On September 25th, Ellen Swallow '70 supplied her family with a detailed description of a typical college day: "I have now got so far settled that I will give you a sketch of my daily occupations.  The bell strikes at six. At quarter to seven we have breakfast.  Each one can leave the dining room as soon as she is finished, and thus I get time to make my bed, which is all we have to do in our rooms.  In chapel we sing and Miss Lyman [the Lady Principal] offers prayer.  We have ten minutes then for arranging our rooms, or if it is done, for study, then we have twenty minutes alone for devotion and meditation in perfect quiet.  Study hours do not begin until nine.  At quarter of ten I go down to philosophy.  I like Professor [of chemistry and physics] Farrar very much. There is an intellectual power about him.  All recitations are forty minutes.  At twelve we have trigonometry, at one comes dinner which occupies three-quarters of an hour, then I go out of doors for an hour, write an hour, and if my lessons are nearly ready for the next day, go into the Library directly after French and perhaps read or study a little before dressing for tea, which is at six.  Then chapel and another twenty minutes as silent time; from 7.30 to 9.45 for writing, reading or study.  I find that I have much time to myself and it seems so pleasant to be able to read and write with much comfort and without danger of interruption, which used to disturb me so much.  I have not been homesick for a moment.  I have nothing to complain of.

"It would seem that there is an immense amount of travel in this great building, but on counting up, I find that my regular work requires my going up and down about two hundred and fifty steps daily, and I have to walk nearly a mile on the corridors."     Georgia Kendrick, "The Early Days of Vassar, Series I," The Vassar Miscellany, January 1, 1899

Graduating from the college in 1870, Swallow was the first woman to be granted provisional student status at the Massachesetts Institute of Technology. The recipient of the bachelor of science degree from MIT in 1873 and, simultaneously, Vassar's master of arts degree, she was the country's preeminent water scientist at the time of her graduation.  Continuing at MIT in the laboratory of Professor William Ripley Nichols, the head of the chemistry laboratory, in 1876 she joined the staff of the institute's new laboratory for women.  She is credited as the founder of the field of home economics, being, in the words of Vassar's Professor History Lucy Maynard Salmon, "among the very first to realize that the home affords an opportunity for scientific investigation and she became our first great pioneer home missionary."     Lucy M. Salmon, "Ellen Swallow Richards," Journal of Home Economics, January, 1915