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.

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