Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Stephens: A Look Back - 1953

It’s 1953 and Stephens College has a new president.

It’s not clear, however, where President Homer Rainey has gone. His official biography doesn't pick up again until 1956 when he joined the University of Colorado faculty. There is no mention of Rainey in the 1953 Stephensophia. The official Homer P. Rainey Papers indicate there had been some concerns about Rainey’s political affiliations.

His replacement is Thomas Spragens, a Kentucky native who has worked at the U.S. Bureau of the Budget, the Foreign Economic Administration and as an assistant to the president at Stanford University. Compared to his predecessors, he’s a young man, and he and his wife have three small children.

The 1953 Stephensophia is dedicated to Frank W. Dearing, a master builder. We’re told he came to campus in 1922 when Stephens was a single plot of land.

Stephens is as active as ever with a club for most majors and hobbies. The World Citizenship Organization this year held a mock presidential election, and a campus-wide carnival included “barkers,” sideshows, guessing games, fortune tellers and dart-throwing.

The Division of Occupations, which oversees the aviation, business and fashion programs, is growing in popularity. We’re told since the “outbreak of World War II, a greater number of women have been working than ever before. With the accelerated need for women, Stephens has adjusted its programing to these changing needs of society.” Today, we call that the Stephens method—we continue to add and adjust programming around actual industry needs.

There’s also a new course called Women in Community Leadership that brings in guest instructors—women who have made outstanding contributions in public affairs.

Another campus guest this year is Margaret Bourke-White, the famous Life reporter who is just back from Korea this year. Bourke-White was the first female war correspondent and the first foreign photographer allowed to take photographs of Soviet industry.

Students also had a chance to travel the world again this year, taking Stephens-sponsored trips to Mexico, Jamaica and throughout the U.S. The Concert Chorus also toured Indiana and Kentucky as well as visiting the Rolla School of Mines—now the Missouri University of Science & Technology.

This year, the Standing Ideals Committee is charged with promoting Stephens’ Ten Ideals, including creating and hanging posters around campus—a practice still observed by our graphic design students today. 

This year, however, a single student is not assigned to represent each Ideal—or if they were, they’re not photographed in the yearbook as in past years. This year, the 

Stephensophia uses images from campus to represent the Ideals. Here are a few:

 Among this year’s class is Joan Mell, Civic Association president. Mell would go on to the Joan Mell Lansche, a founding member of a foundation dedicated to protecting the watershed of the Henry’s Fork on Snake River. She also was known for assisting breast cancer survivors.

Burrall Cabinet is headed by Dorothy Figel, now Dr. Dorothy Figel Buckner, a psychiatrist in Georgia.

And Gretel Sternberg, a member of the Aviation Club and the Council of Hall Managers, went on to be a special representative to the president of National Airlines. Gretel Coursol, as she’s known today, has worked in a number or other roles, as well. We found her on YouTube, where she posted this wonderful footage of the 1953 Stephens Commencement. Enjoy.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Stephens: A Look Back - 1952

The 1952 Stephensophia is dedicated to the “Stephens girl; her place on the campus, in society and in the world; for it is during her youth that the personal values, principals and ideals on which she is to base her life are formed.”

We start this week’s edition with some sad news. Dr. W.W. Charters, who just retired two years ago after a long tenure at Stephens, has passed away this year. He’s praised as an “educational engineer” who oversaw many aspects of Stephens that were considered “firsts” in the educational world. His style of education, learning by doing, continues to be the foundation of education at Stephens.

In development this year is a Roblee Hall experience aimed to encourage students to carry more responsibility. There’s also a new “Women in Modern Contemporary Life” series that brings women to campus who have successfully combined marriage, family and community interests with a profession.

Speaking of marriage, the Home and Family Division under Dr. Bowman has decided to make sure marriage courses are working by surveying married alumnae. Some 20,000 questionnaires were sent out and more than half came back. The purpose, we're told, was to better understand problems real married women face.

Stephens is also adjusting its programing at this time to better reflect the growing number of women working outside the home. Radio has expanded to television, now a growing field—and some 50 years later will morph into our digital film program, continuing to reflect industry needs.

The College has also added a new “Introduction to Christian Thought” course in light of an evolving society. The goal is to provide young women with the “Christian answer” to contemporary secular situations.

There are several notable guests on campus this year, including Val Patacchi—an opera legend with leading roles in some of the world’s greatest operas—who conducts an opera workshop. The Foreign Relations Club also brings in well-known author Pearl S. Buck, U.S. Sen. Margaret Chase Smith and Camille Chautemps, four-time prime minister of France.

Other clubs this year include fashion, music, home arts, math and the Council of States Club. Burrall Cabinet remains active with a variety of campus. There’s also a page dedicated to Jessie Burrall Eurbank, who at this time is working at a Baptist church in Washington. The yearbook staff gives a history of the cabinet, reporting that former President James Madison Wood, after arriving in 1912, was interested in boosting the number of college students attending church. We’re told he searched for six years, with one minister telling him to give up, saying “There’s nothing you can do for these young hyenas. Interesting them [in religion] is impossible.”

Wood spent six years searching before hearing Jessie Burrall, who was then associate editor of The National Geographic, talk about Sunday School education. He persuaded her to come in 1921 and the result, of course, was this enormous Sunday school held at Stephens for decades attended by both Stephens and MU students.

Stephens students continue to travel this year, taking trips to Europe, Mexico and Cuba. The Aviation Club also travels, flying to neighboring cities such as Topeka.

Stephens sounds like a really fun campus this year with events such as the Frozen Fantasy Christmas party, dances, a sock hop and a “Coke, Smoke and Joke” party where “mountains of potato chips and gallons of coke were consumed.”

Finally, there’s a series of hand-drawn comics tucked in the advertising section that really reflect the times. Enjoy.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Stephens: A Look Back - 1951

The 1951 Stephensophia opens with a letter from Eleanor Roosevelt. Writing from the U.N. Headquarters, she congratulates the yearbook staff for their interest in the United Nations and Human Rights Commission and encourages them to continue to study the Declaration of Human Rights. The yearbook itself is dedicated to “world understanding and peace.”

Enrollment has swollen with students representing what was then all 48 states, as well as some foreign countries.

Social activities this year include an Independents Flight, a Frozen Fantasy Christmas party and a U.N. Week hosted by the World Citizenship Organization. The annual Thanksgiving junior-senior hockey game—a tradition since the early 1900s—is called off because of weather.
Professional dancer Hariette Gray visits campus this year. At this time, she is still working in Hollywood teaching movement to actresses at Columbia Studios. Gray previously was leading dancer with the Humphrey-Weidman Dance Company. She’ll go on to oversee the dance program here, starting her own company on campus in 1976. This year, her visit to campus is sponsored by the Student Recreation Association, which also hosts professional tennis player Mary Hardwicke.

President Homer Raney has become as beloved as his predecessor. He and Mrs. Raney have become known for leaving the porch light on at the President’s Home, a signal to students that they’re welcome to stop by.

Dr. Henry Bowman’s Marriage for Moderns movies are out now; a series of five being shown across the country. We’re told: “In the type of marriage that is developing in this country today, there is an emphasis on personal relationships that was unknown in earlier times. Wage-earning and domestic skills are still very important, but they have been put into a new perspective. This means, among other things, that to be successful, the modern wife must have most of the virtues of the old-fashioned wife   plus a great many more. Recognition of this is one of the basic reasons for which education in marriage is growing so rapidly in American schools and colleges.”

That said, Stephens very much expects her students to use their education. The Playhouse at this time is the only college operating a continuous theatre program that enables students to receive professional training as members of an actual stock company. “It is in the interest of the theatre department to prepare the girls for theatre work in wartime recreation, in their own community or in professional theatre and to give the entire campus the pleasure and personal growth which come from seeing good plays.”

The Stephensophia reports that George C. Scott is joining the staff for the summer. Of course, Scott was a famous actor—he’d go on to portray Patton and, perhaps, the most famous Scrooge of all in the 1984 version of “A Christmas Carol.”

Fashion students are also getting real-world experience becoming skilled seamstresses and working in stores to get retail experience.

In the science program, students continue to learn by doing, as well, taking botany and geology-themed field trips and going on an annual Missouri fox hunt.

A group of Stephens women this year went on a European trip visiting Westminster Abby, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben and other notable sites. Other students took spring tours across the U.S., as well as trips to Cuba and Mexico.

Members of the Aviation Club, a junior member of the Women’s National Aeronautics Association, continue to take flying lessons and this year visited the Naval Base in St. Louis. There’s also a new Council of State groups to connect students from the same state—not unlike individual state clubs popular in the early 1900s.

Some notable students of 1951:


Margaret Polson, who this year represents the Ideal of Appreciation of the Beautiful, would go on to get a Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina. She was a teacher who also studied art in Mexico, Europe and China and has exhibited her artwork across the country.

Carolyn Smith will become Carolyn Allen, the first woman to be elected mayor of Greensboro—she was re-elected twice. This year, Carolyn represents the Ideal of “Reverence Toward the Spiritual.”

And Joan Membery, president of the Student Recreation Association, will go on to become Dr. Joan Membery, a plastic surgeon.

Also we’d be remiss if we didn’t note that this was the class of the White Hall group, alumnae who have held regular reunions since their Stephens days. They were featured in the Spring/Summer Beyond Stephens for the reunion they held at Camp Mac last year. Among the members is Marilyn Dearmin, who in 1951 is Marilyn Myers and represents the Ideal of Honesty. 

The 1951 Stephensophia also includes a wonderful description of Vespers, a tradition that is still held today. And today’s students appreciate it just as much as the women of 1951.

Every week Juniors and Seniors spend a quiet hour in an atmosphere of meditation. Vespers. To be alone with yourself at the end of the day; to look back over the day's work and meditate on the morrow; these are the things that Vespers gave the Stephens students this year. The juniors attended services on Wednesday night, while the seniors came every Thursday evening. The Assembly hall was always dark with the exception of the effective and beautiful lighting effect of the week on the stage. Quiet organ music preceded the services and followed them. At 7:30 the students, with organ accompaniment, sang "Day is Dying in the West." … The main part of the program was always an inspirational talk by Dean Paul Weaver or a guest speaker. This was the form of Vespers, but the purpose of such services was really the more important element. They were held in order to provide greater spiritual growth for the Stephens students. It was believed that in quietness, a meditative mood could be achieved in which each girl could realize her inner resources and how best to supplement them. The talks of Dean Weaver or a guest speaker were always of an inspirational nature to meet this mood. Such topics as tolerance, appreciation of families, the facing and elimination of fears, thoughtfulness and emotional adjustment were discussed. They always fit the students' particular needs at these certain times. Vespers provided a chance for welcomed relaxation in the midst of a hurried college week. But more important, the students had a chance to get away from all thoughts of campus life, and in the quietness of worship, experience spiritual growth.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Stephens: A Look Back - 1950

It’s 1950 at Stephens and Dr. W.W. Charters is retiring.

He left an amazing legacy, having shaped the experiential learning that was and still is a hallmark of the curriculum. And his reputation is national—the Stephensophia yearbook tells us a two-day conference is held on campus in his honor with dignitaries from across the country in attendance.

Charters addresses the students in the yearbook by writing:

“For 38 years, I have actively participated in the evolution of Stephens College—for longer than any other living man. Particularly have I been interested in the flowing stream of young women—at the close of their protective period and on the threshold of independence—young, eager for new experiences, with an enormous potential of energy to lavish upon their accepted objectives. I have watched them grow with spectacular speed in the control of their common enterprises on the campus. I have been glad to participate in their growth by stressing the importance of efficiency in group enterprises and by helping them to evaluate their projects. We hope they have learned the techniques of improving social living by the efficient operation of group operation. The girls of Stephens do a wonderful job of governing a substantial community as they use the principles of democracy and the vision of their leaders. They are fulfilling the promise of youth.”

Plans are underway for the new chapel which will become Firestone Baars. Eero Saarinen, who designed the St. Louis Arch, of course, has already laid out the plans, although this drawing looks little like the building we see on Journey Plaza. We’re told “the utter simplicity of the building will stress the beauty of line, color, texture and light. The chapel will serve as a place of worship for all religious faiths.”

The Stephensophia tells us that Club ’50 has opened on the lower level of Senior Hall. It’s a lounge that features a juke box, snack bar and small dance floor.

The Stephens yearbooks are getting thicker as enrollment swells. The books are full of student photos and photos from a plethora of clubs on campus representing fashion, theatre, business, journalism, aviation and foreign languages.

A few great images from the yearbook:

While we can’t research everyone, we have discovered a few notable Stephens women from the 1950 yearbook.

Mary “Mel” Stribling is Civic Association president overseeing the student body. She would go on to be Mary Bouldin and went to the University of North Carolina before studying medicine at the University of Tennessee Medical School. She practiced gynecology and obstetrics in Memphis before becoming a clinician for a county health department. She received the Alumnae Achievement Award from Stephens in 1968. In 2005, a scholarship fund was set up in her honor (information from a 2005 Stephens Alumnae Newsletter prepared by Joy Katzen-Guthrie ’80).

Peggy Lee Nicholson is president of Burrall Cabinet, which continues to thrive with Vespers, services, a concert series and other events. Nicholson would go on to be Peggy Sadtler and head public relations at several Baltimore arts, medical and cultural organizations. She was active on the Stephens alumnae board.

And Caroline Dowell, this year’s Four-Fold Girl in our Stephensophia, made headlines a few years ago when she took ownership of Uno, a beagle and one of the most popular Westminster Kennel Club Best in Show winners.

In her address to the senior class, senior president Zoe Windham writes that “Stephens is not only a source for ‘fond memories’ in the future, it is an important basis for our living material. Whether or now we realize it, many of our experiences here, their outcomes and their teachings, have merged into us and shall permanently remain a vital influence on our everyday existence.”

The yearbook closes with a recap of the school year, including sketches, a feature that was popular in the earlier Stephens yearbooks. We thought it might spark some memories, so we’re reprinting it here:

In Retrospect It's May 30, 1950.

Another senior class at Stephens have just received their diplomas and are ready to strike out in the “wide, wide world.
But wait, they are almost ready, but not quite - now is the time to take a few quick, brief glimpses of the past year.

September 11 was the day that it rained Susies into Columbia and Stephens college. They poured in from all points of the compass looking forward to a big year, but with spirits (and persons) already dampened by the inclement Missouri weather. 
“Doesn't it ever shine in old Misery?”

“Hi, Joanie, have a nice summer? Swell to see you back. Come over to see me soon.”
For the seniors the first week was one of renewing old acquaintances and making new ones.

“All right, girls, hup, two, three, four-first to breakfast, then to see advisers and take tests, tests and more tests.”
 Remember, juniors-not even enough time to catch your breath.

“But, Roomo, I reckon you-all know that the lil' ole South won the Civil War.:”

“Oh, yeah, sez who?”

Uh, huh, there were periods of adjustments between roommates, weren't there? . . . four weeks later. Arrival .. ..
Green Ribbon week, White Sunday, the barbecue, the field men's stunt, our Mrs. Rainey singing for us -it was all so long ago. The first convocation, announcement of the Junior Steering committee, teas and coffees, concerts and lectures-they came and went in a rapid-fire succession.
Then there were coke dates of all descriptions, Pan-Hel rush and Advising Day. “Hey, anybody see Jackie Smith? She has red hair and is wearing a purple ribbon in her hair?”
“Quick, did we make the same sorority?”

“IPR's-gosh, what a way to ruin a gal's life!”

Mention Tiger Night, football games at MU, beautiful October days, parties at Pop Collins', SAB-WCO carnival and memories immediately re- turn.

“Waltz me around again, honey. This is wonderful.”

And it was, too-the first formal dance, the Autumn Ball.

“My goodness, here it is November and almost time for Thanksgiving. Let's go to Junior Feature Night and hear the class primary candidates. Wonder if we will ever have a Stop Day?”

By the way, we did have that longed-for Stop Day the eleventh of November!
That was also the date of the WCO auction that started the Student Chest Drive rolling. Breakfast in bed, a trip to St. Louis, lunch served by Dr. Prunty and many other things could be purchased for a nominal fee. It was fun for us and would benefit someone needy, in turn.

Later on in November came the installation of the junior officers. They're on their own now! Thanksgiving morning arrived with the junior-senior hockey game. It was a fight to the finish. The day was topped with a turkey dinner and all the trimmings by candlelight.

“Dear Mom, it will only be three weeks and I will be home for Christmas vacation. We're sure going to be busy these remaining days. There's the Frozen Fantasy (Independent Christmas formal), Pan-Hel formal, Can Sunday, Christmas dinner followed by the traditional concert chorus holiday program and a special Vespers service. And, of course, there are always a few books to crack.”

“Gee, it was good to be home. So many things to talk about.” There were, too-new diamonds and pins given by favorite boy friends.
“Oh, no, it can't be the end of the first semester. Why, I have 72 hours of outside reading to get in, three 5000-word themes to write, ten book reports to get in by Saturday and six semester exams to top it all off!”

Familiar words, weren't they?

That closet sure got stuffy about 3 in the morning. Lights beamed their lonely way across a tired campus every night for a week.

“This new semester will be different. We will work now and play later.”

Wonder if we stuck to that resolution?

February was a short, but full month. Spring elections bring to mind a vision of girls in jeans, faces smeared with paint, running here and there. For a few days the campus was well-decorated with signs and posters. Every blue room echoed with campaign songs and ditties. The carnival spirit of the Mardi Gras pervaded the campus when Tau Sigma Tau sponsored the annual dance. Pan-Hel Day and the Junior-Senior banquet were also on the February agenda as well as the Independent Valentine dance.
Plays at the Playhouse are but still another memory. “Arsenic and Old Lace,” “All My Sons” and “Ascent of F-6” were only a few presented this year.

March brought both the flu bug to Columbia and the announcement of the 1950-51 campus officers. Seniors stepped aside to train their successors for their jobs. The Independent spring formal was left behind and March blew right into Spring Rest before you could say, “Stephens college, Columbia, Missouri!”
“Two months left in this school year. Where have the others gone? So little time left and so much to do.”

April came in with its lovely, lulling weather- snow. Easter, leadership convos, Junior Prom, Senior Independent dinner dance, more recitals and concerts, style show, Play Day, PWC horse show, Pan-Hel formal-all these events and more contributed to the hustle-bustle of the school daze.

“May is here. The weather is wonderful. Why study? Let's sunbathe instead!”

Run to picnics, rush to dinners, hurry to the last cultural events, loaf in the dorms, drag to Commencement and Baccalaureate practice, bone for semester exams, relax and listen to the last Vespers, swing around the dance floor at the Commencement Ball, jog out to the Horse Show and, at last, march up the aisle to receive an award or a diploma.

“Good-bye, Mary. So long, Janie. Be sure to write. Have fun this summer and next year. It's been swell. Thanks for everything, roomo, and 'bye for now.”