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