Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Stephens: A Look Back - 1949

Dr. Homer Rainey surrounded by his Stephens "daughters."

It’s 1949 and Stephens College this year had an “unscheduled lecturer” show up on campus.

As in Eleanor Roosevelt.

The Stephensophia yearbook doesn’t go into many details of that important visit, but thankfully, through the My Day Project, Mrs. Roosevelt’s memories of her visit are recorded online. You can read them in their entirety here.

Here’s an excerpt:

Dr. Homer P. Rainey, who is now president of Stephens College and with whom I did some work in the old days in Washington, met us as we arrived at the school. He and Mrs. Rainey had asked us to stay with them and so we spent a comfortable night and are now ready for the many activities that have been scheduled for today.
One of the girls told me last night with bated breath that she is taking a course with Maude Adams. I gasped, for my memories of Maude Adams go back many years. She was not a teacher in those days but a perfectly charming and delightful actress. No one who ever saw her in "Little Minister" or any other of the various plays that she appeared in will ever forget her charm and great ability. Evidently she is exerting this same charm over her students here.
The young girl talking to me said, It is extraordinary what depth and volume there is in her voice when she herself is such a little thing. She makes us appreciate the beauty of poetry and the value of diction.

Last year (as in 2013), Nancy O’Brien--who was Nancy Johnson and President of the Civic Association in 1949--told us more about this visit. As president of the student body, Johnson got to accompany Rainey to pick Roosevelt up at the airport in Kansas City.

On the ride back, Mrs. Roosevelt mentioned something about Adams, and Johnson said she could not resist telling the First Lady how much she loved taking Maude Adams’ theatrical speech class. Mrs. Roosevelt asked her to give Ms. Adams her regards.

The respect apparently was not mutual. When Johnson – thinking she was delivering the most important message ever – gave Adams the Mrs. Roosevelts regards, Adams wrapped her long brown coat around her, twirled around and said “Weeee are not of the same political persuasion.”

Johnson was mortified.

I went from being about 52 to about two inches tall, she recalled.

Then, of course, Roosevelt’s column appeared the next day, and Adams realized her response might not have been what Johnson was looking for. Johnson got a note from Adams apologizing for her reaction—Nancy tells us she still has the letter today.

The 1949 Stephensophia is dedicated to song, and we're told Dr. Rainey encourages music across campus. Rainey, who is in his second year as president, is a man with many hobbies. This year, we learn he was also quite the baseball pitcher.  At one time, he was even offered a contract with the St. Louis Cardinals, the yearbook tells us. This year, he’s busy securing new buildings on campus including the Playhouse where drama students play opposite professional male actors.

Other guests on campus this year include Dorothy Thompson, one of the first big-name female journalists who also visited campus in 1945, and Padraic Colum, an Irish poet, novelist and children’s author.

Field trips and off-campus experiences remain a key part of the curriculum in sciences and social studies. We’re told science classes involve taking airplane rides to get a bird’s eye view of geology. Dr. John A. Decker, head of the Division of Social Studies, was one of three faculty members sent to the Far East to “study world problems.” The goal of his division now is to teach “Stephens women how to study the problems of our social order intelligently and calmly, how to use the media of communication in order to separate propaganda from fact.”

There’s a fun section in this year’s Stephensophia called “We Go to Dances” and it follows Mary Lee Tong and her date, Jim Svehla, to one of many dances. We’re told Stephens women participate in numerous dances, including annual formals, a Christmas dance and Saturday night “date dances” in Lela Raney Wood Hall. Through a series of wonderful pictures, we see Mary Lee on her date. (What an amazing dress!)

We learn that Jim proposed to Mary Lee in January of that year.

Tong, by the way, majored in drama, design and fine arts. In the 1950s, she was a runway model and later served as a fashion director and promotional executive of designer furs. And, yes, she became Mary Svehla. She and Jim were married for 58 years.

There are many notable women in the 1949 Stephensophia. A few we want to highlight:

Alana Smith became Alana Shepherd. She and her husband founded the Shepherd Center after their son was in an accident that left him paralyzed. They were frustrated with the lack of rehabilitation options in the Southeast, so they created the foundation. Today, the Shepherd Center is a private not-for-profit hospital ranked among the top 10 rehabilitation hospitals in the nation. There’s a great profile of Shepherd here.  

She wasn’t necessarily seeking a career in healthcare, we learn, but ironically in 1949 she represented the Ideal of Health.

Joanne Cline, president of the Campus Service Board this year, also worked in healthcare. She became Joanne Carr, a longtime volunteer and was instrumental in establishing the Child Research Center League, the predecessor of the Children’s Research Center of Michigan at Children’s Hospital.

Martha Garner, the Four Fold Girl this year, went on to Denison then earned a Master of Arts in Theology from Vanderbilt University Divinity School. As Martha Albers, she and a group of women started the Haven House for battered women in Poplar Bluff, Mo.

And Elizabeth “Becky” Beckett became Becky Dorsett. She earned a Master of Science in Education in Student Personnel in Higher Education from Loyola University. Her 2013 obituary tells us she played an active role in the successful desegregation efforts at the University of Missouri and volunteered for Chicago’s West Side Organization and various civil rights groups. 

Fittingly, this year she represents the Ideal of Service.

Know of any wonderful Stephens women we should watch out for as we browse through the pages of the 1950s Stephensophia yearbooks? Let us know! Email Janese at 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Stephens: A Look Back - 1948

No doubt he had some enormous shoes to fill, but Homer P. Rainey apparently had a successful first year as president of Stephens College.

The 1948 Stephensophia hails him as a friendly, hospital leader with a plan. In fact, this year marks the first of a 25-year plan, although we’re not told much about what’s actually in it. Details are yet to be unfolded, the yearbook staff reports.

Field trips are popular in various academic programs this year. The science program, for instance, includes a field trip to the Lake of the Ozarks and biology and botany enthusiasts engage in a “real Missouri fox hunt” and get a first-hand look at the countryside with a hike to Devil’s Icebox. Sciences, we’re told, are strong and practical. In geology class, students are learning to predict weather; in botany, students discover how to plant their own gardens.

Students taking social studies courses get field trips to housing developments, the police station, the county court, state prison and industrial plants in Kansas City or St. Louis to learn about important problems such as labor, crime and politics. The World Citizen Organization participated at a mock UN Conference held at Missouri University with Stephens representing the U.S. and Brazil.

And three editors of Stephens Life attend the Associated Collegiate Press Convention in Minneapolis.

Among distinguished guests to campus this year include distinguished musicians Lois and Guy Maier, Syliva Zarembra and San Roma. The Aviation Club hosts Miss Elnora Johnson of TWA, William Gray of Pan-American World Airways and Florence Kerr of Northwest Airlines. And the Foreign Relations Club hosts Raymond Swing, a noted correspondent, General John Hildrig, assistant secretary of state in charge of occupied territories, and Richard Lauterbach, a Times correspondent.

John Brinnin, a poet, is in residence at Stephens during the spring semester.

The 1948 Stephensophia includes a slight variation of the Ghost of Senior Hall story we hear today. In this version, a student is doctoring up a Union soldier secretly in her room, but the two actually die as they sneak out one night and come up against a flooded creek. When the bridge collapses, they both drown. That’s a slightly less violent version than the stories we hear today of the soldier being killed and the student hanging herself from a Senior Hall window.

While we in the marketing office have our doubts, the Stephensophia staff has included photographic "evidence" of said ghost.

We’ve not mentioned it in a while, but the Burrall program is as active as ever. Overseen by the Burrall Cabinet, the program includes Sunday evening prayer, Saturdays at 7:22, an evening discussion program, a weekly Vespers service, a symphony orchestra, a choir featuring University of Missouri men and a concert chorus.

Among notable students this year is Barbara Temple who became Barbara Lander, a world traveler who was active in her church. She also started the Grand Forks, N.D. chapter of PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays). In 1948, Temple was president of the Student Activity Board, which hosted campus wide events such as the spring picnic.

Joy Kuyper, editor of the Stephens Standard literary journal this year, went on to work in advertising in New York and for the Herald Daily Newspaper.

Barbara Berry, editor of this year’s Stephensophia, earned a degree in journalism from the University of Georgia and worked in advertising as well. She was also known for being a talented cook and hostess.

And Doris Mitten became Doris Holden, who was active in politics in Dallas, serving on a number of boards and organizations including the United Republicans of Dallas County. This year, she’s president of the Senior Independent Council.

As usual, there are a few amazing full-page photographs in this year’s Stephensophia.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Stephens: A Look Back - 1947

It’s 1947 and the end of an era at Stephens College.

President James Madison Wood’s is celebrating his 35th and final year at the helm. He writes: “My final word to you, then, as Stephens women, is to hold true to your purpose—and to your ideals. You will live in a world beset with problems and needs. Your contribution to that world is indispensable if it is to rebuild itself into some semblance of order and goodness. Where men have failed, in their dependence on dollar diplomacy, you will not fail. My faith in you sustains and supports my faith in the future.”

President James Madison Wood bids ado to Stephens College as he boards a plane for London.
The staff of the 1947 Stephensophia devotes a section to his legacy, writing: “Love, leadership, laughter, loyalty. For thirty-five years, James Madison Wood has brought these qualities in full measure to the thousands of Stephens girls who have passed in and out of the campus gateways. He has invested his life in the lives of students and has given himself wholeheartedly to the direction of their minds and hearts toward the goal of better living…No girl, whether she was the first to enroll in 1912 or the last senior to receive her diploma in 1947, will ever forget his humble, patient, loving kindess.”

Dr. Homer Rainey will succeed him. Raney served as president of the University of Texas-Austin from 1939 to 1944. In 1946, he ran an unsuccessful campaign for governor of Texas. At Stephens, he’ll enjoy a nearly decade-long tenure as president.

The Stephens community this year also had to say goodbye to Basil Deane Gauntlett, who served as director of the Stephens College Conservatory from 1909 until his passing in 1946. Gauntlett was a pianist who performed across the country and a beloved member of the faculty, according to tributes left to him in the yearbook.

The 1947 Stephensophia is built around the idea of the United Nations and it’s potential for the future. 

There’s even a letter from Warren R. Austin—a U.S. Senator from Vermont and 2nd U.S. Ambassador to the U.N.—from his U.N. office in New York addressed to the “Girls of Stephens College.” He writes: “Just as the combined power and effort of all people are required to defeat the common enemy during the war, it will take the devoted interest of people in every country to defeat the much more destructive common enemies of hunger, disease and ignorance. We now have the United Nations through which to wage this struggle. We must face the future with good will, with patience, with vision; we must face it with a full sense of our responsibility as world citizens. We must face it with the knowledge that ours is the era which can fulfill the ancient dream of a world where men may live as brothers and work for the good of all.”

A World Federation Committee is formed at Stephens to sponsor and promote interest and understanding in the U.N.

There’s also a new course in international relations under the Division of Social Studies. The goal is to promote a greater understanding of present situations and problems of international scope.  The faculty, pictured below, is dedicated to helping women become “the best possible citizens.” (Today, that would include not smoking pipes on campus!)

The Occupations Division aims to deliver “an education for making a living.” Today, that’s how many people view college in general. But the faculty understood the broader scope of liberal arts education. “A careful study has been made of those occupations for which women are especially fitted by temperament, aptitude and experience. As rapidly as possible, programs are developed for specific training of women in these selected vocations. It is recognized, however, that occupational interests occupy only a small part of the total time available to an individual. Therefore, students taking courses in the Division of Occupations are urged to elect as much work as possible in other divisions in order to prepare themselves to meet their numerous personal and social responsibilities.”

Attention is returning to a campus fund to build a new chapel—which began eight years ago but was stalled because of the war. The chapel, of course, will become Firestone Baars, which students (and brides) still enjoy today.

Jo Glatt
Jo Glatt is president of the Civic Association this year. She would go on to become Jo Standish-Lee, a bronze life master at bridge, world traveler, mom, grandma and “elegant woman who lived life to the fullest,” according to her 2013 obituary.

There’s a page dedicated to democracy, saying “Democracy did not ‘happen’ to Stephens. It grew out of the basic philosophy on which the College is founded. Its primary educational goal is the development of individual personality…When we say that our campus is a democratic campus, we mean that every girl is granted the necessary ‘elbow room’ to expand her interests and develop her fullest capabilities, that every girl is challenged with the responsibility of governing herself and helping to govern others for the best interest of all; that every girl, under a system of democratic representation, lives under her own jurisdiction in a free community governed by the will of free citizens.”

There’s a new fashion club for students with an eye toward interesting students in choosing proper clothing, promoting fashions of good taste and learning more about nationally known designers.

The Prince of Wales Club has changed its rules for admissions. Women no longer have to fall off of a horse before being invited. Now, to qualify, women have to be able to put a horse through three gaits, bridle and saddle a horse and pass a written test on breeds, aids and gaits. The club his year attended an American Royal Horse Show.

Phyllis Terry
The yearbook includes letter form the senior class written by Syril Levingson—fitting as Stephens just sent another group of graduates into the world. She writes: “During our two years at Stephens, we have acquired an understanding of the truths of experience; we have developed a truer sense of values; we have gained independence in judgment; we have discovered a new spiritual wealth and made it a living part of us. We feel in our hearts the full joy of achievement, which tempers our sadness in leaving Now as we place our diplomas among our Stephens treasures, we feel we have passed the introductory tests and are ready for the next step toward mature responsibility. Whatever our new situations may be, we know that our success will depend on the way in which we use our Stephens heritage.”

Marjo Langrell
Some notable Stephens women this year include Phyllis Terry, now Phyllis Sandel, who reminded us a few years ago on Facebook that her mom was Class of '23, her daughter was Class of '77 and granddaughter was the Class of '12. This year, Terry is involved in the World Federation Committee.

Elizabeth Murphy
Elizabeth Murphy is editor of the Stephens Standard. She studied journalism and aviation and went in to serve in the Civil Air Patrol, traveling throughout Europe, before working as a copywriter in Detroit.

And Marjo Langrell represents the Ideal of Cheerfulness this year. She went on to become Marjo Price, a longtime friend of Stephens and recipient, along with her husband, Al, of the 2011 Chamber of Commerce Outstanding Citizen Award.

Stephens has its eye on the future this year. The annual faculty show was all about the “Flying Sixties”—what life, and Stephens, will be like in the 1960s. Stephens, they predict will be “a truly incredible school whose students think nothing of hopping into their planes (jet propelled, naturally) and streaking back and forth across the world to get their knowledge ‘on the spot.’ No corner of the globe is too remote for these intrepid Susies of tomorrow to penetrate. We more-or-less earthbound students of 1947 laughed at the idea of siesta in Hawaii and Applied Fashion in Paris. And yet…and yet how do we know? What would a Susie of twenty years ago have said if she had been given a picture of the cosmopolitan Stephens of today? It may be stretching things a little far to call the ‘Flying Sixties’ a preview, but our world-conscience campus of today does give promise of far wider horizons tomorrow.”

Turns out, Stephens women weren't hopping into airplanes and jet setting around the world in the 1960s. But we're getting closer to what our foremothers of 1947 predicted. Today, more and more Stephens women are adding Study Abroad to their college experiences. Many Stephens fashion students are, indeed, studying fashion in Paris....although we're not quite siesta-ing in Hawaii. Maybe in another 70 years.

We leave you with this. It's a poem written by Stephens students in honor of President Wood.

Our Answer Dedicated to President Wood on his retirement from the presidency of Stephens College after thirty-five years of outstanding service and leadership. 

“The time has come to step aside,” said he. “Time frees the hand, but the heart is never free. Though tower and bell and ivied walls may stay, The arch, the court, the same as yesterday, It is not these that bind my thoughts to you. 'Tis sound of laughter, footsteps passing through The thousand doorways, down the winding walks, The memory of friends-and friendly talks. The Stephens I have loved goes ever on, And I shall go on with it, closer drawn By ties securely knit in mind and heart, At one with you, of all your dreams a part. Whatever bloom the future years may bear Will be the bounty which my soul will share. Your peace will be my prayer, and your success The crowning smile of my own happiness.”
Our more than thousand voices raised as one, We answer him: “Love's race is never run. You fathered us in spirit, helped us grow. Our rooted faith is anchor 'gainst the blow Of storm and changing winds. Like father, you Have molded us to your own likeness true. 'The time has come to step aside' you say. A phrase! . As April steps aside for May! As nurturing June, beneath a sun-filled sky Gives way to golden harvests of July! But love lives on, as changing seasons run, And autumn warms itself with April sun. We taken the road ahead, as you have planned. In common faith, we take it hand in hand.” 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Stephens: A Look Back - 1946

It’s 1946, the “age of science” and the Stephens College yearbook is dedicated to “the discoverers and users of knowledge in the interest of human betterment.” 

The Stephensophia staff in its foreward writes: “On every hand we see its effects in terms of new inventions, improved methods of transportation, increased comforts of living, but to what extent has the ‘method of science’ been adopted in approaching the problems of social life, the problems of education, the problems of politics, the problems of peace? In the presentation of this book, we profoundly hope that this generation will attack the critical problems of the world with scientific understanding and with objective and impartial judgment.”

President James Madison Wood also explores the question of science, writing that the “human personality is the center fact in all creation.” He questions what the role of science is in the education and lives of men and women.

And W.W. Charters—in what’s become an annual somewhat somber address to students—writes: “for a quarter of a century Stephens has conscientiously sought to use reason and science in attacking all its problems. It has been alert to improvement in all areas. It has investigated, collected facts, tried out ideas and adopted those which were found to be good. In such an atmosphere it is inevitable that Stephens students should learn to apply scientific methods to solving their own problems. Instead of settling matters by relying on their prejudices and emotions, they learn to be more objective, to become more detached, to gather more useful facts, and try out things to see if they will work. They become thoughtful rather than irresponsible women. They develop quiet assurance because they have thought things through. Never in the recorded history of civilization has it been so important as in these years for women citizens to be trained in the scientific method, to investigate the complex problems of the world and use their reasoning powers to arrive at honest, intelligent and well-founded convictions.”

Harvey Walter, who served as director of admissions and was associated with Stephens for more than 30 years, has died. We’re told he played an important role in establishing the Stephens stables, introducing the aviation program and organizing the college store. Today, Walter Hall stands in his honor.

The Home and Family Division at Stephens has a new dressmaking shop and is developing a three-year plan to prepare students to enter the field of fashion design.

Diana Gould
Diana Gould is senior class president this year and writes: “We must develop ours sense of values, our powers of independent judgment…life has no ultimate graduation. We must prove continuously that we have attained the real goal which Stephens has set before us, that we have learned the values, the methods of living that underlie successful, cultured womanhood.”

If the name sounds familiar, Diana Gould is now Diana Gould Coleman and was pictured in the Spring/Summer issue of Beyond Stephens.

The Foreign Relations Club continues to bring big names to campus. This year, it hosted New York Times reporters Harrison Foreman and Walter Duranty, the latter of whom was a Pulitzer Prize winner.

Bettye Maxwell
Clubs continue to expand on campus with the addition of Orchesis, an honorary modern dance group, and a Campus Photo Staff made up of hobby  photographers this year. The World Peace Organization also remains active, managing the sale of bonds and stamps in connection with the National Victory Loan.

The Best Private Citizen this year is Bettye Maxwell, and it’s a fitting title. She would go on to become Bettye Krolick, an accomplished musician who volunteered as a Braille transcriber and would go on to become President of the National Braille Association and author of the first International Braille Music Dictionary for the Library of Congress.

Jeanne Shepard
And Jeanne Shepard is Civic Association President. She’d go on to be Jeanne Vance, a longtime English teacher.

The 1946 Stephensophia for the first time in years includes a section of drawings and stories from students—mostly memories of the year on campus, from arriving on the train, to the first formal dinner to more specific memories such as burst pipes producing a “geyser at the intersection of College and Broadway.”