Trustee plans for an arboretum on the banks of the Fonteyn Kill and the Casper Kill were carried out through gifts of the Class of 1875, supplemented with a gift from Mr. Paul E. Zehe, husband of Emma J. Chamberlain '75.
Introduced by Margarita de Mayo of the Spanish department as "one of the prominent younger Spanish poets and the initiator with the composer Manuel de Falla of the modern renaissance of Spanish popular song," Federico Garcia Lorca lectured on "La Canción Española (The Folk-songs of Spain)." "When I am tired of cathedrals and monuments," he told his audience, "I begin to search for and enjoy the living elements of Spain—her songs and her sweets."
Playing and singing examples of Spanish songs from Granada and Asturias about the bogeyman, or côco—used to frighten children into sleep—Lorca said that the Spanish music of the people reflected geography, history and the wandering nature of Spanish popular culture. "A melodic map," The Miscellany News reported, "might be made, showing the change of seasons. This map would also illuminate the invisible framework which binds the peninsula together."
The will of author and educator, Eva March Tappan ’75, who died on January 29, 1930, left the bulk of her estate, some $200,000, to Vassar to establish the Eva March Tappan scholarship fund, the beneficiaries of which were to be young woman residents of Worcester County, Massachusetts. Miss Tappan’s will directed the fund’s trustees “to exercise broad discretion” in their selections. The New York Times
Anna M. Noyes ’31 died from injuries sustained on February 20, when a motorcycle and sidecar ran into a group of students and one of the students’ father on Raymond Avenue. The group was returning to campus after a dinner at Alumnae House. The motorcyclist was charged with manslaughter.
In May one of the injured students, Miriam Jay Wurts ’31, and her family endowed the Anna Margaret Deering Noyes Memorial Fund, intended to aid Vassar students in the study of international relations.
The Argentine-American Cultural Institute, a group of prominent Argentineans and Americans living in Buenos Aires, established a scholarship for an Argentine woman to study at Vassar.
Historian, sociologist, educator and civil rights activist Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois lectured at Vassar on "Racial Segregation." A founding member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the first African-American to receive a doctorate from Harvard University, Dubois published some three dozen books over nearly 70 years, ranging from The Study of the Negro Problems (1898) to An ABC of Color: Selections from Over a Half Century of the Writings of W. E. B. Du Bois, which appeared in 1963, the year of his death at the age of 95. His The Souls of Black Folk (1903) is an American classic, and his autobiography, The Autobiography of W. E. Burghardt Dubois, appeared posthumously in 1968.
"Poetry and the Machine," a lecture by American poet Stephen Vincent Benét, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of John Brown's Body (1928), was presented under the auspices of the Vassar Cooperative Bookshop. Poetry in the modern age, he told his audience, "must consider the machine. For us, we have heard machines since we were born—they are part of us, in our blood. Our children will be able to write of them more naturally. But in the interim, there are songs to write.
"I refuse," Benét continued," to think of the machine as a God, and I do not believe in the devil. Man has survived many ages, and it is possible that he may survive this one. He had the habit of it. And I imagine he may write poetry— For us, there are songs to write. Let us be bold." The Miscellany News
The Vassar College Choir, over 80 singers under the direction of E. Harold Geer, made its New York début with a concert in Town Hall. The New York Times applauded the singers’ “varied program” and their “commendable attack, unusually clear enunciation and fidelity to pitch.” Works by Palestrina, Bach and Thomas Norris and premières of songs by André Caplet and Jean Roger-Ducasse were sung in Latin, and “an interesting group” of “traditional carols from Catalonian, Polish and Russian sources” were presented in arrangements by Professor Geer.
Under the auspices of the Church and Drama League of America, Hallie Flanagan, director of the Experimental Theatre, sailed for Europe in charge of a group of ten students of the theater to study contemporary Russian drama. Among the sites the group visited were the State Academic Opera and Ballet, the State Academic Dramatic Theatre, the Theatre of Social Satire, theatres of the workers’ clubs in Leningrad, and the Moscow Art Theatre. The group also went to Kiev.
Farrar & Rinehart published Vassar Poetry, a collection of student verse, most of it from the verse-writing course of Professor of English Edward Thompson. "By far the most significant work of the book," a reviewer in The Miscellany News wrote, "has been done by Angelica Gibbs '30, whose quick observation passes into forceful form. The vigor and cleanly sweep of "Songs for New York," the quiet irony of "Scarron's Epitaph," the beautiful mood and color of "Fourth of July," and the startling simplicity of "Perugino's Crucifixion," "Night Terror" and "Departure" make for a variety that shows a real poet's grasp of scene and situation."
The younger sister of New Yorker magazine humorist and theater critic Wolcott Gibbs, Angelica Gibbs published fiction and wrote book and theater reivews, profiles, fiction and essays for the magazine between 1931 and 1953.
Commencement Week began with the class suppers of 13 returning classes on June 6th and Alumnae Day exercises on the following day: a parade, the annual meeting, luncheon, the presidential reception and in the evening a Philaletheis performance of the operetta based on Booth Tarkington’s novel, Monsieur Beaucaire (1900).
On Sunday, the 8th, a tablet was unveiled in the Chapel’s Memorial Room in memory of President James Monroe Taylor, president of Vassar between 1886 and 1914. Ella McCaleb ’78, dean in Taylor’s administration, officiated, and Taylor’s biographer, Elizabeth Hazelton Haight ’94, delivered an address. Taylor’s daughters Margaret ’23 and Sarah ’31 were among the guests. The college choir concluded the day with a concert.
The Rev. Dr. Henry Sloane Coffin, president of Union Theological Seminary, preached the baccalaureate sermon. Taking his text from I Kings 17:7, “And it came to pass after a while that the brook dried up,” Dr. Coffin forewarned his listeners of the disappointment inherent in worldly things; books, friends, teachers, things we associate with comfort and delight, take on over time the aridity of the Biblical brook. Even Christ, Coffin said, “knew the experience of having His brooks fail Him.” There came times when “He could not satisfy His thought of God from His bible. The God of His trust was better than the God on the pages of Moses and the prophets.”
“The student generations swiftly come and go,” Dr. Coffin concluded, “Enriching comradeships just begin when they are interrupted…. Now, one outlook on existence is the vogue, and now another.” In the end, he said, “If our loved fountain of inspiration dries up it is only that God may give us access more fully to Himself with whom is the river of life.”
Monday, heavy rain chased Class Day exercises, scheduled for the Open Air Theatre, into the Students’ Building, where—twice, to accommodate the crowds—the 26 sophomores in the Daisy Chair honored the seniors. A Glee Club concert in the evening was followed by the biennial Lantern Fête: “The seniors and sophomores gather on opposite sides of the Vassar Lake, and as the seniors pass lighted lanterns by boats across the lake they sing for the last time their songs, which are repeated with different words by their sister class.”
At Vassar's 64th Commencement, on Tuesday, June 10, 242 graduates received their diplomas. Arthur W. Page, a trustee who had served as a personal aide to Secretary of State Henry Stimson at the 1930 London Disarmament Conference, delivered the commencement address. “The treaty of London,” he told the Class of 1930, the trustees, faculty and guests, “removes both pride and fear from the great naval powers; there will be no rivalry between them for the next six years.”
Of the total of $796,195 in annual gifts announced by the college, two were particularly significant: $600,000 from William Skinner for the construction of the Belle Skinner Hall of Music, in honor of his sister, Class of 1887, and $15,000 from the Class of 1880, in celebration of its 50th anniversary. Participants in the 1918 Vassar College Training Camp for Nurses—an innovation that accelerated the training of some 400 nurses during World War I—gave a campus gate in honor of Professor of Economics Herbert E. Mills, who led the planning for the camp and served as its dean. The New York Times
The Classes of 1904 and 1930 gave a library fund in honor of Herbert E. Mills, professor of economics, 1890-1931. The income was used to enrich one of the library's special collections, books by and about the 19th century British utopian socialist Robert Owen.
The Argentine American Cultural Institute announced that Señorita Telma Recia MD was awarded the institute’s scholarship for a year’s postgraduate work at Vassar to study social welfare work, especially in regard to delinquency among children.
More than 20% of the student body was on scholarship, compared to 9% in 1925.
Despite business conditions, the trustees voted to “quietly” set about raising funds for a new gymnasium.
The nine-hole golf course on Sunset Hill, the gift of students, faculty, alumnae and friends of the college, formally opened with a golf tournament.
Several classical scholars joined Vassar’s celebration of the bimillennium of Virgil. Speakers included Professor E. K. Rand of Harvard, who lectured on "Virgil and the Middle Ages"; Professor Charles G. Osgood from Princeton, who discussed “Vergil and the Pastoral”; Professor Catherine Saunders of Vassar, who spoke on “Vergil’s Primitive Italy” and Professor Henry W. Prescott from the University of Chicago, who traced “The Development of Vergil’s Art in the Aeneid.”
Students and faculty members representing 15 foreign countries—Argentina, Canada, Czechoslovakia, England, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Japan, India, Mexico, Poland, Spain and Switzerland—joined Dean C. Mildred Thompson ’03 and trustee Dr. Stephen P. Duggan, director of the Institute of International Education, on stage at a special Armistice Day assembly of students and faculty. Dr. Duggan praised the college’s liberal inclusion of foreign students and faculty, saying that it fostered international good feeling and understanding.
“There is one certain way to peace,” Duggan said, “and that is for the peoples of different countries to understand each other so well that war is unthinkable, and understanding can only be accomplished through education.” The New York Times
The college's general manager, Keene Richards, increased police protection at the college because of “present conditions of unemployment and the closer proximity of town buildings.”
The prolific novelist and biographer André Maurois lectured in French on "Le Roman et la Biographie." The French biographer of Shelley and Byron—Ariel; ou, La vie de Shelley (1923), Byron (1930)—Maurois published Aspects de la Biographie in 1928. A collection of Maurois's essays on America, L'Amerique Inattendue, was published in 1931.
“The present unemployment situation is one of the most tremendous industrial crises that has recently arisen…. At first we were inclined to take it rather indifferently. We saw it as a national problem but one quite removed from ourselves. It was only when be began to see that it was affecting people we knew, college, our families even, and ourselves that we started inquiring and trying to find out what it really meant.” Editorial, Miscellany News
The New York Times published a survey of the impact of broadcast radio on college and university campuses. Among detailed responses, pro and con—from Amherst, Brown, Smith, Dartmouth, Yale and Cornell and others—the responses from Harvard and Vassar were notably brief. “Harvard University, A. C. Hanford, Dean—We have no regulation against radio sets in college dormitories.” “Vassar College, C. M. Thompson, Dean—Radio does not as yet play a large part in campus life at Vassar.”
Recently returned from a semester’s sabbatical in Europe, President MacCracken voiced concern about the threat to education of a growing spirit of blind nationalism. “If education is to be, in the future, what it has been in the past,” he told the annual luncheon of the Vassar Club of New York, “all the great educational institutions must unite to stand for a broader definition of education and refuse to bow the knee to those who would twist it from its proper purpose.”
When asked in Belgium, MacCracken told the gathering, for Vassar’s flag for a ceremony honoring institutions that had contributed to the rebuilding of the library at the Catholic University of Louvain, he had to admit that the college had none. Whereupon the women of Louvain designed and wove a flag of rose and gray bearing the college’s original seal which was placed with the others in the Louvain library. MacCracken introduced to the alumnae a replica of the flag, given him by the weavers, as the new flag of Vassar College.
Chilean poet and educator Gabriela Mistral (Lucila Godoy y Alcayaga) was visiting lecturer in the department of Spanish for the second semester. Largely self-educated, Mistral rose in the complex Chilean education system to become the director of the country's most prestigious girls' school before moving to Mexico, at the invitation of the Mexican Minister of Education, to aid in the inaguration of that country's first national education system.
A group of love poems in memory of the dead, Sonetos de la Muerte (1914), established her name among Latin American readers, and her collection, Desolación, published in New York in 1922, brought her international notice. In 1925 she became even more widely known as the representative of Latin America at the Institute of Intellectual Cooperation of the League of Nations in Paris. A visiting professor at Barnard College in 1930, Mistral taught at Middlebury before coming to Vassar. In 1932, she began a long career as diplomatic consul in several posts, and in 1945, Mistral was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, the first Latin-American and the fifth woman to receive a Nobel Prize.
New York publisher Mitchell Kennerley gave the Vassar Art Gallery four busts by American sculptor Jo Davidson: “Head of a Woman—Emily Grigsby,” “Head of a Man,” “Head of a Young Boy—Morley Kennerley” and “Bust of Diana Norman.”
The Board of Residents replaced the Board of Wardens, formally inviting the faculty into residential aspects of college life. Under the new plan three or more teaching staff or members of the academic administration lived in each hall, sharing with student officers “responsibility for maintaining the residential college as an indispensable part of the academic policy.”
German choreographer and dancer Mary Wigman, a pioneer in German expressionist dance, gave a recital financed by the Ellen H. Richards Fund.
“Seldom has a Vassar audience been aroused to such a demonstration…the hall reverberated with shouts and stamps of frenzied appreciation. Students’ Building was crowded to capacity and approximately 250 people were turned away.” The Vassar Quarterly.
Arthur Garfield Hays, the general counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, lectured on "Martyrs of Injustice." Hays participated for the defense in both the Scopes evolution trial in Tennessee and the Sacco and Vanzetti anarchist murder trials in Massachusetts, and he soon would join the in the defense of the "Scottsboro Boys," nine young black men accused of rape in Alabama in March 1931.
The college announced the appointment of Charles Butler Nicolson, former editor of The Detroit Free Press, as director of publicity, succeeding Cornelia Raymond ’83. Miss Raymond, the youngest child of John H. Raymond, Vassar’s second president, came to Vassar at the age of three, and she returned in 1913 as associate warden. She became director of publicity in 1926 and retired in 1931.
Mr. Nicolson was the father of Majorie Hope Nicolson, the dean of Smith College.
Eleanor C. Dodge ’25 was elected warden of the college, succeeding Jean C. Palmer ’93, who died in July 1929.
The Experimental Theatre produced Can You Hear Their Voices? by Hallie Flanagan and Margaret Clifford,’29. Focusing on the effects of a devastating Arkansas drought on the lives of ordinary people, the play anticipated the documentary movement of the 1930s and the literature of social protest. Its experimental technique foreshadowed the Living Newspapers developed by Flanagan and her colleagues later in the decade for the Federal Theatre Project.
Writing in The New York Times, Poughkeepsie lawyer—and later, Flanagan's associate in the FTP—Emmett Lavery found the play’s origins in “what Professor Hallie Flanagan saw the Russian propaganda theatres do about similar tragedies…. Out of the front page news of the past few months…Flanagan and her students have fashioned in seven scenes the narrative of the dirt farmers who starved while Congress dilly-dallied on the dole.
“Strictly speaking, this was not the Vassar Female College of Matthew Vassar presenting an all-female cast in a political charade, but a hard-hitting play of a modern college theatre with college and town men providing the masculine menace. It has made the faculty think and some of the alumnae gasp. Well, they ought to.”
The New York committee on foreign study and travel, charged with disbursing eight privately sponsored scholarships for junior year study abroad awarded the scholarship for study in Spain to Elizabeth Brereton ’33. Miss Brereton and the alternate, also a Vassar student, Violet Fletcher ’33, were two of only three women among the 13 awardees and alternates.
Speaking at Alumnae House in April 1933 about her study abroad in a "Vassar Abroad" program, part of the annual spring conference of the Alumnae Council, Miss Brereton described, according to The Miscellany News, "the life of a Vassar girl in Madrid in the 'very safe haven' of the Residencia of Señoritas under the auspices of the Smith group.... She was taught Arabic by a priest and metaphysics by a man well-known in political circles."
The gift of members of the Vassar Training Camp for Nurses, Mills Gate, at the corner of Raymond and Collegeview Avenues, was dedicated in honor of Herbert E. Mills, dean of the Vassar Training Camp for Nurses and professor of economics from 1890 until his retirement in 1931. Mills came to Vassar when economics became part of the curriculum, and he was chair of the faculty between the tenures of James Monroe Taylor and Henry Noble MacCracken.
The Rev. Dr. Robert Russell Wicks, dean of the chapel at Princeton, delivered a stinging analysis of complacency in American life in his baccalaureate sermon to the Class of 1931. Declaring that neither radicalism nor racketeering was to be feared as much as “bourgeois, white middle class” complacency, he added that this passivity had become entrenched behind religious respectability. Wicks told the class “your generation, which helped give respectability a beating, should now become apostles of [a] finer sense of life which must take its place, or we are lost…. We are having it pounded into us that life on this planet is not a solitaire game but team play…. Each of us is not paddling his own canoe. We are all in the same boat.” The New York Times
Although he had feared he might have to cancel his appearance to meet his ailing mother’s ship when it arrived in New York City, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Governor of New York State and a trustee of the college, spoke at the 1931 Commencement exercises. Hailing the 284 graduates as “fellow students” and admitting he wished he “might live another hundred years to study,” the Governor declared, “Study implies not what we are doing today, but what we are to do in days to come…. You, who are going out today, will find out why people need help. Many facts today have startled us out of our complacence. We are faced with the problems of planning for the future and preventing the recurrence of these same conditions. We must do our own study, arrive at our own opinions.” The New York Times
Gifts to the college for the year totaled $399,290: $51,911 for various purposes; $149,077 subject to annuities, $125,580 for a new gymnasium; current gifts for scholarships and other purposes, $72,722.
The annual fee for tuition and residence was raised to $1,200.
Professor of Italian Bruno Roselli received a gold medal from the Italian Ministry of Education, the first ever to an American, for “spreading knowledge of the Italian language, literature and ideals in the United States.” The New York Times
Vassar, Princeton and Clark University were the United States colleges awarded the World Peace Medal from the Fédération Interallié des Anciens Combattants (FIDAC). The international organization awarded medals for service “in promoting world peace and understanding" to colleges in each of the ten countries represented in its membership of over 9,000,000 World War I veterans.
Speaking at Fall Convocation, Professor of English Winifred Smith ’04 said, “There are still many people who are afraid of letting girls go out into the world alone, afraid of their earning a living, of their getting ideas, of their being highbrows, of their looking or acting like thinking, grown-up individuals. It is your task to convince such people that experiments sincerely made, and new ideas actively held, do not hurt girls any more than they hurt boys, but on the contrary strengthen them; that you are human beings first and well brought up young women second….”
Because of a polio epidemic that had swept the region since July, Vassar opened two weeks late, in strict quarantine.
Dr. Marie Baum, lecturer in the Institute of Political and Social Science at the University of Heidelberg and, according to The Miscellany News, "one of the best-known women in modern Germany," visited the college as a guest of the euthenics department. Her week-long stay included two lectures on October 16 and October 19 on “The Family and the Social Structure” and a lecture in German on universities past and present.
One of the first German women to attain a university degree, Baum received her doctorate in chemistry in Zurich in 1899. Turning to social welfare work within a few years, she was director of the Society for Infant Care in Düsseldorf between 1907 and 1916 and subsequently served as divisional head of welfare services in the Ministry of Labor in Karlsruhe before joining the Heidelberg faculty. The rise of the National Socialists (Nazis) in 1933 ended her academic career, but she subsequently served briefly as one of very few women in the Reichstag representing the liberal left-wing Deutsche Demokratische Partei (DDP).
Constance M. Rourke, '07 lectured on "What Is Humor? An Anglo-American Contrast" and "Humor of Our Soil." She compared, according to The Miscellany News, "the young American humor which is more apt to find expression in folk channels, in monologues and the less formal mediums...to the Mississippi River, full of snags and sawyers, or to the Missouri River, in it varying course and character. The wise, old, sophisticated, quiet humor of England could be compared to a well-rounded English oak. English people, who might be considered more civilized than the American nation...are apt to express their humor in the more established forms of essays and dramas."
Rourke, who taught English at Vassar between 1910 and 1915, compiled and edited The Fiftieth Anniversary of the Opening of Vassar College (1916), an account of the college’s semicentennial. Her writings on aspects of and prominent figures in American culture, particularly American Humour: A Study of National Character (1931), laid the foundation for subsequent studies of American culture and humor.
Arthur H. Compton, professor of physics at the University of Chicago, and winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics (1927), lectured on "Are Men's Actions Determined by Physical Laws," "What Are Things Made of?" and "What Is Light?"
The college celebrated the opening of the Belle Skinner Hall of Music. Presented to the college by William Skinner in memory of his sister, a member of the Class of 1887, the French Gothic style building was designed by Charles Collens. Belle Skinner restored the severly damaged French town of Hattonchatel after World War I, and her memorial hall was modeled after the chateau at Hattonchatel. Professor George C. Gow presided at the opening ceremony, and a choir of 140 students sang “Praise Ye the Lord.” William Skinner spoke of his sister’s lifelong love of music, and Mrs. Charles Storrs ’87 spoke about her Vassar classmate.
Music librarian George Sherman Dickinson was largely responsible for the extraordinary completeness of the new building’s design, which included recital halls, offices, practice facilities, a 7,500-volume library and a museum. Reporting on the building’s dedication The New York Times called Skinner Hall “one of the finest of [Vassar’s] college buildings and one of the finest and most completely equipped of any college musical buildings.”
The Yale Dramatic Association and Vassar’s Philaletheis produced four one-act plays in the Yale Theatre, the first dramatic presentations by student associations from men’s and women’s colleges. The plays, “Long Christmas Dinner,” “The Happy Journey to Trenton and Camden,” “Such Things Happen Only in Books” and “Love and How to Cure It” were the first plays by Thornton Wilder—to this time a writer of fiction—to be produced.
Wilder (Yale ’20) had published the plays earlier in November and, hoping to attract New York producers and commercial production, he convinced the Yale “Dramat” to break with its custom of using men for women’s roles. The plays’ director, Yale faculty member Alexander Dean, travelled between New Haven and Poughkeepsie for rehearsals, only working with the entire cast in final rehearsals.
Programs for the productions, which bore the inscription “This Programme Can Be Read In The Dark,” glowed in the dark.
The Experimental Theatre and the Greek department, with the cooperation of the departments of music and art, presented the Hippolytus of Euripides in Greek. Directed by Hallie Flanagan and Philip Davis, professor of Greek, the performance was thought to be the first presentation in modern times of the play as it was first heard 2,300 years earlier.
Flanagan described the rehearsals as among the most exciting she ever witnessed: “…these students chanting Greek choruses as if they’d been brought up on Greek; President MacCracken as Theseus working on the stage with a cool intensity which communicates itself to everyone; [Instructor in Music Theory] Gertrude Brown’s music filling the theatre.” Hallie Flanagan, Dynamo
Speaking with a student in 2006, Maisry MacCracken ’31 had another recollection of her father in this role. “He just loved the theater. I know one story he used to tell about when he was acting in a play in Greek under Hallie Flanagan. He was supposed to be some leader and he had had his secretary get him a pair of sandals. When he was rehearsing he would forget his lines in Greek and he’d turn up his toes in the sandals, trying to remember. Then, Hallie Flanagan would shout, ‘Prexy! Put your toes down!’ This would make him forget his lines again and in trying to remember, the toes would turn up again. Finally, Hallie said, ‘You’ve got to wear shoes to the performance.’” VCEncyclopedia
“She Goes to Vassar,” a film produced and directed by [Mary] Marvin Breckinridge ’27, was shown to the Vassar Club of Washington at the gymnasium of the Potomac School. Funded by the college and the Alumnae Association, the film featured three students chosen in consultation with Philaletheis and was shown to alumnae groups and parents of prospective students “to keep the alumnae in touch with the college, and to show parents…what their daughters will do at the school.” The Washington Post
The Forgotten Frontier (1930), Breckinridge’s silent film about a nurse and midwifery health service in the Appalachian mountains of Kentucky, was highly acclaimed. Later, through an association with Edward R. Murrow that began when she was in college, Breckinridge became the first female news correspondent for the CBS radio network. Broadcasting from seven European countries prior to World War II, she famously slipped a barbed assessment of Germany under the Nazis past the German censors. Describing the Nazi newspaper Voelkische Beobachter, she observed, “The motto of this important official paper is Freedom and Bread. There is still bread.”
Speaking to the student delegates to the seventh annual conference of the National Student Federation, meeting in Toledo, President MacCracken called for analysis of the “economic and political disabilities of students,” so that these impediments could be addressed and removed. In particular, he urged that the "medieval tradition" of town-and-gown hostility be replaced with a "sounder American spirit."
Praising the rise of independent work in colleges, he proposed “as the fundamental axiom of the university that the student’s chief motive for university life is study in association with his teachers and students of like interest.”
The conference adopted a resolution favoring immediate United States entrance into the League of Nations and the World Court and voted 100 to 22 against compulsory military education in American colleges. The New York Times
The Seven Women's Colleges started a combined drive for financial support. The group included Barnard, Bryn Mawr, Mount Holyoke, Radcliffe, Smith, Vassar and Wellesley.
The Dean's House was completed, Ruth Adams '04, architect. Returning from a semester’s leave of absence—her first in 24 years—the first occupant of the Colonial Revival house was Dean C. Mildred Thompson ‘03 .
A student wrote in The Vassar Quarterly about a growing interest among students in contemporary issues: “There are some of us who believe that we are not merely passing through a phase, but are beginning to lose the apathy peculiar to the American college for several years….”
Norman Thomas, Socialist Party of America presidential candidate in 1928 and 1932—and four more consecutive presidential elections—lectured under the auspices of the Student League for Industrial Democracy.
An exhibition of modern sculpture, including works by Aristide Maillol, Pablo Picasso and Gaston Lachaise, was, said Nancy Rodman ’32, in The Miscellany News, “so surprisingly good that it is difficult to give preference to any particular work.” Noting "a decided contrast in the artistic conceptions and artistic demands of the Renaissance and those of our times," Rodman declared, "detail has been completely subordinated to form, mass and rhythm. It is as if the artist had become a psychologist, a philosopher. He thinks now in universal truths, formerly he thought in local mannerisms."
While the works all evidenced these novel powers, she noted, "the figures by [Wilhelm] Lehmbruck, Maillol, Lachaise, Picasso, [Georg] Kolbe and [Charles] Despiau seem to stand out and claim our particular attention." Commenting at some length on Lehmbruck's Figure and on Woman Arranging Hair and Girl Kneeling by Maillol, she concluded that "Picasso's Head is by far the most interesting piece of the exhibition. It cannot be called a protrait head, it is not a portrait. It is an idea, an abstraction, a philosophy, anything but a human creature... As the bronze flows towards the left, it flows into abstraction, back into its primitive state. It is a return of life into matter."
Russian violoncellist Gregor Piatigorsky performed a richly varied program ranging from Bach to Stravinsky in the Students' Building. Writing in The Miscellany News, Louise Jacob '32 said Patigorsky's "tone last Saturday night was like molten gold." The "dignity" of PIatigorsky's tone in a cello sonata by Andrea Caporale, she said, "was accompanied by an effortless naiveté, a sense of outflowing. It prevented the intensity of the Bach Suite in C Major from exceeding the bounds of loftiness and self-possession. The saving grace of the Lamento by Fauré and the 'lamenting' Étude by Scriabin was this same dignity."
The Misc. writer was less taken with the rendition of Stavinsky's 1932 Suite Italienne. Apparently unaware that Stravinsky had written the work in collaboration with Piatigorsky, she advised that it "could have benefited by a less weighty treatment. It is not important music; its charm, if any, is in the fantastic skipping about. To treat is as if it were something weighty adds further confusion to the mind of the already puzzled listener. The performer is, however, to be somewhat excused if he was baffled by the Stravinsky Suite, for it was quite uncellistic." The Miscellany News
President MacCracken reported to the alumnae association that the salary budget for the current year had been increased while the number of faculty members had remained the same. $53,000 had been added, bringing the total to $570,000. Pensions were maintained, and student aid increased by $36,500. Twenty-eight percent of the student body was receiving aid, and the total aid budget was $160,000.
"Dr. MacCracken praised the 'wise and careful management' which made possible the maintenance of policies based on 'liberal, ethical and economic principles.'" The New York Times
Having written to a friend a few days earlier "I am going up to Vassar(!) to lecture on Wednesday…. God knows what I’ll tell them,” American poet Archibald MacLeish spoke on "Anatomy of a Hero." MacLeish's remarks before his Vassar audience were grounded both generally in his evolving aesthetic and specifically in his current work. "Valid poetry," reported The Miscellany News about his appearance in Skinner Hall, "takes all mankind for its hero. Archibald MacLeish spoke neither of the biological nor anatomical aspects of a hero in his lecture...but showed, as he does in his poetry, that the whole turn of the earth and the sweep of mankind lies within the range of his feeling. There are those, he said, who say that poetry has nothing to do with the reality of modern life.... They say that poetry is an escape. This is true only in the hands of the most romantic poets.... In great poetry, there is no attempt to create a world of fantasy in which to retire.... The modern world is full of problems and there is little light. But the simplicity and actuality of a poem is truer than the power and importance of our scientists, economists, manufacturers. 'A poem is an exclamation of a man against the world.' As it is a protest, it is an excellent picture of the world and the age.... For this reason, the hero of poetry is the most valid critic of our time."
MacLeish’s long poem, Conquistador—to appear in April—drew on the Historia Veredadera de la Conquista de la Nueva España (True History of the Conquest of New Spain), a bitter account of Hernán Cortez's futile decimation of the Aztecs in 1521 written in 1568 by Bernal Díaz del Castillo, one of his officers. MacLeish's friend Harriet Monroe, the editor of Poetry, called the poem "an epic of races rather than heroes," and writing to poet H. Phelps Putnam around the time of his visit to Vassar, MacLeish answered the criticism of “the socialogues that it isn't about OUR TIME"; "whether they know it or not," he wrote, "it is a lot more about OUR TIME than most of the daily papers."
The son of Martha Hillard MacLeish ’78, MacLeish valued his Vassar heritage. In the posthumous Archibald MacLeish: Reflections (1986), he noted that his mother had taught at the college in the early 1880s and was, with Jane Addams and Julia Lathrop ‘80, one of “the women that saved Chicago from itself. My mother was president of Rockford Female Seminary for some four or five years. And she married my father, two of whose daughters [Blanche MacLiesh ’83 and Lily Agnes MacLeish ‘85] had been students of hers at Vassar. My father saw the light when he saw her.”
Conquistador won the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for 1933. R. H. Winnick, ed., Letters of Archibald MacLeish, The Miscellany News
The German department commemorated the centennial of the death of Goethe with lectures by Dr. Eugen Kuehnemann, professor of philosophy at the University of Breslau, and John Livingston Lowes, professor of English at Harvard University.
Professor Lowes also spoke at Vassar in 1919 and 1922.
Smoking was permitted anywhere on the campus except the library steps. Since 1925 it had been restricted to definite smoking areas.
Under the auspices of the German department, Professor Carl F. Schreiber lectured on the William A. Speck Collection of Goetheana in the Yale University Library. Professor Schreiber was curator of the collection after the death of Mr. Speck.
Professor Marian P. Whitney and Associate Professor Lilian L. Stroebe of Vassar's German department were instrumental in Yale's acquisition in 1912 of this uniquely important collection.
The Daily Princetonian released the results of a poll of undergraduates at ten Eastern colleges and universities on the question of whether both political parties should include a reconsideration of prohibition in their platforms for the upcoming elections. Of the 10,027 ballots cast, 489 favored the continuation of the present prohibition law, 2,775 wanted a modification of the law, 4,073 favored complete repeal of the Eighteenth Amendment, and 2,107 preferred a referendum on the question.
At Vassar, 29 students voted for a platform plank continuing prohibition, 156 wanted one promising modification, 198 voted for repeal, and 123 preferred a referendum. The New York Times
Annual commencement observances began with a memorial service for Laura J. Wylie '77, professor of English from 1895 until 1924, who died on April 2. Speaking at the services were Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt, who had worked with Laura Wylie in civic work in Poughkeepsie and Dutchess County, President MacCracken and Wylie's former student Elizabeth Forrest Johnson ’02, head of the Baldwin School, Bryn Mawr.
Class Day exercises began on a perfect June day, as 24 sophomores carried out the Daisy Chain. A bas-relief of Professor George Coleman Gow, who was retiring after 40 years in the music department, was unveiled.
Two of the four first graduates of the college, Harriet Warner Bishop ’67 and Helen D. Woodward ’67, led the alumnae parade. The annual alumnae luncheon was well attended, and in the evening the Open Air Theatre was the site for the Third Hall Play.
When the Reverend Arthur Lee Kinsolving, rector of Trinity Church Boston cancelled his appearance due to illness, Dr. Charles R. Watson, president of the American University in Cairo and father of Evelyn Grace Watson ‘32, delivered the baccalaureate sermon, “New Emphasis for This New Day.” The “new day,” he said, was expressed “in its conception of world unity, in its consciousness of law and development, and in the attitude of present-day humanity toward change, which is now regarded with expectancy instead of fear.” Noting that “America is regarded by the outside world as a nation of amazing individuals, but individuals who are lacking in social cohesion,” Dr. Watson challenged the graduates to realize that “The future lies in social integration.” The New York Times
After the service, President MacCracken dedicated a bronze tablet in the Chapel’s Memorial Hall honoring five alumnae: Ella M. Liggett ’69, founder and head mistress of the Liggett School in Detroit; Ella Weed ’73, organizer and first executive of Barnard College; Abbey Leach ’85, professor of Greek at Vassar, the first woman president of the American Philological Association (1899-1900) and president of the Association of Collegiate Alumnae (1899-1901); Ethel Moore ’94, founder of the Oakland Social Settlement, pioneer in the development of public playgrounds and a key figure in California’s ratification of women’s suffrage and Christine Ladd-Franklin ’69, discoverer of an historic solution in symbolic logic, the “antilogism,” mathematician and pioneer in color vision theory.
In his Commencement address, President MacCracken drew to the attention of the 273 graduating seniors and seven recipients of master’s degrees a “keynote” he heard in commencement addresses across the country. “It is no longer a note of sturdy American individualism that is stressed,” he said. “In place of the old doctrine that every man shall bear his own burdens, they are bidden to bear one another’s burdens.” Reflecting on what had seemed in the past to be great freedom, he suggested that “we may question if our old freedom was not, after all…the liberty to be victimized, to be superstitious, to be ignorant, to be helpless against predatory powers.”
“If there is a solution,” MacCracken declared, “for the liberal democracy to which these United States are committed, it would seem to be in joint action by all groups for the protection of those interests which they recognize that they have in common. This would seem to involve a survey of social consciousness, the definition of the social interests which emerge from that consciousness, and a program of social protection for those interests.”
The report on annual giving included $119,246 for the gymnasium fund, $10,000 for chapel furnishings, $21,000 from the Carnegie Foundation for a tax-retiring allowance for teachers and several smaller designated gifts. Reunion gifts totaled $31,833, and the report said that gifts from alumnae and friends totaled $123,743, of which $38,000 had gone into the endowment. The New York Times
Shortly after the graduation of their daughter, Muriel, Dr. and Mrs. Alquin Jay Davis announced that she had been married to John MacArthur Sloan on November 26, 1930. “The marriage was kept secret, Dr. Davis said, so the bride might be able to finish her studies at Vassar.”
Announcement of the couple’s engagement had been made in December, 1930, a month after their marriage. The New York Times
Henry Seely White, professor of mathematics from 1905 until 1936 and for many years chairman of the department, received the honorary degree of Doctor of Science at Wesleyan University's 100th commencement. A member of Wesleyan’s Class of 1882, White taught at the university briefly after his graduation.
With 37.4 percent of the vote in German elections, the Nazi party became the country's largest political party.
Russian was offered for the first time, although the courses carried no credit toward the degree until 1935. Vassar’s Russian department was the first in a college for women.
"Only in the heart of Religion lie the resources by which we may try to escape the tyranny of selfotion," the Reverend Reinhold Niebuhr told the student body in the first Sunday Chapel of the academic year. In the first of many visits to the college, he framed the moral dilemma as a paradox of deception."We constantly try to place the sanctity of Religion," he said, "behind that which we do in our own personal and immediate interests; for we are immoral enough to want what is to our material advantage, but moral enough to feel the need of principle behind its acquisition.
A writer for The Miscellany News reported that in an interview the professor of Christian ethics at Union Theological Seminary doubted the power of scholars to influence social change. "True scholars, said Dr. Neibuhr, are intellectual sophisticates, and are unable to share the dreams and hungers and illusions of the masses.... Scholars have a definite function in observing current events and recording them in historical perspective, but Dr. Neibuhr does not look to them for any drive by which the present social order may be modified, and its injustices redeemed."
Professor Niebuhr returned to Vassar in October to lead the annual conference of the pacifist group, the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR), held at Alumnae House.
At Fall Convocation, President MacCracken told a record enrollment, 1,200 students, “that Vassar aspires to be a ‘university college,’ that its study is planned for mature students and intended to lead to advanced work.”
The other speaker, Professor of Psychology Margaret Floy Washburn ’91 spoke on “Education for Enjoyment,” reminding students that a sometimes overlooked benefit of a broad college program is the range of possibilities it opens for intellectual enjoyment in the leisure of later life. The New York Times
The Art Gallery presented an exhibition of paintings and drawings by the Russian painter and designer Eugene Berman and the Russian surrealist painter Pavel Tchelitchew.
Upholding the negative on the question, "Resolved that Hoover be reelected," a team of Vassar freshmen defeated a freshman debate team from Yale in the annual debate. Affirmative arguments that Presidient Hoover was preferable to "the risk of experimenting" and praising his accomplishments before becoming President were met with praise not only for Roosevelt's tariff, trade and farm relief proposals but also for his "type of personality" and his "definite out and out stand on Prohibition supporting repeal." The Miscellany News
“About this lipstick business: I wish you wouldn’t talk about it to people as a phenomenon or something to be mentioned only in a whisper…. Up till now, I have lived pretty darned nearly exactly as you have… Now that I am to a certain degree independent, and have had the opportunity to think things out and experience a new and wonderful freedom, there will be things which you will find at variance with your opinions…." Ms. student letter
Vassar trustee Franklin D. Roosevelt defeated President Herbert Hoover in a landslide victory, carrying 42 states and garnering 472 of the 531 electoral votes. Outpolling Hoover in the popular vote by over 7 million votes, Roosevelt was the first Democratic candidate to win a majority of the popular vote since 1876, when Samuel Tilden outdrew Rutherford B. Hayes with 51 percent of the popular vote, losing to Hayes in the Electoral College by a single vote.
On assuming the Presidency, Roosevelt resigned from the Vassar board, becoming an honorary trustee until his death in 1945.
"'I am very sorry that I will unable to be one of your trustees any longer,' said President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt to The Miscellany News reporter, holding on to the door of his moving car." Some 10,000 people greeted Roosevelt as he passed through Poughkeepsie on his way from New York City to Albany. The Miscellany News
Urged by the trustees to continue his connection with the college, Roosevelt remained an honorary trustee until his death in 1945.
Speaking to Vassar’s Political Club, New York Times political writer Arthur Krock told students that the pre-election speeches of the candidates were “so much political ‘blah-blah,’” and that “by some unerring instinct, the American people have never, by their votes, struck a blow at the American system…. We should be in a most unfortunate position in the United States if in one man and in one party were bound up the fate of the world. When that is as near a fact as possible, the American voters sense it sufficiently—as they did in 1916—to give it their endorsement. When it is manifestly untrue—as in 1932—they administer a reprimand.” The New York Times
Professor Bernard Fäy of the Collège de France gave two lectures, "L'Academie Française" and "The Share of France, of Great Britain and the United States in the Great Intellectual Revolution of the Eighteenth Century." An historian of French-American relations, Fäy was convicted in 1946 of conspiracy with the Nazi occupantion and condemned to dégradation nationale, loss of professional standing and forced labor for life. He subsequently escaped to Switzerland with assistance from the American expatriate Alice B. Toklas.
Heavy rains in Poughkeepsie forced the "Bengals," a field hockey team composed of Princeton athletes who knew nothing of the sport, owned no equipment and had practiced only once, to cancel a match with the Vassar field hockey team.
In 1931, the Vassar team won over a team from Yale—apparently similar in composition and experience to Princeton’s—by a score of 2 to1, and Vassar-Yale and Vassar-Princeton matches in 1934 ended in defeat for Vassar, whose umpire, Virginia Fessenden '35, declared the visitors had violated "practically every principle of the game."
Vassar had fielded teams in the sport since it was introduced at the college in 1902 by English field hockey pioneer Constance Appleby.
Evangeline Booth, commander of the U.S. Division of the Salvation Army, led the evening chapel service and lectured the following day. The seventh of eight children of the Army’s founders, William Booth and his wife Catherine Mumford, Evangeline Booth became the fourth leader—or general—of the Salvation Army in 1934, succeeding her father, her brother Bramwell and the first elected general, Edward Higgins.
The Vassar College Choir gave the first performance in the United States of Ralph Vaughan Williams's Magnificat (1932) for contralto, flute, organ and choir, as part of the annual Christmas Music program. Contralto Grace Leslie and flutist Mortimer Rapfogel assisted the choir, directed by E. Harold Geer, professor of music and director of the choir, in the performance of what Jeanne Schenck '33, writing in The Miscellany News, called "the most interesting work in the program. The text is free and attempts to combine, as does the music, the mystic as well as the magnificent side of the annunciation."
Vaughan Williams's Magnificat was first performed at the 218th Three Choirs Festival, held in 1932 at Worcester.
In early December, President MacCracken spoke in Cleveland on behalf of the endowment campaign for the seven women’s colleges. Making the case for endowments more nearly equal to those for men’s colleges, he described the four phases in the growth of women’s education. The following week, The New York Times published a section of his remarks, under the title “The College Girl’s Epic.”
Of the earliest period of women’s higher education, the 1860s and 1870s, MacCracken said, “the problem before women…was to prove that they had a certain mental toughness, the ability to stand the hard work of the academic course. Physicians and the most broad-minded people of the time really believed that women’s minds and woman’s emotional frame were incapable of sustaining such arduous labor…. So that the women went into the college with fire in their eye and in a somewhat combative spirit to prove that they could study as hard as men, and the course was intentionally made difficult…. If Yale had six sciences in its undergraduate course, then Vassar must have seven sciences….”
Then, he noted, “there came a second period when, after they felt that they had proved themselves able to study as hard as men and to have mentality strong as men’s, they wished to apply it in new fields, and they found certain fields in life suitable to women’s nature, which they amply filled.” One of these fields, he explained, was the teaching profession, traditionally largely the province of men. “In fact, the teaching profession had been very largely occupied by men in Europe. Today 85 percent of our teachers are women. They went out and filled the high school principalships of the land…. You would rarely find them after ten years in the rank and file. Nearly all of them came to be at the heads of their respective fields.”
MacCracken’s third period began in the 1900s, when, “having asserted themselves competitively and justified themselves, having filled certain new professions, they discovered that after all they were women, and that in their natural life were marriage and the home.” Whereas, he continued, the “graduates of women’s colleges about 1900 had only one child apiece and less than half of them married…the recent analysis showed that three-fourths of them have married and have two children or more…. A great social change has taken place. They have returned under certain leaders who said, ‘We are going out into the distant parts of the world, but we haven’t touched the home.’ They came back and founded home economics. To make it concrete the placing of the bathtub in the American home is the work of graduates of these colleges.”
MacCracken’s fourth period—and the cause for which women’s colleges urgently needed increased support—was both accretive and innovative. “In very recent years,” he told his audience, educators were finding that students “although they retain the interest of earlier students…vary very greatly in these interests. The problem has come to be the individualizing of a woman’s education so that it fits her for what she herself is best able to give in life. The differentiation of her special capacities is followed by a differentiation of the curriculum, so that interests may be carried further. That is the problem of the college of today.” The New York Times
Elizabeth Hazelton Haight, '94, chairman of the department of Latin, was elected chairman of the Advisory Council of the American School of Classical Studies in Rome, the first woman to hold this office.
The name of the Alumnae Gymnasium was changed to Ely Hall with the installation of the Health Center. The name honored Achsah M. Ely '68, professor of Mathematics from 1887 until 1904, a leader in the campaign for the Alumnae Gymnasium, which opened in 1889.
Professor Ely died in 1904.
The college’s first dean, Ella McCaleb ’78, died at her campus home. After teaching at the Home and Day School in Detroit, Miss McCaleb returned to Vassar in 1885 to serve as secretary to J. Ryland Kendrick, the acting president between the tenures of Samuel Caldwell and James Monroe Taylor. Continuing under President Taylor, she became secretary of the college in 1893, and she served as dean of the college between 1913 and her retirement in 1923.
The Experimental Theatre presented the Svapnavasavadatta (The Vision of Vasavadatta), by the earliest known Sanskrit dramatist, Bhasa (c. 275-c.335 AD), translated by Pauna Lall and A.G. Sherriff. Lost for more than 1,000 years, 13 plays by Bhasa were discovered in a library in India in 1912. The most famous, Svapnavasavadatta is the story of the sacrifice of King Udayana’s Queen, who stages her own death in a palace fire to free her husband to make a marriage that will save his kingdom. She then returns to the palace secretly to live near her King.
"So far as we are able to ascertain,” the translators wrote, “your production will be the first play of Bhasa's to be done in modern times." Program note
President MacCracken proposed to the faculty an extensive revision of the Vassar curriculum. He explained that the plan was designed to allow students to concentrate more on individual work. The proposal reduced the undeclass course load from five full courses to four and the senior course load from four to three, bringing the number of courses required for the bachelor's degree to 15. The equivalent of a fourth course in the senior year was preparation for a major subject examination at the end of the first semester and the preparation of a long paper in seniors' chosen fields in the second semester.
Increased administrative supervision in the first year would, MacCracken said, allow for maximum preparation for the selection of a major. Guidance in the sophomore and junior years would aid in successful coordination of the major field of knowledge. The new plan's "essential feature," he said, "is a simplification of the curriculum by reducing the number of courses and class hours. The present curriculum is effective but has become too complicated. It leaves no time for the most desirable work, advanced in quality and solid in quantity."
The proposed changes, studied and modified by the faculty working as a committee of the whole and with considerable consultation with the students, were approved on February 18, 1935, for implementation in the fall. The Miscellany News
An exhibition lent by the College Art Association, Italian Baroque Painting and Drawing - XVI, XVII, XVIII Centuries, opened in Taylor Hall. Among the 63 works in the collection were "Head of a Youth" by Caravaggio, two paintings by Francesco Guardi and several drawings by Gian Battista Tiepolo. Praising the "high order of accomplishment" demonstrated by the works, Professor of Art Agnes Rindge said such work showed that Italy in the 17th and 18th centuries "was still able to give new directions to artistic thought and to paint with an assurance and distinction to match her northern neighbors." The Miscellany News
Baroness Keichi Ishimoto, leader of Japan's feminist movement, lectured on "The Women of Japan." Her remarks on the home and business lives of women in Japan and on the conditions of workers and feminists were part of group of lectures on aesthetic and social aspects of Japanese life. In the United States since early November, the Baroness was particularly interested in the American birth control clinics. "The importance of birth control for a country like Japan," she told The New York Times in "perfect English," "may be perfectly perceived when you consider that Japan is a small country with a population of 65,000,000 and growing at a rate of nearly 1,000,000 a year.... It is my plan to have birth control field clinics introduced on a wide scale in Japan."
While regretting the suppression in Japan of civil liberties by teh Fascist government, she said that officials' attitude on the matter was one of "benevolent neutrality." She hoped that Japan would ultimately work out its economic and political problems, and as to talk of military action, "The Japanese people," she said, do not want war with the United States or any other country. They know that the country that starts war will do so to its own destruction." The New York Times, The Miscellany News
As the third in a series of broadcast intercollegiate debates, Vassar argued the negative against Lafayette College on the question, “Resolved, That We Deplore the Emergence of Women from Home Into Public and Business Life.”
Adolf Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany by President Hindenburg.
Italian historian and journalist Professor Gaetano Salvemini, former professor of history at the University of Florence and visiting lecturer at Yale, lectured on "Florence at the Time of Dante." Portraying the great Italian poet as having "the bitter pessimism of the broken man"—broken by 14th century mercantile Italy—Professor Salvemini observed that "Behind a profound pessimism, the light of great hope always shines," concluding that "Heroic souls know how to hope, though they have lost all grounds for hope." Salvemini's monograph Florence in the Time of Dante was published by the Mediaeval Academy of America in 1936.
A student of the medieval commune and an outspoken anti-fascist, Salvemini fled in 1925 to France and England. Coming to America in 1930, he lectured at Harvard from 1930 until 1948. He spoke at Vassar again in Octobr 1935 and December 1942.
Six years earlier, on February 4, 1927, Dr. Salvemini and Vassar Professor of Italian Bruni Roselli, a one-time attaché of the Italian Embassy in Washington, argued heatedly the pros and cons of the Mussolini government in Italy before some 1,400 members of the Economic Club at the Astor Hotel in New York City. Although he declined during this visit to discuss the effects of Fascism on Italian life, culture and literature, these were his topics on his subsequent appearances at the college. The Miscellany News, The New York Times
The United States Senate voted to repeal prohibition, leading to the ratification, in December 1933, of the act repealing the Twenty-first Amendment. Vassar announced that no liquor could be kept on campus, but students were allowed to drink at approved tearooms and restaurants.
President Roosevelt proclaimed a national bank holiday. Subsequently, at Vassar, the grocery and stationery store advanced credit, and the Retreat issued scrip at varying amounts of currency, in the total amount of $95. The Chase National Bank later requested samples of the pea-green, blue and yellow cards for its collection, “Moneys of the World.”
The Nazi party gained 44 percent of the vote in the German general elections.
Research by Vassar economics and sociology students, reported in The New York Times, indicated that despite great change in their economic and vocational mobility, graduates from the college during three periods—1869-1871, 1904-1905 and 1921-1935—found their spouses through friends or through social occasions. In all three groups 26 percent married men they had known from childhood.
The Vassar Bank in Arlington was one of the banks allowed to reopen after the bank holiday. The Miscellany News reported that bank officials stressed that no "unreasonable restrictions" would be placed on the reopened accounts. "All banks," the newspaper said, "have been given general instructions that anyone who wishes to withdraw any very large sum must give his reasons, so that hoarding may be prevented."
President MacCracken, the bank's founder in 1924, remained on its board of directors as did another founding director, Professor of Religion Willam Bancroft Hill.
Two chamber music compositions, Quincy Porter’s sonata for violin and piano and Wallingford Riegger’s trio in B minor, were selected for publication by the Society for the Publication of American Music in its annual survey of recent work. Porter, associate professor of music at Vassar, had previously won an Eastman School Publication Award and a Guggenheim Fellowship.
The Dink, the unofficial publication of Princeton freshmen, published results of a questionnaire of the class: favorite college next to Princeton, Yale; favorite actor, Mickey Mouse; favorite newspaper, The New York Times; favorite girl’s name, Joan; favorite women’s college, Vassar.
The presidents of the seven leading women’s colleges, meeting in New York City to discuss the future of women’s higher education, reviewed an analysis by the colleges’ alumnae committee of American giving to educational institutions in 1932. Their joint statement, reporting that some $2,000,000 of a total of about $60,666,000 went to women’s colleges, further noted that men’s colleges and universities had received $27, 800,000, $25,500,000 had gone to coeducational institutions and foreign universities had received more than $5,000,000.
“The fact,” they concluded, “that only two millions came to women’s colleges is due, we are convinced, to the fact that the habit of giving to higher education for women has not become established on the part of the public, as it has long since been established for men’s colleges and universities. It is not, however, possible to wait for time to effect this. The need is so urgent that we must emphasize it now.” The New York Times
“We had a lecture tonight on television, with the apparatus and demonstration. Good stuff.” MS letter
Television, demonstrated successfully in 1928, was first broadcast live in 1936. Regularly scheduled broadcasts began in 1938.
Director Hallie Flanagan Davis and The Experimental Theatre presented Now I Know Love—A Mime Sequence: for 1933 A.D., which included the world première of T.S. Eliot's first play, Sweeney Agonistes. The work's other elements were three idyls of Theocritus, translated by Professor Philip H. Davis, Telephone by Dorothy Parker and Penthouse by Mary Morley Crapo '34—"a parallel," according to the author of a fourth Theocritean idyl, "The Serenade." Associate Professor Quincy Porter composed the music,for string quartet and percussion, and the setting was by Lester Lang, Davis's assistant. When Flanagan approached Eliot—who attended the performance—for permission to present the play, he set stringent conditions as to scenery and costumes, which Flanagan ignored. He was reportedly delighted with the production.
Eliot gave an extended reading and discussion of his poetry the following day in Avery Hall. Drawing laughter from the overflow crowd when he declared, "My poetry is simple and straightforward," the poet deprecated explanations of poetry, saying that one needed only the suppression of presuppositions and prejudices and "an occasional verbal footnote." The Miscellany News
In conjunction with an exhibit in Taylor Hall on modern architecture, the founding director of the department of architecture and design at the Museum of Modern Art, Philip Johnson, delivered three lectures on "Modern Trends in Architecture." Beginning with the "borrowings prompted by caprice," as The Miscellany News called them, of the three Prussian great-grand nephews of Frederick the Great, Johnson identified in their design of country houses the beginnings of modern eclecticism and asymmetry. In addition, he said, these buildings' tendencies "toward restraint and total neglect of ornament" led to "a system of regular bays which anticipates," said The Misc, "the regularity of design imposed by the nature of steel construction upon modern architecture."
Johnson protrayed American architecture in the 19th and early-20th centuries as a struggle between the philosophical descendants of the "revivalist and functionalist" Prussians, such as Henry Hobson Richardson—whose influence on Vassar's Alumnae Gymnasium (Ely Hall) he noted—and a stubbornly resurgent classicism. The key element in the victory of the modern was a fundamental change in buildings' structural character with the adoption of steel construction. "Before 1850," the writer in The Miscellany News said, "a building was conceived of as a mass, with weight-bearing walls pierced by the holes of windows; after steel, a building became a skeleton covered by a sheath." Praising the subsequent "originality and real understanding of the nature of steel construction" in the work of Louis Sullivan, Johnson claimed it was eclipsed by the extravagant classicism of the World's Columbian Exhibition of 1893. However he saw Sullivan's spare modernism—"often little more than an enclosure of the floor levels with terra cotta and glass"—in the work of the "one man who resisted the incursion of classicism," Frank Lloyd Wright, who, according to The Misc., "introduced an entirely new logic of construction and completely redesigned the house. Conceiving the frame building as a series of verticle posts overlaid with horizontal slabs, he attempted to express the structure by running up a masonry waist and glassing in between the posts, and covering it all with a flat, widely projecting roof."
Philip Johnson's third and final lecture, on May 18, was devoted largely to the International Style—defined by Johnson and Henry-Russell Hitchcock, lately of the Vassar faculty, in The International Style (1932)—and to its leading practiioners, Le Corbusier and Mies Van Der Rohe. Hitchcock and Johnson had organized Modern Architecture—International Exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City in February 1932, and Hitchcock had returned to Vassar the following May to speak on "Modern Architecture: Convergence on a Style." Declaring that "convention and form are the means with which one builds," Johnson saw architecture, in the explicit rigors of the style's dedication to its steel skeleton and amidst the contemporary chaos of other arts, as "the one art which gives the most hope today for stabilized development." Johnson saw the forces of the times as having brought Le Corbusier and Van Der Rohe, although "opposite types of men, the former classic, the latter gothic...to the same conclusions about architecture."
"In Van Der Rohe and Le Corbusier," the newspaper concluded, "the functionalism and relation of architecture to its landscape setting seen in the 19th century German Romantics and th principle of regularity developed by the American individualists reach their logical conclusion." The Miscellany News
Class Day exercises and meetings of alumnae opened Vassar’s 67th commencement exercises. Mrs. Henry Morganthau Jr. (Elinor Fatman ’13) spoke at the alumnae luncheon, and an evening production of A Winter’s Tale was followed by the senior bonfire.
The speaker at baccalaureate exercises the following day was the Rev. Dr. Vivian T. Pomeroy, pastor of the First Congregational Church in Milton, MA, who spoke on “Time and Experience.” Welcoming what he saw as a shift in young people away from rushed accumulation of experiences at the expense of the contemplation and comprehension of them, Pomeroy declared that “Nothing can make people really more intellectually stupid than a progressive accumulation of facts without wisdom to interpret the facts and extract their vital meaning.”
In his commencement address on June 12, President MacCracken emphasized to the 240 graduates, their families and guests that the goals of fulfillment in life were reached both gradually and in community with others. “Education,” he said, “is a continuous cycle and not something that can be achieved all at one time or in a few years.” MacCracken pointed to the community of faculty that relied on the advice and knowledge of others and to the national collaboration in research of foundations and associations in seeking mutual and societal enlightenment. “We must leave fulfillment to time,” he concluded. “We must not be the judge of our own work. We may criticize our own work, but we must remember that our criticism is suspended.”
The chairman of the board of trustees, Helen Kenyon ’05, announced that gifts to the college totaled $228,916 and that the endowment had increased by more than $120,000. Gifts from alumnae were $94,400, of which $46,000 were direct gifts and $48,400 were through the alumnae fund.
President Roosevelt, whose term as trustee would have expired in 1933, was elected to the board as an honorary life trustee.
In the afternoon, a forum on the economy began under the direction of cultural historian and activist, Associate Professor of History Caroline F. Ware ’20. The discussants included Ware’s husband, Harvard economist Gardiner C. Means, a critic of what he called “collective capitalism,” socialist Dr. Walter Polikov, the director of United Mine Workers’ department of engineering and the English economist and pioneer social services theorist Eveline Burns. The New York Times
President Roosevelt signed the National Industrial Recovery Act, permitting him to regulate industry so as to stimulate economic recovery and to establish a national public works program.
All political parties in Germany except the Nazi party were banned.
As the August 31 date set by President Roosevelt for some 5,000,000 employers to enroll under the National Industry Recovery Act moved closer, The New York Times reported the pace of enrollment was increasing and the goal seemed within reach. Endorsing the “blanket code” committed employers to reducing working hours and raising wages so that at least 6,000,000 men and women could return to the work force.
The 20,000 signatories reported on August 2 included the American Clothing Contractors Association—with 47,000 workers—J. C. Penney, New York Life, Beech-Nut, Kelly-Springfield Tires, Dunn & Bradstreet, the New York Cotton Exchange, Gulf Refining, Bloomingdales and Vassar College.
Eleanor Roosevelt spoke to the Institute of Euthenics at Vassar on raising children. “We must train our children to a new world, “ she said, “a world which we don’t know about. We must teach our children principles and let them decide for themselves. They often don’t do what we believe is right. We can just say keep on growing to ideals and standards.” The New York Times
Vassar was the scene of Dutchess County's official welcome to President and Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt, part of a county-wide "Neighbors Day" celebration. Mr. Roosevelt spoke from the porch of the President's House, talking informally on Dutchess County history to some 6,000 guests in what was reportedly an early use of a public address system.
Welcoming the President, President MacCracken recalled rumors at the time of Roosevelt’s nomination: “he was thought to be timid. He was rumored to be weak. Worst of all, we heard he was aristocratic. [Vassar] had never known such a man, and we wondered whom they had considered.” But now, he said, “a great chorus of praise and pride has filled our ears. A man stands out whom everybody knows…. He has taught us to be strong. He has kindled his courage in our own hearts. He has drawn for us a clear and definite plan by which, through sacrifice and cooperation, American democracy may survive. And best of all, he has placed human values first, and has affirmed that the state exists for the welfare of all, and not least for the common men and women like his neighbors.”
After sharing his boyhood recollections of Dutchess County, Roosevelt turned to the current situation. A full minute’s cheering followed his declaration that “It is…true that the people, through government, are extending as a permanent part of American life—and not for one year or two years—they are extending their insistence that individuals and associations of individuals shall cease doing many things that have been hurting their neighbors in bygone days.” Elizabeth A. Daniels, Bridges to the World: Henry Noble MacCracken and Vassar College
A cooperative apartment for 28 students was established in Blodgett Hall. The Blodgett accommodation continued until the opening of Palmer House as a cooperative in 1938. Raymond House, set up as a partial-cooperative, continued through the year 1942-43.
Elizabeth Meade ’27 offered a course in the art department on landscape architecture.
Professor of English Helen Lockwood ’12 offered for the first time her course in Public Discussion. “The English department develops its tradition of social criticism and debate.” The Vassar Quarterly
Professor of Philosophy Woodbridge Riley died at his summer home in Cape May, NJ, at the age of 64. Riley, who taught at Vassar since 1908, was a prolific scholar and a provocative and exacting teacher, known for his acerb wit. In 1922 he gained front page notice in The New York Times when Christian Science and Mormon leaders forced the publisher to withdraw the fourth volume of The Cambridge History of American Literature, where Riley’s analyses of their respective religions in a chapter, “Popular Bibles” called Christian Science “inconsistent and illogical” and referred to its founder, Mary Baker Eddy, as a “thrice-married Trismegistus.”
The Women's International League for Peace and Freedom held a three-day meeting at Vassar. The president of the student Political Association, Lucile Harvey ‘34, shared the podium at the opening dinner with President MacCracken, John Lovejoy Elliott, leader of the Ethical Culture Society, and Lena Madesin Phillips, founder of the Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs, among others. Other speakers during the meeting included the pioneer multiculturalist Rachel Davis DuBois and Mary E. Wooley, the president of Mount Holyoke College.
The gathering approved a resolution to work for “immediate conclusion of a treaty covering reduction and supervision of arms by the Disarmament Conference before and after it convenes Oct. 16,” as well as one urging recognition of Soviet Russia.
The Conference for the Reduction and Limitation of Armaments, long in the planning, had opened in Geneva in early 1932, but when Adolf Hitler took Germany out of the conference—and of its sponsor, the League of Nations—in October, talks collapsed.
The college opened for its 69th year with 1,223 students from 38 states, the District of Columbia, the Canal Zone, Hawaii, England, China and Syria. Forty-one of the 364 freshmen were daughters of alumnae, and three were granddaughters of alumnae who entered Vassar on its first opening day, September 20, 1865.
Germany withdrew from the League of Nations.
Introduced by President MacCracken as a "specialist in democracy," Dr. Friedrich Schoenemann lectured in Sknner Hall on “The New Democracy in Hitler's Germany.” On a tour of American campuses, the professor from the University of Berlin compared Hitler’s putsch to the American Revolution, proclaimed Hitler fundamentally “a democrat” and—although he claimed that they were the leaders of world communism—denied any persecution of German Jews. Speaking to students after his lecture, Schoenemann urged them, according to The Miscellany News, to keep an open mind about Hitler and the Nazis, explaining, for example "the German meaning of the word 'propaganda'—not a deliberate distortion of the truth for the purpose of duping the people, but a means to mass education and solidarity."
More than 100 people were turned away from Schoenemann's lecture, and The Vassar Quarterly reported “The campus is reverberating with discussion of Hitler and the Nazis.” On November 3, the émigré military historian Dr. Alfred Vagts, formerly of the University of Hamburg, speaking in the Students Building on "Germany Under Hitler," found it "strange that a philologist [Schoenemann] should confuse the terms democrat and demogogue."
Friedrich Schoenemann lectured at Vassar on the German youth movement in November 1929. The Miscellany News
James Stephens, the Irish poet and novelist, paid his second visit to Vassar, lecturing on the writing of poetry and reading some of his own poems.
"He was a little man with a high, narrow head and long, thin hands. We felt that he looked very much as one of the philosophers in The Crock of Gold must have looked. At the end of his speech James Stephens made a hasty exit from the stage without waiting for the applause to die down. After him rushed Miss [Professor of English Rose] Peebles, who had introduced him. It seems that the poet is very shy, and on his former visit to Vassar it looked, at the end of his speech, as though he were going to be mobbed by an army of autograph seekers, so he rushed out through the wings and left Students' unnoticed. There was to be a reception for him in Main immediately after the lecture, and as it was assumed that he had gone there, the assemblage followed after. But no James Stephens did they find. After an interval a search was organized. Posses set out in all directions. At last the poet was found wandering bewildered in the Circle looking for an exit! Hence Miss Peebles' determination that he should not escape unaccompanied." The Vassar Quarterly
Stephens read from his work at Vassar in 1925.
President MacCracken announced the appointment of Professor Moritz Alfred Geiger, formerly professor of philosophy at the University of Göttingen, to succeed the late Woodbridge Riley. The German phenomenologist, expelled by the Nazis, had come to the United States earlier in the year.
By the end of January 1934, some 275 distinguished European scholars were relocated to American campuses—“including all the leading institutions of learning in the United States, with the exception of Harvard University,” as The New York Times put it—with some 1,200 still seeking refuge. Professor Geiger arrived at Vassar on March 1, 1934.
Former trustee Frank L. Babbott died. Mr. Babbott’s wife Lydia attended Vassar in the Class of 1877, and in 1899 he endowed a fellowship in her name and that of her eldest daughter Mary ’08—the anonymous donor in 1913 of the Students’ Building. His will bequeathed $540,000 to the college.
Mr. Babbott’s two other daughters were Lydia Babbott ’17 and Helen Babbott ’19.
Associate Professor of History Caroline F. Ware ’20 and her husband, Harvard economist Gardiner C. Means, joined President Roosevelt’s “brain trust” in Washington, she as counselor to the Consumer Advisory Service of the NRA and Means as economic advisor to Secretary of Agriculture Henry Wallace.
The Experimental Theatre gave the American première of Fear, by the Soviet socialist realist playwright Aleksandr Afinogenov. Two students, Dorothy Coleman ‘33 and Adelaide Brown ’33, translated the text under the supervision of Professor of Russian Nikander Strelsky. Originally banned by Soviet authorities, the play was later accepted as part of the Soviet self-criticism program and was in the third year of its run in the Soviet Union.
The play’s central character, Ivan Ilich Borodin, the director of the “Institute of Physiological Stimuli,” struggles to accommodate the Communist social order and yet preserve the tradition of individual inquiry and discovery. Borodin—a character modeled on Nobel physiologist Ivan Pavlov—was played by President MacCracken, Professor Strelsky appeared as Hussain Kimbaev (a Cossack) and C. Gordon Post, in his first year in the political science department, played Nikolai Tsexovoi, the politician husband of Yelena Makharova, Borodin’s Communist antagonist.
“There was nothing lacking in tonight’s presentation, and the play was received with unstinted applause. Many in the audience expressed wonderment that Broadway had not preceded Vassar in recognizing the merits of the piece.” The New York Times
“Broadway would find it hard to do better.” The New York Herald Tribune
"You put over at one stroke what is accomplished in the classroom only with long and painstaking effort." Professor of History Lucy Textor in a letter to Experimental Theatre Director Hallie Flanagan
“The play was swell with Prexy and a new college heart-throb, Political Science Prof. Mr. Post, featured.” MS student letter
E. Harold Geer, professor of music and director of the choir, gave his 500th Dark Music recital on the organ in the Chapel. Professor Geer had begun these recitals shortly after joining the faculty in 1916.
On June 1, 1922, as the 200th Dark Music recital drew near, The Poughkeepsie Eagle-News described the tradition:
“Every Sunday night at Vassar College, Mr. Harold Geer, organist and member of the music department gives an organ recital in the chapel for those students and their guests who wish to attend. This recital is familiarly known as ‘dark music,’ as the only light is that of the lamp over the organ. Often the program is made up of selections which have been especially requested. The 195th recital took place last Sunday, and the 200th is coming soon. The college paper, ‘The Miscellany News,’ has an editorial on the subject, saying, ‘A golden wedding anniversary is rare, but a 200th anniversary organ recital is unique. We do not know whether Mr. Geer should be presented with a tin cup or a gold ring but we know that he has the appreciation of the whole college community….’”
In the late 1870s, college organist and music teacher Charlotte Finch ’72 initiated a similar tradition, playing the chapel organ every evening from 9:45 until “silent time,” the only light in the Chapel being the gas jets on each side of the organ.
The Olive M. Lammert Laboratories of Physical Chemistry in the Sanders Laboratory of Chemistry were dedicated and a memorial bronze plaque, the gift of an anonymous donor, was unveiled. Professor Olive M. Lammert '15 was a member of the Chemistry Department from 1915 to 1932 except for two years devoted to graduate study. At the time of her death, in October 1932, President MacCracken said, "Professor Lammert was one of the most brilliant scientists on the college faculty. Her extraordinary abilities were early recognized by her colleagues and were [rewarded] by rapid promotion to full professorship." The Miscellany News
Anthropologist Margart Mead, "diminutive and completely feminine in gray taffeta and black velvet, in delightful contrast to her virility of mind and magnitute of accomplishment," according to The Miscellany News, lectured and spoke with students. Warning them that anthropology was "a difficult field," she agreed that women could be a liability in the field.
"Women are a liability—when they try to do men's work," the Miscellany News report said, "as they naturally do when they set out alone. The fertile field for a woman is to visit a primitive tribe with her husband, investigate the conditions among the women and the children while he studies the men. In such work she is invaluable as the man can procure only half the picture." Mead's second husband was the New Zealand anthropologist Reo Fortune, to whom she was married between 1928 and 1935.
A professional colleague Vassar Professor of Sociology Joseph Folsom and a former student of Columbia University anthropologist Ruth Benedict '09, Dr. Mead was a frequent visitor to the college. In 1940-41 she was visiting lecturer in anthropolgy and child study, and the following year she was visiting lecturer in economics at Vassar.
Brazilian pianist Guiomar Növaes gave a recital in the Students' Building. Her program included the Chromatic Fantasie and Fugue of Bach, two sonatas by Scarlatti, Children's Scenes—several short pieces by the pianist's husband, Octavio Pinto—and Navarra by Albeniz. Reviewing the performance in The Miscellany News, Jean Anderson '34 found "every element" in the rendering of Bach "subordinated to the deeply expressive effect of the whole.... The effect was architectural; it was like a beautiful Renaissance palace in which the details are well-nigh perfect but never unduly distracting."
The Vassar Student Political Association held a conference on the influence of the National Recovery Administration on labor. The speakers included: Charles Ervin from the Amalgamated Clothing Workers; Dr. William Leiserson, chairman of the Petroleum Advisory Board; Rossa B. Cooley, principal of the Penn Normal, Industrial and Agricultural School; Ann Burlak, secretary of the National Textile Workers Union and Mae Gippa of the Brookwood Labor College.
The Class of 1935 held the largest Junior Prom in the history of the college. Following an afternoon concert by "the Sextette," an annual performance of humorous lyrics set to lively tunes, 203 couples joined in the Grand March in the Students' Building, amid "decorations lent by the Palmer House in Chicago" and danced to the music of Todd Rollins's Orchestra. The event's "patrons and patronesses" included President and Mrs. MacCracken, Dean C. Mildred Thompson '03, Warden Eleanor Dodge '25, Professor of English Winifred Smith '04, Professor and Mrs. George Sherman Dickinson and Professor and Mrs. C. Gordon Post. The Miscellany News
The tradition of the Junior Prom, for decades the most important social event of the college year, began in 1911 with a Junior-Sophomore Dinner Dance.
The Helen Kenyon Hall of Physical Education, honoring the chairman of the board of trustees, Helen Kenyon ‘05, was dedicated, Allen and Collens, architects. The mediaeval revival style of the $400,000 building—built with gifts from alumnae, other friends of the college and college funds—contrasted with the building‘s program, which reflected the innovative ideas of the euthenics curriculum into which it was planned to fit. In remarks at the dedication, President MacCracken said the building embodied “the transition of physical education from its earlier function as a callisthenic drill to its incorporation as a social institution in daily life.”
The New York Times hailed the new building's novel features, citing the soundproof rooms “so that the din of games will not carry through the building” and “the thermostatic control so that varying climates can be provided, a summer temperature for the swimming pool, one like spring in the individual exercise room and a brisk October day in the basketball courts. An indoor tennis court is included.” Other facilities included: four bowling alleys; three squash courts; a body mechanics laboratory; fencing, trophy, sun lamp, dancing and club rooms, a kitchenette and a golf practice cage.
Over 200 alumnae joined the honoree for the dedicatory dinner, and in his dedicatory address, Dr. William Darrach, a Vassar trustee and dean emeritus of the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, touched on the building’s special purpose. “The purpose of this building is physical education,” he said. “It is a laboratory where the art of physical development may be learned so thoroughly that it will be practiced throughout life by every Vassar alumna and taught by her to oncoming generations.” Noting Vassar’s “one great advantage” over men’s colleges in physical education, “the absence of intercollegiate competition,” Darrach said, “Here, all the attention of the department should not be to develop a few extreme examples but to make it possible for each student to reach her best development.” The New York Times
Effective Friday, February 23, new campus smoking regulations approved by the trustees went into effect. Students were permitted to smoke in their rooms in the residence halls, and in preparation for the new privilege, The Miscellany News published comments provided at President MacCracken's request by college officials on "four main points with regard to smoking and the college student."
Dr. Jane North Baldwin, the college physician, provided health advice, including a note on "tobacco heart." "When one becomes uncomfortable if she cannot smoke," she added, "it is time to face the fact squarely that she is approaching a 'habit.' No one would choose such humiliation and therefore should at once stop smoking." The college's general manager, Keene Richards, addressed issues of fire protection, concluding that as far as he knew, "insurance rates will not rise unless the extension of the smoking privilege is followed by a series of fires on campus." Notes by Warden Eleanor Dodge '25 on the privilege's "Social Significance in the Community" and an analysis of the expense of smoking were also provided. A pack a day of "quality" cigarettes throughout the academic year would cost $46.20 (20 cents per package), and "mass" cigarettes (15 cents) would cost the smoker $34.65.
Under the new rules, smoking was prohibitied in the area bounded by Main Building, Rockefeller Hall, the Library, Taylor Hall and the Chapel, "because of the mess around campus, ...the cost of picking it up, and ...the crowding of smokers around the library, chapel, and doors of Rocky. A goundsman has been detailed to watch this proscribed area. It is his duty to warn a girl upon her first offense, and to arrest her upon the second." The Miscellany News
The New York League of Women Voters published a statement from President MacCracken urging ratification of a Federal child labor amendment. Noting that the National Recovery Administration regulation outlawing labor by children under 16 would expire with the NRA, MacCracken said “Substantial gains have been made recently in the direction of ending undesirable child labor… In order to ensure that these gains may be held or pushed further in the future, this amendment to the Constitution, to enable Federal legislation, is necessary.”
In 1938, Congress passed the Fair Labor Standards Act, which set Federal standards for child labor.
The Experimental Theatre presented a diverse program: the world première of The Singing Girl of Copan: a Ballet in the Maya Mode, by Hartley Alexander, philosopher, writer and a founding genius of Scripps College; The Mummer’s Play, a compilation of old English texts; and part of a 17th century Italian pastoral comedy. Alexander’s play, reviving “a sacrificial ritual of Yucatan described by Bishop Diego de Landa in a paper written in 1566,” was presented by masked players. The 16th century English texts were compiled and arranged by Hallie Flanagan’s students. The Gelois, the Duke of Mantua’s players, gave the pastoral comedy “in the first decade of the 17th century.” The New York Times
The college announced the trustees' decision to continue for the 1934-35 academic year this year’s successful cooperative housing experiment in three residence halls. Intended to help students meet their college costs by working in their residences, the plan differed significantly among the three halls. In Main, students earned $40 a year by doing relatively light work such as cleaning their rooms.
Raymond House was entirely maintained by students, except for a chef and helper, a janitor and a night watchman. Students ran the elevator, scrubbed bathrooms, waited on tables, helped in the kitchen and ran the messenger service. The student in charge of cleaning supplies and the one overseeing waitresses had those jobs throughout the year, but the other students traded responsibilities every six weeks. Each of these students enjoyed a six-week “vacation” during the year. They received $150 a year.
In Blodgett Hall of Euthenics, the 28 sophomores, juniors and seniors assumed virtually all residential responsibilities. The college charged each student $100 for heat, light, gas and shelter, and “each week there are four cooks: a chief or meat cook, a vegetable cook, a dessert cook and one who makes cocoa and does odd jobs. The chief cook plans the menus, does the marketing and budgets the time for other students.” The only college oversight in Blodgett was supervision of diet.
Tuition at Vassar for 1934 was $500 and, including fees for room and board, the fixed cost for the year was about $1,000. The New York Times
Residents of the new cooperative living unit in the Blodgett Hall of Euthenics entertained 25 men from colleges as far away as Virginia at the first annual "Blodgett Brawl." Held from nine until midnight in the Club Room of Kenyon Hall, the dance was preceded by Saturday breakfast for early arrivees and a dinner served in Blodgett, "the menu," according to The Miscellany News, "including lamb, green peas and ice cream with chocolate sauce. Great amusement was afforded by the guest who covered his meat and potatoes with chocolate sauce, mistaking it for gravy. China was wheeled from other halls in baby buggies for the occasion, and the dishwashing squad carried on as usual aided by escorts appropriately garbed in colorful aprons."
Overseen by Warden Eleanor Dodge '25 and Ruth Mallay '31 of the child study department, the dancers were entertained by Christine Ramsey '29, professor of English and speech, and—often with colleagues Clair Leonard and Quincy Porter— the producer of satiric entertainments. Author of such Vassar favorites as "It Must Be Something About Me," "Love is Just What I Thought" and "The Floraborealis Girls," Ramsey included "I've Got an Eight Cylinder Love for a Two Cylinder Man" and "Just a Moment, Mr. Conductor" in her "Blodgett Brawl" program. A midnight buffet was served in Blodgett Hall, and "On Sunday the group was left to shift for itself until 4:30 when tea was served in the living room." The Miscellany News
For the first time, Philaletheis turned the entire presentation of the second hall play over to the freshman class. Under the direction of Christine Krehbiel ’34, the freshmen presented Arthur Schnitzler’s The Green Cockatoo (1889).
President MacCracken led trustees, faculty and about 300 students in a peace march through Poughkeepsie, the first time such an event had happened since 1917, when the object was to urge President Wilson to enter the war.
Lucille Harvey ’34, the president of the Political Association, carried the American flag, and MacCracken helped carry a banner urging international peace. Joining him and the students were college warden Eleanor C. Dodge ’25 and trustees Helen Kenyon ’05, Mabel Hastings Humpstone ‘94 and Ruth Hornblower Greenough ‘08.
Students sang the “Gaudeamus” and “Baa Baa Bombshell.” “I marched at the tail end of the peace parade…and there was an elephant from the circus, a Great Dane, & a pony following behind me. It was most terrifying.” MS student letter
Returning from a month's tour of preparatory schools, President MacCracken said in an interview with The New York Times that families seemed to be adjusting to the severe economic situation in ways that consider education a priority. Families, he said, “are including educational allowances in their budgets. They would rather sacrifice anything than have their children forego the benefits of a college education.”
Noting that withdrawal rates “have remained so low,” MacCracken declared, “Once a girl comes here, we help her all we can to enable her to stay in college.” Seventeen students had withdrawn in 1933-34, more than half of them, he said, because of poor health.
President MacCracken mentioned also that a recent study comparing the regions of the country from which the 916 students in 1903-04 and the 1,216 in the present year had come showed little change.
The college received a cablegram announcing the marriage of Philip Davis, head of the department of Greek and Latin, to Hallie Flanagan, professor of English and director of the Experimental Theatre, in Athens, Greece. Both professors were on leave.
Émigré Professor Moritz Geiger, the new chair of the philosophy department, introduced to Vassar the European custom of open lectures with a series of talks in his Aesthetics 375b course, given in the seventh hour, late in the afternoon. Over 50 students and faculty members attended, proving, according to the The Miscellany News in an editorial entitled "Gaudeamus Professor," “undeniably that compulsion is not the measure of our interest in learning. Professor Geiger has the honor of initiating this European custom. May his example be followed.”
"Picasso, Matisse In Unusual Vassar Art Week Exhibition," said The Miscellany News, as some 50 works of modernist art by 18 artists and a series of lectures in a week of brilliant art events stirred college enthusiasm. Works by DeChirico, Dali, Derain, Dufy, Ernst, Klee, Luçat, Matisse, Miro, Picasso, Rouault, and Tchelitchew, along with 30 pieces of American sculpture were featured in the annual art week. A major lender of the paintings was the eminent maritime lawyer T. Catesby Jones who, with his second wife, had begun collecting works—chiefly of the School of Paris—in the early 1920s.
The lectures included in Art Week were by: A.E. Austin Jr., director of the Hartford Museum, who spoke on "Contemporary Painting"; French painter and tapestry artist Jean Lurçat, who spoke on "Peinture Françaises Contemporaires"; William Lescaze, Swiss-born American architect, who spoke on "Contemporary American Architecture"; Edward M.M. Warburg, art patron and founding trustee of the Museum of Modern Art, whose topic was "Lachaise and Sculpture Today"; and Lincoln Kirstein, co-founder and editor of the literary journal Hound and Horn and a principal sponsor of the new School of American Ballet, who spoke on the "Historical Background of the Ballet".
In 1943, Catesby Jones, whose first wife, Olga Hasbrouck '05, died in 1913, gave to the college in her memory the Olga Hasbrouck Collection, a selection of Chinese porcelain from the Han, Tang and Sung dynasties. Writing in 1943 about her and about the Celadon and Temmokus ceramics in the Hasbrouck Collection:"Olga Hasbrouck, although she died before reaching the age of thirty years, left a vivid memory to many friends. Her wit and humor endeared her to her classmates, and her striking appearance left an impression not easily forgotten. She was endowed with a mass fo magnificent auburn hair, which she set off by wearing greens, the Celadon shades preferred—a color suggested both by her hair and the date of her birth [March 17, 1884].... What has now been collected and given to Vassar College in her name does represent her spirit. Subtle in both form and color, restrained, yet full of wisdom." The Miscellany News, Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center archives
“Tell Dad it is Dicky I like in music but I like—love—the course [Music 140] too. He’s going to get the most tremendous hand today after his last lecture. I think the 110 of us will go quite crazy clapping, shouting, & stamping for him…. The Senior ballot for the most popular prof. in college was won by Prof. G.[eorge] S.[herman] Dickinson. Ha!” MS student letter
Thirteen sophomores were approved to spend their junior year abroad for 1934-35: nine to France, three to Germany, one to Spain.
Over 500 alumnae returned to Vassar for the end-of-year celebrations. Twelve classes had reunions, including the Class of 1874, with three members, and the Class of 1884, with four. The alumnae attended class dinners in the residence halls, and the glee club gave a concert in the evening.
The next morning, June 9th, the three members of ’74 acted as judges for the alumnae parade, awarding first prize to the Class of 1900, with honorable mention to ’18 and ’84. Recalling the fire in Main that briefly threatened to destroy the building in their senior year, ’18 wore red fire helmets and carried fire axes and water buckets.
At the alumnae luncheon, Herbert E. Mills, professor emeritus of economics, spoke both of American women’s greatly increased social mobility and of the starkly different situation of their contemporaries in Germany, Italy and Russia, where war and revolution had impeded or reversed women’s progress. “Women,” he said, “have entered every profession in this country, even those of kidnapping and bootlegging. Preserve the freedom of action which you enjoy.”
Under threatening clouds and accompanied by students, alumnae and visitors, 24 members of the Class of ’36 carried the traditional daisy chain to the base of ‘34’s class tree, where it was to remain until after commencement. Breaking tradition, before the procession students presented a brief parody of Gertrude Stein’s Four Saints in Three Acts, in which they portrayed Vassar’s “saints”—President MacCracken, Dean Mildred Thompson ‘03, Warden Eleanor Dodge ’25 and college physician Dr. Jane Baldwin.
In the evening, André Obey’s modernist biblical drama, Noah, was presented in the Outdoor Theater. Later on, when the alumnae and visitors had retired, the seniors and the sophomores took part in the passing on of college songs at Vassar Lake, in the light of brightly colored Chinese lanterns.
At Sunday’s baccalaureate, the Rev. C. Leslie Glenn, rector of Christ Church, Cambridge, MA, spoke on “The Pain of Having One’s Eyes Opened.” Wary that college graduates may expect more than the world has for them, Rev. Glenn observed, “A hard but necessary lesson is to accept the inevitable, for some things are inevitable. It takes courage to face that fact, but life is easier when we do.”
President MacCracken, styling himself as a “social philosopher” at the conferring of degrees on Monday, June 11th, told the 251 graduating seniors and their guests of his idea of Utopia, where all work would be performed by people from 45 to 60 years of age, the period before work being devoted to education, travel and creative work. Wars, in his perfect society, would also be fought by those over 45: “Those who have fewer years to live would die, and those who apparently want war the most would have it most. Meanwhile young people could enjoy the parade and not be in it.”
More realistically, MacCracken addressed critics of the relative youth and solid intellectualism of President Roosevelt’s government, particularly his “brain trust.” MacCracken exemplifed these critics in the Indiana school principal, William Wirt, who publicly attacked all elements of the government’s programs and who had recently told Congress that the New Deal was essentially a communist plot. “The talk,” MacCracken said, “about the ‘brain trust’ is all blather…. People have always wanted brains in their rulers, when they could find them. It is not the brain trust that was the bugaboo. It is youth. What frightened Dr. Wirt was the discovery that he was 60 years old, and that his young secretary had more to do with government than he had…. It’s not the professors that politicians are afraid of in Washington. It’s the assistant professors.”
In her annual report of gifts to the college, board chairman Helen Kenyon ’05 announced that the $124,478 included several gifts to the new sports building, Kenyon Hall. A new endowed prize, the Leo M. Prince Prize for the student demonstrating the greatest academic improvement during her four years at Vassar was awarded to Josephine Azzolina '34. The New York Times
Speaking to some 300 representatives of the North Atlantic Section of the American Association of University Women at a dinner in Main Building prior to their annual convention, President MacCracken and the president of Wesleyan University, James J. McConaughy, were intriguing complements. Addressing, in "A Layman's View," the question of the role of college women in the community,” President McConaughy discussed the value of college women “amateurs” as foils and mediators of the often strident words and the efforts of “professionals,” who were “always lodging protests and sending petitions instead of taking action” and who, when active, “promptly get so far ahead of everybody else that nothing can be seen but their dust.” The woman “amateur,” however, is usually a “good sport” who “is not too efficient to make a real contribution out of her sincere desire to help, and plays an individual game as against the organized team play of the professionals.”
In his response, President MacCracken suggested that professional training was often indispensible in great calamities and that the role of professional women in the community is to support and co-operate with their amateur colleagues. Women trained, he said, in history, public health, law and child care are especially able to assist those less well-trained in stressful times. The New York Times
A campus landmark, the “French tank,” a gift in 1920 from the French government commemorating the service of Vassar women in France during and after World War I, was dismantled and removed. Faded, rusting and gradually sinking into the ground, the once-proud 40-ton Saint-Charmond tank had become a campus hazard.
In its final battle, the armed vehicle proved resourceful. When its fuel tanks were dismantled—wisely, without the use of an acetylene torch—one was found to contain several gallons of benzine. And a workman was frightened but not injured when, chiseling at the tank’s body, he discharged a shell cap, which had lain in a crevice since 1916.
In the fall, student and faculty opinion about the tank’s fate was sharply divided. Peace advocates felt a worrisome symbol had been removed; others—many in the French department—thought it a gesture of ingratitude to the givers and those the tank honored. The freshmen were, The New York Times reported, “indifferent.”
President MacCracken, joined by Mrs. MacCracken, left for a month’s visit to Mexico, where he delivered several lectures at the National University of Mexico at the invitation of its rector, the Mexican political leader Abogado Manuel Gómez Morín.
A poll of nearly 1.8 million Americans conducted by The Literary Digest found that 61% approved of President Roosevelt’s policies and 39% disapproved. Polling over 17,000 students at 15 universities plus Vassar and Wellesley, the journal found the margin of approval to be higher, 64% to 36%. However, only 54% of the 316 Vassar students in the poll approved of the New Deal, and Wellesley students split evenly with 50% approving and 50% not. The New York Times
On the death of German president Hindenburg, Chancellor Adolf Hitler also assumed the presidency, calling himself the Führer.
The New York State Legislature passed a law requiring an oath of allegiance from all teachers.
The chairman of the philosophy department, Dr. Moritz Geiger, spoke at Fall Convocation of the dangers of rising anti-intellectualism. Tracing modern anti-intellectualism to France at the turn of the 20th century, the exiled German philosopher declared that anti-intellectual “dynamism and activism” threatened the very idea of education. “The intellectual wants clearness, discussion and consciousness,” he claimed, adding that “colleges must take their stand on the side of clearness, not on the side of confused ideals.” Education, he concluded, “for objectivity and education of the critical mind…will show their importance to the student later in life when he has forgotten many of the facts he has learned.” The New York Times
The college announced that Kansas City surgeon and bibliophile Dr. Matthew W. Pickard had given to the Library nearly 500 volumes of Russian literature, many of them extremely rare and some possibly unique items. “We are extremely fortunate,” President MacCracken said, “to receive this collection. It seems likely that the Russian language will take an increasingly important place in the world in the future…. It also is probable that academic America will concede this importance by providing increased facilities for the study of the language.”
Nikander Strelsky, head of Vassar’s Russian department, noted that since the 1917 revolution “the libraries of Russia have been broken up, the books burned or scattered throughout the world. Many of their treasures were lost forever.”
Dr. Pickard gave more than 400 additional rare Russian volumes to Vassar in 1940. The New York Times
Dean C. Mildred Thompson ‘03 joined Mrs. Franklin Roosevelt in addressing Dutchess County Democratic women in Poughkeepsie as the President awaited the results of the first national election since he assumed office.
American modernist author Gertrude Stein lectured in Avery Hall on "Portraits I Have Written and What I Think of Repetition, Whether It Exists or No," under the auspices of the department of English. The Miscellany News quoted at length excerpts from her speech, "as she wrote it, given to the News by Miss Alice B. Toklas." The text is from Stein's essay "Portraits and Repetition," which was published in Lectures in America (1935).
"The strange thing about the realization of existence is that like a train moving there is no real realization of it moving if it does not move against something and so that is what a generation does it shows that moving is existing. So then there are generations and in a way that too is not important because, and this thing is a thing to know, if and we in America have tried to make this thing a real thing, if the movement, that is any movement, is lively enough, perhaps it is possible to know that it is moving even if it is not moving against anything. And so in a way the American way has been not to need that generations are existing. If this were really true and perhaps it is really true then really and truly there is a new way of making portraits of men and women and children. And I, I in my way have tried to do this thing....
"Then also there is the important question of repetition and is there any such thing. Is there repetition or is there insistence. I am inclined to believe there is no such thing as repetition. And really how can there be.... Think about all the detective stories everybody reads. The kind of crime is the same, and the idea of the story is very often the same...always have the same scene, the same scene, the kind of invention that is necessary to make a general scheme is very limited in everybody's experience, every time one of the hundreds of times a newspaper man makes fun of my writing and of my repetition he always has the same theme...."
Josephine Roche ’08, the president of the Rocky Mountain Fuel Company, was appointed by President Roosevelt as Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, in charge of public health departmental personnel. She was the third woman to reach cabinet or sub-cabinet rank in the Roosevelt administration. The New York Times
Philaletheis presented “Bedrock,” a satirical play about feminism and women in politics by Mary Morley Crapo ’34, in the Students’ Building. Men’s roles were play by Ray Wigg, the Vassar night watchman, and Harvey Fite, Harold Bassage, John Hicks, James Gildersleeve and Brewster Terry, faculty members and students from Bard College.
The president of the Students' Association in her senior year, Mary Crapo received a PhD from Columbia and was a prominent bibliophile in England and America. She wrote on books and culture and, after the death of her first husband, Donald Hyde, with whom she assembled a pre-eminent collection of materials relating to Samuel Johnson, she became Mary, Viscountess Eccles.
Her satiric play Ladies Are Made (1935) opened the Vassar Experimental Theatre's first summer season in 1935.
Campus concern mounted about expulsions of students from the City College of New York and the University of California at Los Angeles on charges of “radicalism.” Several hundred Vassar students had signed and addressed, but not mailed, letters to the presidents of the two institutions, charging them with “an infringement upon the right of free speech,” the Student Association called for an investigation by the National Student Federation of America.
On November 24, the federation announced that a committee, consisting of students from New York University, Barnard, Hunter College, and Vassar, would meet in New York to look into the incidents. Katherine McInerny ’35, the president of the Political Association, represented Vassar.
The New York Times’s slight mention of the committee’s subsequent decision to censure the two college administrations provoked a letter, on December 2, from President MacCracken. “This news item,” he said, “gets an obscure two inches in The New York Times today, while athletics gets many columns. In another dispatch to The Times, [Hamilton College Political Science] Professor Frederock Davenport condemns students for their indifference to politics….
"Who is to blame? The faculty and the public that still treat college students as children and playboys, or the students that are struggling without encouragement from any source to maintain student liberty of speech and action, to act collectively, to carry on judicial inquiry, and to make careful decisions?
“If I were an editor, I would reverse these proportions of news space and hail these students…. The action of the National Student Federation of America is a milestone on the students’ march to recognition in the democracy of learning.”
The New York Times reported that Dr. George Van Biesbroeck of the University of Chicago’s Yerkes Observatory, the discoverer on July 27, 1933, of a minor planet of the 12th magnitude, had been notified by the Berlin Rechen-Institut that the planet had been named Vassar.
After Dr. Biesbroeck found the asteroid on a photographic plate, Caroline Furness ’91, director of the Vassar Observatory, requested his data so that the planet’s orbit could be computed. The computations, carried out as independent study by Grace Wilson ’34, were verified when the planet was observed in the positions predicted for it. The orbits of three such planets were found to be accurately predicted by the computations at Vassar, and a second of the three was named Radcliffe, after that college’s Class of 1925.
Over 200 student government leaders from 150 colleges met in Boston for the annual Congress of the National Student Federation. In a letter to the gathering, President Roosevelt cited the students’ role in the nation’s economic recovery. “I am fully aware,” he said, “that economic recovery is ultimately to be appraised in terms of the enrichment it makes possible in human lives. Human resources are above physical resources. The purposes which inspire the college youth of today will determine largely the value of the human resources of tomorrow. Your opportunity and your responsibility are great.”
President MacCracken’s keynote address to the congress focused on the federation’s recent censure of two universities that expelled students for “radical” speech and on students’ need for a larger voice in the shaping and administration of their schools. About the expulsions, he said “Too often in America teachers who ought to be dismissed for negligence in their own specialties take compensation in arbitrary disciplining of a student.”
On students’ rights, MacCracken offered the student leaders two propositions. “I propose, first,” he said, “that the student body through their constituent society be granted the right of collective bargaining with the trustees of their college. All plans affecting the welfare of students, the endowments for scholarships and housing conditions, the expansion or contraction of college services, should come before this body.” In particular, he added, all matters of freedom of expression ought to be similarly discussed. And, he said, “the trustees should bring to the attention of students those matters in which in their judgment students have fallen short.”
“I propose, second,” MacCracken continued, “that through a student commission on the course of study, undergraduates should have the right of free expression of opinion in all requirements for degrees, as to hours of study, number of courses, standards of work. They should have the right not only of criticizing poor teaching but of seeking redress when such teaching interferes with their profitable use of time and money.” The New York Times
The faculty adopted a revised curriculum requiring four full courses instead of five for underclassmen. Three full courses for seniors were supplemented by tutorials, a comprehensive examination and a long, independent paper. Hygiene and education courses for freshmen, the last compulsory courses in the Vassar curriculum, were abolished. In presenting the proposed plan to the faculty on January 15, 1933, President MacCracken explained that it was designed to allow students on concentrate more on individual work. "Its essential feature," he said, "is a simplification of the curriculum by reducing the number of courses and class hours. The present curriculum is effective but has become too complicated. It leaves no time for the most desirable work, advanced in quality and solid in quantity."
Studied and modified over the next two years by the faculty working as a committee of the whole, the curricular changes were adopted by the faculty on February 18, 1935, by a vote of 72 to 4. The Miscellany News hailed the day as "one of the most momentous days in the history of Vassar College," offering "a drastic reduction" in the courses required for the degree, and needed modification "in the proportioning of students' time and in techniques of work. Student dreams, long thought Utopian, for increased concentration and for more individual work, will finally become actualities. We find ourselves in the rosy-fingered dawn where faculty and students will take a collective responsibility in the process of education....
"But the work," the editors warned, "is still only half done. Old fashioned methods of teaching and of learning must go—along with the old curriculum. We are confident that they will, that the new plan will be put into practice with the same spirit in which it was made, for otherwise we should have the strange anomaly of a new framework covered by old shingles."
Professor Alice Belding ‘07, chairman of the physical education department, reported to President MacCracken the results of an analysis of the physical characteristics of the average Vassar freshman done in the new Helen Kenyon Sports Building.
“This hypothetical young woman,” The New York Times reported on January 5, “is five feet five inches tall, she weighs 126 and one-fifth pounds; her lung capacity is 205.67 cubic inches; the strength of the grip of her right hand is 69 pounds; she can run 80 yards on a circular unbaked track in 15 and four-fifths seconds; she can toss a one-pound weight 40 feet; in the standing broad jump event she can jump 5 feet 4 inches, and, finally, in striking a blow her strength is 74 pounds.”
400 alumnae celebrated the 20th anniversary of President MacCracken’s presidency at the annual luncheon of the New York Vassar Club, held at the Biltmore Hotel in New York City. In his remarks, MacCracken noted that enrollment in the college for the current academic year was the highest in 12 years.
“A bill is being proposed by a Mr. Nunan in Albany requiring every student in college…to take an oath to uphold the state and Federal constitution. On the surface, it is harmless enough, but actually it was suggested by Mr. [William Randolph] Hearst to wipe out all form of campus radicalism…. 500 girls were as a mass meeting last night…where Prexy and the president of students and Polit. and several professors talked. Eight hundred signed a petition demanding the defeat of the bill…85 of us went up [to Albany] today…. We disrupted the whole senate and got them to give us a general hearing this afternoon when 4 of our ‘leaders’ spoke from the floor of the senate chamber….” MS student letter
Eighty-five Vassar students were joined at the state capitol by a contingent from Skidmore to protest the bill sponsored by Senator Joseph Nunan. The Nunan Student Oath Bill required all students entering colleges and universities in the state that received any public funds to take an oath of loyalty to the state and federal constitutions. The students, insisting that the bill was an attack on freedom of thought and speech, demanded that the bill, already cleared by the education committee for advancement to the Senate, be recommitted so that it could be protested. A group of the protesters spoke of their concerns with Governor Herbert Lehman, and when asked by Senator Nunan and Senator A. Spencer Feld, chairman of the education committee, why students from Vassar, which received no public funds, should feel so strongly, the students, led by the president of the Political Association, Katherine McInerny ‘35, replied that the bill was a violation of a basic democratic principle.
The bill was hastily recommitted, and Miss McInerny—who claimed that 888 Vassar students had signed a petition against the bill and that most of the 50,000 New York members of the National Students Federation were against it—made the case for moderation in arguing against the bill. “We represent,” she said, “the conservative element of college students. We are willing to take this oath, but we question why we should be asked to take it…. It is directed at Reds and radicals, but it also withholds the right of criticism from the conservative element we represent…. The Constitution has been amended many times and there wouldn’t have been amendments if there had not been criticism…. Suppression works just the opposite to what you gentlemen think…. This bill can lead to such a régime as Germany has under Hitler.”
Jane Whitbread ’36 came at the matter from another angle. Claiming that the bill selected students as a special group from whom to demand a loyalty oath, she asked “Why not demand oaths on the same theory from motorists who derive obvious benefits from the State? This bill is an assault on academic freedom and it will defeat its own ends. It will bring on the clash we are so desperately trying to avert.” The New York Times
On March 2, a student wrote to her family about her reading of John Locke’s “philosophy of gov’t….he says that the Lord is the supreme judge of whether the legislative body is exceeding its authority! It is very interesting—I think my mind is beginning to sprout at last. Speaking of legislatures, the latest communication from Albany is that they are favorable to the passage of the Nunan bill. Have you seen any of the Hearst editorials? esp. the one saying that Vassar girls ought to be sent to bed on bread and water?” Ms student letter
The bill passed the Senate, but it failed in the Assembly. Subsequent attempts to raise it brought wider and more vocal criticism across the country from students and faculty members. In early December, Whitbread took part in a broadcast on New York radio station WABC sponsored by the National Student Federation of America (NSFA). Asked by NSFA commentator Shepard Stone whether groups supporting the oath such as the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), the Liberty League, the American Legion and the Hearst press were threatening American freedom, she replied that the groups "composed essentially of those who hold the power and are in danger of losing that power, are fortifying themselves by depriving the citizenry of their right to govern themselves, to criticize, suggest and to progress. The history of Germany shows that Fascism starts in just this way." The Miscellany News
The Nunan bill languished, then disappeared.
President MacCracken announced the plan approved by the faculty on February 18 for a sweeping revision of the curriculum. Supported by The Miscellany News and 82 percent of the student body in a written ballot conducted by the student curriculum committee, the plan was arrived at after consultation with numerous recent graduates. A key element, the introduction in the sophomore year of “tutorial guidance”—individual oversight of students’ academic programs—led toward a new comprehensive examination in their last term in college. A reduction in required classes in each year provided faculty time for tutorial work and allowed more flexibility in class periods and more continuous working time, including laboratory time, for students outside of classes. The new curriculum also allowed for the completion of the bachelor's degree, with special permission, in three years.
The plan took effect in the 1935-36 academic year. “The majority of the seniors,” MacCracken said in announcing it, “who naturally did not look forward to taking the final comprehensive examination, warmly approved of its introduction, while the freshmen voted against it by an even larger majority.”
The Political Association was host to over 50 students from 26 colleges and universities who met in a “model senate” to consider three issues facing the country. Welcoming the delegates, Warden Eleanor Dodge ’25 said, “This model senate is entirely within the philosophy of the Vassar faculty. We believe this and similar activities will provide students with a more practical approach to an understanding of our political government, and will enable them to return to their communities…to take an active part in the conduct of government.”
The first day, students, acting as senators from 29 states, were lobbied by teams of Vassar students representing such groups as the Chamber of Commerce, the American Federation of Labor, the Communist Party and the American Legion. Meeting as a judiciary committee, a finance committee and a committee on foreign affairs, the "senators" discussed anti-lynching legislation, unemployment insurance and ratification of United States membership in the League of Nations. On the following morning, after committee meetings, bills were given a first reading, and the bills were voted on after lunch. The model senate brought the United States into the League of Nations, approved anti-lynching legislation and, after revisions and a 45-minute floor argument, voted for unemployment insurance.
A surprise visitor to the event was “Huey Long.” Stepping out of their roles as senators from Louisiana, Lehigh University students Harold K. Ellis and George D. Manson appeared as the flamboyant populist governor and his 180-pound bodyguard. After explaining his “share the wealth program”—“Put more tax on those big oil companies; pile it on heavy on the rich”—the governor referred to his ongoing battle with Postmaster General James A. Farley: “He can’t scare me. I ain’t no stamp collector.”
A Model Senate Association, formed at this meeting, met the following month in New Jersey to lay plans for another model senate meeting for 1936. The New York Times
In violation of the Versailles Treaty, Adolf Hitler ordered the establishment of the Luftwaffe, the German air force.
As part of Professor Joseph Folsom’s economics class, “The Community,” 28 juniors and seniors canvassed tenants and home-owners in Poughkeepsie, urging them to consider modernizing their homes with funds provided by local banks and guaranteed under the Better Housing program of the Federal Housing Administration.
The Vassar Experimental Theatre presented The Question Before the House, a play by Doris Yankauer ’35 and activist and chemical engineer Herbert Mayer from New York City. The play, directed by Hallie Flanagan Davis, centered around students at a women’s college, called Quinley College, who are encouraged to join the picket line at a plumbing supply factory. When one of the students falls in love with a striker, the college’s president withdraws the students’ permission to support the strikers.
Interviewed by The Miscellany News, Miss Yankauer said the play attempted "to get to the root of a certain unreality which I have always felt existed in the attempt of college students to relate themselves to the economic world outside.... It questions the possibility of a college remaining really liberal in a world in which opposing points of view are becoming increasingly sharply defined, as long as the college depends on the capitalistic system for its financial support."
The play opened in a twin bill at the Madison Playhouse in New York City on November 8, 1935, and Miss Yankauer and Mr. Mayer were married in 1936.
The New York Times combined a review of the Experimental Theatre's production of The Question Before the House, a play by Doris Yankauer ’35 and Herbert Mayer—identified in the review as "an unemployed chemical engineer of New York"—with a more general commentary on the college and politics. The play, the article said, "expresses an undergraduate attitude toward the political activity not only of Vassar women but of all students." Praising the "sympathetic and deftly turned performance" of Caroline Hoysradt '34 as the president of liberal "Quinley College," who withdraws college support of an industrial strike, and of Jane Voohees '35 as the student whose infatuation with one of the strikers provokes her decision, the review revealed the play's "conclusion": no individual students "are greater than the institution they attend."
"Incidentally," The Times continued, "political activities of college students were defended today by Dr. Henry N. MacCracken, president of Vassar, as a natural consequence of modern teaching." There followed a summary of recent political activities in which Vassar students had been involved, particularly their mass visit to Albany to protest the Nunan Student Oath Bill and the recent "model senate" in which over 50 students from a number of institutions met at Vassar to debate and "enact" legislation on lynching, unemployment insurance and U.S. membersthip in the League of Nations. The senate project, endorsed by President Roosevelt, had received criticism from some political leaders.
"Dr. MacCracken," The Times concluded, "when asked today to define the attitude of the faculty toward such activity made this statement: 'For many years American college students have been censured for being wholly indifferent to the realities of the political world in which they live. They are often today represented in novels and plays as mere children playing at life. The introduction of such studies as political science in the college course has changed the students’ academic reading. It is inevitable that these academic interests should be reflected in non-academic life.'
“'Every college with well-organized departments of economics, political science and history must expect its students to take a real interest and even to participate in the political movements of their day, just as every college that teaches music must expect to have a glee club that amounts to something in the way of serious music.... Under proper control and guided by teachers fully aware of the risks involved, the possible harm seems to be outweighed by the profit. This, however, is an open question, which only the future can determine.'”
“I went to Harvard to a conference on government. It was perfectly wonderful fun. Among the speakers were Felix Frankfurter, Leonard White, Gardner Jackson—all darn good. My round table was Bureaucracy, Pro & Con—it was super. I saw just about everybody I know there. They were all swell to me and really mixing business with pleasure was more fun than the unadulterated pleasure of a football game.” MS student letter
Nobel Prize physicist Dr. Robert A. Millikan from the California Institute of Technology spoke on "Some New Conceptions in Physics, and How They Are Arrived At." A pioneer in the fields of electricity, optics and molecular physics, Millikan was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1923 "for his work on the elementary charge of electricity and on the photoelectric effect."
“Monday afternoon we took the train for Beacon—we talked to the strikers and employees…then, since the strikers were very, oh so very, obviously in the right, since the managers were violating every…rule in the NRA, we joined in the picketing.... Here, the public opinion is pretty stiff, and we’re not feeling too comfortable, but the faculty are nice to me, and my friends all understand…By the way, it wasn’t a radical group of girls that went down, most of them were very respectable. I’m not trying to offer any excuses, I did what I thought was right, and was very glad I had done it….” MS student letter
President MacCracken took steps to disengage students from the picketing by the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America of the Werber Leather Coat factory at Beacon. The students, singing songs they had composed and carrying placards, had been joining the picket lines in rotating shifts.
Affirming at a special assembly that the college did not interfere with students’ activities when they were away from the campus, MacCracken said each student’s first obligation was “to do the best with the privileges she has and this obligation rests on all students…. The college therefore desires to place itself on record as disapproving organized and protracted activities which must inevitably result in detriment to academic work. This applies not only to participation in labor disputes, but to all other personal and social activities outside the college.” The New York Times
The annual seven-college conference opened at Vassar. Since being proposed by President MacCracken to the presidents of Smith, Wellesley and Mount Holyoke in 1915, the conference—augmented first by the addition of Bryn Mawr and, by the time of its official inauguration in 1926, of Radcliffe and Barnard—had regularized admissions procedures, sought philanthropic aid and strengthened many other aspects of women’s collegiate education.
College physician and professor of physiology and hygiene for over 40 years Elizabeth Burr Thelberg died at her home, "Green Pastures," on the campus. Joining the faculty in 1887, three years after receiving her M.D. degree from the Women's Medical College of the New York Infirmary, Dr. Thelberg seved as president of the Medical Women's National Association and the Medical Women's Medical Association of the New York State, a fellow of the American Medical Association and a charter member of the American Student Health Associatioin. She retired from Vassar in 1930 and was 74 years of age at the time of her death.
Several Vassar departments collaborated on a program of lectures, concerts and art exhibitions in a multidisciplinary study of Romantic music, art and literature. The head of the English department, Winifred Smith ’04, explained that the program was “arranged in the hope that students will…see important relationships between music, poetry and pictures and will carry further for themselves or in conference with visitors and members of the faculty, the suggestions made in the lectures.” She added, “Such explorations…as will be made are to be more frequent under the new curriculum. For in the future there will be more time free from class meetings.”
The program began with two lectures by an exchange professor at Yale University, the Anglo-Saxon philologist Max Foerster from the University of Munich, who spoke on literary periods and the psychological relations between English art and literature in the 18th century.
The following day Professor Paul H. Lang from Columbia lectured on grand opera as a product of French Romanticism, and Bruce Simonds of the Yale School of Music offered a piano recital. Columbia philosopher Irwin Edman offered, on the conference’s third day, “A Contemporary Grammar of the Arts,” and in Taylor Hall an exhibition gathered from colleges, museums and private collectors opened, displaying works by, among others, Magnasco, Laucret, Gainsborough, Delacroix, Corot, Renoir, Van Gogh, Picasso, Rouault and Tchelitchew.
On the conference’s closing day, the curator of the Wadsworth Athenaeum, A. Everett Austin, spoke on “The Romantic Agony,” and for the gathering’s concluding event, the émigré German art historian and theorist, Erwin Panofsky—lecturing at New York University and Princeton and soon to join the new Princeton Institute for Advanced Study—offered a definition of the baroque influence. The New York Times
The Vassar Experimental Theatre offered two performances of “My Country, Right or Left,” written by four students: Muriel Fox ‘35, Suzette Telenga ‘36, Marie Reed ‘35 and Jane Whitbread ‘36. The musical score for the two-act play, a satiric allegory, was written by Clair Leonard, a member of the music department faculty, and included tunes in a number of genres, orchestrated for piano, trombone and percussion. In the allegory, a comedian representing Press Publicity, the identical twins Pro and Con, some Dead Debs, a chorus of Questioning Workers and another of Club-Women, sought to help or hinder the protagonist, Rugged Individuality, as he struggled, unsuccessfully, at the behest of Business Men and the Intellectual, to reconcile Production and Consumption in a capitalist planned economy.
"The groupings and movements were well planned," Jean Tatlock '35 observed in a review of the production, "to show the clockwork running down and the different social groups jittering and jerking and sinking accordingly. Red, white and blue were successfully faded to pale pink, blue and grey in the sets to make a suitable burial chamber for capitalism."
Hallie Flanagan Davis directed the production, and the red, white and blue constructivist sets were by Lester E. Lang. The Miscellany News, The New York Times
At the annual convention of the New York State Dietetic Association, Dr. Ruth Wheeler '99, director of the Vassar Institute of Euthenics, reported the results of an experiment by a group of 28 students that demonstrated it was possible to arrange a well-balanced diet without rigorous scientific controls.
Dr. Wheeler said that the students were able to maintain weight and good health, at a cost of 43 cents a day for meals that they planned, bought and prepared for themselves. “There were moderate quantities of meat, milk and vegetables in the menus and plain desserts, and less of candy and spinach.” The New York Times
A music critic in The New York Times wrote that the 80 “carefully trained” members of the Vassar College Choir “coped successfully and pleasurably with music of a wide variety of styles” at their Town Hall concert the previous evening. The program ranged from Palestrina and Bach to Honneger, Holst, Randall Thompson and Peter Warlock.
The results of the annual poll of the class were announced at Princeton’s senior class dinner. Kipling’s “If” received more than twice as many votes as Fitzgerald’s Rubáiyát and Grey’s “Elegy in a Country Churchyard” as the class’s favorite poem; Noel Coward came in ahead of William Shakespeare 135 to 107 as favorite playwright, and Eugene O’Neill trailed with 79 votes; for best-liked artist, magazine cover artist McClelland Barclay edged out Rembrandt, with The New Yorker’s James Thurber and Otto Soglow well behind; Yale was the best men’s college (after Princeton) and Vassar the best women’s college. The New York Times
One hundred students, 50 parents and 50 faculty members participated in a two-day Conference on Undergraduate Life co-directed by Professor Amy Reed ’92 and Ann Oliver ’35, president of the Student Association. President MacCracken and Dean C. Mildred Thompson ’03 addressed the opening dinner. Other speakers at the conference included: Warden Eleanor Dodge '25; Raymond A. Kent, president of the University of Louisville and father of Constance Kent '38; Professor of English Winifred Smith '04; Lieutenant Colonel Herman Beukema, professor of economics, government and history at West Point and father of Margery Beukema '37; Aline Bernstein '35, Martha Collins '35 and Betty Bliss '36. The conference was called to address three questions: What is the mature attitude in college life? To what lengths can freedom and personal responsibility be granted? What adjustments can be made between parents, students and faculty to make college life less exhausting?
A second, similar conference was held in 1936. The Miscellany News, The New York Times
The freshman class won the annual sports day with 40 ½ points to 19 ½ for the Class of ’37, 16 for ’35 and 5 for ’36. Members of the Dutchess County Golf and Country Club defeated a student golf team, the Class of ’38 won at field hockey and at swimming and the Class of ’37 won at squash. The faculty won the faculty-student baseball game 16-0. The New York Times
The college announced the names of 26 freshmen, sophomores, and juniors who were awarded summer scholarships for study in Germany. Eighteen of the students studied for eight weeks at the University of Heidelberg, and eight studied for four weeks at the University of Munich.
The summer scholarships were sponsored by the German government, and in October The Miscellany News asked several faculty members about the propriety of the college’s involvement in the program, given the evolving direction of the Third Reich:
Professor Lilian Stroebe, German department—“The German department…is interested chiefly in the German language, literature and other cultural subjects which have nothing to do with present-day politics. Goethe and Schiller will live long after Hitler.”
Professor Eloise Ellery, history department—“The more background students who are going abroad can have, certainly the better, but the degree of maturity of the individual is the most important qualification outside of the language.”
Professor Mable Newcomer, economics department— “I do not believe Vassar should refuse to accept the German scholarships, because I object to restricting freedom in any way…. I feel, however, that an intelligent girl who is really concerned can get both sides if she wants to and if converted to Nazism will regain her perspective when she returns to this country. If the student never bothers to reconsider her experiences and remains a Nazi sympathizer simply because she has pleasant memories of her trip, she will not be a menace to this country.”
Professor Vernon Venable, philosophy department— “I believe that a liberal institution should accept for its students any educational advantage which may be offered…. Where a confusion between education and propaganda presumably exists, as in the case of the German scholarships, the college should select only students who are thoroughly equipped to make for themselves the clear-cut distinction between the two.”
Professor Helen Lockwood ‘12, English department—“We need to understand Germany and should make opportunities to do so. But not everybody is ready to use such opportunities.”
At the last chapel service of the year, President MacCracken announced the winners of the individual prizes for graduating seniors. In addition he awarded the Theodore Roosevelt Silver Cup in athletics to the Class of 1938 for their performance in the annual sport day. Ahdel Reich ‘35, who composed the baccalaureate hymn, was awarded the silver cup for the best musical composition of the year, her Quartet in C Minor.
Heavy rain postponed the outdoor activities of Class Day. The trooping of the daisy chain—this year, with daisies picked at Springwood, the Hyde Park home of President Roosevelt’s mother—was put off until June 9. A puppet show depicting the life of Matthew Vassar was given by Joy MacCracken ’35, President MacCracken’s daughter, and the president and Mrs. MacCracken received seniors and their parents in Taylor Hall.
At their annual meeting, the Alumnae Association (AAVC) nominated Kathryn Starbuck ’11 as alumna trustee.
In his baccalaureate sermon to the Class of 1935, Vassar trustee Dr. Arthur Lee Kinsolving, rector of Trinity Church, Boston, took his text from Luke, 15:31, the words of his father to the resentful elder brother of the prodical son: “Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.” “The most important term,” Kinsolving told the class, “in the modern religious vocabulary is the little word share…. In the very idea of sharing there is something of God, as through it you learn the privilege of bringing to life all that you have, giving it all that you’ve got, and feeling that you are living to some purpose, and that as you seek to share your friendship with those you meet and those who need you, you progressively know the ineffable mystery of God’s willingness to share His love with us.”
In the afternoon, 26 sophomores carried the daisy chain during Class Day exercises in the Outdoor Theater. A satire of college life during the year in the form of a newsreel pointed up, among other events, the trip by 85 students to Albany to protest the “Nunan Bill” that would have required students entering college to take an oath of allegiance to the state and federal constitutions.
The third hall play, a production of Ben Jonson’s unfinished “The Sad Shepherd,” as completed by English professor Alan Porter and directed by Jane Vorhees ’35, concluded the day.
In his commencement address, President MacCracken described for the 229 members of the Class of 1935 the four great changes in collegiate education in the last 20 years: the increase in distinct fields of knowledge; the recognition of practice as “a method of learning” in conjunction with theory; the integration of educational purposes so as to make “educational experience a unity” and the increased ability and renown of the faculty as innovators in teaching. “To recapitulate,” he said, “We have enlarged our curriculum in subject-matter and in method of learning; we have striven to bring it into a comprehensive unity, the unity of the learning mind; we have improved the status of the teacher and the student. May equal gains be recorded by the speaker twenty years from now.” Six master’s degrees were conferred, and Aline Bernstein ’35 was awarded the Phi Beta Kappa prize as the senior with the best record at graduation.
At the meeting of the board of trustees in the afternoon, Richardson Pratt, Mason Trowbridge and William H. Edwards were elected to the board, as was Kathryn Starbuck ’11, who had been nominated by the alumnae association. The New York Times
Hallie Flanagan Davis and Lester E. Lang directed a summer session for men and women actively interested in writing, acting and producing for the modern theatre, under the auspices of the Experimental Theatre. Productions included Ladies Are Made, a satirical play by Mary Crapo '34 and the American première of W. H. Auden's Dance of Death, given as a musical comedy entitled Come Out into the Sun.
Federal Works Progress Administrator Harry Hopkins confirmed rumors circulating for months that Hallie Flanagan Davis, director of the Vassar Experimental Theatre, was to head a nationwide theater program, one of four “white collar” projects under the WPA. The other directors named were art historian and curator Holger Cahill to head the visual arts program, conductor Nikolai Sokoloff to head the music program and newspaperman and author Henry C. Alsberg to head the writers’ program.
The projected budget for the four programs was $300,000,000. However, by September Hopkins had winnowed some 5,500 applications for grants totaling nearly a billion dollars down, and President Roosevelt allotted $27,315, 217 to those accepted.
Hallie Flanagan’s Federal theatre project expected to employ 9,000 actors and 3,000 stage technicians. “The purpose of the drama program,” an announcement said, “aside from giving employment to needy workers, will be to establish standards of theatre production which will improve the skill of the artists and stimulate appreciation of the drama, and to develop methods by which the drama units may become self-supporting in whole or in part by providing entertainment to large audiences at low cost, through an educational and recreational program.” The New York Times
President MacCracken's annual report noted that "The work in Russian now recognized by the faculty for the degree is offered for two years." Vassar was the first woman's college to give instruction in Russian. Nikander Strelsky, who had taught non-credit Russian courses since 1932, taught the new courses in Russian from 1935 until his death in 1946.
Under a redefinition of laws governing German citizenship, relationships between Jews and Aryans were banned.
Mary Emily Cornell, the last surviving child of the founder of Cornell University and, in 1865, one of the first group of Vassar students, died in Ithaca, NY, at the age of 87. Although obliged eventually to leave the college because of her father's concern about her health, given Vassar's academic rigor, she retained her interest in its progress. On the ocassion of her 80th birthday, in 1927, she recalled that her father, a supporter of the college's original charter when a member of the New York State legislature, "was a firm believer in education for women, and the Vassar experiment interested him keenly."
Paying tribute to Mary E. Cornell at her death, President MacCracken called her, as a "member of Vassar's first class, a worthy representative of the great group of pioneers in education for women. Alert, broad-minded, intellectually vigorous to her last years and devoted to the cause of education for women.... I treasure a personal visit made to her last spring when she talked with affection of the beginning of both Vassar and Cornell. Her life united the two institutions in a bond of affectionate remembrance."
Opened in 1868, Cornell admitted its first woman students in 1879. Miss Cornell's great-neice and her namesake, Mary Emily Blair was a graduate in Vassar's Class of 1893. The New York Times, Cornell Alumni News, The Cornell Daily Sun
The college began its 71st year with 1,220 students, including 317 freshmen who, The New York Times reported, came from 34 states, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Canada, France and China. Forty-one of the freshmen were Vassar daughters, and seven were Vassar granddaughters.
Scholar of ancient philosophy Gregory Vlastos preached the year’s opening sermon, and President MacCracken and Professor of Economics and Sociology Mable Newcomer—returning after a year’s study of tax systems in England and Germany—spoke at Convocation on September 23.
“I am convinced,” she told students, “that democracy need not be bungling and can be made to work, but this demands the highest level of intelligence and education…. Do not fill up your leisure with meaningless activity or with causes. Have the courage to stand aside and watch for a little while. It is more important to know where we are going than to get there quickly. Do not mistake activity for achievement.” The New York Times
Under the sponsorship of the Political Association, Italian historian and fervent anti-Fascist Dr. Gaetano Salvemini, Lauro de Bosis Lecturer on the History of Italian Civilization at Harvard University, spoke in Avery Hall on "Italy after Thirteen Years of Dictatorship." Active in Italian politics before his exile in 1925, Salvemini had debated heatedly with Vassar Professor of Italian Bruno Roselli about the policies and consequences of the Mussolini régime in 1926 before some 1,400 members of the Economics Club in New York City.
Addressing two questions: "What are the results of Italian Fascism?" and "Is Italian Fascism a Success?" Professor Salvemini declared since Mussolini came to power unemployment, monetary instability, the cost of living and the national debt had steadily increased, while wages had decreased. "The economic crisis in Italy," he claimed, "is not due to the Wall Street crash. When the crash came in 1929, Italy had already been weakened by three years of crisis as a result of Mussolini's economic policies." About the Italian invasion of Ethiopia—launched days before his Vassar appearance—Salvemini told his audience "this war is the most senseless war that ever took place. From the economic point of view this war is lunacy."
A visitor to Vassar in 1933, when he spoke on "Florence in the Time of Dante," Professor Salvemini visited the college again in December 1942, speaking on "The Italian Population Problem." The Miscellany News
Warden Eleanor Dodge ’25 stated a new and, among women’s colleges, unique position on undergraduate marriages: “Will Vassar allow a girl who marries to stay in college? May she stay on in her dormitory? May a girl whose secret marriage is discovered stay on in college? The answer to all the above questions is ‘Yes.’”
"We do not," she continued, "in general believe in long engagements becasue of the emotional strain involved.... Nor do we believe in secret marriages; if they are to be kept secret they are necessarily followed by deceptions and falsifications, which are ultimately a source of unhappiness to family and friends, but more particularly to the girl and man who continually make them a practise." The Miscellany News
Visiting American colleges and universities, the Swiss-born French architect Le Corbusier lectured in French, to a packed house in Avery Hall, in conjunction with an exhibition of models and photographs of his architecture shown in Taylor Hall. Offered some of his hand-drafted drawings, a feature of his appearances, his auditors quickly returned them to him, in pieces, for his signature. "The Vassar drawings," he said, "were the consequences of an especially good mood. The amazons reduced them to shreds." The pioneer modernist designer turned away questions about world politics and economics, but "The Vassar audience," The Miscellany News reported him saying, "has been the most satisfactory audience encountered so far. 'You understand,' he said, but he added he found Vassar students 'effroyablement sériuses.'"
Returning to New York the following morning, he was joined in the smoking car by several Vassar students, mingling with the male commuters. "Democratic spirit," he wrote of the experience. "At Vassar I detected hints of communism in this wealthy circle. Its' a familiar experience: the 'good society' of the intelligenzia, rich and eager to spend money looks forward to the 'great revolution' with a touching ingenuousness." Nicholas Fox Weber, Le Corbusier: A Life
Hungarian virtuoso violinist Josef Szigeti gave a recital in Taylor Hall, offering a program that included works by Handel, Bach and—with accompianist Nikita de Magaloff—the Sonata in D Minor for violin and piano of Brahms.
Vassar, along with Bryn Mawr, Smith, Scripps and Sweet Briar, shared in grants from the Carnegie Foundation totaling $575,000, given in recognition of the “high quality of work of the colleges” and in “the hope that they would call attention to the desirability of more generous public support of similar institutions.” Vassar’s grant, $160,000,went to the library endowment. The New York Times
After some 40 years of service, electrified trolley cars of the Poughkeepsie & Wappingers Falls Railway Company made their last run. To mark the event, four of the trolleys, carrying, noted The Miscellany News, "a large official party including many of Poughkeepsie's notable citizens...left the station at 493 Main Street around 2:30 p.m. with a loud-speaker blaring forth popular tunes of the 1900s." Poughkeepsie Mayor George V. L Spratt and President MacCracken were among a train-full of passengers on the last run, whose conductors—two of the first employees when the electrified line began—were accompanied by their grandchildren.
"An extra thrill," reported The Misc., "was provided at the end of the line where a group of Vassar students were waiting, when the first car was derailed by continuing past the end of the track onto the pavement. The whistle of the car had been pulled so often by an enthusiastic rider that it had drained all the air out of the compression tanks and left the brakes without any holding power whatsoever." At a brief ceremony at Vassar the line's oldest operator, Ellsworth Rhodes, who had joined the company nearly 40 years ago "when the cars had wooden wheels and were drawn...by horses," was presented with a basket of flowers. "It's kind of a heart-breaker," said Mr. Rhodes.
After the the trolley cars' passengers posed for photographs, they boarded the new busses that were to replace the trolleys and returned to Poughkeepsie. The Poughkeepsie Journal, The Miscellany News
Charles M. Pratt, former officer of the Standard Oil Company and eldest son of the company’s co-founder, died at his home in Glen Cove, L.I. A Vassar trustee from 1896 until 1920, Mr. Pratt gave nearly a million dollars to the college for, among other things, Pratt House, the Outdoor Theater, Vassar Lake (briefly referred to as Pratt Lake) and—with his wife, Mary Morris Pratt '80—Taylor Hall. President MacCracken, noting Mr. Pratt's generosity and his modesty, said that his gifts were usually "given confidentially."
Pratt's gift to the million dollar campaign launched with MacCracken's inauguration was a typical example. "One morning," the president told The Miscellany News, "a chauffer entered Dr. MacCracken's office, handed him a box and asked him to sign a receipt. When the package was opened it was found to contain one hundred $1,000 bonds, given by Mr. Pratt, confidentially."
When college authorities decreed that Margarette Torbert ’39 could not leave campus before 3:30 pm to attend her coming-out party at the Country Club in Brookline, MA, she and two classmates, Denise Hyde ’39 and Alice Howe ’39, flew from Poughkeepsie to Boston in a chartered plane. The pilot reported that the students’ flying début “was uneventful, although…threatening clouds had bothered him at the outstart.” The New York Times
President MacCracken announced plans for a library addition that would double the present capacity of 200,000 books. The new building, connecting Taylor Hall with Thompson Memorial Library would contain conference rooms, administrative staff offices and the library for the art department.
The building—eventually called Van Ingen Library—cost some $200,000, and the recent grant from the Carnegie Corporation for library endowment allowed the college to draw $150,000 for its construction from a $300,000 gift functioning for that purpose bequeathed by Mary Clark Thompson in 1923. Additional funding for Van Ingen came from general college funds.
Dr. George E. Vincent, former President of the Rockefeller Foundation, lectured on "The Role of Humor" under the auspices of the Mark Twain Lectureship for the Advancement of Humor. "Laughter," he said, "is the great symbol and expression of genuine liberty." Distinguishing among wit, satire, irony, cynicism and humor, Vincent called wit verbal juggling, irony "unsympathetic" as it pleased only insiders by making others appear ignorant, satire—shunned by Twain—"caustic ridicule" and cynicism a bitter form of defeatism. Twain and Will Rogers, he said, exemplified humor, a typically American form which embodied a "sympathetic philosophy and expression of comradeship." The Miscellany News
The New York Times reported that, in response to both the return to fashion of long evening dresses and the increase of over an inch and a half in the average height of Vassar students, general manager Keene Richards had arranged to have the racks for hanging clothing raised in Cushing and Main.
Along with the presidents of the University of Chicago, the College of the City of New York and Stanford University, President MacCracken judged an essay contest announced by radio, stage and movie entertainer Eddie Cantor. Cantor offered a $5,000 scholarship at any American college or university for the best essay on the subject “How Can American Stay Out of War?” When the eventual winner, chosen from some 212,000 entries, was almost immediately exposed as a plagiarist and the prize was withdrawn, MacCracken declared the essay by 17 year-old Lloyd Lewis of Plattsburg, MO, hadn’t been his first choice, as it seemed “as if the boy’s mother had written it.” The New York Times
Taking the affirmative to the resolution "Resolved: that for women a woman's college is better than a coeducational unit," junior class debaters defeated a freshman team. Speaking first for the junior team, Felicia Lamport '37 declared that women in coeductional settings, "instead of concentrating on the 3 Rs...would be concentrating on the 3 As: appearance, amusement and athletics." She also drew attention to the greater emphasis on athletics at coeducational colleges and the tendancy for men to "hold all the important jobs," rendering women "unable to realize their potentialities." Leading for the freshman team, Margaret Greenwell '39 pointed to the greater expense of students obliged to travel on weekends for social activities and to the frequent stays in "the infirmary after a gay week-end." "At Vassar," she said, "we watch the world go by and the men go by."
Miss Lampert's colleague, Beth Craig '37, contended that, while "marriage is looked forward to by every type of woman," a woman's college "teaches women respect for the company and opinions of other women." Thus, she said, "this is an important phase of a woman's life." The final speaker for the negative, Alice Wilfert '39, used recent statistics to support her contention that coeducation allowed women to be "able to work with men without becoming emotional. A coed realizes that men can be wonderful friends." A few years ago, she said, one-sixth of the marriages were found to end in divorce and only one-seventy-fifth of these divorces involved coeds. The Miscellany News
In later life, Felicia Lamport was widely recognized as a writer of satiric verse, appearing in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly and Harper's. Her column The Muse of the Week in Review appeared in The Boston Globe for nearly two decades. At the time of her death in December 1999 The New York Times recalled lines from her topical poem after the manner of T. S. Eliot, "The Love Song of R. Milhous Nixon, 1973":
Let us go then, in my plane,
For a weekend of repose in Key Biscayne;
When the view beneath our eyes appears unstable
Let us banish all incipient defeats
In one of my retreats.
The Times also offered her observation on maternal affection:
The after-effects of a mother's neglects
May spoil her boy's orientation to sex,
But the converse is worse: if she overprotects,
The pattern of Oedipus wrecks.
The first floor of the Main Building was remodeled, eliminating inside rooms and providing additional single rooms. The new site of the Vassar Cooperative Bookshop, planned by Assistant Professor of Art John McAndrew, was the first example of modern design on the campus, McAndrew left the college in 1937 to become the first curator of architecture at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.
A contrast in styles was created by architect Ruth Adams ’04, whose renovations of the Main parlors featured Victorian horsehair-stuffed furniture, wax flowers under glass and marble-topped tables.
Some 2,500 people attended the “Night in Poland Ball” in the grand ballroom of the Hotel Astor, sponsored by the Kosciuszko Foundation, of which President MacCracken was president since its inception in 1925. The Chargé d’Affaires of the Polish Embassy in Washington and the Consul General of Poland in New York and their wives attended as honored guests. The main feature of the evening was a joint performance of historic national dances of Poland by the Polish Dance Circle of New York and a group of Vassar students.
Three hundred and sixty alumnae attended the annual luncheon of the Vassar Club of New York. President MacCracken and James W. Gerard, former United States ambassador to Germany, spoke. Ambassador Gerard warned of impending war in Europe, saying that the United States must “keep aloof” from the “intrigues of Europe” and must strengthen its land, air and naval forces. The New York Times
Some 400 students and faculty viewed classic early films in Blodgett Hall, discovering they were "the art rather than the whim of the twentieth century." The films viewed included The Loves of Queen Elizabeth (Les Amours de la Reine Élizabeth, 1912) A Trip to the Moon (Le Voyage dans la Lune, 1898), The Great Train Robbery (1903) and Faust (1900). "It was obvious," the writer of "Movies Acquire a Past," in The Miscellany News observed, "that the films started early to develop a technique peculiarly their own. While Queen Elizabeth was merely a photographed play, the Trip to the Moon used every bit of available motion picture equipment including a chorus of shapely girls in tights."
The writer suggested that the influences of stage and film techniques worked mutually. "Because Sarah Bernhardt's exaggerated gestures [in Queen Elizabeth] showed the crying need for the close up, we can appreciate its use in modern pictures. We realize that Merrily We Roll Along [the stage version, 1934] used a very old film device when we see the first crude flash-back in Faust. To use the flash-back ourselves we like to imagine the intrepid spirits of Edwin S. Porter, Edmund Kuhn, George Méliès and William Heise, convening somewhere on a rosy cloud to sigh triumphantly because their wild brain children have come of age." The Miscellany News
The trustees announced that a new faculty leave system, fellowships based on the method of selection of the Guggenheim Foundation, would phase out the outdated sabbatical system in place for nearly a century in America. Originally intended to allow scholars regular access materials in European institutions, the traditional sabbatical—both the faculty and the trustees agreed, "unanimously," according to The Miscellany News—"became, in many instances a period of rest and recreation which, however valuable to the individual, was not particularly advantageous to the interests of the college."
The new system provided "a series of faculty fellowships." Under the plan a specific budget for research was budgeted two years in advance, and an elected Faculty Committee on Research reviewed fellowship applications and recommended the strongest ones to the trustees for faculty fellowships for the following year. The first Faculty Fellows, for the 1936-37 academic year, were: Erika von Erhardt-Sirbold, lecturer in English for continuation of her research on The Natura Rerum Collection of the early middle ages; Elizabeth J. Magers, assistant professor of physiology for research on the energy expenditure of "normal persons" and on the site of origin of the amino acid creatine.
Professor Alice D. Snyder from the English department represented the Vassar chapter of the American Association of University Professors at a hearing before the Assembly in Albany, at which ministers, teachers and members of faculty and student organizations urged repeal of the Ives Law, which demanded the oath of allegiance from teachers. Professor Henry S. White of the department of mathematics also attended the hearing. He reported "In fifty years of teaching I have never known any members of the faculty...to be guilty of seditious activities."
Speaking in opposition to repeal, Edward N. Scheiberling, state commander of the American Legion said, “We believe in Americanism. Any red-blooded American is proud to take an Oath by God. We want to keep the Constitution inviolate.” The New York Times
Along with the presidents of Yale, Mount Holyoke and Radcliffe, President MacCracken was among the 450 signatories to a letter sent to President Roosevelt from the National Peace Conference, deploring what they saw as an unprecedented growth in military and naval expenditures and the failure of the Administration to explain whether this was preparation for war or for national defense.
Over 200 students from 29 colleges and universities in the Middle Atlantic region convened at Vassar for the 10th annual model League of Nations. Introduced by Dean C. Mildred Thompson ‘03, Carnzu Clark ’36, president of the Political Association, offered the convention’s focal question: what kept the League of Nations from being effectual. The convention, she said “can have real value only if it shows how the real League works and what keeps it from being effectual; and if it shows us what might be set up as ideal.” In preparation for their deliberations, political science professor Charles G. Fenwick from Bryn Mawr addressed what he saw as the flaw in the League of Nations, its failure to embody two basic principles of the American federal state: the ceding by individual states of the absolute power to make and enforce their own laws and the guarantee to all member states of mutual defense and economic and material parity.
Advised by Eloise Ellery ’97, professor of history, Vassar’s 12-member team represented India and Yugoslavia.
In contravention of the Versailles Treaty, German troops reoccupied the Rhineland.
“Ulster Traditions in the United States,” President MacCracken’s address at the Ulster Society dinner at the Commodore Hotel, was broadcast over radio station WMCA.
An exhibition of paintings by Courbet and Corot was held in Taylor Hall.
Nine hundred Vassar students and faculty members joined 350,000 students from 17 countries in a "peace strike" with a mass meeting in Students’ Building. President MacCracken told the students that even the thousands protesting that day were a global minority and that only concerted action by them in the country’s national life could build peace in the world.
Librarian emeritus Adelaide Underhill ’88 died after a short illness. Librarian from 1892 until her retirement in 1928, she was responsible for the modern cataloguing of the Vassar collection and for chairing for many years the committee on biographical records of the alumnae association.
Seniors in child study and art took the first comprehensive examinations to be given at Vassar. An art major summed up her experience: “I had no idea how much I knew and how much sense it all made until I began reviewing for that darn exam.” Vassar Alumnae Magazine
As a result of curricular changes adopted by the faculty and instituted for the 1935-36 academic year, seniors took comprehensive examinations for the first time.
Seniors in child study and art took the first comprehensive examinations. An art major summed up her experience: “I had no idea how much I knew and how much sense it all made until I began reviewing for that darn exam.” Vassar Alumnae Magazine
The Experimental Theatre’s presented the English première of Fuente Ovejuna (The Sheep Well), written in 1619 by Spanish playwright Lope de Vega. Representatives of Warner Brothers studios were, according to The New York Times, in the audience for the second performance, as were the play's translator, American author and producer John Garrett Underhill, and Professor Federico de Onis, founder of Columbia University's Spanish Letters Studies.
Based on an historical incident in the late 15th century, the action of Fuente Ovejuna revolves around the predations by a feudal lord on the women of a rural village, Fuenteovejuna, and his murder by the villagers who, when under pain of torture to confess, uniformly claim "Fuenteovejuna did it." When no single guilty party is identified, King Ferdinand pardons the village. “There is neither hero nor heroine,” The Times wrote of Vassar's production. “Characters merge into a common mass and their actions are strangely prophetic of the twentieth century.”
Reviewing Underhill's translations of four plays by Lope de Vega, Theatre Arts Monthly noted also the play's contemporaneity, commenting that Fuente Ovejuna was the "most likely to find its place in a modern program...the portrait of a town and its people, whose political portratiture lends itself easily and with slight change of stress to modern political and social applicatiion." Mr. Underhill declared that the Experimental Theatre's production "eliminates three hundred years. I never saw a classic—especially a foreign classic—so vividly, so vitally done," and Professor de Onis said, the "dramatic conception of justice, of human quality which breathes through Lope's pages was admirably realized in the composition and movement of the scenes, in the music, in the impersonations of the actors as well as in every detail of the production.
Fuente Ovejuna was produced again at Vassar in 1980. The Miscellany News, Theatre Arts Monthly, The New York Times.
Madeline Goddard ’38 captured the high jump and the hop, skip and jump with distances of 4 feet 5 7/8 inches and 29 feet 11 inches, respectively, in the annual sports day. The Dutchess Golf and Country Club’s women’s golf team defeated the Vassar team by a stroke.
The college announced that, starting in September, two long-sought privileges, unlimited leaves of absence from the campus and from classes were granted to juniors and seniors. A majority of those who had participated in the second student-parent-faculty conference on “maturity” two weeks earlier had been in favor of these changes. Students were still required to notify the college when leaving campus, and the announcement placed full responsibility for decisions to be absent from class or from the college on the upper-class students:
“It is understood that students in receiving this freedom accept the accompanying responsibility, both for their own academic work and as members of an academic group, and that no special exceptions to academic requirements on account of absences are to be requested…or to be granted.” The New York Times
Ending a search for—according to the search committee's criteria—a person possessing “intellectual honesty, leadership, tolerance, savoir-faire, sympathetic understanding of youth, vision and a sense of humor,” the trustees of Wellesley College announced that Mildred McAfee ’20 would succeed Ellen Fitz Pendleton as president of the college. McAfee served as executive secretary of the Associate Alumnae of Vassar College between 1932 and 1934, and in 1942 she interrupted her presidency of Wellesley to direct the WAVES—becoming by virtue of her initial rank, Lieutenant Commander, the first woman commissioned officer in the United States Navy.
The Nassau Herald, the senior class yearbook at Princeton, released its annual poll of the class. Ninety-five members said they would vote for President Roosevelt, while 76 chose “any Republican,” 50 chose Alf Landon—Roosevelt’s eventual challenger—and 48 votes were split evenly among Herbert Hoover, Alfred E. Smith and Norman Thomas. Rudyard Kipling led John Masefield and William Shakespeare in the “favorite poet” category, and Edgar Guest worsted Gertrude Stein and Carl Sandburg as “worst poet.” Rembrandt and Cezanne took second and third place to pin-up illustrator George Petty as “favorite artist,” Yale defeated Williams and Harvard as “favorite men’s college after Princeton” and Vassar came in ahead of Smith and Sarah Lawrence as “favorite women’s college.” The New York Times
Annie Penfield Mower ’76 was the oldest alumna among 13 classes reuniting at Vassar as Class Day exercises were celebrated on a fair June day. A baseball game between students and their father and a film exhibition about the development of the college were morning activities. Later, reflecting satirically on the many earnest conferences held at the college during their four years, including two conferences on undergraduate life, the seniors presented a “conference to end all conferences,” called The Conference on Unregenerate Life. Senior “committees” discussed such topics as “faculty participation in outside activities,” “the student in the workaday world, or how Vassar survives its Experimental Theatre” and—with reference to the recent loosening of rules against absences—“calendar days, or when it took three nights to go away for one day.”
After the sophomores, carrying the daisy chain, led the seniors into the Outdoor Theater, the seniors held their farewell ceremonies. In the evening, the third hall play, "Tyll Owleglass", an adaptation by German professor Gabrielle Humbert of a 19th century account of the 12th century prankster also known as Till Eulenspiegel, was presented in the Outdoor Theater. Afterwards, the seniors handed their brightly colored lanterns to their sister class in the traditional lantern ceremony. The New York Times
The Rev. Dr. Albert G. Butzer, pastor of Westminster Church, Buffalo, drew the text for his baccalaureate sermon from John 8:14, “For I know where I came from and where I am going, but you know neither of these two things.” He urged the Class of 1936 to recognize that millions in the modern world had been brought into chaos through their failure to integrate their lives through a belief in God.
“When we lift these words,” he said, “from their ancient settings and drop them down into our modern life, how accurately they describe the plight in which multitudes of young people find themselves at this moment…. Too many of us have been trying to make something out of life with nothing but a chemical accident at the beginning of it, and nothing but utter extinction at the end of it.” The New York Times
President MacCracken conferred the bachelor’s degree on the largest graduating class in the history of the college, the 303 members of the Class of 1936. The ceremony so crowded the Chapel that some members of the faculty could not be accommodated. W. Bancroft Hill, professor of biblical literature, gave the invocation, and Dr. Alan Valentine, president of the University of Rochester, delivered the commencement address.
Dr. Valentine was wary of the widely hailed advances for women. An “education in living,” he said, “was an education that found courses in psychology of little avail in making husbands more tractable.” And, he added, votes for women “have achieved few of the reforms for which its advocates hoped, and none of the horrors its opponents predicted.” On balance, women “did not find the ballot so potent or business so spiritually compatible as they had expected.” Dr. Valentine urged the graduates to rely on the habit of “critical analysis” learned in college to assess the “many nostrums, political, economic and even religious, that will be peddled to your doors.”
Gifts to the college during the year totaled $356,345, and “the first movement of a string quartet” by Ruth Nolan ’36 earned the silver cup for the senior class as the best musical composition of the year. The New York Times
Right-wing military insurgents in Spanish Morocco declared war on the Republican government, and they successfully captured Seville the following day.
"Rebels Gain in South Spain; Civil War Rages in Cities; Two Madrid Cabinets Fall." New York Times, July 20.
On July 25, Adolf Hitler agreed to support the insurgents under Francisco Franco.
After international boycott efforts protesting the rising Nazi régime failed, the Games of the XI Olympiad opened in Berlin.
The 72nd year of the college began with about 1,200 students, of whom 355 were freshmen. In his remarks at Convocation, on Sept. 22, President MacCracken emphasized the importance of laboratory work and independent research—elements in the revised curriculum coming into force—in developing individual knowledge.
In the first issue of The Miscellany News for the academic year, a student and two faculty members described their experiences at the outbreak in July of the Spanish Civil War. Mary Banning '37, travelling with her mother and brother, was in San Sebastian in the Hotel Maria Cristina—"in which we stayed because we liked its name"—when it came under fire from the Nationalist insurgents. "Since I had never heard shots before," Banning wrote, "and had been told that they always sound nearer than they are, I thought they were far away and lay and listened. Soon the manager came banging at the doors, shouting at us to pull down our shutters, the hotel was being shot at." Encountering some soldiers in the lobby, Banning and her brother "were told that they were so frightened they could no longer hold their guns. When we asked which side they were on, one man said that they hadn't yet made up their minds, but they thought they were rebels."
Fleeing toward the French border, Banning encountered "trucks full of armed volunteers. Several times I was glad that I had left Mein Kamf in a drawer at the hotel and that I knew the Communist salute. It was the first time that I had ever seen the Red flag used as a passport. Only the cars flying it were let through the barricades unsearched... The next day the Maria Cristina was blown up and burned and the occupants turned into the streets."
Assistant Professor of Art Leila Barber and Miss James Ross, instructor in history, arrived in Granada on July 19th, the same day that insurgent troops took the city. Pitched battles broke out, and the two Americans didn't know whether it was safer to stay in their hotel or to seek cover outside. "It takes courage," Miss Ross told The Miscellany News, "to make the initial run outside." The city's open spaces, she found, "were a great improvement over a cellar full of dithering Spaniards praying and carrying on."
After three weeks, witnessing shootings, bombings and the frequent convoys of rebel soldiers and loyalist prisoners en route to the cemetary for executions, Barber and Ross were flown to safety.
Catherine Stillman of the astronomy department reported on her experiences during the summer with the Harvard-Massachusetts Institute of Technology eclipse expedition. The expedition chose to observe the total eclipse on June 19 from Siberia, as that offered the point of observation closest to the mid-point of the totality. Unable to join the expedition's departure on April 8, Miss Stillman was obliged to depart several weeks later and to travel across the Soviet Union by herself. In her remarks she thanked Professor of Russian Nikander Strelsky for his intensive Russian language instruction and for "giving her a really useful vocabulary." The Miscellany News
Of the eight women among the expedition's 20 members, Stillman and two research assistants at the Harvard Observatory—Henrietta Swope and Emily Hughes Boyce—were the only working astronomers.
Dean C. Mildred Thompson ’03 was appointed chairman of the woman’s division of the Democratic National Committee. Other prominent members of the committee included the presidents of Bryn Mawr, Sarah Lawrence, Sweet Briar, Mount Holyoke and Dean Virginia Gildersleeve of Barnard.
The New York Times reported that in a presidential poll conducted by The Miscellany News, 521 students, less than half the student body, cast ballots. Republican presidential candidate, Kansas Governor Alf Landon received 345 votes, and President Roosevelt—a Vassar honorary trustee—received 125. Socialist candidate Norman Thomas, whose daughter, Rebekah, was a freshman, received 30 votes to 20 for Earl Browder, the Communist candidate.
A comprehensive poll released by The Daily Princetonian later in October, showed that the President held a narrow lead over Governor Landon among 80,598 collegians in 34 states: 38,977 to 35,702. In this poll, 905 Vassar students voted two to one for the Republican.
“Tomorrow is the college straw vote with a machine from Po’keepsie and everything. Feeling runs high amid a surfeit of sun-flowers. Miss [Cornelia] Raymond stopped wearing hers when told they were made in a sweatshop but I guess she’ll vote for Landon just the same.” MS letter
In the campus poll taken on October 20, 60 percent of the 916 students casting ballots—along, apparently with Cornelia Raymond '83, the daughter of the late President John H. Raymond—voted for the Republican Governor Alf Landon from the sunflower state, and 54 percent of the 109 faculty members who voted supported the incumbent Democrat, Franklin D. Roosevelt. The Miscellany News
“Tomorrow is the college straw vote with a machine from Po’keepsie and everything. Feeling runs high amid a surfeit of sun-flowers. Miss [Cornelia] Raymond stopped wearing hers when told they were made in a sweatshop but I guess she’ll vote for Landon just the same.” MS letter
Nine hundred sixteen students and 109 members of the faculty took part in the presidential straw poll on October 20th, with the faculty voting to re-elect Democrat and Vassar honorary trustee Franklin D. Roosevelt and students—along, apparently, with Cornelia Raymond '83—favoring the Republican candidate, Kansas Governor Alf Landon. Sixty percent of the students voting chose Landon, 28 percent voted for Roosevelt, and the Socialist, Communist and American Labor (Union) party candidates, Norman Thomas, Earl Browder and William Lemke received seven percent, four percent and one percent of the student vote, respectively. The faculty vote favored Roosevelt over Landon 54 to 20 percent, with four votes going to Thomas—whose daughter Rebekah was a freshman—and three for Browder. The Miscellany News
A comprehensive poll released by The Daily Princetonian later in October, showed that the President held a narrow lead over Governor Landon among 80,598 collegians in 34 states: 38,977 to 35,702. In this poll, 905 Vassar students voted two to one for the Republican. The New York Times
The college announced that the year-end total of gifts for 1935-36, put at $356,345 at Commencement, now stood at $400,000. Gifts for the scholarship endowment and the amount available for current use—both categories were topics of heated discussion during the past year—totaled $54,000 and $33,271, respectively. The scholarship endowment stood at $1,064,000.
The German government concluded negotiations for an alliance between Germany and Italy.
The gift to the college of a collection of rare jades and Japanese tea jars was announced. Valued at $130,000, the collection was given by Mary Morris Pratt ‘80, one of the two donors to the college of the Chapel and the widow of Vassar's former trustee and generous benefactor Charles M. Pratt, who died in 1935.
Socialist party candidate for President of the United States, Norman Thomas, the father of a Vassar freshman, spoke on behalf of his candidacy.
Frederic W. Goudy, printer and type designer, founder of The Village Press, talked on "The Designing and Production of Printing Types." A resident of nearby Marlboro, Mr. Goudy made frequent visits to Vassar and had lectured here in 1925 on "The Printer's Art."
The nucleus of the Vassar Library’s distinguished Village Press collection was presented by New York publisher Mitchell Kennerley in 1932.
The New York Times discussed a report to President MacCracken from Professor Joseph Folsom, chair of the department of sociological studies, urging the college to become a “socio-intellectual center” for the mid-Hudson valley. More intensive sociological and economic study of the area, coupled with proper direction of the studies and collaboration with community agencies, would, the report proposed, be a proper extension of the college’s tradition of engaging students in field work such as mapping social phenomena and assisting with federal and state agencies’ canvassing.
“To know its own community,” Professor Folsom was quoted as saying, “would seem to be one of the most appropriate functions of an institution of higher learning. If it does that well, it may more cogently urge its graduates to know and to serve their communities.”
Speaking under the auspices of the Political Association James G. McDonald used the recent alliance of Germany and Italy and their even more recent recognition of the Spanish government of Francisco Franco to press his case that the nations of Europe were aligning in practically the same formations that led to the First World War.
“The Franco-Russian understanding, although not fully implemented, is almost identical,” the New York Times editor and former League of Nations high commissioner for German refugees told his audience, “with the treaty basis they had reached before 1914. Even Great Britain has accepted a position that is analogous to her 1914 alignment. She seeks to limit her obligations to avoid entanglements, but is nevertheless being committed to a régime that unites her military and naval fortunes to those of France.” The New York Times
The college announced that Dean C. Mildred Thompson ‘03 had discovered in an old desk drafts of the first constitution of the Students’ Association, founded in 1868. The papers confirmed that Mary Watson Whitney ’69 was instrumental in the recognition of a student voice in the earliest days of the college.
Whitney, a member of Maria Mitchell’s first group of six students, known as the Hexagon, succeeded Mitchell as professor of astronomy and director of the Observatory.
A pact was concluded between Germany and Japan against international communism.
Speaking at a dinner celebrating the 10th anniversary of the granting of a provisional charter to Sarah Lawrence College, President MacCracken recalled the college’s ties with Vassar, which had ended with his retirement earlier in the day as chairman of the Sarah Lawrence board of trustees. MacCracken said that the founder of Sarah Lawrence, William Van Duzer Lawrence, had consulted him about his intentions and that they had agreed to a high degree of overlap between the boards of the two colleges.
“Our affiliation with the trustees of Vassar College,” he said, “was due to Mr. Lawrence’s recognition of his own advanced age and his concern lest the college, inadequately endowed, fall a prey to misfortune or more grasping hands. Such gestures were not wanting ten years ago from powerful sources predicting disasters…. Mr. Lawrence, alarmed at this prospect, sought a defensive alliance with Vassar, giving that college the power through its members of the board of trustees to control and finally take over Sarah Lawrence.” Vassar, MacCracken continued, accepted this responsibility “having good reason to believe that there was a need for another and a different college for women.
“The offered control it never exerted, and all its powers under the agreement desired by Mr. Lawrence it now willingly lays down, with the exception of friendliest good wishes to its younger sister. The history of this cooperation is unique in American education, too often marked by competitive and unfriendly rivalry.”
The Sarah Lawrence provisional charter was made permanent in 1932, and, responding to MacCracken’s remarks, the president of Sarah Lawrence, Dr. Constance Warren ’04, noted that the severing of ties with Vassar marked the “coming of age” for the college she led. The New York Times
The Experimental Theatre, under Lester Lang’s direction, gave the American première of Luigi Pirandello’s satiric drama Tonight We Improvise (Questa sera si recita a soggetto, 1929). Praising the performances, in particular, of Barbara Dole '37 as "Mommina" and Jean Sobotta '38 as "Signora Ignazia," Professor of Italian Maria Piccirilli, declared the performance "perhaps the most ambitious and successful production which we have seen on the campus" in The Miscellany News.
Citing the several layers of satire in Pirandello's writing, Professor Piccirilli drew attention to "the conclusion in the last words uttered by the Director, which may be summed up as follows: Life and its passions are not yet Art. To live one's passions is not to represent them artistically. Art is both passions and order, impetus and restraint. These two elements must be merged so that passions no longer exist as such, and order is not to be recognized as something imposed from the outside, passive obedience to rules."
Pirandello spoke, in Italian, at Vassar in January 1924 on "The Italian Theatre, Old and New," and the Experimental Theater presented the American première of his Each in His Own Way (Ciascuno a suo modo, 1924) in December 1929. The recipient of the 1934 Nobel Prize for Literature, Pirandello died in Rome on December 10, 1936.
Lester Lang, Hallie Flanagan Davis's assistant in the Vassar Experimental Theatre, was acting director of the theatre in Davis's absence while serving as director of the Federal Theatre Project.
In a lengthy letter to the editor of The New York Times, President MacCracken joined the discussion raised by, among others, Robert Maynard Hutchins, president of the University of Chicago, about the need for a “society-centered curriculum” and the questionable value in such an academic program of foreign language study. Pointing out that modern language acquisition in European countries occurred early in students’ education for very practical reasons, MacCracken asserted that “the study of modern languages is therefore with us a cultural rather than a vocational requisite. Surely at the present time, if ever, a knowledge of modern languages can be defended as essential in a society-centered curriculum….
“To sum up, modern languages are the indispensible instruments of internationalism, of comparative culture, and of the correction of chauvinism and parochialism in our national philosophy. They increase the vocabulary of thought as well as the literature of understanding.”
The art department presented an exhibition of Italian baroque paintings, including works by Domenico Fetis, Bernardo Strozzi, Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione (Il Grechetto), Giambattista Tiepolo and Antonio Canaletto. Some of the paintings were loaned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Wadsworth Atheneum and private dealers.
Drawing on information from the economics department, the vocational bureau and the warden’s office, the college estimated that the average cost to a student for a year at Vassar was $1,855. Moderate economies reduced the cost to $1,552, and stringent economies would result in further reduction of cost to a $1,362 minimum. In the 1935-36 academic year, the study revealed, 411 students engaged in “self-help” activities to earn a total of $37,855.05.
The gap between the $1,200 fee each student paid for a year’s tuition and residence and the actual cost to the college for each student’s year, “several hundred dollars,” was covered by endowment and gifts. No figures were given in this study for scholarship aid.
One of the speakers at the presentation in New York City of a Town Hall Club medal to birth control pioneer Margaret Sanger, President MacCracken said: “It has been my experience that, of all hated things, youth hates most to be betrayed. In this whole question of social hygiene, of which birth control is a part, youth wants to trust and to be trusted. Denied access to the facts, and to legal means, youth suspects hypocrisy and rationalization.” The New York Times
LIFE, the new picture magazine, in a story called “Vassar: Bright Jewel in U. S. Educational Diadem,” noted that “blue jeans, introduced by Mrs. Hallie Flanagan’s D. P. [dramatic production] course, have spread throughout the college.”
Dr. Lin Yutang, Chinese author, translator and philologist, lectured on "The Chinese People and Democracy."
The Pushkin centennial was observed with a concert, exhibitions in the Library and Taylor Hall and a special college assembly in the Chapel, at which Professor of Russian Nikander Strelsky declared ""the great poet has flung his bridge of words across the hasm fo foreigness, across the chasm of time." "Professor Strelsky," said The Miscellany News, "gave Pushkin, who 'has always been the fascination and the despair of his translators,' the opportunity to speak for himself, by reading eight lines of his poetry, first in English and then in Russian. These lines have been described as 'the inexpressible declaration of love of all the unhappy lovers of the world,' and it is hard to say whether the English or the Russian made the greater impression of the Vassar audience."
On campus to photograph the college for Life magazing a few months after publisher Henry Luce's transformation of the magazine from a humor and light literary journal to a photojournalistic review, Edward Steichen took time to speak with The Miscellany News. "'Life would have been impossible fifteen years ago,' said Mr. Steichen. But now the movies have made pictorial magazines almost a necessity. People have become used to receiving their information through pictures. 'Life is good because it is more like the Police Gazette than anything else.'"
Predicting that "everyone will be a photographer in another generation or so," the world-famous photographer predicted that all photography would be in color in a few years and that it would be within the reach of virtually everyone. "'Next to actually contacting the thing itself, photography is the best way to get close to a subject or an event objectively,' said Mr. Steichen. 'There are many parts of the world, many things in nature, which are not acessible to the average man, but pictures, especially motion pictures, can bring everyone into the room.... Ninety percent of the population of the United States gets its information of moonlight, roses and world events from newspaper pictures and motion pictures.'"
An accompanying photograph of the photographer examining President MacCracken's image through his camera was entitled, "Steichen Photographing Prexy for Life (According to Steichen, the first picture ever taken of him at work.) The Miscellany News
The Experimental Theatre presented the American première of the satire on war and dictatorships, No More Peace, by German expressionist playwright Ernst Toller, with lyrics adapted by W.H. Auden:
“Are you living in the city all you dreary little life,
In a dreary little office, with a dreary wife?
I will give you flags and banners and processions and a band;
You shall march in step together, you shall feel just grand.”
“I will give you friends to die for, I will give you foes to kill,
I will give you back your honor and your unity of will,
The old heroic virtues and the large triumphal hour,
I will give you back the kingdom and the glory and the power.”
Earlier in the year Toller had lectured on "The Theatre in a Changing World" and had promised the première to Vassar.
The Vassar and Princeton glee clubs gave the American première of the concert version of Jean-Philippe Rameau's opera, Castor et Pollux (1737, rev. 1752), in celebration of the two hundredth anniversary of its composition. The nearly 100 singers were accompanied by pianists Homer Pearson from Vassar and Jack Stall from Princeton.
Later in March the Princeton group performed the piece in Princeton with singers from Barnard, and in May the Vassar singers joined the New York University glee club in a New York City première at the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Over 1,000 students and guests danced in the Students’ Building at the largest party of the year. Radio star Jack Pearl—the creator of “Baron Munchausen”—donated his services for the scholarship fund and took part in the skits between dances, written by the staff of The Miscellany News, on the theme of “Vassar as the Movies Would Do It.”
“A cast of students and faculty depicted Hollywood’s conception of a typical girls’college…. The outside world, according to the Vassar entertainers, seems to think that college is a grand lark, that courses revolve around the subject of ‘choosing a husband,’ that there is inevitably a romance between a professor and a fair damsel and that the climax of any Vassar College career is a place on the daisy chain. A daisy chain scene served as a wedding scene, to end the Hollywoodian romance in true style.” The New York Times
A new non-credit course of twelve lectures on marriage drew public attention to the college. Guest lecturers included Dr. Raymond Squier, gynecologist and obstetrician; family health pioneer Beatrice Bishop Berle MD '23 and developmental psychologist Dr. Mary Shattuck Fisher ’20. They were joined by Vassar faculty members sociologist Joseph K. Folsom and J. Howard Howson, professor of religion and frequent lecturer on marriage and mental hygiene.
Students attended voluntarily, and most chose to stay after the hour’s talk to ask questions. In retrospect they endorsed the course, as did President MacCracken and Warden Eleanor Dodge ’25. Mary Stewart Hooke, physician’s assistant at the college said the course “will help [students] face facts realistically when they get engaged, and not go thoughtlessly to the altar in a cloud of white and orange blossoms.” The board of The Miscellany concurred; “We approve,” it stated, “the intellectual and frank approach there has been to these problems.”
Dr. Berle had lectured at Vassar in 1932 and 1933, and Dr. Fisher—later, Mary Shattuck Langmuir—returned to Vassar in the fall as professor of psychology.
Workmen finished the conversion of the old gymnasium in Ely Hall— known as the Alumnae Gymnasium before the opening of Kenyon Hall—for a new home for the geology department, which moved from cramped quarters in the New England Building.
During one of several visits to the campus, Countess Alexandra Tolstoy, daughter of Leo Tolstoy, spoke on "Count Tolstoy, His Life and Work.”
Vassar faculty and students participated in a strike against "the billion dollar war budget; militarization of colleges and universities; lack of academic freedom and civil rights; the intervention of Germany and Italy in Spain." The strike, sponsored by the American Student Union, was held simultaneously at colleges and universities throughout the United States. Student speakers deplored the tendency of world leaders toward war and spoke out against the policies and actions of Germany under Hitler. The Poughkeepsie Journal
“On past Strong and Lathrop they marched in groups of six or seven with the faculty and several ministers at the head. Bold, alliterative printed posters, carried by girls from all the campus organizations, proclaimed 'Careers not Conscription,' 'Sanity not Slaughter,' 'Pax Vobiscum….'” Dean C. Mildred Thompson '03 presided over the gathering in the Students’ Building, where the peace strikers filled the main floor, with others listening from the balcony.
“After Sally Jenkins ['37], President of Students’, had read the new revised Peace Call, Erika Mann, the daughter of the German writer Thomas Mann, described the preparations for war that were being carried on in Nazi Germany, and stressed the urgent need for peace….” The Miscellany News
In a poll devised by the Student Christian Movement and submitted to students by the religion department and the Community Church, 598 out of the 760 student respondents agreed that religion was “an essential element in the life of a well-balanced and thoroughly integrated person.” 28 replied that religion had no place in campus life.
The faculty abolished midyear examinations and probation status for upperclassmen, “affirming the desirability of conference between teacher and student…as a means of obtaining improvement in marks.” The New York Times
A student-parent-faculty conference discussed “The Influence of the Press, the Radio and Moving Pictures.”
Earl Browder, general secretary of the Communist Party of the United States, lectured to Economics 240 and a large number of students and faculty. His subject was the working of the capitalist system and the aims of the Communist party.
Joined by Christine Ramsey ’29, music professors Clair Leonard and Quincy Porter presented skits and songs in a benefit to aid Spanish war refugees. Porter and Leonard had joined the music faculty in 1932 and 1934, respectively, and Ramsey had returned to the college in 1931 as an administrative assistant in the admission office. Leonard and Porter supplied scores for Ramsey’s often hilarious lyrics. Their program included songs written and presented on April 30 for Founder’s Day: “It Must Be Something About Me,” “Love Is Just What I Thought,” “Maturity,” “The Floraborealis Girls” and “Give Me the Opportunity.”
The evening raised $850 to aid the refugees.
John D. Rockefeller died at the age of 97. Starting with $35,000 in 1893 for the completion of Strong House—named after his daughter Bessie Rockefeller Strong, a special student at the college (1886-88)—Vassar benefitted from his philanthropy, having received, according to a study published in The New York Times shortly after his death, $493,348.59. Among his other gifts to Vassar were Rockefeller Hall (1898) and Davison House (1902), named after his mother.
Some of Rockefeller’s other educational beneficiaries were, according to The Times, the University of Chicago ($34,708,375.28), Harvard ($1,025,000.00), Yale ($1,001,000.00), Brown ($679,900.65), Bryn Mawr ($455,000.00), Barnard ($285,660.00), Wellesley ($280,993.16), Oberlin ($204,450.40) and Smith ($100,000.00).
The contents of 17,325 shelves (about 190,000 volumes) and pamphlet boxes and unbound material moved from Thompson Library to the recently completed Van Ingen addition, completing the establishment of the art department in its new quarters.
Some 1,000 students, alumnae, parents and guests enjoyed perfect June weather, and the Class of 1887 led the parade as commencement ceremonies began. One of two surviving members of the college’s first graduating class, Harriet Warner Bishop ’67, joined the procession. In their meeting, the Associate Alumnae elected Margaret C. Banning ’12 as an alumnae member of the board of trustees.
In his welcoming remarks, President MacCracken spoke of the practical tempering of college life. “College,” he said, “is a laboratory in which students are trained and receive the perspective that they may go forward and participate the better in the hurly-burly democracy which is working forward by democratic means and methods to new standards and government…. It is necessary that there shall be such havens of the mind as this, in order, in quiet and in peace, where the free mind can contemplate and a free society come to understand one another, where the art of living well will come to be practiced, and the reverence for history and the knowledge of its lessons will come to be applied….”
The class play, “Tonight We Interrogate,” by Felecia Lamport ’37, Henrietta Callaway ’37 and Annabelle Burkhardt ’37 reflected both the Experimental Theatre’s American première in December of Luigi Pirandello’s Tonight We Improvise and the recent addition to the curriculum of a senior comprehensive examination. The third hall play, “The World We Live In,” was presented in the evening at the Outdoor Theater, after which the crowd assembled on Sunset Hill to observe the senior-sophomore bonfire. The New York Times
Dean Robert Russell Wicks of Princeton spoke in his baccalaureate sermon of the presence on all sides “of the belief that the world can be made good and happy by force…. Communism and fascism would supply it by the dictatorial power of the proletariat and the corporate State. If we are to preserve freedom for democratic procedure, we must furnish that right quality of life by some more persuasive method than force. Therefore our final answer must lie in the making of good homes.” Wicks defined three elements of American family life that built “the best quality of life we know. First is the recognition of difference as a stimulus to growth…. The second characteristic of a good home has always been the power of family sentiment…. A third characteristic of good homes has been a reliance upon training by contagion. This is not exactly an alternative to training by advice, but it is more effective.”
After a garden party given by President and Mrs. MacCracken, the day’s events ended with a glee club concert. The New York Times
President MacCracken conferred the bachelor’s degree on 270 members of the Class of 1937 at Commencement in the Chapel. In his commencement address, the college’s longest-serving trustee, co-founder of the Institute of International Education and director of the Council on Foreign Relations Dr. Stephen P. Duggan, spoke of the power of education and of a welleloped educational system in defining and defending American institutions and the American way of life. “The Federal Government,” he said, “appropriated $1,000,000,000 this year for defense purposes, without serious protest. It appropriated $7,616,460 for education. Yet education is the best method for defending our institutions.” The New York Times
President MacCracken announced that gifts for the year had totaled $353,000 and included a fund established by her former students—and supplemented by the Rockefeller Foundation—in honor of Grace Harriet McCurdy, who retired in 1937 after 44 years as a professor of classics at Vassar. In his annual report for 1937, President MacCracken wrote of McCurdy: “Her deep interest in the achievements of women and in their opportunities both for political and for social equality has led her studies of late into the history of Greek women. Her humor, her gaiety, and her eloquence have combined with her rare learning to bring distinction to the classical studies that have made graduates of Vassar desired in every graduate school.”
A six-week summer workshop of the Federal Theatre was held at Vassar, a collaboration of the Rockefeller Foundation, the WPA and the college. The Federal Theatre Project’s director, Hallie Flanagan Davis, on leave from Vassar, drew 40 talented men and women from almost every state to the campus for, as she put it, a “retraining period.”
Joan Jones, writing in The New York Times, gave a sample of the workshop’s diversity: “The stagehand from Seattle is learning what the director in Tampa contends with in Spanish productions; the lady who makes marionettes in Chicago is finding out how a Negro production of ‘Sabine Women’ ‘wowed ‘em’ in Hartford. Every one is a little astonished at what a vast and versatile thing the Federal Theatre Project is.”
After several provocations since 1931, Japan launched a full-scale invasion of China, capturing Beiping and Tianjin.
Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt took part in a conference held at Alumnae House under the auspices of the State Federation of Business and Professional Women and chaired by Kathryn Starbuck ’11. The topic of the day was the development of a statewide jury service training program for women. Mrs. Roosevelt noted that she would not be eligible for jury duty “as long as my husband remains in the White House” but that she intended to take the jury duty course when it was offered in Dutchess County in the fall.
Responding to a participant’s concern about jury members’ being locked up overnight, she replied, according to The New York Times, “Now, really, that doesn’t happen very often, and in this age when we travel as much by air, it never occurs to us to be disturbed if we are locked up all night in an airplane, so why should be get excited about chances of being locked up in a jury room? It isn’t so different.” The New York Times
Dr. Robert J. Trumpler, astronomer at the Lick Observatory of the University of California, was a visiting professor at Vassar for the first semester. The originator of the “Trumpler classification” for classifying star clusters, Trumpler taught a course in astronomical statistics, and students set up an 8th telescope in the observatory under his supervision.
John Houseman, actor, producer and co-founder—with Federal Theatre Project (FTP) colleague, Orson Welles—of the new Mercury Theatre, replaced FTP director Hallie Flanagan as director of the Vassar Experimental Theatre. Welles and Housman had collaborated on several FTP projects, including Welles's Horse Eats Hat (1936), the all-black production of Macbeth (1936), and The Cradle Will Rock (1937), and Housman had directed the young Welles in Archibald MacLeish's Panic in 1934 and composer Vergil Thomson and Gertrude Stein's Four Saints in Three Acts the same year.
At Vassar, Houseman's offering included The Infernal Machine by Jean Cocteau (1937) and, the following year, a rousing revival of Francis Beaumont's pastiche The Knight of the Burning Pestle (1607) featuring President MacCracken and Philip and Hallie Flanagan Davis and their children. As managing director of The Mercury Theatre, Houseman arranged season discount admissions for Vassar students and faculty to the theatre's productions, several of which were reviewed by students in The Miscellany News. He also directed a cooperative summer troupe, Dutchess County Players, funded by students, which presented three plays, S. N. Behrman's Serena Blandish (1929), Eugène Scribe's A Russian Honeymoon (1883) and Tree of Heaven (1938) by John Milton Caldwell in the summer of 1938.
"Im's never quite sure," Houseman told The Miscellany News in December 1938, "of what it is that students get out of a college theatre other than the fun or excitement of doing cooperative creative work. As technical training it is not especially valulable, and it raised the question of whether in any case the liberal arts college is the place for technical training. But the value of the Experimental Theatre...is in making a nucleus of intelligent audiences throughout the country, and as such it is extremely important." The Miscellany News
German phenomenologist philosopher, Moritz A. Geiger, former professor at the University of Göttingen and head since 1933 of the Vassar philosophy department, died while travelling back to Vassar from Seal Point, ME., where he had been treated for a brief illness. He was 57 years old. A refugee from Nazi Germany, Dr. Geiger initially joined the Vassar faculty through the Institute for International Education and under the sponsorship of the Emergency Committee for Displaced German Scholars and the Rockefeller Foundation.
Dedicating the 1937 Vassarion to Professor Geiger, the Class of 1937 expressed, in The Miscellany News, "our very real admiration and affection for him, and our appreciation of the contribution which he has made to Vassar during the last four years. It is not only that his classes have been taught with an unfailing enthusiasm, imagination and keen perception; Professor Geiger has shown us also another aspect of scholarship, the breadth of humanity and understanding which such [a] fund of knowledge coupled with sympathetic insight can bring." On December 7, American philosopher Ralph Barton Perry, the Edgar Pierce professor of philosophy at Harvard University, President MacCracken and Ruth Weiss '38 spoke at a memorial service for Moritz Geiger in the Chapel.
The Social Museum opened in Blodgett Hall. Long a hope of Lucy Maynard Salmon, the museum came into being with the aid of a $4,000 gift from the Associate Alumnae for curriculum research. While the first exhibition, "Development of Housing in New York City," was drawn from work done by the Works Projects Administration for the New York Housing Authority, it exemplified the methodology of the later projects developed at Vassar.
Drawing directions of research and for scholarship from many departments and on local communities—Poughkeepsie or Dutchess County—for subjects and data, the museum, as it’s director, Eleanor Dunning ’34, explained to The New York Times was both a resource for students and part of their academic programs. “Just as a student uses the college library…for the study of English…and gets credit from the English department, so she can use the social museum to prepare topics in history, economics, sociology, political science, religion, English, art, architecture or music and get credit through the particular department in which she is working….”
President MacCracken wrote, of the project: “While the social museum is primarily designed as a laboratory for the training of Vassar undergraduates in techniques of handling local materials, it may well become a center of general education, and thus perform a service which every college, whether primarily public or not, should seek to render to its community in return for the many privileges it receives.” The New York Times
The last exhibition prepared by the Social Museum was presented in May 1951.
Wheaton College art instructor Wilhelmina Van Ingen ’26 was a guest of honor at the dedication of the Van Ingen Library connecting Taylor Hall and Thompson Library. Named in honor of her grandfather, Henry Van Ingen, Vassar’s first art professor, the building contained conference rooms, offices, study rooms, a drafting studio and library space that doubled the Library’s existing 200,000 volume capacity.
Built with $160,000 drawn from a fund bequeathed by Mary Clark Thompson in 1923 and with $40,000 from general college funds, the building by architects Allen, Collens & Willis, continued the Gothic style of Thompson Library in a simplified form. But its interior, designed by Theodore Muller and John McAndrew, assistant professor of art and first curator of architecture and industrial art at the Museum of Modern Art, was thoroughly modern, featuring glass brick walls, minimal detail and deep colors.
Speaking at the dedication, Dr. Frederick Keppel, president of the Carnegie Corporation praised the building and predicted rapid changes in its use. “Basic rules of the game of reading are being changed before our eyes,” he explained. “We have to go back to the fifteenth century to find a change of equal importance. In recorded human communication, photography, and in particular microphotography, are already operating to abolish rarity and inaccessibility, and it will soon operate to wipe out the present, limiting factor for collecting records, the factor of sheer bulk.
“You will soon be able to get all the incunabula and first folios you want on sixteen-millimeter film, and the files of The London Times and The New York Times won’t rout you out of house and home when reduced to 1/256th of their present area.”
The dedication ceremony concluded with the unveiling of a memorial plaque to four other former faculty members: Professor of English Truman J. Backus; Professor of History Lucy Maynard Salmon; Professor of English Laura Johnson Wylie ’75 and Professor of Economics Emilie Louise Wells ’95. The New York Times
Mary Morris Pratt '80 gave funds for the remodeling the South Gallery in Taylor Hall concurrent with the completion of the Van Ingen Library.
Commenting on the display space provided in the new building, professor of art Agnes Rindge said: “The Vassar art department has devised its own peculiar method of instruction in art, differing from other colleges and universities in the greater stress placed upon visual learning. …we require an extensive mastery of [the] objects themselves….”
In anticipation of a two-day Conference on Housing planned by the student-faculty Political Association for early November, Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt spoke on "The Role of Women in the Housing Program." The college community was invited to a reception for Mrs. Roosevelt in the Aula after her lecture.
The main topics of the two-day Conference on Housing sponsored by the Political Association were “New York City Housing Projects,” “European Housing,” “National, State and Municipal Phases of a Low-Rent Program” and “Cooperative and Philanthropic Phases of a Low-Rent Housing Program.” Speakers included Mary K. Simkhovitch and Nathan Strauss of the New York City Housing Authority, Warren Jay Vinton of the Farm Security Administration, Dr. Ernest Fisher of the Federal Housing Administration, E. A. Kazan of Amalgamated Dwellings, Inc. and Ira Robbins of the New York State Housing Board.
Six follow-up afternoon seminars were planned for the remaining months of the academic year. Led by a state or national authority, the seminars included Vassar students in architecture, economics, history, heath and hygiene of sociology who compiled data and delivered papers over the course of the year. The seminar topics were “The Role of the National Government in the Housing Program,” “The Role of the State and Municipal Government in the Housing Program, “ Land Problems Involved in the Housing Program,” “Architectural Problems Involved in the Housing Program,” “Construction Industry Problems Involved in the Housing Program” and “Careers for Women in Housing.”
Political science professor Dorothy Schaffter planned and directed the housing study program. In 1938, she was granted a leave from Vassar in order to accept a grant-in-aid from the Carnegie Corporation to conduct a study on housing. In 1943 she became the fourth president of Connecticut College for Women, later Connecticut College.
The Vassar Peace Council hosted a conference, “All Youth against All War,” with representatives from the American Friends Service Committee, the Fellowship of Reconciliation, the War Resisters' League and the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. After agreeing on a definition of “pacifist,” some 200 delegates from 15 colleges in New York and adjacent states adopted a working platform to serve as a basis for discussion and activism and as the basis for a second meeting.
Professor of Italian Bruno Roselli, a frequent speaker in support of the Italian government, defended the Italian alliance with Germany and Japan in a discussion on “America and the European Situation” at Town Hall in New York City. The three nations, he said, had been made “the pariahs, the lepers, the untouchables” of the world community, but now their collective voice must be heard. Speaking as “Japan,” he intoned, “An American commodore with his fleet, by forcing the well-guarded virginity of our shores, made me what I am today. Behold thy child, so similar to thee. If thou art displeased, lower thine own eyes in shame—but preserve the dignity of silence.” The New York Times
Addressing calls for arms embargoes, Dean C. Mildred Thompson ‘03 told a crowded Chapel on Armistice Day that the government should assume ownership of munitions industries. Explaining that global economy meant buying and selling, not selling but making it impossible for other nations to buy, she asserted that collective plans involving governments were needed to remove conflicts by means other than war while maintaining needed commercial ties.
“The nations of the world today live in an organic relation to one another,” she said. “Peace can come only by using, not attempting to destroy or ignore, the connections which four centuries of civilization have been making.” The New York Times
The Twentieth Century Fund published Studies in Current Tax Problems, in which Professor of Economics Mabel Newcomer predicted that the cost of “public relief” in the struggling economy would remain high even if employment returned to pre-depression levels. Suggesting that the depression had, by its length, created a large class of unemployables while, by its breadth, it removed the “stigma of pauperism,” she said her studies showed that “If the number of unemployed should drop again to the 1929 level, the standard of support remain at the 1935 level and the ratio of relief cases to the unemployed remain unchanged, the cost would exceed $500,000,000.” She added that if the number of unemployed remained at the 1935 level, the cost of relief would be $3,500,000,000. The New York Times
After six weeks of cross-campus banter and sudden national notoriety, students at Princeton responsible for the “Lonely Hearts Club” announced its demise. In October an advertisement in The Miscellany News, declaring that hundreds of Princeton men were lonely, encouraged Vassar students to “Find your post-box lover by writing to the Lonely Hearts Club, 121 Little Hall, Princeton, N. J,” adding, “Everything confidential.” Some Vassar students responded satirically and The Misc. printed an editorial, “Exposé,” which revealed the club to be “a vicious attempt of a thwarted Yale man to discredit the name of Princeton before the world.” The editorial went on to proclaim every Princeton man “a combination Adonis, Tarzan and Socrates.”
The club’s founders were soon invited to appear on radio programs and a song-writer offered a lyric to the “Lonely Hearts.” After receiving 500 letters from as far away as London, Paris and Havana and from 35 colleges including Notre Dame and Harvard, they wrote to the Vassar newspaper, “Yes, girls, the club is dead, but only because the best of jokes must come to an end.” In declaring the club’s end, the Princeton men still wanted “to correct a few details. Yale boys are too absorbed in the Shirley Temple Club at present to be connected with anything as mature as Vassar. Your appraisal of Princeton men, slightly reserved…is fairly accurate.” The New York Times
President MacCracken and Harvard professor of philosophy Ralph Barton Perry spoke in the Chapel at a memorial service for Professor Moritz Geiger, a scholar refugee from the University of Göttingen who had chaired the Vassar philosophy department since his arrival at the college in 1934.
The Vassar Experimental Theatre presented two performances of The Infernal Machine by Jean Cocteau.
President Roosevelt sent a greeting to over 500 student delegates from colleges across the nation, at Vassar for the third annual convention of the American Student Union. “The fact,” he declared, “that large groups of students, on their own initiative, are taking up national problems is evidence that our institutions of learning are getting results. So long as our printing presses, radios and schools are kept free I do not have any great anxiety about the future success of our democratic system.”
On the second day of the convention, President MacCracken spoke on “Currents and Cross-Currents in American Education.” He warned the members of the union—an uneasy fusion of former groups with socialist or communist leanings—against exploitation by political leaders, and he took issue with the recent statement by Columbia University’s president Nicholas Murray Butler that, in the present European crisis, universities in fascist Germany and Italy were impotent.
The day’s main event was a floor fight over the so-called Oxford Pledge, an American version of the pledge endorsed in the Oxford Union not to fight “for king and country.” In American terms, it was the vow of collegians to be pacifists. The pledge had been adopted in Chicago at the union’s last annual meeting, and the call for its repudiation came from the union’s executive secretary, Joseph P. Lash—later, a close confidant of Eleanor Roosevelt and much later her Pulitzer prize-winning biographer. “Our conviction, all our actions,” he said, “ are dictated by the sincere and passionate aspiration to defend the peace we have and to help bring peace to the peoples that have been plunged into war by fascist aggression.”
The following day, Lash’s long, precisely detailed resolution, introduced by its author as supporting “a program which will make the United State a genuine and active force for peace,” was accepted, paragraph by paragraph, the opening statement being most contended. Many of its points closely followed President Roosevelt’s positions.
After serious deliberation, the delegates to the convention, as The New York Times put it, “dropped the League of Nations delegate-with-the-weight-of-the world manner for the first time and danced around the fire.” After passing a resolution boycotting Japanese goods, they protested against Japan’s invasion of China by—at the suggestion of Lloyd (Bud) James from the University of Chicago—tossing silk stocking, neckties and “a few more intimate garments” onto a bonfire in front of Main Building, while chanting “Make lisle the style, wear lisle awhile,” and “If you wear cotton, Japan gets nottin’.”
In the evening, the delegates, having accepted each paragraph of the resolution for “collective action” in rejection of pacifism, accepted the resolution as a whole. Political science professor Frederic L. Schuman from Williams College summed up the convention’s actions. Noting that “world politics today has become a struggle between madmen and paralytics and in a fight the madmen win. If this convention has any meaning it lies in the hope that the youth of the world in not completely paralyzed.”
If not paralyzed, the convention delegates were at least splintered. On the gathering’s last day, a welter of sometimes divergent resolutions were passed, endorsing aid to the Chinese people, opposing military shipments abroad, endorsing “independent popular action against aggressors” and opposing the American military budget which, a resolution declared, should be transferred to “socially useful” projects.
Among the officers elected for the next year, Agnes Reynolds ’38 was named financial director. The New York Times
The trustees approved "The Vassar Plan,” a formula for investment in common stock. The plan was perfected by Ray Morris, chairman of the committee on investments and finance of the board of trustees. Mr. Morris, a founding partner of the private bank Brown Bothers Harriman & Co., served as trustee from 1922 until 1941 and again from 1942 until 1948.
Students who had been living in the cooperative apartment in Blodgett Hall moved to Palmer House, which had been remodeled for use as a cooperative house.
The east wing was added to Palmer House, Faulkner & Kingsbury, architects.
Professor Nikander Strelsky offered a course in comparative Slavonic literature for the first time. Students in the first semester Russian course surveyed that literature from the 13th century epic, the Lay of Igor’s Raid, to the “New Economic Policy” of 1928, with attention to works by Pushkin, Gogol, Turgenev, Tolstoy, Chekhov, Bunin and Gorky. Some reading was included in Soviet realism and the proletarian novel and drama.
Russian history had been taught at Vassar since 1907, and a course in the contemporary history of Southeastern Europe introduced in 1917 had gradually expanded to include the recent history of Poland, Germany and Czechoslovakia, along with Austria, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Rumania, Bulgaria, Albania and Greece.
Professor Strelsky first offered a non-credit Russian language course in 1931, and the course was first given for credit in 1935. Many of the readings in his new comparative literature course, from Polish, Czech, Yugoslav and Bulgarian writers, were read in translation.
Under the direction of Christine Ramsey ‘29 of the English department and George Sherman Dickinson, the chair of the music department, the college broadcast the first Vassar radio program, from an improvised studio in a room in Skinner Hall adjacent to the concert hall. Through an arrangement with Peter Goelet, owner of WGNY, a station near Newburgh, the broadcast, the first in a planned series of 15-minute programs on Tuesdays and Thursdays from12:45 pm until 1, reached most of Dutchess, Orange, Ulster and Sullivan Counties.
The first program, violin and piano music, was presented by music Professor Quincy Porter, pianist John Crouch, an assistant professor—and Porter’s wife—the violinist Lois Brown. Future plans, drawn up by a committee of students and faculty, included concerts from the concert hall by the college choir, the glee club and the orchestra and dramatic sketches, faculty talks and recitals by the verse-speaking choir.
George Coleman Gow, professor emeritus of music, died at the age of 77. Joining the Vassar faculty in 1895, shortly after the discontinuation of the School of Music, Gow was responsible for the development of the modern music department and oversight of the development and construction of the Belle Skinner Hall of Music.
Spanish author, diplomat and historian Salvador de Madariaga offered “A Plea for Aristocratic Government” in an address sponsored by the Political Association. A former ambassador to the United States and France and former representative to the League of Nations, de Madariaga was touring the country denouncing the Fascist régime of Francisco Franco in Spain.
De Madariaga’s sister, Pilar, taught Spanish at Vassar since 1929.
President MacCracken spoke on “The American Youth Congress” on New York City radio station WMCA. The American congress and the American Student Union—by far the largest activist youth groups in America—were hosting the World Youth Congress in New York City and at Vassar in August.
President MacCracken defended modern education from critics on the right and on the left in an address at the annual New York Vassar Club luncheon. Vassar's progressive curriculum had recently drawn fire from intellectuals at, for example, the University of Chicago, where President Robert Maynard Hutchins and philosopher Mortimer Adler had condemned such relatively pragmatic studies as modern languages and social sciences as not classically collegiate. Other conservatives had criticized the college’s political activism, while critics on the radical left were claiming the college was out of touch with the real world. But President MacCracken, sharing the podium at the Waldorf Astoria with Chancellor Harry W. Chase of New York University, told the alumnae that criticism of the college from the right, the center and the extreme left helped to focus the efforts of Vassar students, faculty and trustees.
Of critics on the left he said, The New York Times reported, "While we cannot agree with their point of view, we can respect them for the new life they have brought into the college atmosphere. However, criticism from the left falls to the ground because they fail to apply to others the freedom they demand for themselves." Such criticism, he told over 300 alumnae “only makes us more than ever aware of the responsibility of placing before the students the historical background which justifies our belief in democracy. If there is any unifying principle in the college we will not seek it out in humanism, metaphysics or revolution, but we must seek it in democracy.”
Chancellor Chase agreed, but with a demurral. “Democracies have come to the point at which they have to defend themselves against a resurgence of barbaric ideas not felt for generations,” he said. “More and more it seems to me that colleges are our strongest bulwarks of democracy, but their importance as an agency for civilization has dropped in the background.” The New York Times
Metropolitan Opera singers, Lauritz Melchior, Danish-born operatic tenor, and German dramatic soprano Mme. Dorothée Manski gave the first Barbara Woods Morgan Memorial Concert. The fund supporting the concerts was given by the Class of 1935 in memory of their classmate, Barbara Woods Morgan ‘35, a devoted student of music.
The Anschluss: Austria was occupied and annexed by Germany. Hitler entered Vienna in triumph on March 14.
The bimillennium of Augustus Caesar was commemorated by the department of Latin, with an exhibition of coins, manuscripts and rare bindings in the Library and a festival at which poems and essays on the Augustan age were read. The event’s aim was to recall and revivify the age of peace Romans enjoyed under Augustus.
In his keynote address, “The Art of the Augustan Age,” Karl Lehmann-Hartleben, Professor of Classical Archaeology at New York University discussed a marble relief of a draped woman’s head which he had seen at Vassar on a former visit. Recently completed research, he said, identified it as the work of a master sculptor of the famous Ara Pacis Augustae, the Roman Altar of Peace commissioned by the Roman Senate in 13 BCE to honor Augustus.
The Metropolitan Museum drew from the Vassar collection, along with those at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Pierpont Morgan Library, the American Numismatic Society and several Italian museums, for its commemorative Augustan art exhibition which opened on January 4, 1939.
The division of drama, established under the chairmanship of Professor of English Winifred Smith, '04, offered for the coming year a new major field for students interested in dramatic literature as well as in the theater.
Professor of Music Quincy Porter conducted the New York Philharmonic Society Orchestra’s performance of his Symphony no. 1 at Carnegie Hall. Porter, who came to Vassar in 1932, resigned in June, 1938, to become the dean of the faculty at the New England Conservatory of Music.
Speaking to economics classes at Vassar, Thomas J. Watson, president of the International Business Machines Corporation and of the International Chamber of Commerce, praised the Roosevelt administration’s moves to exert controls over world import and export to avoid the need for military intervention across international borders. He noted, however, that the United States stood to suffer, particularly from the loss of imports.
In a review, The New York Times noted “first-hand evidence as to the variety and vigor of intellectual interests of Vassar College” in the 11th annual volume of The Vassar Journal of Undergraduate Studies. The volume’s 17 essays, in the fields of architecture, sculpture and painting, English literature and Russian aesthetics, astronomy and mathematics, geography, physiology, sociology and economics, ranged from the architectural drawings of Elizabeth Hird ’37 and translations from the Russian by Isabelle Yoffe ’39 and Margaret Hazen ’38 to analyses by Margaret Vanderbilt ’37, Bettina Garthwaite ’37 and Vivan Liebman ’38 of, respectively, Virginia Woolf’s debt to painterly techniques, the comparative physical fitness of athletes and non-athletes as shown by a study of 20 Vassar students and the economics of national socialism. Katherine Gordon ‘38 and Doris Roosen-Raad ’38 collaborated on the summation and correlation of previous astronomical research on the structure and rotation of the galaxy.
Russian constructivist sculptor Naum Gabo spoke on the occasion of an exhibition of his Constructions in Space. Professor of Art Agnes Rindge, the gallery’s director, said, “This is designed to electrify students and startle the alumnae as far as possible…. The whole operation of Taylor Hall and the Art Department is designed to belong to the present day…. We believe that the history of art has continuity right up to 1938, in spite of the fact that the department obliges students to begin acquaintance with the subject nearly four thousand years ago.” Vassar Alumnae Magazine
Poor weather over Southampton, L. I., cancelled most events of the 3rd annual New England Intercollegiate Air Conference and thus the participation of Molly Cook Cummings ’40 in the .360 spot-landing event. Growing up with an aviatrix mother who flew with her small daughter under the George Washington Bridge “because it was so tempting,” Cummings was the only woman in the small, informal meet that included participants representing Yale, Harvard, MIT, Amherst, Pennsylvania and Kenyon.
When the rescheduled event took place, on June 12, a woman from Stanford had joined the conference. Cummings tied with an Amherst flier for 2nd in bomb-dropping and was 3rd in the .360 spot landing. Harvard was the overall winner. The New York Times
Many years later, Cummings recalled her first competition, near New Haven. When her 2nd place finish in the spot-landing event attracted the attention of LIFE magazine, it also unfortunately attracted the attention of Vassar’s dean. “I was told,” she recalled in 2007, “I had no right to represent the college, as flying wasn’t in the curriculum.” Greenwich Magazine
Students organized a Flying Club, independent of the college, in 1944.
The Vassar Brothers Laboratory, the first separate laboratory building at a college for women when it opened in 1880, was razed. More recently housing the departments of psychology and economics, the building was judged too expensive to renovate. The departments of psychology and economics were given quarters in Blodgett Hall.
The Associate Alumnae sent a resolution to President MacCracken “expressing their appreciation to [him] for his devoted service to the college, his tolerance, his humanity, his broad understanding of the needs of youth in the modern world, and his defense of American principles of liberal thought.” Trustee Minutes.
Harriot Stanton Blatch, the president of the Class of ’78, led the parade as some 800 alumnae gathered on campus for Class Day, 1938. President MacCracken spoke to them on the subject of youth. “Youth wants above all,” he said, “to ‘belong.’ It asks to be taken seriously into all phases of life: government, church, school, business. It wants to be trusted, to be given its full share of intelligent responsibility. When that is done, there is no ‘youth problem,’ in the sense of any problem separate from general economic and social problems. The sooner we ask youth to share our own problems, the sooner we shall solve them.”
Dirndls were the dress of choice at the Class of 1938 exercises in the Outdoor Theater. Both the sophomores carrying the daisy chain and the entire graduating class, with the exception of the principle players in the class’s skit, “Senior White and the Twenty-six Daisies”—a satire on Walt Disney’s 1937 film—wore the winsome heroine’s costume. Janice Green ’38 composed “The Song of the Dirndl” and the daisy chain’s song.
Philaletheis performed Peter Pan in the Outdoor Theater in the evening. The New York Times
Led by Dean C. Mildred Thompson ’03, 75 members of the faculty petitioned President Roosevelt to lift the munitions embargo on Spain.
Delivering the baccalaureate sermon for the Class of 1938, Willard L. Sperry, dean of the Harvard Divinity School, took his text from Psalm 137:4 “How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?” Contrasting the “familiar and sheltered scene” of the college with the “strange land” the world outside was becoming, he said “The margin of uncertainty for untold millions of persons in this world is wider today than ever before,” and, he added, “Nothing is more sure than that the future has in store for all of us journeys into what will be culturally far countries, perhaps even mental exile in alien space.” Therefore, he warned, the old ways “of religion, whether in faith or morals, are not going to suffice our need. We shall need new insights into the nature of truth and duty.” The New York Times
Conferring the bachelor’s degree on 257 members of the Class of 1938, President MacCracken addressed the class on “Ideologies.” Pointing to the dominance of ideology over reason in the regimes of Hitler and Mussolini, he said “reason is put into uniform and marches with the mass.”
Turning to recent efforts to struggles closer to home, MacCracken said, “If, in the last analysis, the destinies of the republic are settled in the classroom, then what goes on there is of infinite importance. And that we all have an inkling of this may be judged by the anxiety of those who have ideologies to market. They want to control academic policy. Fundamentally, they do not want real history, real science or real art, but their own ideological version of it.
“Therefore, as president of Vassar College, an institution in the free and liberal tradition of the higher learning, I ask your support of our present policy, which, so far as we are supported, we shall maintain: objective rather that subjective interpretation of social phenomena, free and untrammeled inquiry into every field of learning, honest and fair comparison of our own work with that of others, admission of our own shortcomings, a courteous hearing of criticism from whatever source, devotion to the religion that sets others before ourselves, inculcation of the spirit and loyalty, not to a fabricated ideology, but to the laws of God and His universe, and action consistent with our attitude; this is the policy to which today we pledge renewed allegiance.”
Helen Kenyon ’05, chairman of the board of trustees, announced that gifts to the college totaled $212,915, of which $117,944 was for the endowment and $94,971 was for current use. The New York Times
After a decade’s discussion of student religious needs and the advisability of having a religious officer in a non-sectarian college, the Rev. C. Victor Brown was appointed lecturer in applied religion and faculty advisor to the Community Church.
The Second World Youth Congress was held at the college. Over 550 representatives from 53 countries attended. Soviet Russia, Germany and Italy were unrepresented and Japan and Santo Domingo seated only observers. In this country, the Catholic Church and the Boy Scouts of America boycotted the congress.
Festivities at the municipal stadium at Randalls Island in New York City greeted the international delegates. Some 23,000 persons heard Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia’s welcome the young participants and his wry encouragement to them: “I don’t know what the conference will accomplish, but I do know that you can’t accomplish less than a disarmament conference. This is the answer of the peace-loving people of the world…to the great manoeuvres that start in Europe today.” Other speakers included the president of the French Chamber of Deputies, the secretary general of the League of Nations, the Czech minister of foreign affairs and President MacCracken, the chairman of the United States sponsoring committee. Spokesmen representing five continents greeted the delegates, and music and dancing from around the world—including a “mass demonstration of the collegiate shag by members of the American Student Union”—entertained them. A Book of International Fellowship containing the signatures of 200,000 American well-wishers was presented to the organization’s English international secretary, Elizabeth Shields-Collins.
No similar welcome greeted the delegates when they reached Poughkeepsie on the afternoon of August 16th. The New York Times reported that Acting Mayor William Duggan said he “had given no orders for a reception because of what he termed the group’s ‘internationalism.’” Instead, a large informal gathering featured a brass band that played the national songs of many of the delegates’ countries. Helen Kenyon ’05, the chairman of Vassar’s board of trustees, greeted the delegates’ steamer when it arrived at the Poughkeepsie dock.
In the evening, after a dinner that included corn on the cob and blueberry pie, the delegates heard more formal welcomes from President MacCracken and Mrs. Franklin Roosevelt.
At the plenary session in the Students’ Building on its first full day, the congress heard reports from representatives of 14 countries on four continents about conditions in their countries and about their notions of how international peace could come about. Australian political apathy, Belgian multi-lingualism and unemployment, Bulgarian wariness about the first world congress’s failure to coalesce and Canadian multicultural turmoil sometimes echoed and other times contrasted with Chinese shock at the Japanese invasion, Colombian yearning for democratic Pan Americanism, Czech determination to democratize its different cultures and Danish pride at Scandinavian solidarity, to give a broad and challenging world picture. A British delegate’s announcement that a pact of friendship uniting British, Canadian, American and French youth groups was being drafted contrasted with the report from Holland that no effective way had yet been discovered to unite elements of its youth movement either internally or in an international sense. An Indian delegate lamented the illiteracy and low life expectancy in his country, blaming both on the British.
Four commissions were established to gather information and lead discussions on the political and economic collaboration for peace, the cultural and economic status of youth, the religious and philosophical bases of peace and the international role of youth.
On August 18, a breakthrough occurred when the American delegation—ranging from young communists and union members to students and members of religious youth movements—was able to agree unanimously on a seven-point program for world peace, which they presented to the congress. The measures included arms reduction, economic reconstruction in the name of equality and abstention from the use of force and from interference in the internal affairs of other nations. Reviewing the seven points, The New York Times observed that they closely paralleled points laid our two days earlier by Secretary of State Cordell Hull.
The following day James G. McDonald, former high commissioner of the League of Nations, spoke about the worldwide refugee situation, noting that among the Americas only the United States had committed to accepting upwards of 27,000 refugees yearly. “Go back to your countries,” he said, “and say to your governments that there is being offered to them an opportunity to enrich themselves with the…intelligence of some of the finest people in the world.” His remarks came after a detailed discussion of the plight of subject peoples was reported on by representatives from Ethiopa, Korea, Czechoslovakia, Puerto Rico and Palestine.
Concurrent with the congress at Vassar, Texas Representative Martin Dies, co-founder of the House Committee Investigating Un-American Activities, had been conducting hearings during which the Youth Congress had been called a communist front and President MacCracken had been identified as a communist. On August 21, Joseph Cadden, the Brown University graduate who chaired the United States delegation, apologized to the foreign delegates for the “rude and stupid” maligning of the Youth Congress and its work. Cadden wrote to Congressman Dies, asking to be invited to his committee to discuss the congress and the international organization with 40,000,000 members that sponsored it.
The previous day, Professor Nikander Strelsky had written to Representative Dies, protesting the characterization before his committee of Professor Hallie Flanagan Davis, on leave from Vassar to direct the Federal Theatre Project, as a communist and of plays she had produced as subversive. Irreproachable critics, he noted, had praised production after production by Davis. “‘The Living Newspaper,’” he wrote, referring to one of her innovative productions, “denounced as subversive and communistic, has been acclaimed by the same critics for its clarity in dealing, in an American way, with problems of American life.”
Strelsky’s defense of Davis was echoed in a letter sent to Dies the same day by Poughkeepsie resident and leading Catholic playwright Emmet Lavery, a director for the Federal Theatre, demanding to be called before the committee and urging the congressman to examine “the complete list of plays” produced by the Federal Theatre and “the vast amount of theatre research” done by the project.
The World Youth Congress concluded on August 23 with the signing, by 47 of the 53 delegations present, of “the Vassar pact,” a declaration of peace and friendship on a basis of collective security. While a majority of the American delegation endorsed the pact’s six articles, a considerable minority—largely socialist, pacifist and religious representatives—denounced it and argued that it had been forced on the congress by the executive leadership. Their main objection was to Article IV:
We agree to bring pressure to bear, whenever the circumstances arise, upon our respective authorities to take the necessary concerted action to prevent aggression and to bring it to an end, to give effective assistance to the victims of treaty violations and aggression and to refrain from participating in any aggression whether in the form of supply of essential war materials or of financial assistance.
President MacCracken praised the delegates and their work, urging them not to refrain from association with “Fascists or Communists, religionists or irreligionists,” if such associations could promote the cause of peace in the world. The New York Times
Experiencing fewer withdrawals than expected, the college opened with 1,240 students, well above the 1,200 student limit set by the trustees. Over 300 of the 350 freshmen registered for English classes, and over 200 were enrolled in history classes and in French classes.
Cooperative housing moved from Blodgett Hall to the remodeled farmhouse on the former Wing Farm, which the college had acquired in 1923. Renamed Palmer House, in honor of Jean Culbert Palmer ’93—warden from 1915 until her death in 1929—the new cooperative house accommodated 23 students.
Announcing that “Our isolationist days are over,” Alumnae House opened the Pub, a soda-fountain and sandwich bar, to encourage students and faculty to keep coming up the hill.
A tropical hurricane inflicted severe damage on colleges up and down the East Coast. At Brown, 100 year-old elms were downed and $25,000 damage was done to buildings. Radcliffe’s director of buildings and grounds was killed while working to remove a tree that had fallen through the administration building. The power plant’s chimney at Connecticut College fell over, shutting off light and water to the campus, and Wesleyan lost over 200 of its 300 large elms and oaks. At Vassar, twelve large trees were uprooted, the Shakespeare Garden was flooded and 200 tons of coal washed out of the “coal pocket,” into Sunset Lake and out through the Fonteyn Kill to the Hudson.
Professor of English Amy Reed ’92 dismissed a cliché, telling students in her convocation address not to think of the four years of college merely as a preparation for the future but also as living for its own sake. “You have come,” she said, “to a college with a self-governing faculty, a self-governing student body and a president who refuses to be a despot…. A sound democracy does not consist of a number of people all named Zero and led by a brilliant leader. It requires, on the other hand, the hearty and persistent cooperation of highly developed personalities who are free from the wish to dominate others.” The New York Times
Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and French Prime Minister Édouard Daladier signed the Munich agreement, allowing German annexation of the Czech Sudetenland.
“Cels”—watercolors on celluloid used in animated films—from Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) went on view in Taylor Hall.
Speaking on "The Meaning of History" at Sunday evening Chapel, Dr. Reinhold Niebuhr, professor of applied Christianity at Union Theological Seminary, claimed that "all notions about simple meanings of history have proved themselves false." A writer for The Miscellany News reported, "Professor Niebuhr said that the old Biblical idea of a meaningful history—a history which is moving toward a climax, 'an ultimate Apocalypse'—is beginning to be accepted again today. This concept was rejected for many centuries and replaced by simple but false philosophies."
Reviewing early Christian, Aristotelian, Platonic and Helgelian concepts of history, Niebuhr claimed the "modern mind is returning to the Biblical interpretation. People are once more realizing that human life has limitless possibilities of both good and evil.... In the discussion which followed in Main parlors, Mr. Niebuhr stated that the only absolute standard of good is to 'love thy neighbor as thyself'; the sole alternative to this is relativism, which will end in nihilism. In Europe today...the powers for good are cowardly, while the forces for destruction are agressive."
This was the sixth of many visits by Reinhold Niebuhr to Vassar.
The Classical Museum was opened in Avery Hall. Gisela M.A. Richter, the curator of classical art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, spoke on "The Adventure of Archaeology in a Museum."
In response to an appeal from 15 Czech alumnae to President MacCracken for aid to Czech refugees, a benefit show was given by Christine Ramsey ‘29 and Alan Porter, from the English department, Clair Leonard from the music department, Professor of Greek Philip Davis and a student sextette.
$850 was raised and sent to the alumnae group.
Kristallnacht, the coordinated attack on Jews in Nazi Germany, resulted in 91 deaths, some 30,000 arrests and incarcerations and the destruction of nearly 300 synagogues.
Meeting for the first time below the Mason-Dixon line, the Associate Alumnae of Vassar College met in Williamsburg, VA. President and Mrs. MacCracken and Dean C. Mildred Thompson ’03 joined the gathering, which heard an address from John Stewart Bryan, president of the College of William and Mary.
Lotte Lehmann, German operatic soprano, gave the Barbara Woods Morgan Memorial Concert.
Professor Erwin Panofsky, Princeton University, lectured on "The NeoPlatonic Movement of the Renaissance and Its Reflection in Michelangelo."
The Experimental Theatre, directed by Esther Porter Power '32, gave the first performance of Vassar's Folly, written by members of the playwriting class of 1937/38 in the graphic style of the living newspaper. The play was later revised and a second part added for presentation at the Seventy-Fifth Anniversary of the College, June 1940.
A study released by the college’s vocational bureau showed that, of the Class of 1938, 49 percent were pursuing further study, 28 percent were employed and 10 percent were married.
The New York Times reported that Vassar students were raising money over their semester break to fund two scholarships for the following year for refugee Jewish students from Germany. It also noted that the college had granted a second semester scholarship to an Austrian refugee recommended by two current students whose family had fled Vienna the previous spring.
Remarks on the subject of “Tolerance” by President MacCracken, Dr. Mordecai Johnson, the president of Howard University and playwright Marc Connelly, at the annual dinner of the Urban League, were broadcast over radio station WMCA. “We in America can not look upon what is happening in Germany,” Dr. Johnson told the gathering, “as something separate.” Noting that 17 states in America were organized on a basis of racial superiority, he declared, “what we face in Germany is a natural external consequence of the sin which has beset us and which we have never been willing to remove.” The New York Times
At the faculty's request, the trustees approved a plan for inviting refugee scholars to the college. From 1939 to 1943 20 scholars took part in this program. By 1940, 11 noted émigré scholars were or had been regular members of the faculty, including Moritz and Elisabeth Geiger, Boris Karpov, Alfred Salmony, Richard Krautheimer, Ernst Krenek, Guido Ferrando and Adolf Katzenellenbogen.
The students also raised money to bring refugee students to Vassar for the coming year.
The college announced that anthropology, taught since 1925 in the zoology department, would become a separate department, offering majors in physical anthropology, cultural anthropology and archeology. The work of the department was coordinated with courses in art, geology, Greek and Latin, and field trips to the American Museum of Natural History and the Museum of the American Indian in New York City were part of the new curriculum. A five-year grant from the Carnegie Corporation supported summer field work in American Indian archeology in the Hudson Valley.
Six posters prepared by the public discussion class of Professor of English Helen Lockwood ’12 and posted on the bulletin board near the Vassar post office presented the class’s study of the investigation of the Federal Theatre Project by Rep. Martin Dies’s House Committee Investigating Un-American Activities. The class published its results in February in The Vassar Review, but when a poll showed that few on the campus had read the report and that of the 60 percent of those questioned who had heard of the Dies committee, 74 percent favored its continuation, the class decided on a public presentation.
The first poster referred readers to the accounts of the hearings and to the class’s published report. The second posited the reason for such a committee’s coming into being: general fear caused by the economy and abetted by the rise of totalitarian ideologies abroad. It suggested that the fear would abate if unemployment, low wages, poor housing and tax problems were resolved, reasoning that foreign ideologies would seem less worrisome in a robust and renewed economy.
Weighing the committee’s purported aim—investigating activities that undermined the Constitution—against its methods—charges based on hearsay and outright misrepresentation and refusal to hear responses from the FTP for months after making the charges public—the third poster declared that the committee itself violated constitutional principles. The fourth poster, studying the investigation’s central question—Is the Federal Theatre Project communistic?—listed the specific charges, analyzed the evidence presented and answered the question in the negative.
A fifth poster assessed the accomplishment of the Dies committee, concluding that in distracting attention and resources from the causes of social ills—anxiety and fear—the committee was ineffectual and even harmful. An evaluation of the FTP in the final poster asserted, by contrast, that it was creating a new American theatre, relieving some need in the process and, overall, enriching the culture. The New York Times
Dr. Erich W. Zimmermann, Kenan Professor of Economics at the University of North Carolina, gave the first of four lectures on the American landscape and the environment, funded by an anonymous donor and intended to focus students’ attention on America’s natural heritage and to encourage their interest in conservation. The other speakers, later in the spring, were Dr. Douglas Johnson, geology department chairman at Columbia, Dr. Ira N. Gabrielson, chief of the biological survey bureau of the Department of Agriculture, and Dr. William Crocker, director of the Boyce Thompson Institute of Plant Research, a privately endowed research facility in Yonkers.
"Sculpture of India," the Eliza Buffington Memorial Exhibition arranged by German-American art historian Alfred Salmony, was opened in Taylor Hall. An artist, Eliza Buffington ’06 was the founding librarian at the Rhode Island School of Design. Salmony, a member of the faculty of the newly-established Institute of Fine Arts at New York University, provided an introductory essay for the exhibition’s catalogue, Sculpture of India: Eliza Buffington Memorial Exhibition April 12 to May 12, 1939 (1939).
Professor Henry Steele Commager of Columbia University lectured on "The Intellectual Revolution in the United States, Especially in the Nineties."
The college observed "Peace Day" with a college assembly in Students' Building. Speakers were Vera Micheles Dean, director of the Foreign Policy Association research department, and Barbara Allen '39, editor-in-chief of the Vassar Miscellany News.
Katherine Anne Porter, novelist and journalist, visited the campus for two days. She talked to students of narrative writing on the sources of material used in her books, and to English majors on background reading for those interested in writing. Her The Leaning Tower and Other Stories was published in 1934, and the novel Pale Horse, Pale Rider appeared in 1939.
Three Vassar students, Mary Atwood ‘39, Barbara Byrnes ’40 and Ruth Frankenthaler ’39, representing the Protestant, Roman Catholic and Jewish faiths, presented President MacCracken with the Badge of Tolerance of the National Conference of Christians and Jews.
Alumnae focus at Class Day was on Helen Kenyon ’05, who was retiring from the board of trustees. A former president of the Associate Alumnae of Vassar College, she left that office to become secretary to the new Salary Endowment Fund, in which role she was instrumental in reaching its $3 million goal. Elected as an alumnae trustee in 1923, she was the first alumna to chair the board, from 1928 until her retirement.
More than 600 alumnae, led by a brass band marched from Rockefeller Hall to the President’s House, where they were greeted by President MacCracken. They then proceeded to Kenyon Hall, where a cast of students, under the leadership of Jean Sobotta ’38 amused the honoree with a burlesque entitled “Vassar in Heaven or the Grand Kenyon.” A book of greeting from trustees, faculty and friends was presented to Miss Kenyon, and Mildred McAfee ’20, the president of Wellesley, spoke, praising her accomplishments. At the close of President McAfee’s remarks, AAVC president Susan Copland ’19 presented to the college, on behalf of the association, a Helen Kenyon Lectureship Fund, to be used to bring to the college for several days each year a leader in some field of endeavor, preferably a woman, to give one or two lectures or demonstrations and to meet informally with students.
Class Day exercises for the Class of 1939 were held in the Outdoor Theater, concluding with the traditional Daisy Chain. The New York Times
Former trustee Rev. Dr. Arthur Lee Kinsolving of Trinity Church Boston invoked the 1936 Pulitzer Prize-winning collection of poems by fellow New Englander Robert P. Tristram Coffin, That Strange Holiness, in the title of his baccalaureate sermon to the Class of 1939. “The occasion of one’s graduation,” he told the class, “is the time for pondering the issue of the difference between the best and the second best. One sees it in its fullest clarity in youth.” This "strange holiness" so constitutes youth, he continued, "that we are constantly in search of that 'summum bonum' in life." A gradual loss of clarity “as life spreads out into middle age,” he proposed, was a model for the current "world predicament.” Truths and half-truths are indistinguishable to weary elders, who, becoming “adept in this new social science of ‘alibiology,’” lose “the very capacity for aspiration. As we find the priceless thing in ourselves beginning to fade, we are lost to our true element, holden to earth, mundane creatures in a mundane world….The way out will be pointed again by those persons who have discovered the folly of making themselves their own ends and have recovered the vision of the true good in life in contradistinction to its goods.” The New York Times, The Miscellany News
President MacCracken conferred the bachelor’s degree on 252 members of the Class of 1939 on what he referred to as “this my twenty-fifth appearance as dispenser of diplomas,” the day, he confided, of his wife’s birthday and the 32nd anniversary of their marriage. His informal tone continued as he bade farewell to five trustees. “No college,” he said, “could accept without concern the retirement of such members as Jean McCoy Allis, Stephen Pierce Duggan, George Henry Nettleton and Russell C. Leffingwell, but when with them Helen Kenyon of 1905 bows a farewell as trustee, our state of mind must be, as Ko-Ko remarked, ‘simply appalling.’”
After bidding farewell to two faculty colleagues, Professor of Spanish Edith Fahnestock and Professor of History Eloise Ellery ’95—“two who have built their whole lives into the fabric of Vassar instruction….teachers of the modern world, travelers and commentators upon it”—he turned his attention to the graduates. “And now last,” he said, “but not least, in all this farewelling comes our ‘good Trebonius,’ the class of 1939. You are all thinking, ‘What about us? We are the ones that are really leaving. The others are just taking off some harness. They will still be here at Vassar, working for it, no doubt, just as hard as ever in independent ways, but we shall be gone in the morning.
“Well, as to that, the first thing a graduating person has to learn is that she is just part of a procession, even at this commencement, which is yours and your parents’. The alumnae ask to share Vassar, and every alumna is more than just her class, it appears. It is seventy-four years of striving toward achievement in years of generous self-cultivation, of strenuous effort, of high fidelity to the record.
“You will come to feel, if you do not already feel it, that it is a pretty fine thing just to be a part of that record.” The New York Times
Its funding removed by Congress, Hallie Flanagan’s Federal Theatre Project ended, the first of the WPA projects to close. The target of communist-hunting congressmen, it had become anathema to union leaders and administration budget overseers as well, owing largely to its great success in the three major theatrical markets, New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles.
Writing in The New York Times at the time of Hallie Flanagan’s death in 1969, her FTP collaborator John Houseman wrote: “Those of us in the theater will remember her for those three fantastic years in which she and her collaborators turned a pathetic relief project into what remains the most creative and dynamic approach that has yet been made to an American National Theater.”
A supplement to the curriculum focusing on issues of peace and war was announced. Developed over the past semester by a group of students and faculty members, the plan took into account the relative lack of disciplinary preparation most students would bring to understanding the fundamental factors involved in the preservation or violation of peace. They thus ruled out the establishment of a new course or new courses on the subject, fearing that they would likely be either superficial or restrictive.
Under the plan students in certain courses in sociology, political science, geography, psychology, philosophy, religion English, comparative literature and drama were allowed to center their long papers or special projects on subjects related to peace and war. In addition, work designated as general credit in the major field could be devoted to a study of some aspect of the question of peace and war. As independent study, this work, overseen by a member of the student’s major department, could be undertaken at any time after the first semester of the sophomore year, could be a program carried out during a summer and must have been completed before the beginning of the student’s senior year.
The participating departments also prepared summer reading lists on this subject for all students, regardless of their election or not of the credit options.
The college initiated a series of visits by refugee scholars from Europe. Eleven scholars visited the campus during the academic year, spending two weeks at Vassar lecturing, holding informal discussions with students and faculty and taking part in a range of campus activities, both academic and extracurricular.
Germany invaded Poland, marking the beginning of World War II. The Soviet Union invaded the country on September 17, and ten days later Poland surrendered to the Germans.
Fall Convocation marked the beginning of Vassar’s 75th year and of President MacCracken’s 25th year in office. “There is no ban,” he told the students, “upon the subject of war in any course of study, nor in our college society. We need only to remember that the contribution we can make is that of the thinker. We teachers will try to see to it that your studies shall seem not remote but a part of life today, with meaning pertinent.” The New York Times
Former trustee Russell C. Leffingwell gave an outdoor classroom near Ely Hall, designed by Molly S. Drysdale ’31.
"The trustees…established a committee on Undergraduate Life, and discussed the general college policy quite frankly with [students.] It was after one of these sessions that Russell Leffingwell, formerly Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, and an active trustee, expressed himself as so delighted with the students' maturity in dealing with these questions that he wanted to signalize the day in some way. Thus was built the open-air classroom, with its praise (by Pericles, of course) of free discussion, and of the value of action after it. 'For we Athenians have the peculiar power of thinking before we act, and of acting too.'" Henry Noble MacCracken, The Hickory Limb
President Roosevelt congratulated Vassar on its 75th anniversary: “The seventy-five years we commemorate are half the life span of our nation. Not often in our history have we faced a period so threatening to our peace and to our ideals as now. Vassar women are counted among our national leaders in education, business, science, and the arts. They are equipped for leadership in their communities. This leadership will be needed in the years before us as never in the long and impressive history of Vassar.” Vassar Alumnae Magazine
The student curriculum committee, led by chairman Rosalie Thorne ’40 and the group’s advisor, Professor of Economics Mabel Newcomer, initiated a time study. Each student received a booklet, “Where Does Your Time Go?” and was asked to fill out a daily table recording the number of hours spent on specific academic work, exercise, sleep, relaxation, specific extra-curricular activities, specific self-help, specific cultural activities and absence from college. In addition, the publication asked students to respond to a range of questions about students’ perceptions about their courses’ subject matter, their methods of instruction, about attitudes toward class attendance, even about whether participation in the survey had affected their work or leisure habits.
The student committee had conducted a similar study in 1925, leading to a reconciliation of faculty expectations and student responses, and it was expected that the data gathered would have a similar effect. The booklets were to be returned on December 5.
President MacCracken announced an agreement between the trustees and the Associate Alumnae of Vassar College: in recognition of the college’s 75th anniversary, AAVC would seek to double the scholarship endowment, currently $1 million, by June 1940. Scholarship aid at Vassar had started with a $50,000 endowment designated by Matthew Vassar in his founding gift. The president’s announcement stated also that Vassar would seek to add an additional million dollars to the general endowment.
A quarter of the student body received scholarship aid in the 1938-39 academic year.
Professor Emeritus of Psychology Margaret Floy Washburn ’91, who had retired 1in 1937 after suffering a stroke, died after a long illness. At graduation, she hoped to study in the new field of experimental psychology at Columbia, under America’s first professor of psychology, James McKeen Cattell. Allowed only to audit Cattell’s courses, on his recommendation, she gained admission to the new Sage School of Philosophy at Cornell, where she was the first graduate student of British pioneer E. B. Titchener. Vassar certified her work at Cornell for a master’s degree in absentia in 1893, and her Cornell PhD in 1894 was the first doctorate to a woman in psychology. The “father of experimental psychology,” Wilhelm Wundt published her doctoral thesis on the influence of visual imagery on judging distance and direction in Philosophische Studien in 1895.
Washburn joined the Vassar faculty in 1903, and she became a major figure in American psychological research and theory as well as a much-admired teacher and colleague. A past president of the American Psychological Association, in 1932, she was the first woman psychologist and the second woman scientist to be elected to the National Academy of Sciences.
The Child Study Department received grants from the General Education Board and the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation to carry on a research program in the study of child behavior. A later grant was made by the Ittleson Family Foundation.
By January 1960 sixteen films financed by these grants were made in the series "Vassar Studies of Normal Personality Development.”
President MacCracken announced that the college had received a $17,500 grant from the Rockefeller Foundation for theater research based on the records, productions and experiments of the Federal Theatre Project, which was closed down in June. The FTP’s director, Hallie Flanagan Davis, returned to the college to direct the research. The study had four goals: production of a summary of the project’s four years; publication of bulletins disseminating techniques introduced by the project; completion of various other research projects and indexing the FTP records.
The annual conference of the Vassar Political Association, a long-standing student-faculty organization, addressed “The Place of the South in the Nation.” At the opening session, Walter White, secretary of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, spoke on “The Negro in Southern and National Economy.”
The following day, Sterling Brown, poet and professor of English at Howard University gave two readings from his work, and Louise McLaren, director of the Southern Summer School for Workers, in Asheville, NC, led a panel discussion that included Gardner Jackson from Labor’s Non-Partisan League and Harriet Young ’34, regional secretary of the Southern Tenant Farmers Union. In the evening, Wilson Gee, director of the University of Virginia Institute for Research in the Social Sciences spoke on Southern agricultural problems, especially as regarded cotton production, and the assistant to the chairman of the Tennessee Valley Authority, Robert Sessions, spoke on the TVA and its programs.
On the conference’s final morning, Dr. Otto Klineberg from Columbia’s department of psychology addressed considerations of the Negro as a race, and after lunch Jack McMichael, chairman of the American Youth Congress, spoke on educational and vocational opportunities for young people in the South, and Hugh MacRae, a plantation owner and business man from Wilmington, NC, spoke about the Southern plantation and its future.
Dr. Gee concluded the conference with a summary of the several events. The New York Times
An assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler failed.
The Experimental Theatre transformed Christoph von Gluck’s 18th century opera Orfeo et Euridice into a dance pantomime production using recorded music. The production hoped to combine in dance the movements and direction of the action, the emotions of the characters and the moods of the music. The production was directed by the assistant director of the theatre, Esther Porter Power ‘32 and Martin Fallon, instructor in stage design.
The Soviet Union was expelled from the League of Nations.
Sixty international students from Vassar, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Union, Williams, Bennington, Skidmore, Elmira and Russell Sage broadcast Christmas greetings to their families in English, Chinese, Hindustani, Japanese, Hebrew, Dutch and Spanish over General Electric’s short-wave stations WGEO and WGEA. Carolinda Waters '41, from England, promised to send her family a case of butter. The New York Times
Gifts of alumnae and other friends of Margaret Floy Washburn, '91, professor Washburn's residual estate and designated contributions to the 75th anniversary fund were combined to establish the Margaret Floy Washburn Fund for student aid, with preference to students showing promise in psychology. Margaret Floy Washburn was professor of psychology from 1903 until 1937 and for many years was chairman of the department. She established one of the earliest departments of experimental psychology in an undergraduate college.