Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Stephens: A Look Back - 1941

County Election by George Caleb Bingham
The 1941 Stephensophia celebrates the College’s and state’s history, with a dedication to “Missouri’s historic beauty.”

The frontier theme includes a photo of “County Election,” one of George Caleb Bingham’s paintings of the region. We’re told the painting is owned by the C.B. Rollins family of Columbia.

“We often think and speak of Stephens as being a thoroughly modern, progressive school, in the sense that its curriculum is designed to include the subjects which are of special importance to women. Those facts and ideas which women will need to use in their own communities after leaving Stephens are the ones stressed in courses,” the yearbook staff writes. “Most of us fail to realize, however, that this tradition of liberalism extends back through the years to the time when Miss Lucy Wales headed the Columbia Female Academy…Today the social problems courses around campus-wide interest in the outstanding speakers on public affairs, but as early as 1841 Lucy Wales took her charges to the Boone County Court House to hear Missouri’s great senator, Thomas Hart Benton, advocate the building of the Pacific Railroad; also, during the presidential campaign of 1840, the girls of the Academy were allowed to attend the speeches for William Henry Harrison.”

It’s true. In his guide to all things Stephens history, “Stephens: A Story of Educational Innovation,” John C. Crighton writes about Wales taking her female students to political rallies and events that young women at that time weren’t encouraged to attend. And, of course, that was decades before women even had the right to vote.

We’re told Wales’ ideas and visions are alive and well in 1941 and, of course, we know Stephens continues to be ahead of her time today.

Here are the class officers of 1941. We’re told the major contribution of seniors this year has been the organization of the Council of Classes to give representatives from each class greater influence. Today, that’s known as Student Government Association.

Joyce Wahl
This is the first time in the Look Back series we’ve noticed mention of green ribbons but the phrasing suggests green ribbons have been a “thing” for quite some time. The yearbook says: “The first question of every reader will be ‘where and when did the wearing of the green ribbons start?’ This is one of the traditions which has always been observed but its beginning seems destined to remain a mystery. In the past, juniors did not always escape with a mere two weeks of ribbon wearing.” The yearbook staff goes on to talk about how modern life is making juniors “soft.” There’s really no other explanation, though. Does anyone remember wearing green ribbons?

A couple of notes from this year’s class of Ten Ideals. Joyce Wahl Treiman went on to become an award-winning painter, printmaker and teacher. The LA Times named her Woman of the Year in Art in 1965. You can read more about her work here. In 1941, she’s Joyce Wahl, recognized for having Appreciation of the Beautiful.

Dorothy Brown
Dorothy Brown, recognized for the Ideal of “Forcefulness” went on to become Dr. Dorothy Brown Walker and enjoyed a successful career in public relations and community service.

Guests on the Stephens campus this year included famous actress and radio commentator Cornelia Otis Skinner; foreign correspondent Leland Stowe; New Yorker writer Lois Long; and world champion billiards player Charles Peterson.

Maude Adams has been on campus for a couple of years now and has already become a “tradition,” known for her gentle and gracious personality and sincere love for theatre.

As in more recent Stephensophias, we’re treated to some wonderful photos of campus and Stephens women.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Stephens: A Look Back - 1940

It’s 1940 in our Look Back series, and the Stephensophia this year celebrates Missouri’s vibrant seasons: Fall, with the leaves turning wonderful colors; Winter, with its Christmas vacation; and Spring, which brings outdoor sports back again. Photos from each season are highlighted throughout the book:

The yearbook this year has “made pencil-chewing addicts of the junior staff, ink-smudged worriers of the senior staff, and gray-haired men of the sponsors.” Why? Because nothing, we’re told, could be quite so perplexing to put into words the spirit of anything, let alone the spirit of Stephens.

“How can we explain to you why the Ten Ideals stand for all this is fine and clean and admirable?” the staff asks.

And we love this warning, of sorts, in the book’s introduction:

“You needn’t hunt for a football section, nor one on Beauty Queens. Nor will you be able to find Grandpa’s picture, Susie, when you are a decrepit but well-groomed Grandmother. We hope, however, that our concern over the angle of every picture and the length of every line of copy in this ‘Sophie has produced for you a poignant memory book which will be the next best thing to reliving two happy invaluable years.”

In his annual yearbook address, President James Madison Wood writes that educating women must rest upon much more fundamental elements in her nature—the emotions of sympathy and service. “The new prominence of women in social, political, economic and religious affairs is the most important fact that confronts the world today,” he wrote, perhaps 70 years ahead of his time. Fast-forward to today and Stephens President Dianne Lynch is among a group of leaders discussing women in service and leadership as part of the international Women in Public Service Project.

The Stephensophia staff praises the faculty this year, which include Dr. Merle Prunty, director of personnel and head of the Extra Curricular Division, Dr. Paul Paustain, who taught for five years in India, and Dr. Roy Ivan Johnson, director of the Division of Skills and Techniques and author of best-selling textbooks on English composition.

“We are proud of their accomplishments,” the yearbook staff writes, “of the explorers, chess players, popular textbook writers, critics, musicians, dramatists and scholars in their midst.”

The Civic Association President this year is Jean Arthur, whom we’re told is “friendly and poised.” Arthur, along with her husband, Jay Hoel, and two friends, started the Park Forest Conservatory in Park Forest, Ill., which at one point had more than 600 music students.
Jean Arthur

The yearbook gives us a peek inside the dorms, including Lela Raney Wood, which now contains the “beautiful new ballroom.” We’re told “life is made soft for the girls by ice-water fountains, candy kitchenettes, coke machines, telephones and elevators.”

The handbook this year is now titled “Within the Ivy,” the name still used today, and acquaints the students with campus life.

The Foreign Relations Club is especially important this year. “Like everyone else interested in international events, Stephens girls have a hard time making head or tail out of the chaos. Foreign Relations Club sponsors eminent speakers who throw a great deal of bright light on the tangled situation.” Guests this year include S. Wilhelm Sollman, who shared his insights on Hitler.

Foreign Relations Club

There’s a great message found in The College Store’s ad written by Juanita Sapp. The ad reads:
What are little girls made of!
Well, we should know! For years we have seen them come and go. Thousands of them—short, lean, fat and tall.
But size and shape have nothing to do with what a girl is made of. What, then! Smiles and kind words, willingness to help others, politeness and love—that’s what little girls are made of. But time will not stand still. Little girls grow into fine ladies and must go upon their separate courses.

We know what YOU are made of—go now into the world and prove that we are right.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Stephens: A Look Back - 1939

The 1939 Stephensophia is dedicated to “Suzie Stephens, You and Me” and has a beautiful scrapbook theme that includes several photos using spot color. A few favorites:

We’re told the archway in Hickman Hall is told to be the coolest place south of the Arctic. “But in spite of the ninety-mile wind it is still the central meeting place on campus. The most important notices and bulletins are posted in the archway. All voting for campus office takes place in the polls set up here. A wide flight of stairs leads up to the archway—the only campus entrance that is never locked.”

The staff of the Stephensophia reports that Dr. W.W. Charters—as a result of years of careful research—has made Stephens’ educational policy the practical, progressive and vital program that President Wood has desired for so long. It’s an education based on the idea of individual—that women should learn to do what they want to do and to weigh everything in regard to its later importance. Women learn not only facts, we’re told, but interpretation of facts, as well.

Miss Eleanor Pepper is on faculty this year. Pepper at this time was the first and only woman ever elected to the American Institute of Architects for her work on newsreel theatres in Paris and remodeled brownstones on Manhattan’s East Side. She went on to be chairwoman of Pratt Institute’s Department of Interior Design.

There’s a new Institute for Consumer Education at Stephens headed by John Cassels, a former assistant professor of economics at Harvard. The course helps students learn what goes on behind buying, how to choose products and budgeting.

Gail Potter is also on campus teaching fencing. We’re told he’s never taken fencing himself but played D’Artagnan in The Three Musketeers and taught fencing to Cary Grant. Outside research shows it was the St. Louis Municipal Opera’s version of the classic and that’s where he met Archie Leach, who went on to be the popular Grant.

There’s a Foreign Relations Club this year organized for students to discuss current events and world affairs. The club hosts a series of lectures.

There’s also a new Briggadettes Dance Band conceived by Martha Briggs. It’s the most popular organization at Stephens, we’re told, and the group performs both on and off campus.

Paul Weaver is now over the Burrell Bible Class. There’s no mention of him—why would there be, he was just another student at the time—but the Columbia Daily Tribune in 2008 reported that Sam Walton was president of the university’s men’s Burrell Bible Class in the late 1930s. Walton, of Wal-Mart fame, of course, graduated from the University of Missouri in 1940 so we might safely assume he was attending the courses at Stephens this year.

The 1939 Stephensophia includes a poem to her Alma Mater.

To alma mater
To alma mater let us turn in reverence
A toast to Stephens hallowed memories
For though we wander far without her treasured walls,
Our thoughts return in homage to her name
We love her tower and ivy mantled walls;
We love her spirit ever lingering in our hearts;

And we will honor Stephens till the last day falls.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Stephens: A Look Back - 1938

Maude Adams has arrived!

It’s 1938 in our Look Back series and the Stephensophia wastes no time in welcoming the legendary actress to campus.

The yearbook is dedicated to her “because she is a great actress in her own name and beloved by millions of people for her splendid portrayal of ‘Peter Pan’ and ‘Chantecler’ and because she so perfectly embodies Stephens’ Ten Ideals.”

For those who don’t know, Adams played the title role in the 1905 Broadway production of “Peter Pan” and starred in the 1911 Broadway debut of Chantecler in 1911.

She brought the latter production to Stephens with her this year when she became head of the theatre program. We’re told Chantecler, under Adams’ supervision, was the “biggest and most important production on campus.”

A lesser-known but equally important woman on campus this year is Mary Jean Abernethy who is an instructor in social studies. Abernethy wasn’t famous, but she was a trailblazer in her own right. We’re told she is also working on a doctorate at Missouri University, managing a house and raising a son. “She is extremely interested in new opportunities for women and hopes to prove that a woman can successfully combine home and outside activities.”

The yearbook staff this year is proud of the enrollment at Stephens, 1,175 “Susies”—the number is highlighted throughout the book.

The Burrall Class is also as large as ever with more than 1,500 college students from the three campuses in Columbia attending. The group includes several sections and offers a service component: At Christmas, we’re told 550 orphans received gifts from Stephens girls.

Clubs this year include the art club, which assists students in “problems of interior decorations” in addition to promoting art; Bizochem, which sponsors a popular science exhibit; a Botany Club that provides refuge for birds, fish and plants; a Book Club that gathers around the fireplace at Dr. Louise Dudley’s home to review books and read poetry; and a new German Club.

The Civic Association remains active and strives to “cultivate a worthy philosophy of living.” This year, they’ve established a Lela Raney Wood memorial fund in honor of President James Madison Wood’s wife, who passed away the previous year.

There’s no calendar of events in this year’s Stephensophia, but the yearbook does have more photos. Some favorites—but first this line from the senior letter to juniors: “In no other place will we ever find the traditions, the ideals and the opportunities for fine friendships that Stephens offers us.”