Soviet troops secured Warsaw and liberated the concentration camp at Auschwitz.
Martha Graham and her company performed her new work, Appalachian Spring, with music by Aaron Copland, and other compositions. Miss Graham praised Vassar’s dance training, telling a Miscellany News reporter, “Few colleges have as fine instruction.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin discussed postwar Europe, German reparations and the demilitarization and denazification of Germany at Yalta, in the Ukraine.
Dresden, Germany, was destroyed by a firestorm after Allied bombing raids. 25,000 people died, and another 30,000 were wounded.
The college announced that President MacCracken intended to retire at the end of June, 1946.
Helen Gahagan Douglas, Congressional Representative from California, gave the sixth series of Helen Kenyon Lectures, "This May Be Our Last Chance" and "Where Is Your Place?"
President Roosevelt died at Warm Springs, Georgia. Vice President Harry S. Truman became the country’s 33rd president.
A community memorial service was held at Vassar for the former trustee (1923-1932), honorary trustee (1933-1945) and friend of the college.
Soviet forces entered Berlin, and Benito Mussolini was captured and hanged by Italian partisans.
With the opening of c-term, the third academic term under the accelerated plan, Professor of English Helen D. Lockwood ’12 led a team of six teachers from six departments in an experimental class for 20 freshmen. Entitled “Today’s Cities,” and assuming the city to be the dominant form of modern culture, the course—which took up all the students’ academic schedule for the term—looked at problems of technology and democracy in urban cultures. Through extensive field, group and laboratory work in physics, economics, political science, sociology, psychology and English, the course emphasized the interrelationships of fields of knowledge.
“Today’s Cities” was offered again in c-term 1945-46 and 1946-47.
The United States 7th Army liberated the concentration camp at Dachau. Adolf Hitler committed suicide.
German troops in Italy surrendered.
Student Government President Elizabeth Gatchell ’45 christened the Vassar Victory—launched before V-E Day, but completed after it—at the Bethlehem-Fairfield shipyard in Baltimore. One of a number of Victory-class ships built as rather austere troop carriers, in a slightly upgraded configuration the Vassar Victory repatriated American troops from Europe. The ship made eight round trips between its maiden voyage to France on September 29, 1945 and its return to Baltimore on April 4, 1947.
Subsequently sold to a commercial line, the vessel—renamed the Castelbianco—brought displaced persons from Europe under the sponsorship of the International Relief Organization (IRO).
All remaining German forces surrendered to the Allies.
"Today Is V-E Day. Truman, Churchill, Stalin to Proclaim War's End. Germans Surrender at Eisenhower's Headquarters." The New York Herald Tribune
“The faculty of Vassar College on this eighth day of May, 1945, express their solemn thanksgiving for the end of hostilities in Europe, and for its final liberation by allied might of the United Nations…. Vassar College has been so fortunate in weathering the storms of five years that its sympathy and its help must go out all the more to the ancient universities of Europe, and to all the suffering, wandering millions, uprooted and distraught. With deep determination to aid, so far as in them lies, the quest for human and international understanding, they declare that Vassar College, founded in time of war by a man or vision and courage, must face the challenge of peace with equal valor and steadfastness. Faculty Minutes
Charles G. McCormick, B.D. from Union Theological Seminary, joined the college as chaplain. McCormick’s special field was personal and pastoral counseling, and the appointment reflected the college’s growing involvement with issues of students’ guidance, emotional growth and personal development.
Fannie Borden ’98, on the library staff since 1908 and librarian since 1928, retired. Eileen Thornton, from the University of Chicago, succeeded her.
At the United Nations Conference in San Francisco, the United Nations Charter and the new statutes of the International Court of Justice were officially signed. The delegates also signed the Interim Agreement setting up the UN organization.
American historian and journalist Douglas Southall Freeman, whose daughter Anne was among the graduates, addressed the Class of 1945 at Commencement, and President MacCracken conferred the bachelor’s degree on its 227 members. Five graduate students received the master’s degree in arts.
Gifts to the college during the year totaled $280,000, of which $26,200 was expendable for scholarships and $138,300 was for scholarship endowment. President MacCracken announced two anonymous donors had given $40,000 to establish the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial Scholarship Fund, the income of which was to be used to bring foreign students to the college, and $40,000 to create the Queen Marie Memorial Scholarship Fund to benefit students primarily interested in international relations, preferably students of Rumanian descent. $15,000 had also been given to establish the Louise Roblee McCarthy Scholarship Fund for the Vassar Summer Institute. Mrs. McCarthy ’12 served as a Vassar trustee from 1933 until 1937.
The first 100 of approximately 700 WACs from the New York Army Post Office spent a seven-day “vacation” at Vassar. The women had worked seven-day weeks for over two years without leaves or furloughs, facilitating mail deliveries overseas. The vacations at Vassar were suggested by Mera Galloway '36, a lieutenant colonel in the Women's Army Corps and staff director of the WACs in the Southwest Pacific theater.
On September 6, The Miscellany News reported on the WACs’ summer “rest cures” in Raymond House, "starring 'delicious' food delivered daily from Camp Shanks [Rockland County] and the use of all Vassar facilities, with the minor exception of daily classes."
Harry S. Truman, Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin met in Potsdam, occupied Germany, to discuss further German punishment, restoration of damaged diplomatic and political entities and the establishment of postwar order. Truman had succeeded Franklin Roosevelt, and Churchill was replaced by Clement Attlee mid-way through the meetings, as his Labor Party ousted Churchill’s conservatives in the 1945 general elections held on July 5th and 12th and verified on July 26.
Addressing the Vassar Summer Institute for Family and Community Living on the subject of housing, Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “Eighteen million American families, almost half of our entire population, now live in substandard dwelling.” Adequate housing, she said, was lacking particularly in the rural areas, where postwar growth was likely to be greatest. The problems were intensified, she said, by the return of veterans to civilian life. She cited an estimate by the National Housing Administration that suggested a government appropriation of $100 million would be necessary to fulfill the emergency temporary veterans’ housing measures already approved by Congress. The New York Times
The United States dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan. Eighty thousand people were killed in the bombing, and an estimated 100,000 subsequently died of injuries and radiation poisoning.
The United States dropped a second atomic bomb, on Nagasaki, Japan, killing nearly 74,000 people initially. At least that number died subsequently from injuries and radiation poisoning.
Japan agreed to unconditional surrender.
"The curriculum has been revised to adapt it to both the three-year and the four-year schedule and to realize more fully the basic Vassar aim of education for social use." Catalogue, 1945-1946.
Japan signed surrender terms aboard the battleship Missouri in Tokyo Bay (V-J Day).
The New York Times reported that a sculptured madonna and child, one of the works presented to Vassar in 1942 in his memory by the family of financier and collector Felix Warburg and thought by experts to be a fine plaster cast of an early 15th century statue, was a very valuable original. The authentication came through the collaboration of Professor Richard Krautheimer of the art department and Professor of Geology A. Scott Warthin, Jr.
Professor Krautheimer explained that the enigmatic work, about 30 inches tall, had stylistic elements dating it to France around 1400, but that no original for it had ever been identified. And its features “linked it to a group of Rhenish, south German, Silesian and Austrian madonnas, the ‘beautiful madonnas,’ for which a French model had always been suspected but never found…. Furthermore, the workmanship [of the Vassar madonna] seemed too neat and clean for a plaster cast.”
Using a small chip of material taken from the bottom of the statue, Professor Warthin was able to first determine that it was unquestionably not plaster but a soft chalk in its natural state. Fossil remains in the chip then allowed him to speculate fairly accurately where the material may have come from, and comparisons with 25 chalk samples indicated that it probably came from around Rouen, France.
“The conclusions reached by the geologist seemed, therefore, to support those reached by the art historian on the basis of historical and scientific evidence: that the statue is an original, created in northern France about 1400.” The New York Times
The Henry Noble MacCracken Chair of English Literature was established by gifts from trustees, alumnae and friends of the college. It was first held by Anna Theresa Kitchel, professor of English from 1918 until 1948.