In a pamphlet, Suggestions for the Year’s Study in History, Professor Lucy Maynard Salmon defined the “note topic,” later known to generations of history students at Vassar: “The topic is a study made of a limited field of history. It involves the use of various parallel authorities, it brings to a conclusion the reading done on the subject, and when finished it is in plan a miniature chapter of a book.” Notes were taken and the topic presented on the “history” or “topic” pad designed by Miss Salmon.
At the biennial business session of the AAVC, in Washington, the alumnae voted to establish a fellowship for Vassar graduates, to be awarded experimentally each year for five years.
The alumnae association of New York gathered at Delmonico’s for its annual meeting. President Taylor and John H. Finley, president of the College of the City of New York spoke, as did Colonel George Harvey, the editor of Harper’s Weekly. In his remarks, Col. Harvey spoke of the importance at the present time of women’s involvement with political matters. “I wish,” he told the alumnae, “that American women who have been trained to think, and who would really like to do something in the cause of progress and civilization, would take an interest in politics. The reasons why they have not done so in the past are well understood. The dominance of sordid and vulgar motives, the supremacy of the so-called professional politician, the instinctive repugnance of well-bred persons to distasteful associations, have constituted an impassable barrier.”
Still, Col. Harvey thought, women might—and should—direct useful thought to such issues as the sudden emergence of the United States as an international power. “Here, indeed,” he said, “is a situation demanding from duty most earnest thought. But withal how fascinating! How thrilling to trace the course and effect, here and there, and everywhere, of a changed policy as it embraces the globe! How interesting the study of the corollaries, which in moving times come to supplement, if not stultify, doctrines which formerly constituted the tenets of our National faith!”
In concluding his call to the Vassar alumnae, Col. Harvey, made an important distinction. “It is not,” he noted, “by the use of the ballot—the time for that has yet to come—but by the precedents and policies of the past and by the exercise of intuitive prescience in the future that this really noble work may be performed.
“Is not the ambition a worthy one? Is it not indeed inspiring? Is it not in very truth ideal? I ask you women of Vassar.” The New York Times
President Taylor announced that for the incoming Class of 1909 the trustees had agreed to increase tuition and residence fees, which had remained fixed since 1866 at $100 and $300 per annum. Each fee was increased by $50, thereby increasing the four-year cost of attending Vassar a total of $400. The trustees also voted to limit the enrollment of the college to 1,000 students.
When Taylor announced the tuition increase in chapel the following hymn was sung:
O Lord, I know that all my life is portioned out for me
The changes that are sure to come I do not fear to see.
Accompanied by pianist André Benoist, violin virtuoso and composer Fritz Kreisler gave a recital at Vassar. An anonymous review in The Vassar Miscellany declared the recital "one of those rare occasions when violiinist and audience are in perfect sympathy. Mr. Kreisler proved himself master of his full-toned violin in the almsot liquid clearness of the trills and runs, in the accuracy and sweetness of the high flute tones and in the sonorous chord work, and, what is even more difficult, in the perfect phrasing and repose of the simpler songs."
Fritz Kreisler appeared at Vassar again in 1915 as part of a subscription program for war relief and in 1920.
President Taylor announced that requests for admission to the college were markedly increased. Nearly 500 prospective students had applied for next fall, and other requests were for admission five or six years in the future. He said another residence hall on the quadrangle was needed, and until that was done the college population would remain at the current level, about 1,000 students. The New York Times
In his baccalaureate sermon to the Class of 1905, President Taylor returned to a theme on which he had spoken out on several occasions, his concern with the vulnerability of the separation of church and state. Recent action by Congress, granting money for sectarian schools among Native Americans, seemed to him, once again, to blur this important line. While urging the graduates to strongly defend the separation doctrine, he emphasized also his belief that education without strong moral and spiritual components was a weakened or perhaps even a failed education. Ethics and morals could be taught, he told the class, without entering into religious matters.
The Frederick Ferris Thompson Memorial Library was dedicated, Allen & Collens, architects. English Perpendicular Gothic in style, the building’s exterior was made of Germantown granite with trim and interior of Indiana limestone. The gift of Mary Clark Thompson, widow of trustee Frederick Thompson, the building could accommodate 360 readers and 150,000 volumes. Vassar’s collection contained more than 50,000 volumes and several thousand pamphlets; more than 200 periodicals were being received.
At the annual trustee meeting, the resignations of trustees F. P. Gates, John D. Rockefeller and Levi P. Morton were tendered and accepted, and George W. Perkins, Arthur L. Lasher and Edgar L. Marston were elected to succeed them. The gifts announced by the trustees ranged from $411.80 from Andrew Carnegie for books to $500,000 given by Mary Clark Thompson for the new library in memory of her husband, Frederick Ferris Thompson.
Among the new faculty appointments were three—Marian P. Whitney and Lilian Stroebe in German and Jane North Baldwin in physiology—who in years to come made extraordinary contributions to the college.
Fine weather welcomed a large crowd of alumnae, families and guests to Vassar’s 39th Commencement. The college’s largest graduating class to date, 200 members of the Class of 1905 received bachelor’s degrees. Honor students Edith Clark ’05, Margaret Tucker ’05, Linda Holloway ’05, Nina Raynor ’05, Sylvia Buffington ’05 and Corliss Babson '05 read essays. In his remarks, President Taylor made the case once again for another residence hall, which, he said, would require $200,000.
In his address to the class, Supreme Court Justice David Josiah Brewer observed that the successful assimilation of immigrants as franchised citizens suggested that enfranchisement of women might be possible and even valuable to the nation. Going further, Brewer said, to great applause, that no one could be certain that, before these graduates’ hair turned grey, “a woman like Queen Victoria should not sit in the White House to glorify this Nation as Victoria glorified England.” The following day, The New York Times, reacted to this speculation: “This sentiment, at a female college, deserves the applause with which it appears that it was received. But it is not exactly a plausible prediction. The hair of this year’s graduates of Vassar will have turned gray, barring hair dye and idiopathy, in thirty years. Nobody can really look forward to the election of a female Chief Magistrate of the United States by 1935.”
A recent custom was continued at the class dinner when “cupid’s roll call” was called. If evidence to the contrary was presented when, at the calling of her name, a member of the class indicated she was not engaged, she was given three chances to change her response. Some twenty engagements were announced in the roll call.
In an innovation, the following morning many members of the class attended the wedding of Delia Athena Shepard ‘05 to Karl C. Schuyler. The New York Times
The Vassar trustees sold the Vassar Brewery and six adjacent buildings for $100,000.
The James Monroe Taylor Chair of Philosophy was established in appreciation of Dr. Taylor's 19 years of service as President of Vassar. It was first held by Henry Heath Bawden, professor of philosophy from 1901 until 1907. Donations for the chair were received from trustees, alumnae and other friends of Vassar College.
Prior to its New York City opening, the English acting company under the direction of Ben Greet performed Shakespeare’s Henry V, in Poughkeepsie before a large crowd, the greater part of it Vassar students.
“Mr. Greet’s production, without the elaboration of heavy sets of scenery, allows time for an employment of all of the text, and the occasion was therefore of unusual interest to students….” The New York Times
Continuing a tradition begun in 1897, the annual ice carnival was held on Vassar Lake. "Fancy dress is the order for the evening and the lake is to be strung with Japanese lanterns." Poughkeepsie Daily Eagle