The eminent actor Joseph Jefferson, famous among many other roles for his portrayal over many years of Rip Van Winkle, lectured under the auspices of Philaletheis, the student dramatic society. "He was a very interesting speaker—most of what he said being in the line of reminiscence.”     MS letter by a member of the Class of 1897

In the evening some 300 Vassar students were among the audience of 3,000 for Jefferson’s double bill, Boucicault’s Cricket on the Hearth, and J. M. Morton’s farce, Lend Me Five Shillings.  As an expression of their appreciation, the students presented the actor with “a huge bunch of white chrysanthemums, with the letter V in the center, formed of yellow chrysanthemums.

“The flowers were tied with wide yellow ribbon to which was attached a card inscribed: ‘For Mr. Joseph Jefferson, from his Class of ’97 and his Class-to-be ’99.’”  Jefferson broke with his customs of receiving no flowers and making no curtain speeches: “I never felt so like a prima donna in all my life.  As you have honored me so by this brilliant audience and this magnificent reception, allow me…to say that I can never forget your kindness and am very thankful and exceedingly grateful to you for it.”     The New York Times

The next year Jefferson visited Vassar again "to see his friends the Vassar girls."