy Schultz, known for her high scholastic standing, real literary achievements, sincere art and music appreciation and her contributions to Archways, a book of narrative prose compiled by Stephens women.

Louise Dudley remains head of the Humanities department, which aims to surround students with art to “create in everyone an interest in and open mindedness toward all forms of art.” This year, she is Stephens’ representative in the pages of “Who’s Who in America.”

Paul Weaver has become leader of the Burrall Class and is known for being straightforward and earnest in his discussions.

In the Skills and Techniques division, James H. Dougherty is instructor in elementary education. He is also supervisor of Columbia Public Schools.

In addition to chemistry, psychology and zoology, the Sciences department also includes home economics, where women are trained to set up “really scientific modern homes.”

Fencing has been added to the sports roster this year, and we’re told it will soon be one of the most popular forms of physical education on campus. A special fencing coach from MU has been brought in to assist.

Stephens at this time doesn’t have a formal dance department, but its precursor, it appears, is an annual “rhythm recital” embedded in the athletics program.

In the Social Sciences, we’re told Dr. Henry A. Bowman, a professor of sociology, has been “experimenting” with a course in marriage.

Spoiler: This will ultimately become Bowman’s legacy. He went on to become the author of “Marriage for Moderns,” a textbook that had several accompanying videos, including this one called “This Charming Couple” filmed on the Stephens and MU campuses in 1950. You can see the MU columns at the beginning of the film, and the wedding takes place in Historic Senior Hall. Enjoy.

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