Harriet Ballintine, professor of physical education, 1891-1930, introduced basketball to Vassar.  A pioneer in physical education for women, Miss Ballintine attended the first class in athletics for women at Harvard, in the summer of 1889, and studied physical education abroad.  In 1901, she and the English athelete and innovator Constance Applebee founded the American Field Hockey Association.

Every six weeks, each student was required to submit an essay to the English department.  “For our essays we were given six general topics from which to choose: Madame de Sevigne’s Letters, The Connotative Power of Words, The Salvation Army, An Old Testament Story, or a Fairy Story….”     MS letter

Lecturing on "Chaucer as Seen in His Works," Assistant Professor of English George Lyman Kittredge from Harvard University "told us nothing new," observed The Vassar Miscellany, but "we enjoyed hearing him demolish the long accepted Chaucer legends." Professor Kittredge reviewed the scant evidence available, finding that Chaucer, while not a scholar, was learned in Latin, French, Italian, mathematics and chemistry and that he "was not in sympathy with the alchemists and astrologists of the time; he was a reverent son of the church though not a devotee—by no means Paganist as is claimed.... As to his wife, we know that she was named Philippa and was some time lady of the Queen's chamber. She might have been a shrew or a saint. All is conjecture."

A leading Shakespeare scholar and editor, Kittredge was credited with the establishment of Chaucer in the American college curriculum through such works as Observations on the Language of Chaucer’s Troilus (1894), Chaucer and Some of his Friends (1903) and Chaucer and his Poetry (1915.) He spoke at Vassar on several occasions, and in October 1915 he spoke on "The Scholar and the Pedant" at the inauguration of his former student, Henry Noble MacCracken, as Vassar's fifth president.

The "entire college," according to The Miscellany News, turned out and overflowed in Avery Hall when, in May 1937, Professor Kittredge gave a "brilliant address" on Shakespeare's Villains." This last visit was also marked by a minor domestic catastrophe. Reported by The Misc under the headline "'Mechanics' of Faucets on Tub Baffle Kittredege," the distinguished visitor awakened his hosts, President and Mrs. McCracken, on the morning after his lecture, with cries for help. Bathing, he had be unable to turn off the water and had flooded a bathroom. Rescued by Mrs. MacCracken, "said the eminent Shakespeare scholar, 'Well, I never was any good at anything mechanical.'"

Harriot Stanton Blatch ’78 addressed economics classes on “The Industrial Condition of Women in England.”

17 new courses were announced for the next academic year: two in Greek; two in French; two in German, one of them in scientific German; one in physiographic geology; seven in mathematics, including two in solid analytical geometry, two in modern geometry and one each in determinants, calculus and theory of equations; one in English in modern literature; one in economics in money and banking.      The New York Times

In his baccalaureate sermon to the Class of 1894, President Taylor, drawing from Luke xvii. 21, “The kingdom of God is within you,” urged the application of Christ’s philosophy to practical problems and to the advancement of the kingdom of God. The kingdom would not advance, he said, through speculative philosophy but through good works.  He urged the class to be rich individually so as to be rich to others and to live an objective life of service.

The baccalaureate hymn was composed by Leonora Howe ’94.     The New York Times

Two seniors, Lil Beers ’94 and Lillie Hench ’94, were among the students presenting the Commencement concert in the Chapel.  Nearly 100 alumnae joined other guests for a program that included works by Beethoven, Chopin, Liszt, Wagner, Gounod and Handel.

“The concert was in every way successful and was enjoyed by all who were present.”     The New York Times

Nearly 200 alumnae attended the alumnae reunion on Class Day, joining the Glee Club in Strong Hall to sing Vassar songs at a reception and luncheon.  In the afternoon class day exercises were held in the Chapel.  Class president Blanche Ferry ’94 gave the address of welcome, which was followed by the class oration by Ellen Chater ’94 and the class history by Leonora Howe ’94, who was also the author of the class song.

At the tree-planting ceremony in front of Main Building, the records of the Class of 1894 were buried and the senior charge was given by Melvina Van Kleeck ’94.  Anna Jeanette Graham ’95 received Matthew Vassar’s spade and gave the junior response.

The seniors’ promenade concert took place in the evening, after the president’s reception.

The college’s 28th Commencement was held in the Chapel.  President Taylor presided and Emily Jordan Folger ’79 marshaled the procession. Presentations by graduating seniors included: “An Instance of Literary Evolution,” Mary Blanche Mumford ‘94; “Relief for the Unemployed,” Caroline Cowan ‘94; “Scottish and Negro Songs,” Alice Sarah Hussey ‘94; “Shakespeare’s Fatalism,” Elizabeth Hazelton Haight ‘94; “The Half is Better than the Whole,” Emeline Barstown Bartlett ‘94; “Philanthropy and Natural Selection,” Mary Margaret Macauley ‘94.

16 of the 71 students receiving the bachelor’s degree received honors, the highest percentage yet granted under the revised curriculum, and Emeline Bartlett was awarded a fellowship in Greek for postgraduate study at the University of Chicago.  She also gained the first scholarship offered by the Student Aid Society both in a general competition and for her acting of King Creon in Antigone. Two master’s degrees were awarded to Mrs. Harriot Stanton Blatch ’78 and Mary Rawson Botsford ’78.

At the trustees’ meeting President Taylor announced that a chair in philosophy had been established and that the department of physics and chemistry had been divided.  He also assured the trustees that the financial turmoil of 1893-94 had not seriously affected Vassar’s endowment funds, and he was pleased to announce over 200 applications for the 100 available places in next year’s entering class. He closed his remarks with an appeal to the supporters of women’s education.     The New York Times

In its October issue, The Vassar Miscellany reported on alumnae pursuing postgraduate work. Nine recent alumnae were at the University of Chicago, and three, Margaretta Palmer ’87, Mary Augusta Scott ’76 and Laura Johnson Wylie ’77 had taken their Ph.D degrees at Yale.  Yale had published “Evolution of English Criticism,” the thesis by Wylie, who was head of the English department at Packer Institute.

Lillie J. Martin ‘80 was in the experimental psychology department at the University of Göttingen, the first woman admitted to that institution, and three recent graduates were enrolled in the newly-chartered Radcliffe College in Cambridge.

Georgiana Sands ’90 and Delia O’Connell ’93 were in the Medical School at Johns Hopkins.

The academic year began with 447 students.   Only 12 special students were enrolled, and several of them were expected to join the collegiate program during the year.  The freshman class, with one more member than in 1893, numbered 131.  Several applicants had withdrawn for the present year because there was no room for them on campus.

Sophia Richardson ’86, an instructor in mathematics, was granted a semester’s leave for study in “a special course” at the University of Chicago.     The New York Times

Electric cars replaced the horse-drawn cars that ran from Poughkeepsie out to the college.

The New York Times reported that a recent petition by “over 400 students” for the wearing of caps and gowns at Commencement had been rejected by the faculty, “on the grounds that the custom is too mediaeval in spirit and that the cap and gown tend to separate the student from the world.”

The college announced several changes made by the faculty in the curriculum and one in the entrance requirements.  Study of hygiene was required in the first semester only, and the time previously allotted it in the second semester was given over to extended study of mathematics.  Required study of mathematics and foreign languages was reduced from the first three semesters to the first year, with extensive opportunity for further, elective study.

Study of history was extended through the entire sophomore year and instead of a limited study of the mediaeval period, its subject matter became the history of European civilization.  A new requirement was a year’s work in either chemistry or physics.

For entrance to the college, to a thorough knowledge either of Latin or Greek and of French or German was added the “ability to read easy prose,” the equivalent of a year’s study, in a third language, either French or German.     The New York Times


The New York Times published a letter from “An Occasional Correspondent” dated “Gentilly, France, Nov. 29, 1894”:

“The New-York Times has already noted in its columns the work done by Miss Ida Welt, a young Vassar girl, at the University of Geneva, Switzerland.  Miss Welt there devoted herself to chemistry, and, after passing the best examination, began some theoretical work which seems to have made her prominent not only in the small Swiss metropolis, but also in the great French one.

“Miss Welt continued her researches under Prof. [Charles] Friedel, the foremost French chemist at the University of Paris, and has lately published, under the auspices of the Académie des Sciences, in the October and November numbers, the result of her investigations under the title, “Researches on Dissymetrical Hydrocarbons.”  Miss Welt is the only woman chemist in Paris, and is attracting much notice on account of her thoroughness in the most abstruse departments of theoretical chemistry.  Her Alma Mater, as well as all her countrywomen, may be justly proud of the distinction won by an American girl in the centre of European intellectual life.”

The youngest of four sisters, the elder three of whom were physicians, Ida Welt ’91 continued her researches, holding one of the first privatdozent appointments granted to a woman at the University of Geneva and carrying out research on the preparation of olefins and acetylenes at the University of Heidelberg laboratories of Friedrich Kraft.

She returned to New York in 1899, joined the American Chemical Society, and taught for many years before returning, before the Second World War, to Geneva.

Thomas Cochran, Yale ’94, assisted by Ralph Reed Lounsbury, Yale ’94, gave a lecture on “Scientific Football.”  The lecture was illustrated with stereopticon views.   The New York Times, The Vassar Miscellany