January 13, 2011

What Was Vassar Social Life Like In 1885?

A tipster sent in a newspaper clipping that he found from 1885 on "social life at Vassar." At the time, as the article notes, the Vassar Girl was becoming "an object of popular interest... beneath the eye-glasses of modern criticism" as the school "passed through her experimental stage of its existence" and became a place for "a community of people gathered together for some special purpose." Check out the excerpts below to see how life at Vassar has changed over the years.

The typical Vassar student:
"She impresses us more by her quiet self-reliance and breadth of ideas than by her use of Greek values or slang."

Campus entertainment:
"There are many entertainments given Friday and Saturday evenings, and the girls, notwithstanding the absence of that indispensable addition to ordinary society, the male sex, find a great deal of pleasure."

Vassar girls "acknowledge a weakness for clapping."

Gossip:
"A peculiarity of the Vassar girl is that she can keep a secret, notwithstanding her natural tendency to the contrary, and a great many dark plots to baffle vulgar curiosity are devised within Vassar's brick walls."

Halloween pranks: 
"All Hallow'een is duly observed by ghastly processions and mystic rites. This year some stealthy Seniors awoke the charming Rip Van Winkles by rolling croquet-balls down the corridors through the midnight silence."

Guilty Pleasures: 
The Candy Room "is a large room provided with two gas-stoves, hot and cold water, tables, cupboards, dishes, and all essential appliances for candy-making. Here the girls have candy-pulls and work away with the sticky stuff to their hearts' content."

Professors:
On Maria Mitchell, the famous astronomy professor: "The strong, noble face, beautiful in its frame of snowy hair, is an object of great reverence to every Vassar girl."

Senior Week:
"The week before Commencement week is celebrated by the 'Senior Howl.'...This year the members of the class represented in costume and in action the respective personages of the Faculty and teachers, with such success that one poor Freshmen, severely reprimanded by the pseudo-lady-principal, could hardly be comforted."

3 comments:

Zack said...

This is the best thing out of all the things.

Lolo said...

Why don't we still have a Candy Room??! That sounds like the best idea ever.

Carson said...

dude i want a candy room!