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