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.

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