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.


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