Lathrop House, was completed, Allen & Vance, architects. The residence hall was built with college funds and named in honor of Dr. Edward Lathrop, a charter trustee and chair of the board of trustees from 1876 until his death in 1906.
Columbia University President Seth Low spoke and Metropolitan Opera mezzo-soprano Susan Strong presented a musical program as the New York branch of the Associate Alumnae of Vassar College celebrated its 25th anniversary with a reception for the AAVC.
At 11:00 p.m. Ida Watson '01, a Vassar senior, discovered a new star in Perseus—simultaneously, it appeared, with Dr. Thomas D. Anderson, a well-known amateur astronomer in Edinburgh, Scotland. The joint discovery of the first new star of the 20th century by a Scotsman and an American woman was noted in newspapers from New York and Philadelphia to Los Angeles, where the Los Angeles Herald reported Miss Watson "at once recognized it as a new star. In magnitude it was nearly as bright as Capella, the brilliant yellow star directly overhead in the early evening. The next observation...was made on February 25, when it had then diminished in brightness, being the same magnitude as Pollux. On the same evening the spectroscope...showed the spectrum to be continuous, crossed by broad lines, thus giving evidence of great outbursts of hydrogen and helium."
After graduation, Ida Watson stayed on at the Vassar observatory for postgraduate work and with her classmate Helen Swartz published their calculations of the maxima and minima of variable stars for 1902 in monthly installments in Popular Astronomy, an important journal for amateur observers of variable stars. Thomas David Anderson remained the discoverer of record of the nova, which continued to fade until, 11 years after its discovery, it was no longer visible to the naked eye.
The college announced that it had leased the 400-acre Boardman farm adjacent to the college grounds for pasturage of it herd of cattle, the size of which was increasing with the growing number of students. The size of the college farm was now 1,000 acres.
A 28-year-old mental patient from the Hudson River State Hospital was found on the campus, staring at the students. When questioned, he said that he had heard a good deal about Vassar students and was glad that he had lived to see them. Authorities said that he was not considered a dangerous patient. The New York Times
The first of many outdoor student productions, As You Like It, the fourth hall play, was presented in authentic Elizabethan manner "in a woody spot on the north side of the campus." There being no scenery changes, settings were announced by posters at the sides of the stage. The programs described the play as “a comedy by Master William Shakespeare, laide in ye Forest of Ardennes and truly set forth before ye worshipful maydes of Vassar College in ye month of Mae, MCMI” The New York Times
A scale model of Vassar’s campus, containing all buildings including those under construction, was nearly complete. The model, five feet by three and a half feet, was sent to Buffalo for display at the Pan-American Exposition.
Unusually inclement weather forced the Field Day events to extend over several days. At their conclusion, two records were matched and two new records were set. In the 100-yard dash, Louise S. Holmquist '01 matched her standing Vassar record; in throwing the basketball, Elsa Hillyer White '02 also matched her previous record of 62 feet, 10 1/2 inches; a new standing broad jump record was set by Dora E. Merrill '02 and Julia B. Lockwood '01—already the holder of the Vassar records in the 120-yard hurdles and lawn tennis—set a new record, throwing the baseball 173 feet, 6 inches. The Class of 1901 won the overall event, their 38 points besting the juniors, sophomores and freshmen, with 28, 29 and 16, respectively. The New York Times
President Taylor drew his baccalaureate sermon for the Class of 1901 from Kings, I, 19:12, “But the Lord was not in the fire, and after the fire a still small voice.” Denouncing the growing tendency to worship power, he told the class that earthly power was not the final aim of life. Although the age was finding God in thunder and earthquakes, he said, He was rather in the still small voice, in industry, gentleness, faithfulness and truth. The New York Times
“Some Evidences of an Education,” Columbia professor Nicholas Murray Butler’s Phi Beta Kappa address, was enthusiastically received in the Chapel. Drawing a distinction between erudition and true education, Butler offered “five characteristics… as evidences of education—correctness and precision in the use of the mother tongue, refined and gentle manners, which are the expression of fixed habits of thought and action, the power and habit of reflection, the power of growth, and efficiency, or the power to do.
“On this plane the physicist may meet with the philologian and the naturalist with the philosopher, and each recognizes the fact that his fellow is an educated man, though the range of their information is widely different and the centres of their highest interests are far apart.” The New York Times
On Class Day morning, parents and guest enjoyed a pair of basketball games, played by the teams from 1899, 1901 and 1902.
In the afternoon, class president Margaret Pinckney Jackson ’01 welcomed over 2,000 students, alumnae and guests to Class Day exercises, held at an outdoor site northeast of Main Building. The Class of 1901, seated on a large stage and each holding a bouquet of American Beauty roses, joined class historians Elsie Cole ’01 and Lucia Cole ’01 in looking back at the last four years. As they recounted events, the historians paused and groups of their classmates illuminated the tale with original texts set to popular tunes. The address by class orator Letitia Jean Smyth ’01 was answered by a junior reply from Mary Bliss Dale ’02.
The procession to the class tree was led by 01’s outstanding athlete, Margaret Calhoun ’01. She and her classmates were accompanied by 20 sophomores carrying a daisy chain—150 feet long and containing 30,000 blooms—made by the sophomore class. After a reception in the evening, the sophomores serenaded the graduating class, as the seniors dropped roses from their windows.
President Taylor conferred the bachelor’s degree on 142 members of the Class of 1901, Vassar’s largest graduating class to date, at Commencement in the Chapel. Three of the senior essays had literary and textual subjects, two discussed educational matters and one dealt with history. “The Song Writer’s Art,” “Opposing Tendencies in Modern Drama” and “The Spirit of Modern Nature Poetry” were presented, respectively, by Mary Barbour Whitman ’01, Margaret Pinckney Jackson ’01 and Helen Eldred Storke ’01. Louise Sommer Holmquist ’01 described “By-Products of a College Education,” and Clara Stillman Reed ’01 considered “The Bible School in Education.” Ada Jeanette Lord ’01 shed “A New Light upon Ancient History.”
In his remarks, President Taylor announced that the residence hall under construction would be named in honor of charter trustee Edward Lathrop and that trustee John D. Rockefeller had given $110,000 for the erection of a new residence hall to be known as Eliza Davison Hall, in memory of his mother. The president noted that these developments came none too soon. “The college is growing rapidly,” he said, “and we are outgrowing our accommodations. We have been compelled to reject 150 students who would have liked to become freshmen next Fall, solely on this account. In five years our student body has grown from 570 to 750 and our Faculty has increased by fourteen professors.” The New York Times
President William McKinley was shot at the Temple of Music of the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, NY, and he died a week later.
Miss Constance M. K. Applebee, who had earlier in 1901 introduced field hockey to America at a seminar at Harvard, spent a week at the college, giving instruction in the sport. Vassar was the first college to employ Miss Applebee, who was director of outdoor sports at Bryn Mawr from 1904 until 1926 and who, in 1922, helped found the United States Field Hockey Association.