Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Stephens: A Look Back - 1958

On the shelves in the Office of Advancement, the 1958 Stephensophia sticks out. It’s oddly shaped—longer than the other volumes and doesn’t quite fit on the shelf just right.

Now we know why.

This is a very unusual edition of the Stephensophia. It’s a gorgeous volume full of interesting (and sometimes risqué) photos and images of extremely interesting Stephens Women. The book’s theme is “The Woman” and throughout the pages are images of important artwork depicting all sorts of female figures, as well as female drawings. 

The Stephensophia staff explains its reasoning:

When we held our first and only formal staff meeting last spring, we decided that our book would not follow the pattern of yearbooks in the past. Rather than a repetitious record, ours would be a portrait of the Stephens College, and, in her profile, a picture of Woman. We use the subdivision pages to present her physical beauty. ….The shape of the book has been changed to fit in with the trend in our society to lengthen and streamline its products. We have enjoyed creating the Sophie. Through the months, we have worked to produce more than good journalism. We have worked to produce a book of the years, an aesthetic and memorable portrayal of you, the Woman.
Later, we learn more about yearbook editor Jan Rivard “whose spirit inspired a yearbook.” We learn she is a model who would rather buy a book on painting than a pair of shoes (and then only desert boots will do), that she’s part French, part camera tripod and that she’s an artist who “paints her own life in splashes of vivid coral.” 

We were delighted to discover that Jan, now Jan Attridge, hasn’t changed much. Today, she’s a figurative painter, graphic designer, astrologer and teacher--and you can view her website here

You might recall, the chapel opened last year, more than a decade after Stephens students began raising money for it. Times have changed. Women are starting to question the College’s requirement that all students attend services. In fact, we’re told, it’s the “issue of the year,” followed by a lengthy point-counterpoint. One student argues that freedom of religion is one of the basic principals of democracy and that requiring religious attendance violates that right. She argues that college women are adults and should form their own ideas. “Yet where religion is concerned we are denied the choice of decision. This required religious attendance is not only undemocratic, it is also an insult to the students, a threat to the growth of personal beliefs, a prompter of dishonesty and a policy which is conducive to hypocrisy.” She then challenges administrators to bring it to a student vote.

Yet another student argues that the College makes clear the requirement to attend non-denominational Burrall classes and that students cannot honestly say they were unaware of that stipulation. As adult women, students should realize that they would be expected to follow the laws of a community, the counter-point argues. She then challenges that making it a choice opens up the chance that a student could later argue she doesn’t want to learn English and shouldn’t have to take English classes.

Regardless, Burral Classes are as popular as ever, and religion this year remains a vital part of the Stephens experience.

We first met Donna Ensign in 1957. This year, she is Civic Association President who also represents the Ideal of Forcefulness. 

As we told you last week, Donna Ensign Marshall has served Stephens generously over the years as a trustee, donor and friend. So her letter to the student body really foretells her future dedication to the College:

You are a Stephens woman and always will be. People see and admire it in both your speech and actions and you can be proud that you are the possessor of such a distinction. This is a characteristic in your make-up that no one can take from you; the combination of knowledge, sound philosophy of life, strong religious convictions, the quest to be thought of as different! After all, aren't we all secretly glad that, to coin a phrase, "You can tell a Stephens girl anywhere"? You are not a member of an ordinary College Student Body. You are a member of the Stephens College Civic Association. In this capacity you are not a follower, but a leader in your own right…Whichever is your pathway to follow, you will have the memories of the "togetherness" we enjoyed here and the wonderful, enduring Spirit of Stephens College. You have made this spirit endure.

The 1958 yearbook also includes more photos of Columbia and MU than in the past, including this interesting drawing of Stephens Women superimposed over a photo of an MU football game. 

To Stephens Women, football games were not a time for T-shirts and tailgating. Here’s how the yearbook staff describes football season:

You cheer for the Tigers in spicy shades of autumn wool, worn with the casual smartness which typifies that Stephens style. After the game, you slip into a sheath of sophistication, the basic black. A touch of pearls, crisp white gloves, and you’re a fashionplate for fun—be it frat house or nightclub. Your date is waiting…

And about coming to Stephens for the first time:

You sit by a window, watching the miles dissolve into the past…your thoughts racing with the wheels that rumble beneath you…thoughts of home and the boy friend who kissed you goodbye…of the girl beside you who looks like a fashion magazine ad…and of the future…Stephens waits.

This is also the first year Stephens Women have designated a “Susie Sweetheart.” This year, John Mitchell, midshipman at the U.S. Naval Academy earns the “petticoat world approval in the King of Hearts Contest.”

The yearbook starts out describing some of the more popular creative majors at Stephens and profiles a student in the program. In music, we’re told Lynn Blair “laughingly tried out for a part in a high school operetta and to her surprise was cast in the lead role.” She continued her studies at Stephens and became Lynn Blair Cohen, an opera singer.

There’s also a poetic account of Sonja Ulsaker’s life in Japan included in the Stephensophia. 

“Through Rice Paper Panels” stems from the three years she lived there while her father was stationed in the Army. It’s set during WWII and describes a Japanese soldier returning to see his family before going back into combat…and with a chilling end.

He ran into the temple grounds. Beads of sweat ran down his face. His uniform smelled of grease, work. He rushed up the stairs of the shrine and halted. He stood reverently before Buddha. "Hear me, Oh Buddha. I came before you to pray for my life. I know now what I must ask. I shall die, willingly. It is my duty, my privilege. But my plea, Oh Buddha, is that you will protect my wife and child. Although I shall never see them again in this life, I will be assured of their safety in your care. Buddha, if you will . . . keep them safe . . . safe, here in Hiroshima.

Sonja went on to be Sonja Ulsaker Peterson, an author and poet.

A few more examples of the notable women of 1958:

Anna Sitton, who this year is Appreciation of the Beautiful, became Anna Hays, first managing editor of Sesame Street Magazine and later developed original Sesame Street books. You can read more about her here.

Vivian Eynatten, who is Cheerfulness, is Vivian Benedict, Leadership Academy Coordinator for the MO Association of REALTORS.

And Peachy Fort, senior class president, is now Peachy Horne, also a REALTOR in the Greater Atlanta Area.

Some other interesting photos from 1958:

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Stephens: A Look Back - 1957

It’s 1957 and the Stephens Stephensophia is celebrating the opening of the new Chapel on campus. Throughout the yearbook are various religious symbols and quotes.

“The appearance of our chapel has produced a greater awareness in us of the importance of religion in our lives,” the staff writes. “Today, more than ever, mature young women feel the need of a strong faith in order to face the complexities of modern life. Through the symbols of five major religions, the editors of the Stephensophia have tried to picture this awareness of the importance of religion and the need for peoples of many faith to understand one another.”

In his address, President Thomas Spragens writes that the chapel “bespeaks the commitment and belief of its countless alumnae and friends who worked for years toward its building. It has been shaped into its feeling of serene but inspiring warmth by the imagination of President Emeritus Wood and the architectural artistry of Eero Saarinen. It has at once become a symbol for all of us of the ultimate values around which our own lives are shaped.”

Past President James Wood returned to campus to tour the chapel. You might recall, plans and fundraising for the building began in the 1930s but came to a halt when the war began. Just a side note, the City of Columbia recently found the original building plans (and Saarinen’s designs) in their old files and returned them to Stephens.

The chapel remains an important structure on campus today, hosting Vespers during the school year and numerous weddings throughout the year.

Like Stephensophias in recent years, the 1957 book is mostly photos. A few:

TV crews from “Wide Wide World” came to campus in December to document the history of American’s “girls’ schools.” Wide Wide World was a popular 90-minute documentary-style television broadcast.

Stephens also hosted some impressive guests again this year. The Foreign Relations Club brought in British Labour Politician Sir Herbert Morrison, who spoke on “the battle for peace”; Dr. Ralph Lapp, a physicist who participated in the Manhattan Project producing the first atomic bombs; and Dr. Ralph Bunche, a political scientist and the first African American to receive a Nobel Peace Prize in 1950.

And again this week, we were able to track down some info on a few of this year’s campus leaders.

Patricia Craddock, editor of this year’s Stephens Life, went on to be a distinguished professor and chair at the University of Florida, an author and an expert on historic Edward Gibbon. (We took the liberty of visiting her faculty page and enjoyed seeing this photo of her, right, on campus with Jeri Taylor, who went on to be executive producer of two popular Star Trek series and author of numerous scripts. There’s no record of a Jeri Taylor in our files or on the yearbook, unless at that time her first name was Barbara—but we couldn’t find any evidence of that, either.)

Fittingly, Craddock this year also represents the Ideal of Love of Scholarship.


Sidne Koons, this year’s president of the International Club, became Sidne Bergmanis and was a fashion designer whose designs were featured twice on the cover of Seventeen Magazine. She was also a model.


Helen Locke went on to Texas Tech and, as Helen Carter, volunteered with her community’s library board and helped improve adult literacy. This year, she represents Cheerfulness.

This is also Leslie Nassbaum’s year. She went on to be Leslie Rubinstein, music critic and journalist. So it’s no wonder she’s editor-in-chief this year of the Stephensophia.

Then there’s Janet Shaw who, as Janet Fowler has become a published poet and author, including of the Kaya and Kirsten series in the American Girls Collection. This year, she represents Appreciation of the Beautiful.


And it’s also the year of Donna Ensign started her Stephens legacy. We know her as Donna Ensign Marshall, a Stephens trustee, donor and friend. This year, she is editor-and-chief of Within the Ivy, a campus publication for juniors by juniors.


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Stephens: A Look Back - 1956

It’s 1956 and Stephens College this year is graduating some pretty impressive women.

This is the year Jeannene Thompson graduated. Thompson went on to Parsons School of Design in New York City, became Jeannene Booher and worked with some of the best designers in the country. Booher was a partner and designer for Maggy London dress company and created her own line of dresses and two-piece outfits that were sold at Neiman Marcus, Barneys, Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom’s.

Her eye for style also earned her the Appreciation of the Beautiful Ideal at Stephens.

Then there’s Freddie Weber who this year is senior class president and the Ideal of Service. Weber is a performer, singer, songwriter and author.

Paulette Vitrier—this year’s Best Private Citizen—would go on to be Paulette Blair, serving as a Republican committee woman for 10 years. President Richard Nixon appointed her to lead a White House Conference of Children and Youth. She was also a teacher, volunteer, philanthropist and socialite well known in her community.

Edith Royce is now Edith Roycee Schade, publisher of Goodale Hill Press. Also known as “Duffy,” she’s a photographer whose works can be seen at David James Gallery in Connecticut and Works of Hand in Winter Harbor, Maine. She is a member of Connecticut Women Artists, a volunteer and a conservationist. In 1956, she represents Self Discipline.

And, of course, Sara Jane Johnson, a Stephens trustee who has been an active alumna, volunteer, donor and dear friend to Stephens.

The Class of 1956 also started a tradition we continue at Stephens today. The Senior Class Council formed a gift committee and began the tradition of presenting a formal gift to the school on senior day. Today, that gift is presented at May Commencement—this year, the Class of 2014 presented President Dianne Lynch with a beautiful quilt for Dudley Hall with the signatures of every graduate on the back.

The Prince of Wales Club hosts a Christmas party for the horses at the stables—another tradition still recognized at Stephens today. This year, the club also hosts an equestrian-related fashion show, modeling correct and fashionable riding clothes.

And this is the year Firestone Baars Chapel is being built. Stephens women in the late 1930s requested a chapel on campus but the war stalled construction. Today, students still enjoy Vespers in the chapel, which is also a popular wedding venue.

President Thomas Spragens for the first time includes a message in the Stephensophia yearbook. He writes: “Underlying all your heightened awareness is the realization that life for you and around you will be what you make it. I know that each of you will assume with pride your lifetime role as a member of the great Stephens sorority now so numerously and widely spread throughout the country and abroad.”

Stephens women get the chance to study abroad again this year, taking group trips to Mexico, New York and Europe.

Guests to campus this year include French violinist Henri Aubert and singers Hugh Thompson and Marian Anderson—all part of the Burrall Concert Series. The Foreign Relations Club sponsors Gay Humphrey and Ted Curran, American students who gained notoriety when they were granted permission to travel to the Soviet Union; journalist James Reston; Senator William Fulbright and General Carlos Romulo, a Filipino diplomat.

The Playhouse hosts an opera workshop this year, producing, “The Secret,” an original operetta in one act by Val Patacchi of the voice department and William Ashbrook, formerly of the humanities department.  

The Stephensophia concludes with this blurb summarizing Stephens wonderfully: “Stephens is not just an organized body of teaching and serving. Stephens is fun; it’s laughing at parties; the thrill of formal dances; the beauty of white Sunday and the warmth of friendship.”

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Stephens: A Look Back - 1955

The 1955 Stephensophia is dedicated to Dr. Louise Dudley.

The yearbook staff writes: ““A college is more than fine buildings and semester credits, more than budgets and committees, more than books and test tubes. For a college to exist there must be minds proposing problems to the laboratory, minds stabbing the classroom silence with dagger definitions, minds feeding upon the rows of books endlessly asking. More than bricks and glass, a college is a community of thinking minds. To make this definition of a college more than a beguiling phase has been the thirty-five year endeavor of Dr. Louise Dudley. Her name, synonymous with humanities at Stephens, has come to stand for vigor in teaching, for broad scholarship, for patience and humor for intellectual adventure. To watch her work in the classroom is to witness the act of thinking in public. Therefore not for her honors or her years do we dedicate this book to her, not for her kindness, her friendliness. It is rather for her dedication to thought that we in turn dedicate, committing ourselves thereby to the high ideal in education which she leaves us as a legacy and a challenge.”

The yearbook this year, by the way, is all lowercase, perhaps styled after poet e.e. cummings who is at the height of his career.

Like last year, there isn’t much copy describing each department, rather a brief blurb and some photos.

We’re told Dr. Harry Philpott is now leading Burrall Class which continues to make religion an integral part of the life of each student. It is a non-denominational service covering a range of topics related to the problems of everyday life. Other Burrall activities include White Sundays, evening prayer and the 7:22 p.m. discussion group.

At the Playhouse this year, theatre students perform “The Circle,” “The Skin of Our Teeth,” “My Three Angels” and “Angel Street.” (The latter was produced at Okoboji Summer Theatre last year.)

Guests on campus this year include opera singer Heidi Krall, singer Patricia Bybell and classical pianist Leonard Pennario. English tennis star Mary Hardwick also visits. And the Foreign Relations Lecture Series includes John Gunther, author of “Inside Africa,” Sen. Alexander Wiley, a Republican from Wisconsin, and Barbara Ward, the British economist known for talking about the fate of western survival.

Students continue to travel throughout the semester this year visiting New York City, Mexico, Europe and Washington, D.C.

In addition to government and sororities, Prince of Wales Club remains popular, as does the Student Recreation Association and numerous honors societies.

A few notable students include Betty Attwood who is editor of Stephens Life and represents the Ideal of Forcefulness. She went on to work as a reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle before becoming Betty Collins and starting a family. She was also an active volunteer involved in numerous service and community organizations.

Robyn Cotner, who represents the Ideal of Appreciation of the Beautiful, went on to enjoy a successful career as a actor and dancer, at the peak of it dancing in New York alongside Martha Graham. She became Robyn Wright and later in life taught dancing and pursuing writing.

Jeri Emmert went on to become Jeri Stahr, a longtime school teacher-turned-school board member in Indiana. In 1955, she’s president of the senior class and writes: “These two years at Stephens have given us things that we could not have gained elsewhere and that we will never forget…the many friendships we’ve made, the faculty, vespers, the games and parties at M.U., the Bermuda Bounce, the Lounge, the singing, Stop Days and various clubs. These things and the intangible something known as Stephens Spirit cannot be forgotten with graduation.”