Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Stephens: A Look Back - 1942

The 1942 Stephensophia is dedicated to the “good life at Stephens,” and it’s an appropriate week to look back at this particular yearbook, which has a dreamy, star-themed intro.

The book begins by praising President James Madison Wood “whose dream it has been to see each girl build a way of life which expresses the best not only within herself but in our American culture and tradition.”

In other words, President Wood wanted his students to “dream up”—the new tagline unveiled as part of Stephens’ rebranding unveiled last week.

There are a lot of similarities between Stephens circa 1942 and Stephens today. There are even a couple of  references to Stephens students as “stars” in the yearbook this year, although the “star” did not become an official mascot until the early 1990s. The heading above the athletics section says the athletes are “Stars of Sports,” and we’re told in the theatre program that “future stars will never forget” Maude Adams for her “untiring effort.”

And it’s amazing to see just how similar students then and now really are. They recognize a good Stephens president when they see one: Then it was Wood, celebrating his 30th year at the College, and today it’s Dr. Dianne Lynch, celebrating her 5th year at Stephens (and we hope she stays for another 25!). And they also recognize those who work behind-the-scenes. In the Stephensophia, special recognition goes to administrative assistants with a note saying that although students “do not always realize the amount of effort necessary to make the administrative machinery of Stephens run smoothly, they see the results of administrative staff every time they” enjoy the dining hall, enjoy facilities, etc.

We imagine students actually did realize the significance of administrative staff just as they do today—earlier this week, students honored Lita Pistono, administrative assistant, in our Vice President of Academic Affairs office for her tireless commitment to student success.

Dr. W.W. Charters, hired at Stephens in 1920, has returned to Stephens full time this year after splitting his time between Stephens and Ohio State University. Credited with the development of the Stephens’ curriculum and commitment to learning by doing (still practiced today), Charters is Director of Research.

Photos from the academic programs could just as easily have been taken today. A few:


Modern Dance


There’s a new public relations department at Stephens (that’s us!) because of increasing attention to the school. We’re told the staff includes feature writers, photographers and editors, all of whom answer hundreds of inquiries from newspapers concerning students from their local towns. Today, reporters don’t come to us for hometown news; we have a well-run system to let newspapers across the country know when women from their communities have made the Dean’s List, are graduating or have accomplished another type of milestone at Stephens.

A Council of Hall Counselors has been formed this year to offer guidance to students. Counselors help students with “their needs, interests and goals in their general human relations or social adjustment experiences, and therefore gives instruction through out-of-class activities.”

An Apprentice Plan is also new this year for women who want to spend another year at Stephens. These post-graduate students work as assistants to instructors in their fields of interest.

The senior class this year writes that it’s an “exacting task” being a senior, “but any member of the senior class will tell you that the rewards are well worth the effort of heading the various student government divisions, editing the campus publications, sponsoring school improvement and national defense projects and participating in the musical and social service activities of Burrall Class.”

Seniors are also “guardians of well-beloved traditions at Stephens,” which includes sitting in the middle section at events, using right-hand steps and selling green hair ribbons to juniors.

We read about the green hair ribbons in 1941 and get a little more insight into the tradition this year. Apparently, seniors sell green ribbons to juniors in the fall so people can distinguish them. But the juniors tell us that the ribbons should be sold in the spring instead, “when uninformed observers find it impossible to identify who’s who; saddle shoes have given way to conventional dirty gray, sweater sleeves push up above the elbow and slide down again more easily than they did and the feather-edged baby bobs have grown into long-smooth manes. Much more important, however, are changes not so easily visible. New poise and maturity, new spiritual values have become part of the personalities of these Seniors to be.”

Nancy Hertz
A couple of student notes of interest: Joan Smith (who had a twin at Stephens, too) was a correspondent to Mademoiselle magazine for Stephens this year. Janie Eslick is president of the Civic Association this year. And Joanne Sigrist is president of a new Student Congress organized to give a greater number of students a voice.

Nancy Hertz is a senior this year and involved in chorus, leading to a lifelong love of opera, and president of the public speaking club, which began her life of involvement in leadership as a volunteer in the Scarsdale, N.Y. area. Hertz is now Nancy Muskin and wrote us to remind us that a famous bass from the Met, Jerome Hines, performed in the opera Faust.

She also tells us she ended up with the perfect husband and has enjoyed a great life of travel and adventures, children, grandchildren and now great-grandchildren. “But thoughts of Stephens are happy ones,” she tells us.

It was…and still is…a good life at Stephens.

Do you have memories from the 1940s you’d like to share? Let us know in the comment section or email!

1 comment:

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