Allied troops landed at Anzio, Italy. The siege of Leningrad was lifted after 900 days.
As a counterpoint to The Miscellany News, Phyllis Safarik ’45, Mariajane Clarke ’45 and Audrey Talmage ’45 founded the Vassar Chronicle. "We shall deal with each issue,” the editors said, “according to our opinions at the time, not according to a pre-established party line." Politically opposite, the two campus newspapers coexisted—frequently publishing joint issues—and gradually the editorial opposition lessened. In 1959, the student-faculty Coordinating Committee on Educational Policy recommended a reorganized, consolidated paper. The Miscellany resisted the idea, and on May 16, theChronicle’s editors announced that it would cease publication at the end of the academic year.
The Experimental Theatre, under the direction of Mary Virginia Heinlein ’25, presented a production of The Tempest, with President MacCracken as Prospero and C. Gordon Post, of the political science department, as Caliban. Well known New York stage professionals, costume designer Aline Bernstein ’35 and set designer Raymond Sovey, directed students in planning and making the costumes and scenery. Miss Bernstein—later Mrs. Eero Saarinen—lectured and taught at Vassar occasionally.
British bombers dropped 3,000 tons of bombs on Hamburg, Germany.
In a survey of the approaches by colleges and universities to questions of postwar reconstruction and rehabilitation, The New York Times described Vassar’s interdepartmental approach:
“An interdepartmental major field in problems and principles of reconstruction is offered at Vassar College. The aim is to increase understanding of the rehabilitation problem, to prepare students for service in agencies which administer foreign relief, and to provide a foundation for those who wish to participate in the post-war reconstruction work in Europe.
“Two main lines of study are followed: knowledge of one of more of such fields as child welfare, public health and nutrition, social welfare, and knowledge of the language, literature, customs, geography and economic resources of a particular country in which rehabilitation work may be needed.”
Dean C. Mildred Thompson '03, along with John W. Studebaker, United States commissioner of education, and Representative J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, was one of six United States delegates appointed by the State Department to the Conference of Allied Ministers of Education in London (CAME). The conference’s goal the development of an Allied organization for educational reconstruction. The 20 countries represented adopted a plan for a worldwide school program, which was the genesis of a meeting in 1945 in London when delegates from 37 countries founded the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). UNESCO came into force in 1946, after ratification by the governments of 20 of the founding countries.
Dean Thompson, widely known as an historian and an educator, was a member of the department of history from 1907 until her retirement in 1948, and dean from 1923 to 1948.
Harriet Warner Bishop ’67, the last survivor of the four members of the college’s first graduating class, died at her home in Detroit at the age of 98. She had attended Vassar’s 75th anniversary celebration in 1940 and received a great ovation when she entered the Outdoor Theater for Class Day on President MacCracken’s arm.
The Class of 1944 graduated in the second Commencement of the academic year. There being no daisies in April, the Daisy Chain served tea at the president’s reception.
Actor and director Margaret Webster, whose Othello, starring Paul Robeson in the title role (1943), broke all Broadway records for a Shakespearean production, gave the fifth Helen Kenyon lecture, "Shakespeare and the Modern Theatre." The daughter of actors Ben Webster and Dame May Whitty, Webster directed the English actor Maurice Evans in several Broadway plays by Shakespeare and in 1946 co-founded, with Eva LeGallienne, the American Repertory Theatre.
"My own aim as a director of Shakespeare," she told her Vassar audience, "is to make the characters living human beings, to show for instance in Hamlet that Shakespeare was concerned with the kitchen as well as the battlements of Elsinore." A director, she said, "becomes a diplomatist, a financier, a pedagoge, a top sergeant, a wet nurrse, and a martyr, the kind of martyr who used to be torn into pieces by wild horses galloping in all directions at once."
Webster and The Margaret Webster Shakespeare Company, which she founded in 1948, were frequent visitors to Vassar, and her lecture was published by the college.
D-Day. Allied forces landed on the northern coast of France.
Speaking to some 200 women at a luncheon of the Women’s Action Committee for Victory and Lasting Peace, Dean C. Mildred Thompson ‘03 urged support of the draft constitution for the United Nations educational and cultural organization proposed by the United States delegation to the international conference, of which she was a member. She also warned that many European children in occupied countries seemed content in their Nazi-dominated school programs, which emphasized marching and singing at the expense of studying. “Under our democratic method,” she said, “we won’t be able to hit such children over the head and say ‘You must prefer our system!’ We must make them want to prefer our way by offering the best we have.” The New York Times
At Commencement for students in the accelerated plan, President MacCracken conferred the bachelor’s degree on 19 graduates. Five students received the master of arts degree, and two received the master of science degree.
In his remarks, President MacCracken endorsed the education of the whole individual as education’s highest aim, declaring that the current emphasis on man as a psychological being was as imperfect as previous approaches emphasizing man as a political or an economic creature.
Professor Mabel Newcomer, chairman of the economics department, was one of twelve American delegates named by President Roosevelt to the United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference held at Bretton Woods, NH. In announcing the appointments, the President had said that the delegates’ responsibility was, first, to demonstrate “to the world that international postwar cooperation is possible.” More specifically, the conferees were charged by Mr. Roosevelt to try to formulate “definite proposals for an international monetary fund, and possibly a bank for reconstruction and development.”
The delegation included Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau Jr., Fred M. Vinson, director of the Office of Economic Stabilization, Marriner S. Eccles, chairman of the Federal Reserve and New York Senator Robert F. Wagner, chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking and Currency. Dr. Newcomer was the only woman and the only academic representative in the American delegation.
Allied armies liberated Paris.
Allies liberated Verdun, Dieppe, Artois, Rouen, Abbeville, Antwerp and Brussels.
In a poll by the Vassar Community Church board on the question of a college chaplain, 900 students wanted a chaplain and 49 didn’t.
“Everything’s changed at Vassar. Girls wear discarded men’s shirts, blue jeans and moccasins and act as if they’d never seen Brooks sweaters and saddle oxfords. There was a senior last year with an eighteen months’ old baby….” Vassar Alumnae Magazine
President Roosevelt’s administrative assistant Jonathan Daniels gave the opening address at a three-day conference, sponsored by the student-faculty Vassar Political Association, on “The Returning Service Man.” After the last war, he told the conferees, the peace was lost and as a result the homecoming men developed a “sense of futility and cynicism.” The troops returning soon from the present war would insist on security, not pensions, he said. Victory could not become “a dead-end street for heroes.”
Daniels outlined the processes falling in place to avoid this from happening, such as rapid recomputation of service rating cards to allow the most needy or deserving troops to be the first home and varied educational programs overseas—from literary classes to post-graduate university study—for those waiting to come back. “The Government does not leave the veteran when he leaves its military or naval services,” he assured the gathering. But, he added, “Obviously this is a job for free business and free labor as well as government. This is a job for us all.”
Other speakers at the conference included Dean C. Mildred Thompson ’03 and John J. Sullivan, state director of the Labor League for Human Rights, affiliated with American Federation of Labor (AFL). Dean Thompson pledged that Vassar was ready to receive and accommodate women returning from military service and, as one of six American delegates to the recent Conference of Allied Ministers of Education (CAME) in London, she spoke of those deliberations, urging that the CAME framework for international education be ratified by the countries represented. She especially advocated rapid governmental aid for foreign students to attend American institutions. “They would be a healthy influence for peace,” she said, “American students would get a better insight into the problems of peace…. At the same time it is important that Europeans live in a free society and see the democratic process in operation once more.”
Mr. Sullivan provoked lively argument with his assertion that men returning from the war should have first chances at available jobs. Responding to queries from Professor Helen Lockwood ’12—“Are you just going to consider one class of people, women, as being dumped out? What about women whose husbands are killed in service?—Mr. Sullivan suggested that a “means test” could sort out those problems. Miss Bess Bloodworth, a member of the women’s advisory committee of the Federal War Manpower Commission, declared that “if you start with a ‘means’ test then you should not stop at women. You should give the same test to men.” “I agree with Miss Bloodworth 100 per cent,” said Pauline M. Newman of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union (ILGWU). Mr. Sullivan responded, “if you provide high enough wages for the men the women will not want to work. They will be happy enough to remain at home and take care of their families.”
Elizabeth Miller ’45-4, president of the Political Association, chaired the conference sessions. The New York Times
After two weeks of intense battle and the loss of 5,000 soldiers in the battle for Aachen in Germany, the Germans surrendered. The Allies took 5,600 prisoners of war.
Franklin D. Roosevelt won reelection to a fourth term. Both college newspapers favored him, but 56 percent of the students participating in a campus poll voted for his opponent, New York Governor Thomas E. Dewey.
A few days before the election, Dean C. Mildred Thompson ’03 had joined 37 other nationally prominent women, including Barnard’s dean, Virginia Gildersleeve, and Constance Warren ’04, the president of Sarah Lawrence College, in an appeal to women voters on Roosevelt’s behalf. Declaring that the survival of American freedom and enterprise in the postwar era required “the creation of a strong and realistic world organization for peace,” the open letter from the group of Democrats, independents and registered Republicans, said, “we do not believe the Republican party as at present constituted is whole-heartedly committed to such a policy.” The New York Times
President MacCracken conferred the bachelor’s degree on 202 members of the Class of 1945-4, the first class to graduate on the three-year plan. This was the fourth Commencement in 12 months.