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WELLESLEY COLLEGE 1875-1975: A Century of Women 




1875-1975: A Century of Women 














Published by Wellesley College 

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Henry Fowle Durant 

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Copyright © 1975 by Wellesley College, 
Wellesley, Massachusetts 02181. 
All rights reserved. No part of this book 
may be reproduced in any form or by any 
electronic or mechanical means including 
information storage and retrieval systems 
without permission in writing from the 
publisher, except by a reviewer who may 
quote brief paragraphs in a review. 
Library of Congress Catalog No. 74-32661 
Designed by The Dustins 
Printed by the Vermont Printing Company 
in the United States of America 



This centennial history has a special authoritative quality because it 
has been written by people who have had personal experience, in most 
instances extending over a period of many years, with the subjects 
they discuss here. It also has significance for anyone interested in higher 
education and in the history of women because Wellesley College has 
pioneered and continues to pioneer in providing opportunities for 
women. It is appropriate that Wellesley will celebrate the centennial of 
its opening in 1975, which has been designated by the United Nations 
as the International Women's Year, and that the publication of this 
volume in March will coincide with the official opening at Wellesley 
of the Center for the Study of Women in Higher Education and the 

Although Henry Fowle Durant's views about the capabilities of women 
were regarded as radical and, indeed, revolutionary a century ago, our 
perspective enables us to appreciate even more fully than his contempo- 
raries could the full extent of his daring and of the problems which he 
confronted in making his vision a reality. He said, "Women can do the 
work. I give them the chance." If this statement were made today, it 
probably would still be considered newsworthy, but there are enough 
well-qualified women scholars and administrators to enable a modern 
Mr. Durant to achieve the objective with relative ease. In the 1870s there 
was no such reservoir from which to draw. Of the first faculty, only one 
member, Latin Professor Frances E. Lord, had had experience in college 
teaching — this at Vassar, which had opened in 1865 and was one of the 
very few institutions of higher education in which women could teach. 
(It should be noted, however, that Miss Lord had not attended college.) 

Part of Mr. Durant's genius lay in his ability to find women who could 
"do the work.'' Mary E. Horton, the first professor of Greek, a fine 
scholar who was self-trained, lived with her family directly across the 
street from the college gates. In no other instance was he so fortunate in 
having talent so near at hand; sometimes he even provided the necessary 
training. On the recommendation of Louis Agassiz and Asa Gray, he 
appointed as professor of natural history Susan M. Hallowell, a high 
school teacher from Bangor, Maine, whose first year at Wellesley was 
spent studying the most up-to-date methods of teaching biology in col- 
leges in this country, and who later was the first woman admitted to 
botanical lectures and laboratories at the University of Berlin. Another 
high school teacher he sent to study instruction in science at men's col- 
leges and universities was Sarah Frances Whiting. With Mr. Durant's 
encouragement, she established a student laboratory for experimentation 
in physics that was preceded in the United States only by that at the 
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 


Mrs. Durant's full partnership in all aspects of the planning and open- 
ing of the College has never before been wholly recognized. For example, 
only very recently have we learned (and, as has so often been true, from 
an alumna) that Mrs. Durant brought from Virginia a friend, Jenny 
Nelson, whose teaching experience had consisted of tutoring young cous- 
ins and nieces and nephews, including Thomas Nelson Page. And the 
fact that Jenny Nelson for the first two years after Wellesley opened 
taught speech and Latin, and thereafter French and essay writing, was 
characteristic of the versatility of the early faculty — including, as is 
pointed out in the book, Alice Freeman Palmer. 

Changing times and higher standards brought new challenges to the 
young college. In 1893 a curriculum was adopted that was in some re- 
spects as revolutionary as Mr. Durant's insistence on the use of original 
sources and on student laboratories had been. An unprecedented number 
of electives was offered, requiring greater specialization and new methods 
of teaching. The way in which President Julia J. Irvine, in a period of 
grave financial crisis (and, it must be acknowledged, before the exist- 
ence of tenure provisions), managed to put the curriculum into effect 
has never before been recounted — and it is an episode in Wellesley's 
history which, like many others told here, will strike a responsive chord 
on many campuses today. 

The whole story of Wellesley's first century is remarkably rich both in 
details and in broad strokes of development. The Great Fire in 1914 
was a watershed; the rebuilding of the College after that disaster is dra- 
matic and inspiring. The various pieces of the story of Wellesley meld 
here in an authentic, colorful history of a college that has earned its place 
among educational institutions. The special character of the College 
emerges clearly, stemming as it does from the fact that from the very 
beginning women have had unusual opportunities to teach, to learn, to 
serve as trustees and as chief administrative officers. It has indeed been 
"A Century of Women," as the sub-title indicates and as every chapter 
illustrates, almost casually, never militantly. 

Mrs. Bishop commented at the conclusion of her chapter on the ac- 
tivities of Wellesley alumnae, "Much should be expected from those who 
have had the education and incentives which Wellesley, a strong liberal 
arts college for women, provides. That expectation has been fulfilled." 
Our hope and expectation are that, building on the sturdy and exciting 
past which is described in these pages, Wellesley in its second century 
will continue to pioneer in the education of women. 

Barbara Warne Newell 
Office of the President 
January 3, 1975 


This preface is primarily to let the readers know why this is a rather 
special book, not a conventional, traditional history of an institution on 
a significant anniversary, and to acknowledge indebtedness to those who 
are most responsible for it. 

As even the brief biographies of the authors indicate, the other thirteen 
are eminent specialists. (Perhaps I may be considered a generalist in rela- 
tion to Wellesley.) Every person who was asked to write a chapter ac- 
cepted the invitation (something of a record in itself!) and did so wholly 
because of devotion to the College and without receiving any fees or 
royalties. One of my greatest pleasures has been working with them — 
and, I am delighted to say, observing their enjoyment, often to their sur- 
prise, of their tasks, in particular the research in which they found them- 
selves involved. (And research they did! I shall always remember the 
way in which Mr. Quarles, politely declining assistance, spent days read- 
ing Trustee Minutes which, in the early days, were in spidery penman- 
ship. The figures which Mr. Wood compiled after delving as no one 
ever had before into endowment records are reproduced in his own 
handwriting, showing the very personal attention he gave to his assign- 
ment.) The book is authoritative because the authors are the authorities 
and they have worked with meticulous care; the flow is not interrupted, 
however, by footnotes or other displays of scholarship. For ease of read- 
ing, when sources were not immediately apparent, references to them 
have been incorporated in the text. 

Because this is an official history — the first ever published by Wellesley 
— Trustee Minutes and other records have been available and have 
provided valuable information. Some of it has illuminated areas that 
were shadowy heretofore. We are most grateful to the Rev. Eric M. 
North, who not long ago gave the College correspondence long treasured 
by his grandmother, Anna M. McCoy, Secretary to the President of the 
College from 1882 until 1889, and his mother, Louise McCoy North, a 
member of the first class, a Greek teacher from 1880 until 1886, presi- 
dent of the Alumnae Association from 1884 until 1886, and a trustee 
from 1894 until 1927. Mrs. North's vital role in the development of the 
College is evident throughout this volume. The cooperation of Andrew 
Fiske has been great, and has been appreciated in equal measure. He has 
given us access to the papers of his great-grandfather, Eben Norton Hors- 
ford, who was a friend of Mr. and Mrs. Durant and ranked next to 
them as the greatest early benefactor of the College. Mr. Fiske has also 
been helpful in filling in for us lacunae in our knowledge of his great- 
aunt, Lilian Horsford Fallow, a trustee from 1886 until 1922, and of his 
grandfather, Andrew Fiske, a trustee from 1896 until 1930. The journals 
of Horace E. Scudder, a trustee from 1887 until 1902, were also very 


helpful; we acknowledge here with gratitude permission from the Har- 
vard College Library to quote from them. New insights and additional 
facts have been provided by oral history interviews which I tape-re- 
corded with present and former presidents, trustees, deans, faculty, ad- 
ministrative staff and service employees, and a few alumnae who had 
special knowledge of various periods. Excerpts from some of the inter- 
views have been quoted; other interviews have been useful as background 
information. All of them will doubtless prove enlightening to historians 
in the future. 

Miss Hawk has asked me to convey her thanks to the alumnae who as 
students had been prominent in social service or political organizations 
and whose thoughtful responses to her questionnaire are reflected in her 
chapter. Other alumnae and their friends and families, too numerous 
to mention individually, have presented to the archives letters and 
scrapbooks of various college generations. Kathleen Elliott '18 supplied 
special information about the College in World Wars I and II. To re- 
quests for loans of photographs and for information of all kinds, alumnae 
have complied with a kind of gladness to be of help that I have come to 
expect from them even as I know how uncommon it is in the world today. 

The Wellesley College Archives of course have been our greatest single 
resource. On behalf of all of the authors who have made extensive use of 
the marvelous material, now well catalogued, I express appreciation of 
the superb cooperation of Wilma Slaight, the archivist. And I add my 
special thanks for her patience and good humor when time after time I 
requested still more pictures or another check of a puzzling point. 

I wish to acknowledge my personal indebtedness to Anne C. Edmonds, 
the Librarian of Mount Holyoke College, and Elizabeth Green, a long- 
time member of its faculty, for searching records and memories for me; to 
Alice Hackett Harter '21, who wrote the last history of Wellesley, for her 
encouragement and counsel; to Marie L. Edel and Mark Bradford for 
their technical assistance and advice and to her for cheerfully performing 
many chores which a lesser person might have considered unworthy of a 
distinguished editor's effort. 

Mary Atkinson Mitchell '33, the author-photographer of several books, 
contributed her time and talent in taking a number of the pictures used 
in the book. The one of Prime Minister Nehru's visit was taken by Wil- 
liam Biggart, now the Manager of the Duplicating Office, who has been 
helpful in many ways. Credit for other illustrations goes to Robert 
Chalue, Mark Feldberg, Bradford Herzog, Lawrence Lowry, George 
Woodruff, and to photographers and cartoonists whose names we do not 
know but whose material in the archives and in Legendas I have used 
happily, sometimes as copied for us by Max Keller. Another word of 


explanation about the illustrations is in order: they have not been listed 
separately, but individuals and buildings identified in the captions have 
been included in the index. 

The last chapter is literally a postscript. It contains some of the bits 
and pieces which were not germane to the principal chapters but which I 
thought might be of interest if there were space for them. For a variety 
of reasons, some pages became available at the last moment, and I glee- 
fully used them for as many of my little tales as I could tuck in. 

Short of devoting an entire volume, or series of volumes, to the sub- 
ject, there could never be adequate space to recount the achievements 
of alumnae. Mrs. Bishop's chapter, a section in the Alumnae Magazine's 
centennial issue, "A Woman's Place," the Los Angeles Wellesley Club's 
Wellesley After-images, and the biographies of alumnae who have par- 
ticipated in the two "Many Roads" Conferences may be considered as 
a unit in making at least a good beginning to what some day may be a 
full-fledged project. 

Finally, I should like to thank the Trustees for giving us the oppor- 
tunity to produce this book, many members of the college community 
for unstinting cooperation, and imagination in realizing when we 
needed it — and to Mr. and Mrs. Durant for founding this College whose 
first hundred years it has been our privilege to narrate. 

Jean Glasscock 
Centennial Historian and 
General Editor 


Table of Contents 


Barbara Warne Newell 
President of Wellesley College 


Jean Glasscock 

Centennial Historian and General Editor 



Margaret E. Taylor, Helen J. Sanborn Professor Emeritus of Latin 
Jean Glasscock 


Jean Glasscock 


Ella Keats Whiting 

Former Dean of the College and Professor Emeritus of English 


Alice Stone Ilchman 
Dean of the College 


Virginia Onderdonk 

Former Dean of the College and Alice Freeman Palmer Professor 
Emeritus of Philosophy 


Maud Hazeltine Chaplin 
Associate Dean of the College 


Grace E. Hawk 

Katharine Lee Bates Professor Emeritus of English Literature 


Barbara P. McCarthy 

Ellen A. Kendall Professor Emeritus of Greek 


Harriet B. Creighton 

Ruby H. R. Farwell Professor Emeritus of Botany 


Jean Glasscock 


Katharine C. Balderston 

Martha Hale Shackford Professor Emeritus of English Literature 


Barbara P. McCarthy 

Ellen A. Kendall Professor Emeritus of Greek 



Jean Glasscock 


Henry A. Wood, Jr. 

Former Treasurer of the College 


John R. Quarles 

Former Chairman of the Board of Trustees 


Joan Fiss Bishop 

Director of the Career Services Office 


Helen Swormstedt Mansfield 

Former Executive Secretary of the Association 


Jean Glasscock 

INDEX 481 


The Authors 

Katharine C. Balderston, Martha Hale Shackford Professor Emeritus 
of English Literature, was almost foreordained to write a brilliant chap- 
ter on the Great Fire of College Hall. She witnessed the event when she 
was a sophomore; in her usually scholarly fashion, she not only carefully 
examined all of the records at the College but corresponded with the 
alumnae who had played key roles in sounding the alarm; because she 
is a superb writer, she produced an unforgettable account of the holo- 
caust. She holds the B.A. degree from Wellesley, the M.A. from Radcliffe, 
and the Ph.D. from Yale. From the time she returned to Wellesley as a 
young instructor in 1920 until she retired in 1960, she was equally re- 
nowned as teacher and scholar. 

Joan Fiss Bishop, Director of the Career Services Office and of its prede- 
cessor, the Placement Office, since 1944, unquestionably has greater knowl- 
edge than anyone else in the world about the interests and achievements 
of Wellesley alumnae, and only she could have put them into proper 
perspective. Widely known in vocational guidance and personnel admin- 
istration circles through her leadership in many local, regional, and na- 
tional organizations, Mrs. Bishop has received three special awards: from 
the U.S. Civil Service Commission a Meritorious Service Award in 1959; 
from the Harvard-Radcliffe Program in Business Administration in 1960 
the first Roberts Award ever presented; from the Boston Chapter of the 
American Society for Public Administration in 1966 the Distinguished 
Public Citizen Award. 

Maud Hazeltine Chaplin, Associate Dean of the College, was the presi- 
dent of College Government in 1956, received the Ph.D. in intellectual 
history at Brandeis University, and returned to Wellesley in 1968 
as an assistant professor of History and a class dean and then was named 
Dean of Studies. As an undergraduate she knew Wellesley in the 1950s, as 
a class dean she was centrally involved in students' concerns in the late 
1960s and the 1970s, and as an historian she relished researching the early 
days of the College and writing about students then and now. While on 
leave from Wellesley she held a Radcliffe Institute Fellowship, and on 
her return on January 1, 1975, she assumed the new position of Associ- 
ate Dean. 

Harriet B. Creighton, Ruby F. H. Farwell Professor Emeritus of Botany, 
has knowledge of the Wellesley campus that is unsurpassed and dates 
from her arrival as a freshman in 1925. She received the Ph.D. in 1933 
from Cornell University and taught at Connecticut College before return- 
ing to Wellesley as an associate professor in 1940. Except for serving as 
an officer in the WAVES, she remained at Wellesley until she retired in 
1974 — although while on sabbatical leaves or during summer vacations 



she was a Fulbright Lecturer in Genetics at Perth University, Australia, 
and at the National University in Cuzco, Peru, and was a National Sci- 
ence Foundation Consultant at institutes in Osmania, Hyderabad, and 

Jean Glasscock has enjoyed digging into Wellesley's history since her 
days on the College News, of which she was editor in 1933. She was pub- 
licity director of a Florida resort hotel for three years, and then was 
Wellesley's first Susanna Whitney Hawkes Teaching Fellow in English 
Composition and received the M.A. degree in 1938. Teaching English 
in New York City, being publicity director of the Kansas State Fair, and 
service as a WAVES officer in the Navy's Office of Public Relations in 
Washington, D. C. preceded her return to Wellesley in 1946. She was 
Director of Publicity and a member of the 75th Anniversary Fund Com- 
mittee and of its successor, the National Development Fund Committee, 
from 1946 until 1966, taught the journalism course in 1952-53, and was 
Coordinator of Special Events from 1962, when the office was established, 
until 1970. Since that time she has been the Centennial Historian. 

Grace E. Hawk, Katharine Lee Bates Professor Emeritus of English 
Literature, has long been interested in social problems and political con- 
cerns. She received the B.A. from Pembroke College and the B.Litt. from 
Oxford University, and in 1929 she came from Bryn Mawr to begin her 
teaching career at Wellesley, which extended until she retired in 1961. 
Her committee assignments included Service Fund, Service Organization, 
and Christian Association. Also providing valuable background for her 
chapter was her chairmanship of the comprehensive Self-Study of Extra- 
curricular Activities made in 1953 with the support of the Ford Founda- 
tion. After retiring from Wellesley she wrote a history of Pembroke Col- 
lege which was published in 1966, its 75th anniversary. 

Alice Stone Ilchman, Dean of the College, who also holds a joint ap- 
pointment as Professor of Economics and Education, graciously agreed 
to give her impression of the faculty which she found awaiting her when 
she assumed her duties in 1973. She modestly entitled her chapter "A 
Footnote to Keats Whiting." A 1957 graduate of Mount Holyoke College, 
she has been a member of its Board of Trustees since 1970 and is now 
Vice Chairman. She received the M .P. A. degree from the Maxwell School 
of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University, in 1958 and the 
Ph.D. degree from the London School of Economics in 1965. From 1966 
until she came to Wellesley, Mrs. Ilchman was at the University of Cali- 
fornia (Berkeley) in teaching and administrative positions. 

Barbara P. McCarthy, Ellen A. Kendall Professor Emeritus of Greek, 
retired from Wellesley in 1970,- whereupon she was persuaded to be- 


come a visiting professor at Holy Cross College in Worcester and also 
at Brandeis University in Waltham. She declared firmly in June 1974 
that she was really retiring (and promptly in the fall began teaching 
beginning Greek, purely for everyone's pleasure, to a few faculty mem- 
bers on leave or retired). After graduating from Brown University in 
1925, she studied for two years at the American School of Classical Study 
in Athens, obtained her Ph.D. from Yale in 1929, and came to Wellesley 
that fall. She was one of nineteen graduates of Brown cited in 1959 for 
outstanding achievements in their chosen professions. She wrote two 
lively chapters on subjects about which she knows a great deal; with equal 
ease and competence she could have written many other chapters, and 
she has been helpful in many aspects of this book. 

Helen Swormstedt Mansfield has had as long-continuing associations 
with Wellesley as anyone could possibly have had, and she probably 
knows well (and can give maiden and married names and classes for) 
more alumnae than anyone else living today. Her great-aunt, Annie God- 
frey, was Wellesley's first librarian, her mother, Mabel Godfrey Sworm- 
stedt, was graduated in 1890, she herself in 1918, and her daughter-in-law, 
Patricia Cox Mansfield, in 1951. When Mrs. Mansfield retired in 1961, 
she had been a caring, devoted member of the Alumnae Office staff for 
thirty-two years and had been the Alumnae Secretary since 1944. 

Virginia Onderdonk, Alice Freeman Palmer Professor Emeritus of Phi- 
losophy and a former Dean of the College, was a member of the Cur- 
riculum Committee for twelve years, serving two terms as an elected fac- 
ulty representative and six years ex officio as Dean and Chairman of 
the Committee. In addition, she was Chairman of the Faculty Long- 
Term Educational Policy Committee which deliberated from 1943 until 
1946 and whose recommendations resulted in a major revision of the 
curriculum. Her experience as a faculty member from 1933 until 1973 
and her chairmanship of the Philosophy Department also contributed 
to her knowledge of curricular emphases and changes. A member of the 
Class of 1929, Miss Onderdonk was president of College Government 
her senior year. She was Dean of the Class of 1943, Acting Dean of the 
Faculty in 1963-64, and Dean of the College from 1964 until 1968. 

John R. Quarles wrote on "The Role of the Trustees" from the per- 
spective of a lawyer (senior partner in the Boston firm of Ropes and 
Gray), a director of many companies (and therefore very knowledge- 
able about differences in the functions of directors and trustees), and a 
trustee of a number of educational institutions and hospitals. President 
of the New England Medical Center Hospital, a member of the Ad- 
ministrative Board and Secretary of the Tufts-New England Medical 
Center, and a member of the Board of the Boston Hospital for Women, 
he has also been President of the Board of the Boston Lying-in Hospital 


and a member of the Board of the Harvard Medical Center. He was 
formerly Chairman of the Board of Garland Junior College and a mem- 
ber of the Boards of Lenox and of Noble and Greenough Schools. Elected 
to membership on Wellesley's Board in 1958, he served as Vice Chairman 
from 1959 to 1961 and as Chairman from 1961 to 1970, when he retired 
and was named trustee emeritus. 

Margaret E. Taylor, Helen J. Sanborn Professor Emeritus of Latin, 
could view the founding and the early years of the College with an un- 
usual degree of objectivity as well as a large fund of knowledge. A Vassar 
graduate whose grandfather was president of Vassar and spoke at 
Wellesley's Semi-Centennial Celebration, she was familiar with the his- 
tory of the sister college ten years older than Wellesley. She also taught 
at Mount Holyoke College before coming to Wellesley in 1936. Her M.A. 
and Ph.D. degrees are from Yale University. At Wellesley she has been 
noted not only for her teaching of Latin but of "The Interpretations of 
Man in Western Literature," a course which she originated in 1946 and 
continued to teach until she retired in 1967. 

Ella Keats Whiting writes from an unparalleled knowledge since 1928 
of the faculty as a body and as individuals, and with extraordinary ca- 
pacity for dispassionate appraisal. Her own role at Wellesley has been 
unique, as is indicated by her receiving on her retirement in 1961 an 
honor unprecedented on such an occasion: the award of an LL.D. de- 
gree. The citation reads: "Daughter of Vassar, Wellesley would also 
claim you as daughter. For thirty-three years a builder at Wellesley as 
professor of English and successively as class dean, Dean of Instruction, 
and Dean of the College, you have made a deep imprint on the ideals 
and standards of this College. Ability, humility, and unswerving devotion 
to excellence have marked your path; your selfless counsel has been a 
light for your colleagues in the Academic Council; and your guidance of 
the curriculum has been masterly. Never have you lost sight of your goal: 
to contribute to a world which, in your words, 'will be shaped by people 
who in their college years have experienced both discipline and freedom 
and who respect and value both.' " 

Henry A. Wood, Jr., was Treasurer of the College and ex officio a mem- 
ber of the Board of Trustees from 1950 until 1968. When he resigned as 
treasurer in 1968, he was elected to membership as a regular trustee and 
served until 1974. He was for many years a partner in Welch and Forbes, 
believed to be the oldest fiduciary trustee office in the country. He re- 
ceived the B.A. from Harvard in 1924 and the M.B.A. from the Harvard 
Business School in 1926, and, after beginning his business career with 
Lee Higginson and Co., became deputy treasurer of Harvard University 
and during World War II followed Harvard's contracts with the Office of 
Scientific Research and Development. 


College Hall, the original building of Wellesley College, seen across the campus and from Lake Waban 


The Founders 

and the Early Presidents 

Henry Fowle Durant, founder of Wellesley College, declared in a ser- 
mon delivered in 1875, the opening year of the College: "The Higher 
Education of Women is one of the great world battle cries for freedom, 
for right against might. ... I believe that God's hand is in it; that it is 
one of the great ocean currents of Christian civilization; that He is calling 
to womanhood to come up higher, to prepare herself for great conflicts, 
for vast reforms in social life, for noblest usefulness." His words illustrate 
both the fervor the cause itself could arouse and something of the spirit 
of the speaker. 

The cause was vital; it was also controversial at this period, although 
it had already won some staunch support and would soon win more. By 
the end of the nineteenth century all of the colleges in the Seven College 
Conference would be well established: Mount Holyoke opened as a semi- 
nary in 1837 and officially became a college in 1893; Vassar opened in 
1865; Wellesley, founded in 1870, and Smith, founded in 1871, opened 
the same year, 1875; at Radcliffe, instruction by Harvard professors began 
in 1879 and the Society for Collegiate Instruction of Women was orga- 
nized in 1882; Bryn Mawr opened in 1885 and Barnard in 1889. Their 
founders shared commitment to high educational standards combined 
with moral and religious idealism. It is doubtful, however, that any of 
these colleges except perhaps Mount Holyoke was as long and as deeply 
imbued with the ideals and personality of its founder as was Wellesley. 
Matthew Vassar was dedicated, but he was unprepared both by tempera- 
ment and training to direct the needed planning and organization; the 
founders of Smith and Bryn Mawr died before their colleges opened. Ada 
Howard, Wellesley's first president, once recalled that, although she had 
entered Mount Holyoke Seminary four years after Mary Lyon's death, 
she could hardly believe that she had never known her, so vividly had her 
presence continued to be felt. Certainly Mr. Durant's continued "pres- 


ence" at Wellesley was repeatedly demonstrated in reminiscences and 
tributes that were expressed over the decades, notably in the commemo- 
rative addresses delivered annually as long as anyone associated with the 
College had personal recollections of him. 

Henry Fowle Durant was born Henry Welles Smith and was de- 
scended on both sides of the family from sturdy New England pioneers. 
George Durant, who came from England to Connecticut in 1663, num- 
bered among his descendants the wife of Captain John Fowle, officer in 
the American Revolution, merchant in Watertown, Massachusetts. Cap- 
tain and Mrs. Fowle had eight children, among them five remarkable 
daughters whose beauty inspired a famous toast: "To the fair of every 
town, and the Fowle of Watertown!" One married Samuel Welles (from 
whose family the name "Wellesley" was derived), and they lived in Paris, 
where after his death she became the wife of a French marquis and 
moved in high diplomatic and social circles. Another daughter married 
Benjamin Wiggin, a successful banker in London; later, after their return 
to the United States, they provided a Boston home for her nephew Henry 
Welles Smith. Harriet, described as the most intellectual of the Fowle 
sisters, married a lawyer, William Smith. Some years later Jack Fowle, a 
handsome brother of the beautiful sisters, married the glamorous Pauline 
Cazenove. To anticipate a little, it should perhaps be mentioned at this 
point that Pauline, the daughter of Jack and Pauline Fowle, and Henry, 
the son of Harriet and William Smith, became Mr. and Mrs. Henry Fowle 
Durant and the founders of the College. 

William Smith and his bride lived at first in New Hampshire, where he 
had been born of colonial and revolutionary forebears. His parents, pro- 
prietors of a tavern in Franklin, were concerned about education, as was 
indicated by that received by William and his sister, a pupil and ad- 
mirer of Mary Lyon. This sister was the first teacher of her nephew 
Henry, who was born in Hanover on February 20, 1822. His mother's 
love of reading and learning also was important in his early develop- 
ment, and she wrote happily to her sister Charlotte Wiggin about his 
delight in books and his wish as a small child to have a library of his own. 

The young boy was singularly fortunate in the teaching he received 
from women. After his early schooling in Lowell, Massachusetts, to which 
the family had moved, he was sent to a private school in Waltham; here 
he received much of his preparation for college under the aegis of the ex- 
traordinary Mrs. Samuel Ripley, at whose home he lived for three years. 
Wife of a clergyman, an accomplished Greek scholar, a friend of Emer- 
son, mother of seven, Mrs. Ripley was living proof of the intellectual as 
well as what were regarded as the more conventional gifts and potentiali- 
ties of women. She made a profound impression on the boy. He said in 
later years, "I have seen her holding the baby, shelling peas, and listening 


to a recitation in Greek, all at the same moment, without dropping an ac- 
cent, or particle, or boy, or peapod, or the baby." He never lost his ad- 
miration of her or his love of Greek. 

After Harvard, to whose courses he was markedly indifferent (always ex- 
cepting Greek), and to whose library he was forever grateful, he retained 
a passionate love of literature and especially poetry, to which he would 
have dedicated himself had not more practical considerations prevailed. 
With his sensitivity to beauty, delight in nature, and capacity for intense 
feeling, he was at first cold indeed to the charms of his chosen profession, 
the law. Having been admitted to the bar of Middlesex County, Massa- 
chusetts, at the age of twenty-one, eighteen months after leaving Harvard, 
he wrote, "I have a right to bestow my tediousness on any court of the 
Commonwealth, and they are bound to hear me." And hear him they 
did. (It was when, after practicing with his father in Lowell for five years, 
he moved to Boston in 1847 and found there eleven other lawyers with 
the name of Smith, three of them Henry Smith and one besides himself 
Henry W. Smith, that he changed his name, adopting the Fowle and 
Durant family names.) 

His legal success was nothing short of spectacular. He soon became as- 
sociated as junior counsel with the distinguished Boston advocate Rufus 
Choate, whose range and cultivation of mind as well as remarkable skills 
in the courtroom provided a varied and stimulating education in them- 
selves. An indefatigable worker, challenged to utmost efforts by complex 
and difficult cases, Henry Durant employed and developed his brilliant 
gifts and was a leading figure in the profession. He won his cases so con- 
sistently that he was regarded with no little envy as well as admiration. 
In 1863 a newspaper noted that if success were the criterion, "Mr. Durant 
would rank as the greatest lawyer who ever practiced in this city." One 
is tempted to quote further and to note the range of his interests as he 
became increasingly free to choose his cases. In one famous instance, the 
Eliot School case, he argued for the reading of the Bible in public schools; 
in another he persuaded the jury that justice and common sense should 
prevail over the technically-correct claims of a fire insurance company. 
His skill in handling witnesses and appealing to juries in criminal trials 
was famous. Happily for Wellesley College, one of his cases led to the 
foundation of his fortune: after handling a claim for a rubber company, 
he had the perspicacity to envision the future in vulcanized rubber and 
took his legal fee in stock in the company. His business acumen was im- 
pressive — another unexpected facet of this many-sided man who had 
wanted to be a poet. 

By 1850 he already had a practice of $10,000 a year, and his aunt Mrs. 
Wiggin is reported to have regretted his "singular indifference to several 
charming and eligible young ladies." It seems, however, that he had long 


been attracted by his young cousin, Pauline Adeline Fowle, and she by 
him. When at the age of eight she was visiting aunts in Boston, she "came 
to know her cousin Henry, ten years her senior, and then a student in 
Harvard. The poet-hearted young collegian, handsome, as became his 
Fowle descent, won the friendship of the gentle child, whose appearance 
at the time he afterwards tenderly pictured in verse." (So wrote in 1894 
Katharine Lee Bates '80, Professor of English Literature, who had many 
long conversations with Mrs. Durant.) The Fowle family bonds were 
close, and the cousins continued to see each other from time to time. The 
aunt in Paris wrote her sister in Boston to inquire about the seriousness 
of Henry's interest in his young cousin; when Pauline and her mother 
returned from Europe, Henry met their boat in New York. The letters 
and poems which he wrote to her during the next year or so were de- 
stroyed, alas, by Mrs. Durant not long before her death in 1917. We 
know, however, that in November 1853 she agreed to marry him and that 
the wedding took place on May 23, 1854. 

Without question, Henry's bride was an extraordinary young woman 
and had an unusual cultural background. Her grandfather, Antoine 
Charles Cazenove, was a member of the Huguenot branch of a noble 
French family of ancient lineage. After the revocation of the Edict of 
Nantes, they moved to Geneva and established themselves as bankers, 
"dropping their titles as inconsistent with a business career." Antoine 
Cazenove spent three years in the family banking house in London and 
returned to Geneva on the eve of the Jacobin Revolution. He, his father, 
and his elder brother were among the leading citizens who were seized 
by the mob and thrown into prison. The Cazenoves were acquitted and 
released, "their reputation for goodness standing them in stead," ac- 
cording to the story, but the brothers decided to escape to America. They 
married two sisters from Baltimore who were of Scotch-Irish extraction 
and were exceptionally well educated for the women of their day. (Mrs. 
Durant's grandmother was an excellent Latin scholar, having been taught 
by her father, who was considered an eminent teacher, and she was widely 
read in literature and history.) The young Swiss refugee Antoine Cazenove 
is said to have carried the first millstones across the Alleghenies to estab- 
lish flour mills in the backwoods of western Pennsylvania and to have 
built the first glassworks in the country in Uniontown. John Jacob Astor 
offered him a partnership in a fur venture, but he decided to become a 
shipping merchant and to make the family home in Alexandria, Virginia. 
After attending schools there, the five Cazenove daughters were sent to 
Mme. Greleaud's boarding school in Philadelphia "for the accomplish- 
ments" and the five sons to Geneva to complete their education. On a 
visit to Boston in the winter of 1830, Pauline Cazenove met Major Fowle, 
and they were married in May of 1831. 


Their daughter Pauline was born in Alexandria on June 13, 1832, and 
at the age of three months was taken on a very rugged journey to the 
frontier wilds of Sault Ste. Marie, where her father was stationed — and 
her mother, with characteristic observation and concern, protested the 
treatment of the Indians. The family moved further west the following 
year to Fort Dearborn, Chicago, a village of only three hundred inhabit- 
ants — including soldiers, Indians, fur traders, and trappers. On the first 
Sunday Major Fowle had the carpenter's shop swept out and furnished 
with seats; it was said that "from this humble yet appropriate origin 
sprang the earliest church of Chicago." The major was soon assigned to 
duty at West Point, a prestigious and pleasant post, and another daugh- 
ter and a son were born during the four years the family happily lived 
there. Then he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel and or- 
dered to Florida to take command of a regiment in the Seminole Indian 
Wars. The steamboat on which he embarked at Cincinnati exploded when 
the vessel was pushed beyond its capacity, and Colonel Fowle was one of 
the victims of the disaster. Within three years the two younger children 
also died. Mrs. Fowle relied more and more on her daughter Pauline, who 
accepted the responsibility with unusual competence and maturity. She 
also shared her mother's social concerns; her earliest extant letter, written 
when she was nine, listed the achievements of a Virginia Institute for the 
Blind which she had visited. Her own education was not neglected: she 
attended a private school in Alexandria, and at home she learned "music 
and drawing, fine sewing, elaborate cooking, and all the domestic arts." 
Then she was sent to a French boarding school in New York, where her 
training was rigorous and her French became fluent — and also, at the age 
of fifteen, wrote an extraordinary document wholeheartedly dedicating 
herself to God and the Christian life. When she was eighteen her mother 
took the beautiful young girl to Europe for two years. In Southern France 
she visited her aunt, now the Marchioness Valette; she also won admira- 
tion in social and diplomatic circles in Rome, where she was known as "la 
bella Americana," in Geneva, and in Paris. But, despite the distractions 
of social life in Paris, she found time to visit prisons there. 

Doubtless her early training in sewing for the poor, reading to the 
blind, .and visiting prisons, together with the example her mother had 
set for her in giving service as well as money, made it natural and almost 
inevitable for Mrs. Durant to be deeply involved in social activities after 
her marriage. The Dedham Asylum, the Bridgewater Workhouse, and 
the Boston jail were among her early "causes," and she later served for 
seven years on the advisory board of the Massachusetts Prison Commis- 
sion. She took the lead in organizing the Boston YWCA, which had as a 
major goal the serving of interests of young women who were alone and 
supporting themselves, often far from home, and she was the president of 


its board for many years. "For 39 years she gave of her time and money 
. . . a most wonderful executive officer," reads part of an impressive 
tribute to her from the YWCA after her death. She also served as a trustee 
of various educational institutions, among them the American College for 
Girls in Constantinople. But of all her concerns Wellesley College was 
paramount from the time she and Mr. Durant began planning for it until 
her death some fifty years later. 

After Mr. and Mrs. Durant were married in 1854, his legal career and 
financial investments continued to flourish and, as is attested by their 
friends in Boston who later became friends of the College, they took a 
prominent part in civic and social affairs. Their first Boston home was 
at the corner of Bowdoin and Allston Streets; then in 1860 they moved to 
77 Mount Vernon Street, and in 1868 to 30 Marlborough Street. The 
year after their marriage they bought the farm cottage now known as 
Homestead and spent their summers in what was known as the "cool 
countryside of Wellesley." A son, young Harry, was born in the spring 
of 1855, and a daughter, Pauline Cazenove, in the fall of 1857. When 
little Pauline died at the age of six weeks, Mrs. Durant found consolation 
in her strong Christian faith and was saddened by the fact that Mr. Du- 
rant did not find solace in religion. Instead, he rapidly reread Scott's 
Waverley novels, saying to his wife, "You must take your medicine in 
your way, and I must take mine in mine." 

They concentrated their affection and ambition on their son, who was 
described as "an exquisite child of rare intellectual promise." His parents 
acquired a total of three hundred acres of land bordering on Lake Waban 
and planned for him a great country estate. Then the eight-year-old boy 
died of diphtheria on July 3, 1863. Although his death occurred in their 
Boston home, hastily opened so that they could more easily obtain the 
services of the best doctors in the city, the farmhouse where the family 
had lived in Wellesley was so filled with memories of Harry that they 
could not bear to return to it. Instead, they bought the Webber residence, 
which is now the President's House. 

The surpassing importance of Harry's death was that it precipitated a 
dramatic turning point in the life of Henry Durant. He had a religious 
conversion in the evangelical sense. He surely considered himself a Chris- 
tian already; certainly he attended church, and in the Eliot School case 
he had publicly defended Christian ideals as basic to America's hopes and 
social structure. His conversion did not involve new intellectual concepts. 
It was rather an intense and emotional dedication of his whole life to 
Christ's work as he saw it — a dedication such as Mrs. Durant had made 
as a young girl and had longed to have him share. Half-way measures were 
unknown to Mr. Durant, and he immediately abandoned his law prac- 
tice. "The law and the gospel are irreconcilable," he maintained. With 


characteristic decisiveness, he sold his law library and destroyed valuable 
volumes of Restoration drama that had been part of his cherished and 
impressive library. 

Mr. and Mrs. Durant acquired a home in New York City in 1864. He 
cared for his investments and business projects, but he gave much time to 
intensive study of the Bible — text, translations, and commentaries. The 
pastor of their Presbyterian church, Dr. Howard Crosby, later the Chan- 
cellor of the University of the City of New York, became his close and 
sympathetic friend, and soon Mr. Durant was speaking at religious meet- 
ings. It was not long before he received invitations to preach. He chose 
to remain a layman despite some urgings that he take a formal theological 
course, and in the ensuing years he was much in demand. The passion 
and eloquence which had contributed to his success at the bar were 
equally effective in his revivalist sermons. Contemporary accounts noted: 
"He treated sinners as criminals to be converted before the bar of their 
own consciences, pressed the indictment home with the same vehemence 
[as in the courtroom] . . . and always succeeded in getting some sort of 
verdict." "He made people believe that he really valued their souls; he 
met them on a level of human brotherhood." He succeeded as he had in 
the law, winning converts who were distinguished as well as humble, 
Henry Wilson, a future Vice President of the United States, among them. 

In the following years he was much sought after as a lay preacher in 
communities throughout New England. It was probably inevitable that 
some of his old associates and rivals should be skeptical. Long afterwards 
one of them said, "I perceived that if I depicted Mr. Durant as Wellesley 
knew him, Boston would laugh; if as Boston knew him, Wellesley would 
weep." And yet as one reads the accumulated evidence in his own writings 
and those of others closely associated with him, it becomes impossible to 
question the depth and sincerity of his new dedication; it was central in 
his plans and hopes for the College which became the focus of his great 
gifts of mind and energy. 

During the first years after the death of their son, Mr. and Mrs. Durant 
were pondering the best use they could make of their lives and their for- 
tune. According to Katharine Lee Bates, only a few months after their 
painful loss, Mr. Durant had said to his wife, "Wouldn't you like to con- 
secrate these Wellesley grounds, this place that was to have been Harry's 
home, to some special work for God?" It appears that they gave careful 
thought to several possible projects, including a boys' school and an 
orphan asylum, and that education was central in all of them. Mr. Du- 
rant's conviction of its basic importance in the world, even of America's 
special mission to advance it, was nothing sudden. In an address, "The 
American Scholar," at Bowdoin College he had said, "It is our faith that 
national greatness has its only enduring foundation in the intelligence and 


integrity of the whole people. It is our faith that our institutions approach 
perfection only when every child can be educated and elevated to the 
station of a free and intelligent citizen." In the end came a momentous 
decision, the resolve to found a college for women. 

There were factors, both in the private and public spheres, that directed 
the attention of Mr. and Mrs. Durant to the education of women. We 
have referred to the extraordinarily able women who had contributed so 
much to his education. He was also deeply impressed by the ideals and 
achievements of Mount Holyoke, where he had visited and preached and 
of which in 1867 he had become a trustee. "There cannot be too many 
Mount Holyokes," he was quoted as saying. Mrs. Durant, who had wished 
to attend the seminary instead of the French finishing school in New 
York, contributed $10,000 to its library in 1868. And, as the opening quo- 
tation from Mr. Durant's sermon indicates, the cause of higher education 
for women was an issue of lively controversy. Some people felt deep ap- 
prehension over the perils to woman's body, mind, and soul that lurked 
in the new proposals. A distinguished Boston physician warned that 
"woman's brain was too delicate and fragile a thing to attempt the mas- 
tery of Greek and Latin," and an influential matron stated that "Our doc- 
tor says that there will be two insane asylums and three hospitals for 
every woman's college." Others were equally deeply committed to the 
rights of woman and to faith in her intellectual capabilities. Arguments 
waxed loud as well as eloquent. The biting scorn of the liberal writer and 
editor Lyman Abbott anticipated a familiar polemic of today: "The 
Turkish conception of women's position ... is founded on the notion 
that woman was made for man, and is to be educated only that she may 
be a more useful servant or prettier plaything. It involves the notion that 
the end of woman's education is wifehood; and the ideal of wifehood is 
a skillful cook in the kitchen, or a lively ornament in the parlor." The 
defense was often imbued with a certain romantic idealization: "I believe 
in the uplift of woman because it means the uplift of humanity." 

Along with perennial pros and cons that were heard well into our own 
century (and echoes of which are still audible), a special development in 
the 1860s had an important impact at the time of the Durants' decision. 
The Civil War had removed thousands of men teachers from the secondary 
schools of the country. The positions were necessarily filled by women, 
especially young women often pitifully unprepared for their tasks. How- 
ever, an increasing number of them now had time to prepare to teach. 
President Seelye pointed out in his inaugural address at Smith in 1875 
that as spinning wheel and distaff had been supplanted by factories and 
sewing machines, young women had gained more hours for study. But 
the opportunities were hard to come by. Mount Holyoke, although still 
a seminary, offered work of high standard, some on a college level, and 


was turning away many aspirants each year for lack of room; Vassar and 
the few coeducational colleges and universities could not possibly fill the 
need. "I am satisfied that there is no way in which direct and continually 
productive good can be done in our own day better than in helping to 
educate Christian women teachers," Mr. Durant wrote in 1871. 

The decision to educate young women was made by Mr. and Mrs. Du- 
rant in 1867. The institution was to bear the name "Wellesley," which 
their neighbor Horatio Hollis Hunnewell had given to his estate in 
honor of his wife, who had been a Welles. (It has already been observed 
that there were marriage connections between the Fowle and Welles 
families.) Thus the name belonged to the College as well as to the Hun- 
newell estate before it did to the town, which, on separating from West 
Needham in 1881, took the name as a tribute to Mr. Hunnewell, its great- 
est benefactor. The Durants immediately set to work planning every 
aspect of the College. First came the landscaping of the grounds which 
Miss Creighton describes for us. Before consulting an architect for the 
building, they visited other colleges and determined many of the specifi- 
cations — even the height of the risers which Mrs. Durant, after walking 
up and down hundreds of steps, considered most suitable for young 
ladies. And after they selected Hammatt Billings of Boston as the archi- 
tect, Mr. Durant informed him that there would be no competitive bid- 
ding on contracts and, in fact, no contractors in the usual sense of the 
term — it would be built by "day's work." "I shall be there every day and 
all day," Mr. Durant assured him. "It will be built right." 

Probably no building of the magnitude of College Hall — which is 
described on pages 340-342 — has ever been built with the constant, caring 
supervision which Mr. and Mrs. Durant gave. He was on the site across 
the lake from his own house every morning at seven, overseeing every- 
thing; Mrs. Durant too was a daily visitor. Because he hired and paid 
the men (and seems to have had no great difficulty in obtaining them), 
he could impose what must have been unusual requirements: no pro- 
fanity, loud talking, or quarreling. It is clear that the workmen and the 
Durants respected each other, and they doubtless learned much from 
each other. A letter written a few days after the College opened by Mary 
Burnham, a teacher of English, provides a remarkable insight into the 
effect the experience may have had upon Mr. Durant. She wrote: "I can 
readily see how, at Mount Holyoke and elsewhere, he should be known 
only as a sensational preacher, but here, although he has had charge of 
chapel exercises nearly every morning, his talks have been brief, pointed, 
and practical: I have enjoyed them very much. It may be that his daily 
contact with mechanics, plumbers, and all sorts of workmen has been a 
spiritual benefit to him. He certainly seems a very genuine and very 
practical Christian." 


Only the workmen were present when Mrs. Durant on August 13, 1871, 
laid the first foundation stone of College Hall in the northeast corner and 
on September 14 the cornerstone in the northwest end of the foundation. 
On the second occasion she presented each workman with a Bible, giving 
a copy of the King James version to each Protestant and a copy of the 
Douay version to each Catholic (an indication, incidentally, that the Du- 
rants knew the workmen well enough to be aware of their religious de- 
nominations). On the fly-leaves of the brown leather Bible tooled in gold 
which Mrs. Durant placed in the cornerstone she first inscribed in purple 
ink: "This building is humbly dedicated to our Heavenly Father with 
the hope and prayer that He may always be first in everything in this in- 
stitution; that His word may be faithfully taught here; and that He will 
use it as a means of leading precious souls to the Lord Jesus Christ." Then 
followed, also in her handwriting, two passages of Scripture: I Chronicles 
29:11-16, and Psalm 127:1, "Except the Lord build the house, they labor 
in vain that build it." (Many years later the same verse from Psalms was 
carved in Latin in stone on Green Hall, the present administration build- 

But the grounds and the building were not the only concerns of the 
Durants in establishing the College. On March 17, 1870, the Massachu- 
setts legislature authorized the incorporation of the Wellesley Female 
Seminary and Governor William Claflin signed the charter. (A little less 
than three years later, on March 7, 1873, the legislature approved the 
change of name to Wellesley College.) The original members of the cor- 
poration (who, as Mr. Quarles points out in the chapter on the role of 
the trustees, informally became known as trustees) were Mr. and Mrs. 
Durant and six of their friends. Two were Boston businessmen: Governor 
Claflin and Abner Kingman. The others were clergymen, two of them 
also associated with educational institutions. The Rev. Dr. Howard 
Crosby, Chancellor of the University of the City of New York, was Mr. 
Durant's close friend and adviser in the New York years; the Rev. Dr. 
Austin Phelps was a professor at Andover Newton Theological Seminary 
as well as minister of the Pine Street Congregational Church in Boston. 
The Rev. Dr. Edward N. Kirk was minister of the Mount Vernon Church 
in Boston, and the Rev. Dr. N. G. Clark was Secretary of the American 
Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. Their "organizational" 
meeting was held on April 16, 1870, at the Durants' home in Boston. 

By the fall of the year the College opened, thirteen additional trustees 
had been elected. Three were women, three were businessmen who lived 
in the Boston area. The other seven were clergymen, five of them also 
prominently connected with educational institutions: the Presidents of 
Boston, Yale, and Wesleyan Universities, the Dean of the Episcopal Theo- 
logical Seminary, and a professor at Newton Theological Seminary. (It 


should be pointed out that they represented several different denomina- 
tions; it was explicitly stated in the Statutes that while the trustees were 
to be church members, there should never be a majority in any denomi- 
nation.) As Florence Morse Kingsley '80, Mr. Durant's biographer, wrote, 
"These names must have furnished the strong endorsement public opin- 
ion is prone to demand." 

Mr. Quarles gives a lucid, succinct account of the part the early trustees 
played (and didn't play) during Mr. Durant's lifetime. Although at the 
annual meeting in 1873 a committee composed of Mr. and Mrs. Durant 
and the Rev. Dr. Clark was appointed to select the teachers and a second 
committee, on which Mr. Durant and the Rev. Dr. Kirk served, to pre- 
pare and submit a curriculum, it is obvious that all important decisions 
were made by the Durants. (Miss Burnham in the letter mentioned previ- 
ously wrote of Mr. Durant: "He says he has no more power than any 
other of the trustees, that he is here only to see to the finishing of the 
building; but a father could as easily forsake his own child as Mr. D. 
this college, and I think it is well for us that it is so.") Certainly his was 
the decision that both men and women should serve as trustees but only 
women as teachers and administrators. "Women can do the work. I give 
them the chance," was his phrase. He believed that only women faculty 
members could prove, both to the students and to the outside world, the 
much-debated thesis of women's intellectual powers. In this, as in other 
matters, he was as independent, indeed, radical, as he was determined. 
Obviously he could not expect to find the requisite number of women 
with advanced degrees, experience or promise as teachers, and willingness 
to serve. In the chapter on the faculty Miss Whiting describes the prob- 
lems and solutions concerning them, but here we should consider those 
relating to the president — who would be the first woman college president 
in the world. 

The committee to select teachers reported to the Trustees that Miss 
Ada L. Howard had been appointed "President of the Faculty and of the 
various Professors and Teachers." She had seemed to Mr. Durant an an- 
swer to prayer, a woman of considerable experience and achievement, 
who shared his ideals for the College as well as his Christian faith. Like 
Mr. Durant, she had been born in New Hampshire. Three of her great- 
grandfathers were officers during the Revolution; her father was consid- 
ered "a good scholar and an able teacher as well as a scientific agricultur- 
ist" and her mother "a gentlewoman of sweetness, strength, and high 
womanhood." She was graduated from Mount Holyoke Seminary in 1849 
(in her later life Mount Holyoke College awarded her a Litt.D.), taught 
at Western College in Oxford, Ohio, and was the principal of the 
Woman's Department of Knox College in Rockford, Illinois. She had a 
private school of her own, Ivy Hall, in Bridgeton, New Jersey, which she 


gave up in 1875 to become Wellesley's first president, at least in name. 

Mr. Durant's intellectual vitality, imagination, and rigorous standards 
were perhaps most evident in his paramount concerns: the faculty, the 
curriculum, and the equipment of various kinds which would best facili- 
tate the teaching and learning. Miss Onderdonk describes the courses 
of study, methods of instruction, and equipment in the sciences and 
certain other departments which, as she shows, were startlingly far in 
advance of the times. Suffice it to give here only a few examples of his 
primary emphases. He was determined that science should have a more 
significant role than was the case in most colleges; Wellesley was the sec- 
ond institution in the United States, the first after the Massachusetts In- 
stitute of Technology, to have student laboratory work as a part of the 
course in physics. Teachers of English were to have available works in 
Old Icelandic and other early languages, to "work at the root of things." 
Mr. Durant realized the importance of archeology to students of Classics 
and procured for them all of the books that were available. In all areas, 
as one of the first students wrote, he was insistent on "thorough, first- 
hand, original works." Especially revealing is his correspondence with 
Louise Manning Hodgkins, one of the early professors of English Litera- 
ture: "the first object is to awaken the love for true books ... to bring 
them [the students] much in contact with the great ones of the earth." In 
outlining his scheme for four years' study of literature, he suggested that 
the junior year be given especially to the "kingly ones," Homer, Dante, 
and Shakespeare. In a letter written the summer before he died to a 
teacher offering her a position, his fervor showed no diminution: "If you 
say yes, the college shall have the best working library on Dante in the 

Libraries, and above all those of Wellesley College (he seems to have 
regarded them in the plural, with the several areas of study in mind), 
were central in Mr. Durant's plans. We have referred to his wish expressed 
as a child to have a library of his own, also to his delight in Harvard's. 
The nucleus of a substantial collection of his own had come from his 
aunt Mrs. Wiggin, who had not only bequeathed books but also $7,000 
with which to buy more. He purchased much of the library of Rufus 
Choate, the highly cultivated lawyer with whom he had been associated, 
and he continued to collect. To the end of his life he kept in touch with 
agents in England and the United States, and his discriminating care can 
be seen in his notations on printed sale catalogues now kept in the Rare 
Book Room of the Margaret Clapp Library. Perhaps the gift to the Col- 
lege which he most enjoyed making — and one which is greatly cherished 
today — was his collection of more than 10,000 volumes. They included 
many valuable and rare editions; early editions of the English poets were 
among his favorites. He felt that something precious could be conveyed 


by an old and beautiful book beyond its content, and his ability to evoke 
similar appreciation in students is suggested by an extract from a stu- 
dent's journal. In an entry made early on November 20, 1875, she wrote 
that "our beautiful library was opened last evening," mentioned espe- 
cially the "sumptuously bound and very old and rare autographed vol- 
umes which Mr. Durant had given," and added that "the girls presented 
him with eight hundred dollars which they have collected." The literary 
collections were indeed impressive and the Founder's special delight. But 
he also placed unusual emphasis on contemporary journals, reviews, lead- 
ing newspapers, and magazines in every field of serious concern. There 
was a special "reading room" for them, and a magazine article in 1880 
referred to them as "superior to any college collection we know of." 

Among the preparations for the opening of the College there was, of 
course, the necessity to attract students. And of course Mr. Durant himself 
wrote the first Circular, which was issued in December 1874 to announce 
plans for the new college. Characteristically, he made no reference to 
the Founders — and, in fact, refused to permit mention of them in any 
publicity. Following the names of the Trustees and general information 
about requirements for admission, courses of study, and expenses, the 
main text began: "The Board of Trustees propose to open Wellesley Col- 
lege for students in September, 1875. Their wish is to offer to young 
women opportunities for education equivalent to those usually provided 
in colleges for young men. The instruction will be Christian in its in- 
fluence, discipline, and course of instruction." 

Finally, after eight years of initiating and implementing plans for the 
College, the opening day, September 8, 1875, arrived. Despite the fact 
that more than four years had been devoted to building and furnishing 
College Hall, the work was not completely finished. A dozen faculty mem- 
bers and half a dozen students who had arrived a few days earlier were 
immediately pressed into service by Mr. Durant; apparently they were 
happy to join him in overseeing workmen, checking supplies and furnish- 
ings, and doing all of the assorted chores that remained to be done. (It 
is worthy of note that Miss Howard, who had been ill for more than a 
week and had been staying at the Durants' house, was not well enough to 
be of' any assistance until the opening day.) One of the teachers vividly 
described the situation on September 8: "You can imagine what a scene 
of confusion the building presented when you remember that the work- 
men were still here in every part of it, gas men putting up fixtures, plumb- 
ers at work in the bath rooms, oilers still finishing up the wood work, 
furniture men hanging mirrors in the bureaus, while here and there on 
every floor you might see, hurrying, skurrying along, a teacher or a girl 
armed with a lamp, a slop pail or a wash bowl which she was rushing 
around to get settled in its proper place. ... I think at least a thousand 


people came to the house that day. Nearly 300 girls came, and it seemed 
as if the father, mother, and all the uncles, aunts, and cousins of every 
girl came with her. Very many people came, supposing there were to be 
public services of dedication; others came to see the building, and alto- 
gether, there was a perfect rush of people. My duty that day was to sit 
beside Miss Howard in the reception room, take the names of the girls as 
they presented themselves, and after Miss H. had assigned their rooms, to 
make a note of them, and keep a list of names and rooms to be sent to 
the baggage room that the girls' trunks might be sent to their proper 
places. And such an array of trunks! Almost every girl brought two, and 
one poor thing had five! I wish I could give you a picture of that reception 
room. Miss H. and I sat by a table in the centre, while the newcomers with 
their parents and friends crowded around. Sometimes anxious mothers 
wanted a few private words with Miss H., and while she bent her head 
to listen, and I stopped writing, some gentleman would thrust his card 
into my hand saying, 'Won't you please have my daughter attended to 
next; I want to take that train.' — 'And I too.' — 'And I.' were the re- 
sponses from various quarters until I had, often at one time, eight or ten 
on hand, all courteous and polite but all extremely anxious to have their 
turn come. Of course we had no time for dinner but stayed there till 
the rush was over." 

And so Wellesley College opened on the appointed day. The following 
morning Dr. Howard Crosby, whose daughter Agnes was one of the stu- 
dents, conducted a very simple dedication service in the chapel, and place- 
ment examinations began. Although the first Circular had anticipated the 
need for a preparatory department "for the present," the proportion 
requiring further study must have been disappointing: of the 314 students 
who had been admitted, only thirty were found to be fully qualified for 
college work. Wellesley's experience was of course not unique. Vassar 
maintained a preparatory department for some years longer than Welles- 
ley did, while Smith took the heroic course of no compromise and as a 
result opened in 1875 with only fourteen students, the other applicants 
having failed to meet its standards. 

The personal involvement of the Founders was so great in all areas 
of the life of the College that every chapter in this history is concerned 
to some degree with the Durants. Here we propose to mention only a few 
of the ways in which their tastes and their views shaped the College. 

Both Mr. and Mrs. Durant saw beauty of nature and of man's handi- 
work as vital aids to the intellectual, moral, and spiritual aspiration they 
hoped to foster. They even planted flowers, especially wildflowers, in such 
profusion that they hoped there would be enough for everyone to pick. 
Their imagination, endless labor, and concern for the smallest details 
were revealed everywhere in the physical surroundings: rooms comfort- 


ably equipped with carpets and black walnut furniture, Wedgwood 
china in the dining room, paintings and sculpture in the center corridors 
and public rooms of College Hall. But they had no intention of designing 
a life of sybaritic ease. The example of Mount Holyoke was followed, 
and a daily domestic chore, supposedly requiring an hour a day, was 
assigned to every student. This was intended to provide domestic training, 
to help obliterate indications of differences in affluence (Mr. Durant more 
than once refused parents' requests that they be allowed to pay a higher 
fee to free their daughters from their tasks), to develop a sense of "mu- 
tual interdependence," as he put it, to enhance the appreciation of beau- 
tiful objects by caring for them, and, finally, to save money and thereby 
reduce the fee. The Founders were deeply concerned that Wellesley should 
not be a college for the wealthy and privileged; Mr. Durant frequently 
expressed his preference for the "calico" girl over the "velvet" girl. The 
fees were deliberately kept low (and Mr. Durant made up the deficit from 
his own pocket). To encourage poor and able applicants, Mrs. Durant 
in 1878 was instrumental in establishing the Students' Aid Society. (It 
should be added that almost to the end of her life she strove valiantly 
to keep fees low and to seek gifts for her "worthy" girls, as she called 
them.) Mr. Durant, to assist the Teacher Specials and other students in 
earning their livelihood, founded in 1878 a Teachers' Registry (the fore- 
runner of today's Career Services Office), the first of its kind in the coun- 

In an era in which pallor, delicacy, susceptibility to fainting, tight 
lacing, and tiny waists were in fashion, Mr. Durant was a crusader. He 
put health as the second among "the five great essentials" in higher edu- 
cation and called on students to be "reformers and preachers of the new 
evangel of health." An hour a day was specified for exercise — although it 
might be spent in what were for those days novel as well as conventional 
ways. Mr. Durant provided an English tennis court, the first in the area, 
but is said to have found many students reluctant to take "such very 
violent exercise"; he also took pride in offering opportunities for boating 
on the lake in very safe vessels which were, however, unusual and a de- 
light to the students. For exercise indoors, there was in College Hall a 
gymnasium, with the best equipment he could buy. There was of course 
walking, and he did not for a moment confuse it with a quiet stroll to 
commune with nature, much as he approved the latter. 

Mr. Durant's love of poetry was evidenced in various ways. His taste 
extended to the "moderns," and Longfellow's visits to the campus were 
memorable. Many other distinguished men of letters were invited to lec- 
ture and read, Holmes and Whittier among them. Mr. Durant sometimes 
found kindred spirits in the poets' alcove in the library and searched 
out some of his favorite poems to read with them. Katharine Lee Bates 


'80 was one of a small group who banded together to pursue the Muse 
with their own creative efforts; their solemn affirmation that they were 
prepared meanwhile to allow some time for reading the "other poets" led 
to the sobriquet "O.P.s." The fact that they happily read their youthful 
effusions to Mr. Durant, that he criticized and encouraged them sympa- 
thetically, is further evidence of his personal role in the college life. 

"Mr. Durant rules the college, from the amount of Latin we shall read 
to the kind of meat we shall have for dinner," Elizabeth Stilwell, the first 
president of the first class and the first president of the Missionary So- 
ciety, wrote her family. A student's journal of 1875 was even more ex- 
plicit: "First of course comes the father of the College, Mr. Durant, the 
leading spirit and the motive power; active and vivacious, he seems al- 
ways flitting along the corridors, bound on some errand, for he is in 
touch with everything in the life of the place, from the dinner menu and 
the dish-washing, through examinations, sports and the decoration of 
rooms, to the students' spiritual welfare; with his keen questioning eyes, 
sweet smile, and pleasant greeting, he seems the parent of us all. . . ." 

And yet we must always bear in mind his insistence that Wellesley was 
"God's college," not his. Religious dedication was always central in the 
ideal of both of the Founders. "Education without religion is a wayless 
night without a star, a dead world without a sun," Mr. Durant once said, as 
recalled by an early student. In his notable "Defense of the Use of the 
Bible in the Public Schools" in 1859, he had argued, long before his own 
conversion, that religion is the only solid basis of morality, that morality 
must be the concern of schools, that Christianity is basic to our country's 
institutions and that therefore knowledge of the Bible is imperative. The 
importance of educating Christian women teachers, conviction of the 
truths as well as moral inspiration to be found in reading the Scriptures, 
the basic thesis that Christian values are essential to the nation and 
should be fostered in its educational institutions — those views of Mr. 
Durant were in harmony with the thinking of most of the founding 
fathers of the period. Matthew Vassar had written to the trustees of his 
college in 1861: "most important of all . . . the all-sufficient rule of 
Christian faith and practice." Smith's Chairman of the Board of Trustees 
stated of that institution, "Without being sectarian, it will be radically, 
vitally, thoroughly Christian." The founder of Bryn Mawr required stu- 
dents to be taught Christian doctrines very explicitly "as accepted by the 
Friends." But in the case of Wellesley, the fervor of evangelical faith 
brought its own added emphasis and color. Mr. Durant had experienced 
the kind of transformation that brings certainty that here is the truth and 
here only. A sermon preached early in the first term of the college year 
made this position entirely clear, and also his awareness of and scorn 
for the arguments for secularism, tolerance, or skepticism. (He once in 


another context spoke of the danger lying in "an unreflecting and timid 
fear of intolerance.") He asked, "What is religious truth?" and replied, 
"What answer can there be but in the Great Protestant Faith?" 

This fervor led inevitably to religious orientation in the whole college 
program, to the daily prayers, two quiet periods of twenty minutes each 
for meditation, daily and Sunday study of the Scriptures, and two chapel 
services on Sunday. At first all members of the faculty were expected to 
belong to an Evangelical church and to share in the teaching of the short 
daily Bible classes, which were less rigorous than the ones on Sunday. 
"Paramount to every other qualification in a teacher is that of vital 
Christianity," Mr. Durant once wrote. He was personally concerned also 
about the spiritual state of individual students and, according to legend, 
was capable of challenging an unsuspecting freshman with an alarming 
inquiry as to whether she had been "saved." Contemporary letters and 
later reminiscences of alumnae bear ample testimony to the impact of 
the fervent religious faith of the Founders. Thirty years after her gradu- 
ation one put it thus: "Christ was to be first in everything at Wellesley, 
but it was a Christ strictly interpreted as he saw Him. And why not? All 
this was the tonic positiveness of a reformer. It roused instant opposition 
in the minds of students of the same temper, but it was a very pillar of 
fire to those willing to be led." Katharine Lee Bates '80 recalled some 
forty-five years after her graduation how torn she was: "I loved his po- 
etic side, but his fanaticism drove me out of church and theology for all 
time." In the same interview, after noting changes in the College she 
said, "What we have put from us is external; what we keep of our 
founder is his zest for true learning, his ardent love of beauty, his devotion 
to the service of God through his service of mankind." And her state- 
ments properly suggest the complexity of the picture. Had Mr. Durant 
been a truly fanatical evangelist, there would have been no room for 
the intellectual range and awareness he possessed. While he regarded his 
college as "God's" and said many times that he would rather see it in 
ashes than untrue to its Christian purpose, he was passionate in his love 
of learning and a radical in his faith in women. 

Miss Bates's recollection of him as a person as she knew him in her 
student days is also memorable: "He was terrible in his anger and his 
scorn, imperious in his decisions, irresistible in his enthusiasms, be- 
nignant in his kindness, radiant in his mirth. As a playmate he had no 
peer. . . ." We are fortunate in having one picture that somehow es- 
caped his stern refusal to have his likeness anywhere displayed. It conveys 
something of the beauty, sensitivity, intellectual vitality, and spiritual 
fervor of which his contemporaries spoke. "If you could have known 
him — even once have seen him," Louise McCoy North 79 wrote years 
later, "that straight, lithe figure, slender yet commanding, the finely cut 


features, the beautiful white hair, the eyes dark and piercing, the mouth 
firm, yet sensitive, now stern with an earnestness almost ascetic, now il- 
luminating his whole countenance with a wonderful smile." 

Miss Hodgkins, a professor of English Literature from 1877 until 1891 
with whom he corresponded and talked about teaching, told a lovely story 
that revealed his dream of a university and his eager and imaginative 
spirit: " 'It is not for today,' he was accustomed to say, 'that we are plan- 
ning our work.' I recall one sunny morning when, walking with a friend 
on the college grounds, he stopped and said as his eye took in the beauti- 
ful elevations in the immediate vicinity of the college: 'Do you see what 
I see?' Few were capable of seeing all that those prophetic eyes found in 
any horizon. 'No,' was the quiet answer. 'Then I will tell you'; and speak- 
ing as under a vision he continued: 'On that hill an Art School; and 
just beyond that, an Observatory; at the furthest right a Medical College; 
and just here in the center a new stone chapel, built as the college out- 
grew the old one. Yes, this will all be some time — but I shall not be here.' " 

He lived little more than six years after that memorable opening day in 
1875. He had continued to work tirelessly and relentlessly, choosing to 
ignore for more than a year the illness which the college physician, Dr. 
Emily Jones, had correctly diagnosed as Bright's disease. In addition to 
his labors for the College, he had another serious problem during that 
period. A defalcation had taken place in the rubber company in which 
he was involved, and he was determined that no creditor should lose 
because of it. Week after week he worked all day in Wellesley or Boston, 
took the night train to New York, worked there all day, and returned to 
Boston on the night train. Not long before he died on October 3, 1881, in 
his house at Wellesley where he could look across the lake at the College, 
he gave Mrs. Durant messages for the faculty and students. Then he said, 
"Tell Horsford I love him very tenderly." 

The words are touching and also very natural when one remembers 
that Eben Norton Horsford was Mr. Durant's closest friend. After the 
Durants themselves, he was unquestionably the most important figure in 
the first formative years of the College, and as such, surely merits an im- 
portant place in Wellesley's history. One can readily understand why the 
two men so thoroughly enjoyed each other's company and engaged in so 
many projects together. 

Professor Horsford's father, a missionary to the Indians as a young man 
and a Congressman later in life, was one of the first scientific farmers in 
upstate New York. Eben Horsford received a degree in civil engineering 
at the new Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, a medical degree 
from a school at Castleton, Vermont, and studied in Giessen, Germany, in 
Liebig's laboratory, said to be the first chemical laboratory for students 
ever opened in Germany. (There is some evidence to suggest that this ex- 


perience led him to interest Mr. Durant in establishing student labora- 
tories at Wellesley.) From Liebig he learned about the use of phosphates, 
and he subsequently concocted "the acid phosphate" and Horsford Yeast 
Powder and founded in Rhode Island the Rumford Chemical Works 
which provided the basis for his fortune. The name "Rumford" he chose 
to indicate his appreciation of holding for sixteen years the Rumford 
Professorship of Applied Science at Harvard — a professorship established 
by an American who at the outbreak of the Revolutionary War went to 
Europe, where he became a famous British scientist and inventor, a Min- 
ister of War in Bavaria, and a count of the Holy Roman Empire. Profes- 
sor Horsford's career was not as colorful as Count Rumford's, but cer- 
tainly it was impressive and varied and perhaps was most notable because 
his inventive genius was equaled by his concern for people. 

He prepared the plans for the service pipes of the Boston water works, 
"devised a compact and nourishing ration for the Virginia soldier, thus 
reducing to a minimum the labor of transportation in Grant's army," 
drew plans for a submarine, devised the perforation of postage stamps, 
concocted and manufactured a carbonated drink of pure fruit juice, had 
an extensive model farm, served on the committee charged with the de- 
fense of Boston Harbor, and was the U. S. Commissioner at the World's 
Fair in Vienna and at the Centennial in 1876. The significant aspect of 
his business enterprises was that, as Alice Freeman Palmer commented: "A 
great manufacturer of chemicals, he was never content with fortune hunt- 
ing, but for years carried out an elaborate system of profit-sharing, pen- 
sions, and rewards among the employees. Nothing at his funeral was more 
impressive than the attendance of several hundred sorrowing fellow-work- 
men." In 1886 he published for the Rumford employees what must have 
been a pioneering plan of sharing the profits in the company. His hope, 
he wrote, was that the money received "will be invested with other savings, 
that each of our employees may in time be enabled to possess a home." 
Perhaps the aspect of his policies which struck the most responsive chord 
with Mr. Durant was that he always immediately established a library 
for employees in any commercial enterprise with which he was connected. 

When and how Mr. Durant and Professor Horsford became acquainted 
cannot be determined. We know that they were good friends as early as 
August 9, 1871, when Mr. Durant requested Professor Horsford to obtain 
from the Harvard professor teaching the summer course in chemistry 
"the names of the ablest of the ladies" enrolled in it so that he might 
consider them for teaching positions. We also know something of their 
business associations: Mr. Durant was vice president and Professor Hors- 
ford president of the Rumford Chemical Works, and Professor Horsford 
was vice president and Mr. Durant president of the St. Helena gold mine 
near Arizpe, Sonora, Mexico. Their relationship in connection with 


Wellesley was equally close and, as Andrew Fiske, Professor Horsford's 
great-grandson, commented in an oral history interview, they were more 
interested in the things they did together for people than in making 

After being consulted on many matters while the College was in the 
planning stage, Professor Horsford was Chairman of the Board of Visitors 
from Wellesley's early years until his death in 1893. The Board was dis- 
solved then, and the "Visiting Committee" which was substituted to 
evaluate or advise different departments apparently was never a potent 
force, and its disappearance after a decade attracted no attention. The 
earlier Board of Visitors, on the contrary, to judge from repeated refer- 
ences in the Trustee Minutes, was noted for the distinction of the mem- 
bers and their conscientious work. The professors from Harvard, Massa- 
chusetts Institute of Technology, Boston University, and theological 
seminaries, and the well-known clergymen who comprised the Board 
gave their expert appraisals to the Trustees on the basis of their visits 
to the College. But it is clear that Professor Horsford's role was considered 
very special. The most explicit definition of the function of the Board of 
Visitors is contained in a letter of March 13, 1883, from Mrs. Durant to 
Professor Horsford, who was addressed as "My dear Friend." She wrote: 
"With regard to the Board of Visitors, it has always been designed to have 
them give to the Trustees such advice as seemed to them best. It was 
hoped that they would be Friends and Endowers of the College. One or 
two meetings a year would be enough, but let each member of the Board 
interest himself in the department where he had most knowledge, visit 
the classes at such times as he found most convenient, render such help 
to the College as he could in any way and every way." Then Mrs. Durant 
added: "A while ago a lamp inside a lantern was found in the night to 
have the oil on fire, and they were quite excited on the subject. This is 
another matter about which I would be glad to have advice from you, as 
I am always upon all subjects, but it does not in the most remote way be- 
long to the Board of Visitors as a board." 

Especially after Mr. Durant's death in 1881, Professor Horsford was 
indeed consulted "upon all subjects," although, as Susan M. Hallowell, 
Professor of Botany, wrote him on February 17, 1885: "You must know 
that we teachers of sciences long ago appropriated you as our particular 
friend and lawful advisor, and have felt that we could rely upon your 
intelligent interest in all that specially concerns our several departments." 
Although the science departments and the library were his particular 
interests and he made his largest gifts of money to the library (a Library 
Festival was held in June of 1886 to celebrate his many benefactions to 
the College), the extent of his thoughtfulness and personal involvement 
in the College is almost beyond comprehension. His papers include lit- 


erally scores of letters from faculty and students, in addition to ones 
from Mrs. Durant and Alice Freeman Palmer, thanking him for favors 
of every conceivable kind. Arrangements for two young instructors in 
Greek and Latin to go to New York to see a play, tickets for students to 
attend electrical exhibitions in Boston, "a great easy chair" for Alice 
Freeman's study, hyacinths for Christmas for each member of the Class 
of 1886 ("Are there any directions to be given except that they be kept 
moist?" inquired the class president) — the list of relatively small but 
imaginative presents for individuals is staggering. Worthy of special men- 
tion (and an indication of Professor Horsford's appreciation of the need 
of the faculty for brief holidays in addition to the sabbatical leaves he 
provided for some of the professors — who he specified must be women) 
are the letters thanking him for hospitality at his guest house on Shelter 
Island, New York. The Horsfords had a handsome house there where the 
Durants were frequent guests, and they also had a charming smaller house 
which they frequently invited members of the Wellesley faculty to occupy. 

Professor Horsford's correspondence also gives some indication of the 
time he devoted to the operations of Wellesley. On one occasion he wrote: 
"I spent yesterday at the College, examining with President Freeman the 
claims of poor students, and I go again this morning on the same wearying 
business — wearying because one's means are so inadequate to the needs." 
His presence at events on the campus (often he was the only man at 
proms and one of the few outside guests at Tree Day) and his contribu- 
tions on every level in the development of the young College have in- 
evitably resulted in mention of him in almost every chapter of this book. 

We are also indebted to him for the recollection which perhaps best 
captures the quality of Henry Fowle Durant's mind and spirit. One day 
the two friends wandered across the campus until they came to the hill 
on which Stone and Davis Halls now stand. "There," Professor Horsford 
wrote, "in the shadow of the evergreens we lay down on the carpet of 
pine foliage and talked, — I remember it well, — talked of the problems 
of life, of things worth living for; of the hidden ways of Providence as 
well as of the subtle ways of men; of the few who are led and are not 
always conscious of it; of the survival of the fittest in the battle of life, and 
of the constant presence of the Infinite Pity; of the difficulties, the resolu- 
tion, the struggle, the conquest that make up the history of every worthy 
achievement. I arose with the feeling that I had been taken into the con- 
fidence of one of the most gifted of all the men it had been my privilege 
to know. We had not talked of friendship; we had been unconsciously 
sowing its seed. He lived to appreciate and reverence the grandeur of the 
work which he accomplished here." 

"The work which he accomplished here" survives today in essence if not 
in precise detail. In fact, by the time of Mr. Durant's death some details 


had already changed since the College had opened in 1875. There had 
been a steady increase in qualified applicants, far more than could be 
accepted. To accommodate some of those, Waban Cottage was opened 
that fall, and Simpson — like Waban a dormitory, providing rooms for 
thirty students — was under construction. Stone Hall (the first building 
given by anyone other than the Durants) had been completed and was 
housing 120 "teacher specials," a group of women who had been teaching 
but wished further training. Music Hall was ready for use. The "Aca- 
demic Department," as the preparatory section was known, had been 
discontinued, much to Mr. Durant's gratification. The Alumnae Associa- 
tion had been established. The Circular of 1880 had been able to state 
that the numbers of teachers and of students were the highest among all 
of the women's colleges, and that the library was "much the largest." In 
the space of the twenty years between little Harry's death and his own, 
Mr. Durant had not only totally transformed his own life but he had 
profoundly influenced the education of women and the opportunities 
existing for them. 

About a month after Mr. Durant's death, the President of the Board of 
Trustees announced to the students and faculty that Miss Howard's 
health would not permit her to continue as the President of the College. 

The description by Anna Stockbridge Tuttle '80 of Miss Howard sug- 
gests, as does her portrait, a gracious lady who made a fine figure-head: 
"young face, pink cheeks, blue eyes and puffs of snow-white hair, wearing 
always a long trailing gown of black silk, cut low at the throat and fin- 
ished with fields of snowy tulle." She was a gentle supervisor of manners 
and an attractive hostess, in the position, in the phrase of Marion Pelton 
Guild 79, "of the nominal captain, who is in fact only a lieutenant." It 
is clearly inconceivable that anyone could have been president in the true 
sense of the word during Mr. Durant's lifetime, and we can only wonder 
about the abilities which she might have developed under other circum- 
stances. The fact that her health, never strong while she was at Wellesley, 
became increasingly worrisome as the years passed did not greatly affect 
the College as long as he was firmly in command. After his death, how- 
ever, Wellesley needed real leadership which Miss Howard could not pro- 
vide at that point. She lived for another quarter of a century, receiving 
some financial assistance from loyal alumnae and the Trustees. In 1895 
Mrs. Durant reported to the Trustees the gift of $6,000 from "a friend" 
(in all probability Mrs. Durant herself) to establish a scholarship fund 
bearing Miss Howard's name. Mrs. Durant kept in touch with her, and 
asked alumnae to call on her in Brooklyn when she was not well, and 
invited her to attend Miss Hazard's inauguration and other special occa- 
sions at the College. Her funeral was held in the Houghton Memorial 
Chapel and academic appointments were cancelled for the day; she was 


buried in the college plot in the Wellesley cemetery, and the Alumnae 
Association inscribed the stone marking her grave. In these ways recogni- 
tion was given the woman who was nominally the first in the world to 
be the president of a college. But during her years at Wellesley, pioneer 
though she was, she provided little intellectual stimulus for students and 
was not a person to whom they responded warmly. 

Alice Freeman Palmer 

This was never more clearly demonstrated than when the announcement 
was made that Alice Freeman would succeed her: Edith Souther Tufts '84 
spoke of "open, almost tumultuous rejoicing at the change." Certainly a 
greater contrast than that between Miss Howard and the twenty-six-year- 
old Miss Freeman, the youngest professor in the College, could not be 
imagined. She had been at Wellesley only two years, but in her first year 
Mr. Durant is said to have remarked to a trustee, former Governor Claflin, 
"You see that little dark-eyed girl? She will be the next president of 
Wellesley," and before he died he made his wishes known to the Board. 

Mr. Durant had learned about Alice Freeman from his friend James 
Angell, President of the University of Michigan, one of the few state in- 
stitutions where women's intellectual aspirations were taken seriously 
and were rewarded with degrees. President Angell had recommended to 
Mr. Durant several graduates of Michigan who were successful members of 
the Wellesley faculty in the early years, but of Alice Freeman he later 
wrote: "It so happened that I had occasion ... to visit the high school 
in East Saginaw, of which Miss Freeman was then principal. I attended 
a class in English Literature which she was teaching. ... I had never 
witnessed finer work of the kind with a class of that sort. When I re- 
turned home I wrote to Mr. Durant that he must appoint the woman 
whose remarkable work I had been witnessing, that he could not let her 
slip out of his hand." Mr. Durant immediately began his efforts to get her 
to Wellesley — and on his third attempt was successful. Like some of the 
other early members of the faculty, she could teach a wide range of sub- 
jects. President Angell had observed her teaching of English; Mr. Durant 
in 1877 offered her an appointment in mathematics, in 1878 one in Greek, 
and 1879 the one in history which she accepted. Fortunately for Wellesley, 
his persistence equaled her versatility! 

She was born on February 21, 1855, in Broome County, New York, not 
far from Binghamton, of parents of Scottish and pioneering background. 
Mr. and Mrs. James Freeman, like their parents before them, were farm- 
ers, but when Alice, the oldest of four children, was seven years old, her 
father, encouraged by her mother, decided to become a physician. For 
two years while he attended medical school in Albany Mrs. Freeman sup- 


ported him and the four little children. It was said that she "had unusual 
executive ability and a strong disposition to improve social conditions 
around her. She interested herself in temperance, and in legislation for 
the better protection of women and children." (It should be noted that 
Alice seems not only to have inherited many of her mother's characteris- 
tics but also in later years to have shared some of her interests.) The Free- 
mans were a religiously devout and humanly devoted family and lived in 
beautiful natural surroundings to which Alice all her life enjoyed re- 

Always precocious, Alice taught herself to read when she was three years 
old. Although she went to school when she was four and attended Wind- 
sor Academy after her father became a doctor and they moved to town, 
the education she received was not designed to prepare a student for col- 
lege. A teacher at the academy did, however, fire her with a longing to 
achieve a college education, regardless of the sacrifices and effort that 
would be involved. Inadequately prepared, she was admitted to the Uni- 
versity on trial, thanks to President Angell's perceiving her ability when 
he interviewed her. She overcame all handicaps — poor preparation, lack 
of funds, health depleted by overwork — and was graduated in 1876 with 
high standing in a class of seventy-five, of whom eleven were women. (In- 
cidentally, she affirmed the values of coeducation henceforth, despite her 
later loyalty to Wellesley and to Mr. Durant.) 

After graduation she taught in a boarding school in Wisconsin and then 
had a very demanding year as principal of the school where President 
Angell observed her work. There were difficult financial problems at 
home, health problems of her own, and deep grief over the death of her 
beloved sister Stella. Nevertheless, she managed to embark upon graduate 
work in history at Ann Arbor, and in the course of five years completed 
everything except her thesis for the Ph.D. degree. This the University 
awarded her in 1882 after she had become President of Wellesley. 

She came to Wellesley as Professor of History in 1879 at the age of 
twenty-four and was appointed Vice President and Acting President in 
1881 and President the following year. It is an altogether extraordinary 
story, but Alice Freeman was an altogether extraordinary person. 

Her achievements prove that she had a fine, probably brilliant mind in 
some respects, that she possessed remarkable maturity of judgment, high 
standards, and courage in pursuit of her goals. (President Eliot of Harvard 
— usually far from generous in giving credit to a woman — said of her, 
"She was one of the bravest persons I ever saw, man or woman.") But it 
is her radiant, joyous, and magnetic personality that is dominant both in 
contemporary records and later reminiscences. She had a kind of magic 
which could very easily have led to a "personality cult." Happily, she 
was always more interested in causes or institutions or people than in 


her own personal power. Caroline Hazard, a later President of Wellesley 
who knew her well, once contrasted her with other remarkable adminis- 
trators who had relied on their great personal influence with students; 
Alice Freeman, Miss Hazard said, saw the need of larger goals, of making 
the ideals of an institution independent of personal devotion to its leader. 
She cherished friendships with people of both sexes and of all ages, and 
could not have been unaware of her ability to charm; nevertheless, her 
whole-hearted concern with others, whether people or causes, seems to 
have freed her from self-seeking, self-doubt, and self-consciousness. 

She took office at a time that was critical for the College in many re- 
spects. President Eliot later observed that its policy of having women as 
teachers and administrators "was held by many to be of doubtful sound- 
ness, and its financial future extremely difficult" now that Mr. Durant no 
longer personally paid many of the expenses. Louise McCoy North '79, a 
faculty member from 1880 until 1886 and a trustee from 1894 until 1927, 
who saw the College in a perspective that was both long and sharp, de- 
clared that Miss Freeman's "first task was internal reorganization." Her 
success in accomplishing it was attested by Miss Hodgkins, for many years 
Professor of Literature: "Wellesley met her precise need in 1881 in Miss 
Freeman as an organizer." The young President seems to have reached 
a clear and perceptive grasp of many problems with rather astonishing 
speed, and to have elicited cooperation from all concerned in attacking 

Miss Hazard summarized well Alice Freeman's years at Wellesley, two 
as faculty member and six as president: "The work which she did in these 
foundation days can hardly be overestimated. There were no precedents, 
no traditions; she had a clear field to work in and she threw all her influ- 
ence for the best things in scholarship, and the best things in life. . . . 
She gathered clever women about her, recognizing ability instantly, and 
building up a faculty which brought the College honor. When she came 
in 1879, there were three hundred and seventy-five students, and she left 
the College with six hundred and twenty-eight, eight years later. . . . 
She found time to know notable people, to interest them to come to the 
College. . . . She spread a rich feast for her students and partook of it 

She strengthened the role of senior professors who were the heads of 
departments, and her regular meetings with them led to the establishment 
of the Academic Council. The faculty as a whole continued to hold 
meetings, but no longer simply to talk about whatever matters Mr. Du- 
rant deemed appropriate — and didn't wish to decide himself or after 
consulting with individual department heads. The arrangement of the 
two bodies, which Miss Hazard described as "an upper and lower house," 
continued for many years, as Miss Whiting points out in the chapter 


on the faculty. Proceedings became orderly and predictable. Standing 
committees of the faculty were appointed to consider such matters as 
admission policies and entrance examinations, the certification of schools 
whose candidates might be admitted without special examinations, the 
approval of student programs, and offerings in graduate work. It is diffi- 
cult now to imagine a time when there were no faculty committees, but 
their very novelty then makes one realize afresh how young the College 
was, and how great the demands on its young President were. 

Sarah Frances Whiting, the first Professor of Physics, later gave an al- 
most haunting picture of Alice Freeman as she struggled to meet those 
demands: "I think of her in her office, which was also her private parlor, 
with not even a skilled secretary at first, toiling with all the correspond- 
ence, seeing individual girls on academic and social matters, setting them 
right in cases of discipline, interviewing members of the faculty on nec- 
essary plans. The work was overwhelming and sometimes her one assist- 
ant would urge her, late in the evening, to nibble a bite from a tray 
which, to save time, had been sent in to her room at the dinner hour, 
only to remain untouched. . . . No wonder that professors often left 
their lectures to be written in the wee small hours, to help in uncongenial 
administrative work, which was not in the scope of their recognized 

If a speaker or Sunday minister failed to come at the last moment, it 
was she who went to the rescue; she mentioned almost casually in one 
letter that she had filled in on both Saturday evening and Sunday morn- 
ing of the same weekend. On the other hand, one of her regular duties, 
and pleasures as well, was leading the daily chapel services — and it is evi- 
dent that her talks were cherished. An instructor who was frankly dis- 
mayed by some aspects of the College's emphasis on religion once ex- 
plained her frequent attendance at chapel by saying, "I love to hear Alice 
chat with the Lord." She was as devout a Christian in her way as Mr. 
Durant was in his. "She believed that conscious fellowship with God is the 
foundation of every strong life, the natural source from which all must 
derive their power and their peace," wrote George Herbert Palmer, the 
Harvard Philosophy Professor who became her husband. She told with 
delight of the conversion of a student who had been brought up on 
Thomas Paine (it is fascinating to speculate on how this girl ever reached 
Wellesley) and had found the Bible an exciting new discovery; "she feels 
she is in a new world," and her President shared in her joy. She deplored 
the grimmer aspects of the Calvinist tradition and wrote of a student 
"fearful lest her sins are too stultifying to leave enough soul-life to be 
worth saving" whom she felt she had helped. She herself found and be- 
lieved that all should find religion a joy. 

Mr. Durant would have agreed on this point. As Miss McCarthy men- 


tions in the chapter on traditions, he had been so dismayed by the gloomy 
sermon preached the first Sunday after college had opened that he de- 
creed that "God Is Love" should henceforth be the text for the first Sun- 
day service of the college year. There were differences in Mr. Durant's 
and Miss Freeman's approaches, however. The story has been told of her 
refusal soon after her arrival at Wellesley to accede to his request that she 
labor with a student who, he believed, was not a Christian. It is said that 
she replied that to do so would be "an assault on one's personality" 
which she was unwilling to make, and that "Mr. Durant was unused to 
contradiction, but apparently accepted it in good part, and the strength 
of character which this stand showed only made him more convinced of 
Miss Freeman's worth." A little later she excused a reluctant instructor 
from "the dreaded necessity of offering her 'voluntary' services" in teach- 
ing a daily Bible class. She was clearly in sympathy with the trend toward 
a more liberal theology — a feeling undoubtedly strengthened by Professor 
Palmer's influence in the last year of her presidency. 

There seems to have been in general during these years a sense of large 
horizons, a heightening of zest, "an atmosphere of youth and aspiration 
and adventure." As an alumna of that period said, "It was not only that 
we were young; the college was young, too, and so was our president." 
The warmth of her personality, her genuine concern with the individual 
with whom she was speaking and the response which her concern evoked, 
were often remarked upon. More extraordinary, however, was her ability 
to convey those same qualities to each member of a large audience. Presi- 
dent Angell said of her: "Few speakers have in so large measure as she 
that magnetic, unanalyzable power, divinely given now and then to 
some fortunate individual, of captivating, charming, and holding com- 
plete possession of assemblies from the first to the last utterance." 

This power enabled her to make what was probably her greatest con- 
tribution to the College: widespread, favorable knowledge of Wellesley. 
If her first task was "internal reorganization," her most lasting impact 
was in the realm of external relations. President Ellen Fitz Pendleton 
'86 recalled "the brilliant leadership of Alice E. Freeman, bringing to 
the attention of the world a young and vigorous institution." She en- 
couraged, attended, and addressed Alumnae Clubs. She spoke on edu- 
cational issues at many conferences and other meetings. (Of her hundreds 
of addresses, none was ever written, and on several occasions she revised 
totally what she had planned to speak about without the audience's be- 
ing aware of the shift, so gifted was she as an extemporaneous speaker.) 
She was always convinced of the value of the right kind of publicity. That 
her view was not held unanimously is amusingly illustrated in a letter she 
wrote Professor Palmer in May of 1887 about a trustee: "Dr. Hovey has 
been up here again today, and again, as always, he is afraid Wellesley is 


too popular. I think the good old man is in constant expectation that we 
shall be so vain that God will visit us with some terrible calamity. . . . 
He quotes, 'Woe to you when all men speak well of you,' and shakes his 

Like Mr. Durant before her, she personally prepared what we might 
now term the "promotional material" for the College, and also for the 
"fitting schools" which she was instrumental in establishing and which 
were of great importance to Wellesley. When Miss Freeman became presi- 
dent, the Academic Department had been phased out and Dana Hall in 
the town of Wellesley had been founded by Sarah P. Eastman, the first 
director of domestic work at the College, and her sister Julia. It was, 
however, the only "feeder school" for Wellesley, and there still were "only 
a few high schools [in which] the girls were allowed to join classes which 
fitted boys for college." Miss Freeman set about arranging for certain 
schools to prepare students well for her College and also to provide teach- 
ing positions for Wellesley graduates. The first large school of this kind 
was the Wellesley School in Philadelphia. Miss Freeman sent her secre- 
tary, Mrs. McCoy, the statement about it which she wished to have pub- 
lished in Boston and New York periodicals. It should, she specified, in- 
clude the clause: "the instructors to be graduates of Wellesley of the 
highest qualifications for this work." During her six years as president she 
"inspired the principals" of fifteen schools "with the idea of definite 
training for entrance into Wellesley." Furthermore, she sometimes la- 
bored over their financing, writing in the fall of 1886, for example, "I 
am full of business this week, planning a 'syndicate' to control the Welles- 
ley School in Philadelphia and raise an endowment for it." 

It was an admirable arrangement: the increased number of well quali- 
fied applicants led to higher standards for admission, and the higher 
standards for admission led to higher standards for academic work, and 
to a curriculum which, as the chapter concerning it points out, was be- 
coming increasingly rigorous. The primary role which Miss Freeman 
played in this cycle was to provide the applicants. And, to aid in housing 
additional students, Eliot House in the village was converted into a dor- 
mitory and Norumbega Hall was built on the campus. Norumbega also 
contained a modest suite for the President in which she could live in a 
somewhat more tranquil fashion than was possible in the bustling College 

The trustees, naturally enough, were proud of the young President and 
delighted in introducing her to their friends. Professor and Mrs. Horsford 
and their daughter Lilian, who became a Wellesley trustee in 1887, were 
always very fond of Alice Freeman and frequently invited her to their 
home in Cambridge. There she met George Herbert Palmer, a Harvard 
philosopher. An Academic Courtship, Letters of Alice Freeman and 


George Herbert Palmer, 1886-1887, which was published by the Harvard 
University Press in 1940, provides a charming account of what an alumna 
later called "that romance which still illumines some of the more arid 
annals of Wellesley." This is not to say that the Wellesley students and 
faculty were aware of the developing romance; indeed, his visits to the 
College always had an academic aura. The series of readings which he 
gave beginning in December 1886 from the notable translation of Ho- 
mer's Odyssey on which he was working provided many excellent occa- 
sions for formal meetings and also for long walks in the West Woods. Of 
course Professor Horsford was in their confidence. He must have been 
entertained when she wrote him during the summer of 1886 that "the 
king of dogs" which he had given her had "been named Rex by the De- 
partment of Philosophy of Harvard University," and she must have had 
special pleasure in the dog as a discreet reminder of the initial meeting 
at Professor Horsford's home. It is revealing of her devotion to Wellesley 
and of her own conscience that she hesitated to agree to marry even after 
she was deeply in love. Finally she accepted an engagement ring in Feb- 
ruary, and in March and April she visited her family in Michigan and 
told them the news. Her absence from Wellesley convinced her, she wrote 
Professor Palmer, that "the organization inside the College is all com- 
plete." Only when she felt that she could with clear conscience leave the 
College did she face the dreaded task of telling Mrs. Burant. ("There 
will be a row of course," Professor Palmer, who was often torn between 
admiration and exasperation, had written.) 

Mrs. Durant had shared Mr. Durant's high regard for the young his- 
tory professor, and she also had great affection for Alice Freeman as the 
President and appreciation of what she was accomplishing for the Col- 
lege. Clearly Miss Freeman feared that Mrs. Durant might think that she 
was betraying the trust which had been placed in her; moreover, she knew 
that Mrs. Durant would be deeply distressed, and she hated to give her 
pain. After she had broken the news and had received the first response 
from Mrs. Durant, she wrote Professor Palmer: "She is so sad that I find 
my heart crying out to help her as I can not even try to say." Mrs. Durant 
wrote to Miss Freeman on May 23, the anniversary of her own marriage, 
and then the following day they talked together. Miss Freeman sent Pro- 
fessor Palmer this account: "I can never tell you how I have found time 
since yesterday noon [the College was entertaining the Queen of the Ha- 
waiian Islands] for two talks with Mrs. Durant, but two good talks we 
have had. And now that the silence is broken she is most loving and 
sympathetic and eager to make plans." 

"Plans" proposed by Mrs. Durant and other trustees even included a 
kind of joint presidency for the Palmers, who rejected this suggestion 
but consented to postpone their marriage from summer until Christmas 


time. It took place on December 23, 1887, at the Boston home of Governor 
and Mrs. Claflin, Wellesley trustees who, like Professor Horsford, had 
fostered the romance. Professor Palmer had written to the President's 
secretary, Mrs. McCoy, "For a month I hope Miss Freeman will be se- 
verely let alone. I shall try my best to be an ugly watch-dog." He took 
evident pleasure, however, in a reception which the Wellesley faculty 
members were planning to give for them on January 9, and the letter 
which he wrote Mrs. McCoy concerning it bespeaks his desire to further 
the associations between Wellesley and Harvard, his happiness and pride 
in his bride, and the fondness of both of them for the Wellesley students 
and faculty: "It seemed to me a good opportunity to draw Harvard and 
Wellesley more closely together, even if only one in ten of the Cambridge 
people I name will be able to come. It is most kind of the Wellesley Fac- 
ulty to give us this beautiful Reception. To us the chief pleasure will be 
in meeting the Faculty themselves. I wonder if it would be possible for 
us to see the Students before the formal reception begins? We should so 
like to feel ourselves among them once more. Perhaps it could not be 
managed, but if there is any way in which they could see my Queen in 
her coronation robes I should be glad." (It is amusing to notice that he 
had elevated "the Princess," as she was known by the students and called 
in a poem by Whittier, to the rank of queen.) 

She had told Mrs. Durant, she wrote Professor Palmer, "that our com- 
mon interest in the College must deepen as we join our lives . . . that in 
bringing you into closer knowledge and sympathy with the College, I 
shall give more than I can take away." The reception was only the first 
of the many continuing associations which both Professor and Mrs. Pal- 
mer had with Wellesley. He lectured frequently on Greek and English 
Literature, and was at first a member of the Board of Visitors and then 
served on the Board of Trustees from 1912 until his death in 1933. He 
always took a special interest in the library, as is recounted in the chapter 
on buildings. And throughout his long life he was a memorable figure in 
Commencement processions, a small, rather elegant man, with velvet 
Oxford cap and drooping mustachio. 

Mrs. Palmer's contributions to the College continued throughout her 
life, in ways both direct and indirect. She was elected to the Board of 
Trustees when she resigned as President, and she served faithfully on the 
full Board and on its all-important Executive Committee. She worked on 
many special projects, raised funds, made numerous speeches including 
the Commencement address in 1890, and had a major role in the selec- 
tion of later Presidents and of members of the Boards of Trustees and of 
Visitors. She also interviewed potential instructors, helped to evaluate 
schools whose students were admitted on certificate, and in these and 
other details of the College's operations continued to take such a domi- 


nant part that, had it not been for her personal popularity and her 
friendship with her first three successors, her actions might have been 
resented as unwarranted intrusion by a trustee. Her visits and speeches 
to the alumnae continued: "All the Wellesley girls in this part of the 
world" constituted a welcome part of the audience of six hundred to 
whom she spoke in Chicago in 1890 on higher education. Furthermore, 
she did not forget Wellesley even on her travels abroad. In her corre- 
spondence to her former secretary which the College received recently is 
a postcard asking for "bundles of college documents — everything that will 
explain the College. Charge the postage to me, and also put some photo- 
graphs on the bill, a dozen or so of the medium size. I must do my duty 
by Germany!" She also wrote from Venice for material on the College, 
adding, "And when you are in the rush of closing the year, just remember 
that I love you all and think of the old College tenderly and bless all its 
girls from my heart." 

Indirectly her achievement and distinctions enhanced the fame of the 
College with which she was inevitably associated in the public mind, even 
though they were not immediately related to Wellesley. It is astonishing 
how much she was able to include in her life, along with a radiantly 
happy marriage. A striking instance was her active service on the Massa- 
chusetts State Board of Education from 1889 until her death thirteen 
years later. As a Board member, she strove for higher standards in public 
education, for better facilities, more generous recognition and remunera- 
tion of public school teachers, and she pressed for the improvement and 
expansion of the normal schools. She also played a significant role in the 
beginnings of one of the country's great universities. President Harper of 
the University of Chicago was eager to have Mrs. Palmer as the full-time 
Dean of Women and Professor of History and Professor Palmer as Pro- 
fessor of Philosophy, but when they rejected that proposal, he accepted 
an arrangement allowing her to be in Chicago for only three months 
during the year. On that basis she served from the opening of the Uni- 
versity in 1892 until 1895, in close touch with the brilliance and ferment 
with which President Harper surrounded his undertaking, and she was so 
helpful to him that he once said to her, "I could never have opened this 
university without you." She labored valiantly in the cause of the "An- 
nex," later Radcliffe College, raising subscriptions in the hope that the 
Harvard Corporation would vote the Harvard degree to the women who 
had earned it. (When the hope was not fulfilled, the money already con- 
tributed through a committee of which she was chairman was returned.) 
She was also a trustee and fund raiser for Bradford Academy and the 
International Institute for Girls in Spain, and a founder of the Associa- 
tion of Collegiate Alumnae which later became the American Association 
of University Women. In 1887, while still at Wellesley, she was awarded 


the degree of Litt.D. by Columbia University (Professor Palmer wrote at 
the time, "I know of no other case where an honorary degree has been 
given by a great eastern college to a woman."), and the LL.D. degree 
by Union College in 1895. 

The Palmers also had an extraordinarily happy life together; abundant 
and vivid testimony is provided by the large collections of their letters 
and her poems in the archives of the College, and by his biography of her. 
In Cambridge they lived after 1894 in the historic Craigie House, where 
she was a gifted hostess, and summers they spent in their restful home in 
Boxford. Then, too, they both delighted in travel and residence abroad 
during his sabbatical leaves. On such a leave she died, at the age of forty- 
seven and at the height of her powers, in Paris on December 6, 1902, after 
a relatively brief illness and emergency operation. 

The outpouring of tributes and memorials testify eloquently to the 
admiration and affection she had won. There were memorial meetings in 
Boston, in Cambridge (where the Wellesley and Harvard Choirs took 
part in the service), in Chicago, and elsewhere. A school for black children 
in North Carolina was named for her; bells in a tower at the University 
of Chicago and a fellowship for the Association of Collegiate Alumnae 
were given in her memory. In 1921 she was officially enrolled, at that time 
one of eight women, in the American Hall of Fame. At Wellesley she is 
commemorated by a fellowship, a professorship, a fund to endow the 
presidency, a large dormitory which succeeds the cottage which Mrs. Du- 
rant gave in her honor after her resignation as president, and the bas- 
relief by Daniel Chester French in the Houghton Memorial Chapel in 
which her ashes and those of Professor Palmer have been placed. And 
through his Life of Alice Freeman Palmer, published initially in 1908, 
reprinted many times, with editions in Japanese and for the blind, gen- 
erations of young women have learned of her magnetic personality, her 
character, and her achievements. 

As President Freeman contemplated marriage and resignation, she 
feared that without her leadership the College might not advance along 
the paths in which she had set it moving. The month before she accepted 
an engagement ring, Professor Palmer wrote to her, "All other considera- 
tions must for the present be set aside in behalf of getting those persons 
on the Board who will follow you in voting down the nomination of a 
goody-goody President." The custom at that time was for the trustees to 
be re-elected regularly until they died (or, in one instance, resigned be- 
cause of "removal to the distant city of Omaha, Nebraska"). Most of the 
trustees on the Board in 1887 had been Mr. Durant's friends, and many of 
them not only shared his religious convictions but also on some matters 
held views which were more conservative than his. And Mrs. Durant was 
becoming increasingly determined to cling to the letter as well as to the 


spirit of his conception of the College. Miss Freeman and some of her 
liberal friends among the trustees set to work to change the character of 
the Board — necessarily gradually but whenever a vacancy occurred. Lilian 
Horsford's name was proposed in February of 1877, and she and a Boston 
businessman were elected in June. Alice Freeman herself was nominated 
when she submitted her resignation as president, and at the first meeting 
of the Board which she attended as Mrs. Palmer and as a regular trustee, 
she nominated Horace E. Scudder, the editor of the Atlantic Monthly, 
who was to stand with her on many occasions in the future. 

It is clear that the all-important selection of Miss Freeman's successor 
was arranged very neatly — and that Miss Freeman had a central role in 
it. Although she had told Mrs. Durant of her plans in May and the Trus- 
tees met in June, it was not until a special meeting was held on October 
30, 1887, that Miss Freeman "reported that the time had now arrived 
when she must resign her position as President to take effect at the end of 
the term." Dr. Crosby, the Chairman of the Board, was asked to appoint 
a committee of seven "to seek and consider candidates." He immediately 
named the committee members, who included Mrs. Durant, Miss Freeman, 
and Mr. Claflin. Only three days later, another meeting was held at which 
the Executive Committee (which presumably in the meantime had re- 
ceived the report of the special committee) recommended that Helen 
Alvira Shafer, Professor of Mathematics, "be appointed Acting President 
from the close of this term for the remainder of the college term," and 
she was unanimously elected forthwith. There must have been no doubt 
about her acceptance (and, indeed, it is highly probable that she had al- 
ready expressed her willingness) because no further meeting of the Board 
was held until February 2, 1888, when "The Secretary read the letter from 
Miss Shafer thanking the Trustees for the high honor conferred upon 
her; and accepting the appointment as Acting President, trusting in God 
who called her to give the needed wisdom and strength." 

Mrs. Palmer later wrote concerning the part which she played in Miss 
Shafer's appointment: "When I entered the College in 1879, she had al- 
ready held the professorship of mathematics for two years. I learned at 
once that she had the high regard of her colleagues and students, that she 
was an admirable teacher, a fair-minded debater of college questions, a 
witty and cultivated woman. But during the years of my companionship 
with her, I was drawn to study her character somewhat closely, and there 
grew in me an ever-increasing respect for her exact scholarship, her judi- 
cial temper of mind, her sober sympathies, her rational affection for the 
College, and her steadfast loyalty to its ideals. When the time came for 
a new president, my thoughts naturally turned to her. The trustees, 
knowing the heavy responsibilities which the growing college put upon 
its presidents, were determined to find the woman best able to bear 


them, wherever she might be. That they unanimously chose their own 
frail professor of mathematics was the highest tribute they could have 
paid to her trustworthy qualities, and she justified the choice. Though 
much of the time in delicate health, her courage never faltered, nor her 
devotion to the work she loved." 

Helen A. Shafer 

Mrs. Palmer's major role in the selection of Miss Shafer is of special in- 
terest: she must have recognized the fact that her successor's gifts, which 
were very different from her own, were essential for Wellesley at that time. 
And so, after the exhilarating impact of Alice Freeman's presidency, there 
followed a quieter regime whose character and emphases were peculiarly 
right for that moment. 

It could not have been an easy moment for Helen Shafer. Mary Cas- 
well, a student in 1879-80, an instructor in Botany from 1881 until 1888, 
and from 1890 until 1926 the Secretary to four Wellesley Presidents, knew 
well both Miss Freeman and Miss Shafer. In looking back upon the situa- 
tion confronting Miss Shafer, she wrote: "Not often is a new executive 
called to conditions more difficult on the personal side. The retiring 
president's magnetic qualities and brilliant career had widely engendered 
the belief that the College could not be carried on successfully without 
her inspiring presence and infinite address." But at the end of Miss 
Shafer's first year in office, the Wellesley Annals of 1887-88 commented 
happily: "If you have ever walked in the dark when you expected your 
next step to be some inches down, and then felt the shock of finding 
yourself on a level, you will realize the feelings of the College when Miss 
Shafer took the presidential chair. We joyfully acknowledge the fine 
womanly qualities, the sound judgment, the fine and just temper of mind, 
the executive ability which guided us so firmly over what we all held to 
be a crisis, that we never felt the jar." 

Miss Shafer was born in Newark, New Jersey, on September 23, 1839. 
Her only sister recalled long afterwards that their father had struggled 
to support the family as a merchant in a small way while pursuing his 
study for the ministry in the Congregational Church. The family moved 
to Oberlin, Ohio, where Helen Shafer was graduated from college in 
1863, surprisingly enough not from the regular college course but from 
the one designed for women. But a classmate who was later a Boston 
clergyman remembered her as "an excellent student, certainly the best 
among the women of her class." After a brief initial teaching experience 
in New Jersey, she taught mathematics for ten years in a St. Louis high 
school that had high standards. She won recognition there for outstand- 
ing work, and Dr. William T. Harris, the Superintendent of Schools in 


St. Louis at that time and later the United States Commissioner of Edu- 
cation, in a tribute at the time of her death wrote, "Her methods of 
instruction in those years produced the best results I have ever known." 

In 1877, two years after the opening of the College, Mr. Durant ap- 
pointed her Professor of Mathematics and Head of the Department of 
Mathematics. This was another instance of his ability to find excellent 
teachers. Under Miss Shafer's direction the department became one 
of the strongest in the College, and one of the strongest Mathematics De- 
partments for undergraduates in the country. A natural scholar, she con- 
tinued her studies; in 1887, for example, she attended a course of lectures 
in Boston given by a distinguished Harvard mathematician, and another 
Harvard professor (in a statement which we would now regard at best as 
ambivalent praise but which was clearly intended as high tribute) said 
that he "had not known what women could do in the field until he 
studied the work of Professor Shafer." At about the same time Oberlin 
awarded her an honorary MA. degree. 

Without doubt, she was one of Wellesley's great teachers ("incompa- 
rable," she was called by one former student). Another spoke of her as "a 
teacher of transcendent skill," but perhaps most revealing is the effort 
to analyze that skill made by Ellen Fitz Pendleton '86, who was both a 
student and a young colleague of Miss Shafer. She wrote: "It is difficult 
to give adequate expression to the impression which Miss Shafer made 
as a teacher. There was a friendly graciousness in her manner of meeting 
a class which established at once a feeling of sympathy between student 
and teacher. . . . She taught us to aim at clearness of thought and ele- 
gance of method; in short, to attempt to give to our work a certain finish 
which belongs only to the scholar. ... I believe that it has often been 
the experience of a Wellesley girl, that once on her feet in Miss Shafer's 
classroom, she has surprised herself by treating a subject more clearly 
than she would have thought possible before the recitation. The explana- 
tion of this, I think, lay in the fact that Miss Shafer inspired her students 
with her own confidence in their intellectual powers." Miss Pendleton 
also commented upon her former students' regret when they learned of 
her appointment as president: "No one probably doubted the wisdom 
of the choice, but all were unwilling that the inspiration of Miss Shafer's 
teaching should be lost to the future Wellesley students." And the stu- 
dents were not alone in lamenting her withdrawal from teaching; Ellen 
Burrell '80, like Miss Pendleton a former student and a member of the 
Mathematics Department, wrote of Miss Shafer's feelings about the mat- 
ter: "Often since she became president has she been heard to express 
deep regret that her heavy cares no longer permitted her to meet [students] 
in this way. For a time she cherished the dream that it might not always 
be so, but the hope faded with accumulated cares." 


Her abiding interest in teaching and scholarship, coupled with her 
clear thinking, organizational ability, and patience, enabled her to make 
contributions to the College of a kind and quality which were vitally 
important. There has been unanimity in proclaiming that "the crowning 
achievement of her administration was the 'New Curriculum,' " which, 
according to a statement made in 1894, "places Wellesley in the front 
rank of progressive American colleges." This curriculum — which, as she 
wrote, "represents three years of earnest discussions" by the faculty — was 
completed in 1893 not long before her death. It receives its rightful con- 
sideration in the chapter on the curriculum; here we shall say only that 
it stood the test of time, some forty years in fact, magnificently — not with- 
out modifications, of course, but without serious challenge to its basic 
concept of a liberal education. 

It has been customary to characterize the work of Miss Shafer's admin- 
istration as "intensive" and that of Miss Freeman's as "extensive." Cer- 
tainly the internal organization which Miss Freeman had begun was car- 
ried further. An Examining Board, composed of heads of departments 
whose subjects were offered for admission, was formed to oversee the 
whole area of admission, and its secretary, Sarah Woodman Paul '81, paid 
great tribute to the President's careful planning, thoroughness, precision, 
and dedication at every stage of its work. (Admission standards had be- 
come higher and fewer students were accepted with conditions; greater 
selectivity was made possible by the ever-increasing number of applicants.) 
By 1892 there were ten standing committees of the faculty — and Miss 
Shafer made a comment which would strike a responsive chord with 
faculty members of all times and all institutions: "Time and energy are 
severely taxed in this service, and [teachers] are thus withdrawn from 
the direct work of instruction." She also appointed eight members of the 
faculty as "Advisers"; "each of whom," she wrote, "should have a certain 
official interest in, and acquaintance with, a group of Freshmen." 

Mr. Durant's interest in students' health had continued, and evidence 
had been sought to corroborate his conviction that it was improved, not 
damaged, by college life. Miss Shafer's contributions in this area were 
characteristic of her general approach: she made more systematic the 
careful record-keeping of the physical education staff, and she published 
the results. (She also in the President's Report for 1888-89 noted wryly 
concerning eight freshmen who departed soon after the opening of col- 
lege that they had "proved candidates for the sanitarium rather than for 
the College, although each of them presented a certificate of good health 
from her family physician.") In that same Report she stated that 
"Through the kindness of Professor Eben Norton Horsford the averaged 
and tabulated results of seven years' physical examinations will be printed 
this year and sent to the members of the Board of Trustees," and she 


pointed out "that in this work for women we are the first who through 
a series of years have given time and labor sufficient for recording and 
tabulating so many hundred measurements." The following year her 
Report contained "anthropometric tables" and statistics showing the 
improvement in the physical condition of twenty-six students who used 
the gymnasium for twenty minutes a day for four months — and she con- 
tinued to stress the need for an adequate gymnasium. 

Miss Shafer's appreciation of the value of "communication" and of the 
importance of the alumnae has perhaps never been fully recognized. In 
her first year as president she established the practice of publishing an- 
nual reports to the Trustees — reports which are invaluable in stating 
and clarifying the College's problems and achievements and, it might be 
added, in providing information for historians. (Miss Freeman wrote a 
brief report in 1883, but she never did so again.) She also arranged for 
the publication of a one-sheet "college edition" of the Wellesley Courant, 
the town newspaper, in order, she said, "to furnish alumnae and other 
absent friends of Wellesley with such a record of passing events as shall 
keep them closely informed of her progressive welfare." The first issue 
appeared on September 21, 1888, with Professor Katharine Lee Bates as 
the editor; the following year it was succeeded by The Prelude, a weekly 
magazine, and in 1892 by The Wellesley Magazine. Those publications 
also contained items of interest to students, but the first authentic "student 
publication" was Legenda, the college yearbook. The article which Caro- 
line Williamson Montgomery '89, the editor of the first Legenda, wrote 
for the one published in 1894 reveals not only Miss Shafer's support of 
the project but her deftness in working with students of that generation: 
"From the first application from the Class of '89 for the issue of a col- 
lege annual, Miss Shafer was always full of interest. Throughout its 
whole career she gave her hearty support. In each detail she was inter- 
ested. When she felt unable to give her consent to the insertion of some 
feature, she always gave her reasons as fully as she could. Occasionally 
she would say, 'Personally I should have no objection to that, but it does 
not seem wise to introduce it; I would not.' This warm interest has been 
extended through all the vicissitudes of the Legenda." (Apparently other 
editors too were grateful; the 1892 Legenda was dedicated to Miss Shafer.) 

The editor of the 1889 Legenda also wrote of her: "Often she has 
said, 'I feel that one of Wellesley's strongest points is in her alumnae.' 
And once more, because of this confidence, the alumnae, as when stu- 
dents, were spurred to do their best, were filled with loyalty for their 
Alma Mater. Miss Shafer always welcomed with cordiality any plan or 
suggestion which an alumna might have for any department of college 
life and work. An alumna could not but feel that she had come into 
special privileges in knowing how actively, wisely, and progressively Miss 


Shafer was engaged in pushing the interests of the College." In the col- 
lege archives is a cordial, helpful letter in her clear, flowing penmanship 
on fifteen half-sheets of paper which she sent on June 30, 1888, to the 
"Southern Wellesley Association" when it was established in Lexington, 
Kentucky. She kept in touch with alumnae, individually and as groups, 
in their home communities and at reunions. At the time of her death 
the Alumnae Association noted especially "the unfeigned wealth of wel- 
come on our annual return to college halls," when she confided "what 
she in due discretion might of her cares and plans for Wellesley." But her 
most significant, long-term service to the alumnae — and the greatest 
evidence of her appreciation of them — was the recommendation which 
she made in 1892 to the Board of Trustees that alumnae should be repre- 
sented on it. The acceptance of the recommendation and the way in 
which it was carried out are recounted by Mrs. Mansfield in her chapter 
on the Alumnae Association. Here we should like to speak of Miss 
Shafer's presentation of the subject in her Report for 1891-92: first she 
reported on the activities of the alumnae during the thirteen years fol- 
lowing the graduation of the first class (a report which Mrs. Bishop 
quotes in the chapter on the achievements of alumnae); then she stated 
her belief that the time had come when the Board might "wisely make 
a formal recognition of the character and capacity of this body by ad- 
mitting alumnae to a share in the responsibility of the government of 
the College"; next she pointed out their "special qualities for this form 
of service" ("their knowledge of the practical workings of the College," 
"their affection for the College," "their filial allegiance to the funda- 
mental principles of the College"); finally, she recommended "the expedi- 
ency of alumnae representation on the Board." Clear, thoughtful, rea- 
soned, orderly, appealing to the differing concerns of individual trustees 
— surely this presentation is a superb example of Miss Shafer's conduct 
of the presidency. 

Progress, a great deal of progress, was made on many fronts during her 
administration. This was recognized in various ways. The 1890 Legenda 
was dedicated to the Spirit of Progress "in sincere gratitude for the bene- 
fits of recent evolution, and with buoyant hope for the future of Alma 
Mater's institutions." (Among the less intellectual "benefits" the editors 
mentioned "regeneration of the Greek-letter Societies, institution of the 
college cheer, organization of Glee Club and Banjo Club, the hearty sup- 
port of the Prelude editors.") The following year Ada Woolfolk '91 wrote 
in the Annals of "The Spirit of the Institution": "Today, it is a spirit 
of greater liberality in thought and deed, it has exchanged something of 
its youthful sentimentalism for true, deep conviction and honest, up- 
lifting, brotherly love. . . . Everywhere are signs of the new spirit. Its 
symbol was there when admission to the body of Faculty was made free 


to others as well as members of a Trinitarian Church, and daily its pres- 
ence is attested by the recent association — the Students' Association — 
young today, and bearing little fruit, but promising a rich harvest for 
future years." Again in 1893 the editors of Legenda "with grateful ap- 
preciation" dedicated the yearbook to the Spirit of Progress, which they 
with some restraint simply termed "Ever the vital fact in the History of 
Wellesley College." 

Perhaps even more remarkable than the progress itself was the fact that 
it was apparently achieved quietly and without any public expressions of 
dismay. True, the Board of Trustees' change in the bylaws which removed 
the requirement that faculty members be members of an Evangelical church 
was not arrived at easily. Over a period of eight months it was discussed at 
three meetings of the full Board; at one meeting a clergyman, a member for 
many years, read a letter from an absent trustee who expressed "anxiety 
. . . lest it change the pronounced religious character of the College," 
and at another meeting Mrs. Durant read an extract from Mr. Durant's 
will, "solemnly charging the Trustees not to permit any avoidance of his 
design," and she also read a note from Dr. Crosby "arguing against nul- 
lifying the wishes and intention of Mr. Durant." Mrs. Durant and the 
other members of the Old Guard had wished the church membership 
requirement to continue for faculty as well as trustees; Mrs. Palmer, Mr. 
Scudder, and other trustees who shared their views had proposed that it 
be eliminated for trustees as well as for faculty. But, in the end, the com- 
promise of exempting faculty but not trustees from the requirement was, 
according to the Trustee Minutes, "voted by a large majority." 

It is not possible to define precisely Miss Shafer's personal role in all 
of these expanding interests and changing emphases arrived at with such 
relative dispatch and reasonableness. But there is abundant testimony to 
her steadying presence and to the influence of her intellectual clarity and 
moral integrity. Often spoken of were her judicial power: "that capacity 
for making decisions unbiased by personal feeling"; her lucidity: "She 
sees so clearly that if I fail to see as she does, I immediately suspect myself 
of mental or moral color-blindness"; her fairness: "I have yet to find a 
Wellesley student who could not and would not say, 'I can always feel sure 
of the fairness of Miss Shafer's decision.' " Certainly the frequent com- 
ment of students, "She treats us like women, and knows that we are rea- 
soning beings," is another clue to her success. "With her, duty was a 
passion," Alice Freeman Palmer wrote, and a former student noted, "With 
her, duty was supreme, but duty transcending itself and becoming priv- 
ilege." It seems likely that her sense of duty and her deep devotion to 
the College led her to assume the arduous tasks of the presidency, and 
that "her singular power of forgetfulness of self" helped her perform 
them. Her finest qualities never sought or attained the footlights. She 


was evidently one of those professors most college generations can recall, 
whose somewhat austere exteriors belie the human warmth, humor, and 
gift for comedy which they possess. The Annals of 1883-84 reported that 
she "gave a superb rendering of the inimitable 'Mrs. R. W.' at a Dickens 
party"; after she became president, too, there were accounts of "delightful 
social evenings . . . when was revealed a dramatic power in her never 
otherwise suspected." Her keen sense of humor was remarked upon fre- 
quently, as was her wit. 

Most significant of all, however, are the comments on "her absolute 
absorption in the College" and her "boundless faith in the future of 
the College for which she worked and which was her life." Indeed, as 
Miss Pendleton wrote, she "literally gave her life to strengthening the 
foundations and to building up the organization of the College, both 
academically and administratively." 

Her health had never been robust. Like so many of her contemporaries, 
she struggled for years (ten years in her case) against tuberculosis; she 
was, in fact, forced to take leave for most of the academic year 1890-91. 
But, as Mrs. Palmer said, "Where other women would have easily sunk 
into invalidism, she . . . quietly bore for the sake of many the heaviest 
of burdens. She died as she would have wished, in the midst of her work, 
with all its perplexities upon her heart, fresh dreams of its future growth 
in her active brain." She contracted pneumonia and died after a brief 
illness on January 20, 1894. Dr. Alexander McKenzie, the Chairman 
of the Board of Trustees, had worked closely with her, as his words re- 
veal: "Her administration, quiet, steady, intelligent, has been illustrious 
and has been most esteemed by those who most carefully watched its 
daily course and felt the gracious sincerity of its intent." 

The year before her death, her alma mater had recognized her distinc- 
tion as scholar and administrator with another honorary degree, the 
first LL.D. degree which Oberlin conferred on a woman. At Wellesley 
her name is perpetuated by a dormitory, Shafer Hall; in the Chapel by 
a memorial window given by the Class of 1891, of which she was the hon- 
orary member; a library fund given by the Alumnae Association for books 
on mathematics; and a loan fund established by an alumna of the Class 
of 1888. 

Some of Miss Shafer's "fresh dreams" of the College's future growth to 
which Mrs. Palmer referred were set forth in the President's Report for 
1891-92. She stated there: "The careful observer cannot fail to note the 
gathering strength of certain signal movements in the college life, which 
have already claimed our thoughtful attention, and which must be recog- 
nized at no distant day as permanent forces in development. . . . The 
President of the College . . . sees before her a young college, with won- 
derful possibilities to be developed; the lines of development are clear and 


definite, but the funds essential to progress are not at her command. 
Each year as the report of the work has been laid before your body, your 
attention has been called to pressing needs. These needs, still unmet, 
clamor more loudly every year. Delay must entail not loss alone, but dis- 
aster, also." She then made strong cases for a gymnasium; another cot- 
tage (Freeman and Wood, adjoining Norumbega on the hill, had been 
opened in her administration, but an additional dormitory was needed to 
house students living in private houses in the village and to free space 
in College Hall for classrooms and offices); a science building; a larger 
chapel; further endowments, especially for the faculty; fellowships. 

The most cherished of Miss Sharer's dreams had been a new curriculum. 
It had been adopted before her death, and so to some extent had become 
a reality. There remained, however, the task of putting it into effect — and 
this would require full and sympathetic understanding of her ideas. 

Who should carry on her unfinished work? This was the question con- 
fronting the Trustees. In many respects, the logical person to serve in 
the emergency was Frances E. Lord, Professor of Latin, the only member 
of the first faculty with previous experience in college teaching (seven 
years at Vassar). She had been the Acting President in 1890-91 when Miss 
Shafer was on leave because of illness, and the faculty on June 16, 1891, 
had expressed "unqualified approval of her conduct of the presidency" in 
a formal resolution to the Trustees commending her "unselfish and un- 
tiring devotion to the interests of the College." It was natural then that 
on the President's death the College should turn to her for leadership, 
and she was elected by the faculty to serve as Chairman of the Academic 
Council "until a definite provision could be made." But she was fifty- 
nine years of age in 1894; and Florence Converse '92 has described her as 
"a serious, kindly scholar, of a certain rigidity of temperament, old-fash- 
ioned in manners and in theology." The liberal members of the Board 
of Trustees must have feared that the progress made recently would not 
continue if Miss Lord were placed in charge of the College. And yet she 
could not be ignored. 

The Trustees at a meeting on February 1, 1894, less than two weeks 
after Miss Shafer's sudden death, proposed that "for the time being the 
internal, administration should be committed to the Academic Council, 
subject to the direction and supervision of the Executive Committee," and 
that "Professor Lord, Chairman of the Council, should be the presiding 
officer of the Faculty and attend meetings of the Executive Committee." 
At the same time they voted that Professor Julia J. Irvine, "Secretary of 
the Council, should be charged with the general administration of col- 
legiate business and required to attend meetings of the Executive Com- 

Despite the politeness in naming Miss Lord first, it was obvious that 


she would have the secondary role. "Professor Lord declining the office," 
the minutes of the next meeting reported, the Trustees appointed Mar- 
garet E. Stratton, Professor of English and Rhetoric, "in the place, giving 
her charge of the religious services and the public functions of the College 
together with the supervision of the general college life." Mrs. Irvine 
accepted the position offered to her and was named Acting President 
in June and President in December. As we shall see, she had been and 
she continued to be a brilliant, controversial figure, given rapid advance- 
ment by strong supporters and perhaps resented by some of the older 
faculty and trustees. 

Julia J. Irvine 

Julia Josephine Thomas Irvine was born at Salem, Ohio, November 9, 
1848. Her grandparents, strong abolitionists and Hicksite Quakers, are 
said to have moved to the middle west from the south because they did 
not wish to live in a slave state. Her mother was the first woman physi- 
cian to practice west of the Alleghenies, and she also made her mark in 
the Woman Suffrage movement. Julia Thomas first attended Antioch 
College, Ohio, and then transferred to Cornell University, where in 1875 
she received the B.A. degree and took top honors in Greek. Shortly after 
that time, she entered and won an intercollegiate contest for a scholar- 
ship prize; eleven colleges, including Cornell, Princeton, and Williams, 
were represented, only "first class colleges" being invited and only one 
contestant admitted from each. A newspaper reported widespread ex- 
citement over "the wonderful woman who carried off the Greek prize," 
and in 1876 she was awarded the M.A. degree by Cornell. In 1875 she 
married Charles James Irvine, of whom we know only that he was a 
graduate of the University of Edinburgh and is said to have been in 
sympathy with her intellectual tastes and aspirations. They lived for 
eleven years in New York City where, according to one account, she did 
some teaching and tutoring. After her husband's death in 1886, she stud- 
ied abroad, notably in Leipzig, where she "attracted much notice from 
her professors." Her formal teaching seems to have been in private schools 
in Boston during the few years between her return from Europe and 
1890, when she first came to Wellesley, but she must have been well 
known in the area, to judge from a full-column report of her appointment 
in the Boston Herald. She evidently had independent means, because she 
was about to go abroad for further study when an offer from Wellesley 
altered her plans. 

The offer was as extraordinary as the woman to whom it was made. As 
the Trustee Minutes of May 10, 1890, explained, the transfer of Mary 
Whiton Calkins to the Philosophy Department "made it necessary to 


secure a superior teacher in the Greek Department. Mrs. Julia J. Irvine, a 
Christian lady and scholarly woman who had graduated from Cornell 
University taking a first prize and studied at Leipzig was highly recom- 
mended. The President of the College was much pleased with Mrs. Ir- 
vine, and upon her recommendation, she was appointed Associate Pro- 
fessor of Greek, to take the position in 1890 or 1891, as the President 
of the College may arrange to their mutual satisfaction." Then, at the 
same meeting, it was announced that Professor Horsford had offered 
to pay for four years the difference in salary between associate professor 
and full professor, and Mrs. Irvine was thereupon appointed Professor of 
Greek. The eagerness of Miss Shafer and the Trustees to have her is at- 
tested by their willingness to allow her to choose the year of her coming 
and by her appointment at a rank and salary which only a very special 
arrangement made possible. It is also apparent that the arrangement with 
Professor Horsford, who was not a trustee, must have been made before 
the meeting, and it seems likely that Mrs. Palmer, with her wide acquaint- 
ance in educational and cultural circles in Boston and her great friend- 
ship with Professor Horsford, was in this instance as in so many others 
the key person. And it also seems highly probable that Mrs. Palmer later 
was influential in the selection of Mrs. Irvine as Miss Shafer's successor. 

In any event, she made an immediate impact as a teacher. Miss Con- 
verse, whose appraisals of the early faculty were informed and perceptive, 
wrote of her: "Students of those days will never forget the vitality of her 
teaching, the enthusiasm for study which pervaded her classes. Wellesley 
has had her share of inspiring teachers, and among these Mrs. Irvine 
was undoubtedly one of the most brilliant." Harriet Manning Blake '94 
recalled her some thirty years later: "The lady of the rushing skirts, swift 
feet; swift hands, long and beautiful; severe head held high; vivid face 
behind Oxford glasses with a ribbon." And Miss Blake, who herself re- 
ceived a Ph.D. degree and was a teacher, added: "For four years I went to 
her classroom, every day an adventure to which I went on tip-toe with 
anticipation, and from which I came away entranced. How did she do it 
— that extraordinary teacher? ... I remember her swift, clear thinking. 
She shot straight at the mark with a bareness that suggested her Quaker 
inheritance and the courage that was Quaker too, yet all her own. She 
was an aristocrat; one of the few women in that day who ignored what 
the world thought. And with her independence went a charming humor. 
. . . She seemed always the great lady; yet her humanness was the thing 
that touched me most. . . . To many I think she seemed austere and a 
little frightening. This was due, perhaps, to her fear of showing her emo- 

Miss Shafer was as well satisfied as she had expected to be with her new 
colleague. In the President's Report for the first year Mrs. Irvine was at 


Wellesley, Miss Shafer wrote, "The Greek Department has been fortunate 
in having its recognized efficiency still further increased by the appoint- 
ment, as Junior Professor in Greek, of Mrs. J. J. Irvine, of Cornell Uni- 
versity, who is also appreciated as a new element of strength in Council." 
Mrs. Irvine was a member of the Academic Council during the three 
years of intensive work on the new curriculum, and we can legitimately 
infer from Miss Shafer's comment and our knowledge of her scholarly 
interests that she participated in the planning of it in a positive and 
constructive way. Moreover, it is probable that only her desire to make 
sure that the curriculum was put into effect as Miss Shafer had conceived 
it induced her "to forego her life work of study and teaching for a time, 
and devote herself to the duties of the Presidency." Certainly this is indi- 
cated by her pointing out later: "It will be recalled that the College had 
at that time entered but recently upon the change from a required to an 
elective system of study. . . . The general opinion seemed to be that 
... a member of the faculty should be appointed to the office since the 
situation demanded an intimate acquaintance with the most recent legis- 
lation of the College as well as attachment to its service." 

In the emergency following Miss Shafer's death, she was willing to 
serve for the rest of the college year, and also to accept appointment in 
June of 1894 as the Acting President. Six months later (two days after 
Christmas), the Trustees held a special meeting called at the request of 
four of their members who were partisans of Mrs. Irvine (Mr. and Mrs. 
Claflin, Miss Horsford, and Dr. Willcox) to consider her election as Presi- 
dent. In view of Mrs. Durant's strong desire that faculty as well as trus- 
tees be members of an Evangelical church, she might have been expected 
to object to a Hicksite Quaker as the head of Wellesley College. Instead, 
it was she who made the motion that Mrs. Irvine be appointed President. 
Before doing so, she read the letter which Mrs. Irvine had written at the 
time of her appointment to the faculty, some eight months before the 
Trustees had removed the requirement of Evangelical church member- 
ship for the faculty. The Trustee Minutes reported that this letter from 
Mrs. Irvine gave assurance "of her entire sympathy with the fundamental 
spiritual aims of the College, upon which all education and character is 
there sought to be built. Mrs. Durant expressed the belief that ever since 
Mrs. Irvine had accepted the duties of Acting President she had tried to 
promote these aims." The Minutes continued: "Mr. Scudder expressed 
his high appreciation of Mrs. Irvine's superior intellectual abilities, and 
warmly seconded the motion. All present expressed their warm regard and 
approval of the candidate." 

At that point in the meeting Dr. McKenzie made a statement, never 
amplified, which is tantalizing because it could provide the clue to some 
aspects of Mrs. Irvine's administration. He said that "at the specific re- 


quest of Mrs. Irvine, he was under obligation to her, if at any time such 
action [election as President] was proposed, to express her sense of her 
unfitness for this office; while she had gladly temporarily rendered to the 
College such assistance as was in her power in its time of emergency, she 
had taken the opportunity to lay this obligation upon him without any 
knowledge of the proposed meeting at this time." Immediately thereafter, 
as far as the Minutes disclosed, the vote was taken and it was unanimously 
in favor of Mrs. Irvine as President. Only when Mrs. Irvine in her Report 
for 1897-98 was expressing her belief that the moment had arrived for 
her to resign was the matter ever referred to again, either in official rec- 
ords or in personal correspondence or statements by her contemporaries 
that have been preserved. She wrote in that Report: "When the Board of 
Trustees voted in December, 1894, to offer the presidency of the College 
to the then acting president, that officer presented through the Chairman 
of the Board reasons against her appointment believed by her to be cogent. 
Those reasons were set aside by the Board, and the appointment was fi- 
nally accepted in view of what was regarded by the appointee as a tem- 
porary exigency calling for and justifying the sacrifice of personal prefer- 
ence." The "cogent" reasons remain a mystery, and it is fascinating but 
unproductive to speculate about them. Possibly Mrs. Irvine simply real- 
ized, as Miss Converse has said, "She had not Mrs. Palmer's skill in con- 
veying unwelcome fact into a resisting mind without irritation; neither 
had she Miss Shafer's self-effacing, sympathetic patience." 

She was undoubtedly direct and forthright. At the outset she stipulated 
as a condition of her acceptance of the presidency that "the Board should 
pass a resolution pledging itself to cancel before the end of the present 
college year that part of the college indebtedness which consists of loans 
from funds given for specific purposes, and then to publish a full finan- 
cial statement." President Freeman had written to Professor Palmer in 
April 1887, "The division of authority between the President and Treas- 
urer [Mrs. Durant after Mr. Durant's death] is the cause of all the diffi- 
culty which now exists in the organization of the College." The basic 
concern — that the treasurer wished to make decisions which the president 
believed should properly be hers — has been voiced on occasion by later 
presidents. So far as Mrs. Durant was concerned, there also were special 
circumstances: however generous she was, her personal fortune no longer 
permitted her to provide all of the support needed, and she did not have 
the experience and expertise to cope with the complex financial problems 
which arose as the College expanded. Miss Shafer had expressed the 
need for a "financial agent" — that is, for someone who would raise funds. 
But Mrs. Irvine as Acting President had become aware of the fact that 
no one, not even the Finance Committee, knew the full state of affairs 
because Mrs. Durant never submitted a real financial statement; Mrs. 


Irvine also realized that, to meet current expenses, money had been bor- 
rowed from funds given for scholarships and the library, that a sizeable 
indebtedness had resulted, and that the whole procedure was not proper. 
She therefore characteristically went straight to the heart of the matter 
and insisted upon what must have appeared to be drastic action before 
she would accept the presidency. 

About six weeks later (on March 27, 1895) Mrs. Durant resigned as 
Treasurer and nominated as her successor Alpheus H. Hardy, a business- 
man who had recently been elected to the Board of Trustees. Horace 
Scudder in his private journal paid great tribute to Mrs. Durant's dedica- 
tion, noted that the work now demanded "more strictly business manage- 
ment," and then wrote of Mrs. Durant: "She had held to her place with 
characteristic stubbornness and then yielded with characteristic sweetness 
and cheerfulness." The whole episode is revealing of both women, as is 
also their continuing to maintain cordial and cooperative relations after 
this and other occasions on which they differed sharply. 

Mrs. Durant fought her losing battles with conviction, stubbornness, 
and extraordinary magnanimity. As one comes to realize the depth of her 
feeling, her sense of something like betrayal of the ideals of the Founders, 
her adherence to minutiae as well as her loyalty to fundamental issues, 
one is increasingly impressed by the large-mindedness and generosity in 
every sense of the word with which she continued to dedicate herself to 
the College. Katharine Lee Bates once remarked that "she has forgotten 
and no one else will ever know" the extent of her gifts. In one instance, 
the very day after the passing of a measure she had vigorously opposed, 
she presented "a little parcel of bonds from her personal estate to carry 
out the plan." She was a gracious and indefatigable hostess; she was in- 
deed indefatigable on many fronts, often working half the night on cor- 
respondence, Trustee Minutes, plans. (On one occasion, as she wrote Mrs. 
North, "I had to stay home from church meeting to get the notices [of a 
meeting of the Trustees] out; not a spare half hour!" And once when she 
was persuaded to allow herself a brief respite in Vermont, she admitted to 
her hostess that it was the first visit of relaxation she had made in twenty- 
five years.) She called on faculty, staff, and students when they were sick, 
often taking them flowers from her greenhouse or delicacies from her 
kitchen. When a dormitory was not fully completed before college opened 
in the fall, one of the early arrivals among the students wrote that their 
spirits "would have hopelessly flagged if Mrs. Durant had not found us 
and given us a most cordial greeting, which really did more to cheer us 
than the order to the men to put the furniture in our respective rooms 
directly." For many years Mrs. Durant knew and cared deeply about every 
detail of the operation of the College. 

After her death on February 12, 1917, President Pendleton commented 


that until the last three years, when she had been an invalid and confined 
to her home, "no meeting of the Board of Trustees nor any college func- 
tion was complete without her presence." A resolution adopted by the 
Academic Council mentioned not only "her noble life, rich in beauty and 
love, in sorrow and in service," but also her warm human qualities: "A 
Virginian lady, Mrs. Durant's dignity and charm, above all her grace of 
hospitality, have meant much to Wellesley during these four decades 
gone. Many a homesick girl from the South has learned that the footpath 
across the Lake Waban meadow led to a gracious welcome. . . . Many of 
us in the faculty cherish precious memories of her courtesies and kind- 
nesses. . . ." The Trustees' resolution emphasized the fact that "Mrs. Du- 
rant regarded the College as a sacred trust; she gave to it with unstinted 
generosity, thought, energy, and loyalty that seemed absolutely tireless." 
But perhaps especially noteworthy are the tributes to her acceptance of 
change. In their memorial minute, the Trustees recorded "their gratitude 
and admiration for more than forty years of a service which has yielded 
freedom for progress"; the Academic Council stated more explicitly: 
"With rare magnanimity she accepted, one by one, the changes incident 
to progress. To each of our successive presidents she gave loyal support." 
More changes running directly counter to Mrs. Durant's principles and 
sentiments took place in Mrs. Irvine's administration than in any other 
during Mrs. Durant's lifetime. Granted, she had always opposed any rais- 
ing of the fee (increases of twenty-five dollars became effective in 1882-83 
and in 1885-86, and an increase of fifty dollars in 1888-89), and at the 
Trustees meeting in June 1888 she not only voted against the recom- 
mendation but called the "advance" of fifty dollars "a violation of the 
[intent of the] founders of Wellesley College that it should be especially 
established to benefit young women of moderate means." But coupled 
with another increase of fifty dollars proposed on October 3, 1895, was a 
recommendation that domestic work by students be discontinued. As was 
mentioned earlier in this chapter, Mr. Durant had instituted domestic 
work primarily as a matter of principle, only secondarily as a means of 
saving money and thereby reducing the fee. In the intervening years mem- 
bers of the faculty from time to time had voiced their belief that students' 
academic work suffered because of the time which they were required to 
spend on "domestic" chores; in June of 1894 the Academic Council over 
which Mrs. Irvine presided recommended the abolition of the require- 
ment. Students in the Free Press or editorial pages of the Magazine criti- 
cized the "unevenness" in assignments, and their letters preserved in the 
College's archives are filled with jubilant and dejected reports of the 
tasks allotted to them. ("Domestic" work was liberally interpreted; Pro- 
fessor Mary Whiton Calkins expressed her "thanks for the loyal and effi- 
cient services rendered, since the opening of the psychological laboratory, 


by students who have helped in department work.") 

Everyone realized that domestic work was a very sensitive subject, and 
the Trustees did not act on the Academic Council's recommendation. 
Mrs. Irvine and the trustees sharing her views obviously realized that their 
best plan of action was to show that an increase in the fee was essential 
and that Wellesley should discontinue domestic work in order to compete 
in attracting students on an equal basis with colleges which did not have 
such a requirement. The strategy succeeded: Mrs. Irvine later commented 
tersely, "Thus for financial reasons the measure has been adopted which 
was originally urged in the interest of academic advancement." It must 
have been one of Mrs. Durant's most bitter disappointments. At the 
meeting she had battled valiantly — reading a letter from Dwight L. 
Moody, a well-known evangelist and educator who had been a trustee 
since the early years of the College; quoting Mr. Durant's views; making 
her own eloquent protest. She also had questioned the absolute necessity 
of a $400 fee; consequently the matter had been laid on the table "until 
the Treasurer could arrive at the expenses," and the trustees had ad- 
journed for luncheon. When the meeting resumed, everyone except Mrs. 
Durant had voted in favor of the increased fee, but the two alumnae 
trustees present had joined her in opposing the abandonment of domestic 

This apparently was the last meeting of the Trustees at which Mrs. Du- 
rant made an impassioned plea to remain loyal to Mr. Durant's wishes. 
In the same year, 1895, she deplored but accepted other important altera- 
tions of Mr. Durant's original design for the College: the twenty minutes 
of "silent time" in the morning and evening were no longer required; 
students were allowed to attend the theatre or the opera; the library was 
opened on Sundays for two hours in the morning and four hours in the 

The students of course were delighted by these and other evidences of 
"progress." There soon appeared in The Wellesley Magazine long and 
enthusiastic reviews of performances in Boston theatres by Ellen Terry 
and Henry Irving, and of Damrosch's "excellent" interpretation of a Wag- 
nerian opera for which Professor Carla Wenckebach had provided valu- 
able preparation in her advanced German classes. At the College, in addi- 
tion to special lectures for the Christian Association and the College 
Settlements Association, there was a series of lectures on "Current Top- 
ics." In 1895 Woodrow Wilson became the first non-cleric except Mrs. 
Palmer to give the Commencement address, and thereafter the Com- 
mencement speaker was not always a clergyman. Students were expected 
to attend a church service on Sunday, but they could go to the chapel in 
College Hall or to a village church as they pleased, and there was no 
penalty for failing to attend chapel services on any day of the week. Every- 


one rejoiced in the "system of electric lights" in College Hall, Stone Hall, 
the Farnsworth Art Building, and the three cottages on Norumbega Hill; 
moreover, Mrs. Irvine reported, "the grounds are thoroughly lighted by 
eighty twenty-five candlepower lamps." The Class of 1893 gave in mem- 
ory of Miss Shafer "an electric programme clock" which showed "college 
time on dial plates in various places" and rather gently rang bells for 
classes and concerts and meals — the clanging of the great gong in College 
Hall being reserved for awakening the household in the morning and for 
emergencies. What students termed "a gruesome elevator etiquette: fac- 
ulty first, then seniors" disappeared, as did some other minor irritations 
which to the students were symbols of regimentation. The changes, they 
noted in The Wellesley Magazine, were all "in the direction of greater 
comfort and freedom, more pleasure, and enlarged opportunities for the 
students." In sum, an editorial in December 1896 pointed out: "We en- 
tered three years ago this fall. Wellesley is like another place now. Could 
the most ardent advocate of progress demand changes more varied and 
rapid than have actually taken place? Most of them have been the work 
of the College authorities." 

One of the changes to which the members of the Class of 1897 called 
attention in that editorial was that when they entered college they "had 
no Dean, and the duties of that office fell upon various already-burdened 
shoulders." At a meeting on February 1, 1894, very shortly after Miss 
Shafer's death, the Trustees recognized the fact that "the general manage- 
ment of college affairs and their organization demand the entire energies 
and ability" of a president, and they proposed that the Executive Com- 
mittee "consider the expediency of a Dean to relieve the President from 
details of administration." The following fall the statutes were amended 
"to allow for a second executive officer, the Dean," and Miss Stratton, 
Mrs. Irvine's choice, was appointed to the position. As Mrs. Irvine made 
clear in her President's Report for 1894-95, the Trustees did not define 
"the precise nature of the relation between president and dean," leaving 
them "free to make such division of work as seemed best to them." They 
decided that Miss Stratton was to remain "in charge of all that related 
to the public devotional exercises of the College and chairman of the 
committee in charge of stated religious services," to be "the authority 
referred to in all questions of ordinary discipline" and the chairman 
of the committee of heads of houses and permission officers, to visit all 
houses in the village in which students were placed and to assign students 
to approved boarding houses, and in general watch over their "comfort 
and conduct there." But, said Mrs. Irvine, "Her most difficult and for 
the moment the most important trust is the charge of College Hall and 
the students who are lodged in this building." Miss Stratton's duties were 
residential rather than academic, although she continued to teach until 


her last year as dean when, on Mrs. Irvine's recommendation, she "was 
released from all care of the English Department." The two women 
worked together extremely well and remained friends throughout their 
lives, corresponding frequently even after one retired in the south of 
France and the other in Southern California. 

On the conduct of chapel services as on other matters the President and 
Dean agreed. Mrs. Irvine quoted with evident approval Miss Stratton's 
statement that "It is more and more evident that simple, direct preaching 
of the truth, free from dogma and denominationalism, attracts our stu- 
dents." The services led by Mrs. Irvine herself (who was recalled years 
later by an alumna as "that commanding figure behind the reading desk 
of the Old Chapel in College Hall") were memorable. A sonnet, "Mrs. 
Irvine Leads Chapel," written by Isabel Fiske Conant '96, conveys a 
sense of her swiftness of movement and her Quaker stillness of prayer: 

When she came silently up the chapel aisle 
She seemed to move a space above the ground. 
With her at prayer-desk for a quiet while, 
In all the crowded room would be no sound. 
She came how still, yet with a sort of rush, 
Threading the narrow lane as if on wings; 
Her gestured invocation brought a hush; 
Such as the depth of reverence, only, brings. 

Chapel seemed voluntary on the day 

She was announced to lead. Although we knew 

Not all would hear the prayer that she would say, 

Inaudibly our souls attended, too. 

She brought our multitude, each heart alone, 

Rapt with her rapture, kneeling at the throne. 

Something of her feeling about the private nature of prayer is also illus- 
trated by an anecdote recalled by Harriet Manning Blake '94: "I remem- 
ber that once someone remonstrated with her because when she asked a 
blessing in the great Main Building dining room she could be heard by 
only a few. 'When I ask a blessing,' she retorted, 'I am not talking to you. 
I am talking to the Lord.' " (That anecdote shows too her rather prickly 
sense of humor.) 

There was then a new liberalism in the rules and in the spirit of the 
College, but without doubt the most significant changes resulted from 
the new curriculum. Students' awareness of its importance is witnessed by 
their hailing it in the December 1896 issue of The Wellesley Magazine 


as "the greatest single stride the College has made." It was not, however, a 
stride which could be taken easily and painlessly. The shift from a 
largely prescribed course to one offering many electives was radical. As 
Mrs. Irvine pointed out to the Trustees, "When students had few oppor- 
tunities for election and passed in regular course, each department was 
assured of definite support; it was natural to entrust to heads of depart- 
ments the individual responsibility for the development of instruction." 
Conversely, when certain subjects were no longer required and fewer stu- 
dents chose to take them, fewer teachers were needed to teach them. At 
the same time, there was a need for faculty members who could teach new 
courses and additional sections of popular courses. To complicate matters 
further, some teaching methods which had been considered advanced in 
the 1870s and 1880s were no longer appropriate, especially for the well- 
qualified students who were entering Wellesley in 1895. Another consid- 
eration was that the new curriculum was expensive: it required a sizeable 
staff of specialists to teach the wide variety of courses. The Trustees, hard- 
pressed by financial problems, were keenly conscious of Wellesley's having 
in 1895-96 seventy-nine faculty members to teach 786 students while Smith 
had only forty-three teachers and 875 students; Mrs. North's correspond- 
ence, now in the College's archives, contains letters from Mrs. Durant 
and Dr. Willcox concerning the questions some of the trustees were rais- 
ing as to whether Wellesley should reduce the size of its faculty to ap- 
proximate that of Smith. 

Clearly Mrs. Irvine was in a very difficult position. The College's fi- 
nances would not permit her to retain all of the present members of the 
faculty and also to obtain the new members she needed to put into effect 
the new curriculum to which she was fully, and rightly, committed. Ten- 
ure provisions were unheard of at that time, although in at least one in- 
stance the Trustees felt some responsibility for a long-time professor. 
Fortunately for Wellesley, it had at that moment in its history a president 
who was clear-headed and tough-minded; otherwise the superb curricu- 
lum which Miss Shafer had been instrumental in planning probably 
would never have been implemented. Mrs. Irvine was singularly direct 
and forthright — and not notably tactful, although one wonders, given the 
hard realities of the situation, whether it would have been possible both 
to exercise tact and to achieve the results which she deemed imperative. 
Mary S. Case, Professor of Philosophy who taught at Wellesley from 1884 
until 1924, wrote long after Mrs. Irvine and most of the professors in- 
volved had died, "She got rid of officers and teachers who had outlived 
their usefulness, and this naturally aroused antagonism in many quar- 
ters." In the President's Report for 1894-95 Mrs. Irvine listed eleven "who 
withdrew from the service of the College" in June 1894 and eighteen who 
did so in June 1895; in her Report for 1896-97 she listed eighteen who 


withdrew in June and she also announced twenty-three new appointments. 

Among the members of the faculty resigning in 1897 was Frances E. 
Lord, Professor of Latin and the Acting President during Miss Shafer's 
illness. After Miss Lord's death in 1920, Estelle M. Hurll '82, an alumnae 
trustee at the time of her resignation, wrote of her in the Alumnae Quar- 
terly, "Successive changes in the curriculum narrowed Miss Lord's work 
to certain elective courses in which the classes were necessarily small. It 
was characteristic of her to prefer a field where her services seemed more 
vitally needed, and so she left Wellesley in 1897 for Rollins College in 
Florida, where she was the Latin professor for eleven years" and from 
which she retired at the age of seventy-three. The Trustees, however, on 
being advised of her resignation appointed a special committee on the 
matter. Acting on a report of that committee in the October following her 
departure, the Trustees voted to accept the resignation, sending her a 
letter expressing "warm appreciation of the conscientious fidelity [and 
added 'scholarly ability' at the suggestion of Dr. Hovey] with which she 
has served the College for twenty-one years," and to "appoint her Pro- 
fessor Emeritus with a retiring allowance of $700." Miss Lord graciously 
thanked the Trustees but wrote: "What I would carry away from Welles- 
ley is the remembrance of Christian affection. This I covet, and this 
alone." As Mrs. Irvine wrote of her, "She stands forth 'a figure bright 
and strong, serene and noble,' a valid witness to that faith which is her 

Mrs. Irvine surely respected and admired Miss Lord; she also must have 
been glad to have her resign in such a high-minded way and to have her 
professorial salary available for younger members of the faculty. The 
President was trying desperately to obtain increases in salary and rank for 
some of the very able instructors; on one occasion, Dr. Willcox wrote 
Mrs. North, she even proposed that several senior, illustrious professors 
whom she named "be fired so that younger faculty could receive ad- 
vances." (He added rather dryly that the Board declined to approve the 
suggestion.) It is easy to see why the young faculty (including Ellen Fitz 
Pendleton and Vida Dutton Scudder, who "warmly admired" her "for her 
intellectual leadership") held her in high esteem, and why she was not 
universally popular with the older faculty. Horace Scudder, the editor 
and trustee who was also Miss Scudder's uncle, must have sensed this 
ambivalence. After a long talk with Mrs. Irvine, he wrote in his journal 
in July 1898 about her, "so clear ... so winning in her manner ... so 
admirable a judgement," and then noted "the hopeless estrangement be- 
tween her and the faculty." 

Apparently the faculty members who at the time appreciated her most 
were those who understood (and probably were not affected by) the 
thankless but necessary task she was performing for the College. They 


also applauded her firm adherence to standards of scholarship for fac- 
ulty and students alike and her own devotion to teaching. (Perhaps char- 
acteristically, Miss Shafer had longed to continue to teach after she be- 
came president; Mrs. Irvine did so. For two years — from 1895 until 1897 
— she taught a year course on "Private Lives of the Greeks" and a semester 
course on Homer, and then presumably concluded that she could not 
afford the time required.) Despite the fact that the country was in a 
serious financial crisis which caused some students to withdraw and 
others not to apply for admission, she refused to accept candidates who 
could not cope with the level of work demanded by the new curriculum. 
(In reporting to the Trustees in the fall of 1897 that there were sixty 
fewer students than the year before, she gave as one of the reasons "many 
are rejected because not equal to our requirements.") And of course 
the smaller enrollment compounded the College's budgetary problems. 

When the Trustees met in November of 1897, Mrs. Irvine submitted her 
resignation and recommended that it become effective at the end of the 
year. She felt that she had done what she could (and later appraisals ac- 
knowledged that she had done a very great deal), and that the time had 
come for a different kind of president — someone from outside the fac- 
ulty. The president, she believed, should "be able to direct, influence, and 
in some cases control the development of departments" and should "bring 
new endowments." This was the same meeting at which Miss Lord's resig- 
nation was discussed at great length and Mrs. Irvine pointed out that the 
day had passed when heads of departments could have "individual re- 
sponsibility for the development of instruction." It was the period when 
her relations with some of the older faculty members were undoubtedly 
strained and acutely painful. The Trustees appointed a committee of 
five members (Andrew Fiske, Professor Horsford's son-in-law; Mrs. Pal- 
mer; Mrs. North; Mrs. Durant; William Lincoln, a businessman who 
had just been elected to the Board and would have no longstanding preju- 
dices) to consider Mrs. Irvine's resignation. The committee reported a 
month later that the members "unanimously arrived at the conclusion 
the resignation should not be accepted, believing that such action at this 
time would be a serious injury to the College." They did, however, make 
three recommendations. The recommendations are illuminating in show- 
ing the difficulties that existed as well as the ways in which they might 
be overcome. The committee members believed that the difficulties could 
be met "by three forces, the President, Departments, and Trustees heartily 
cooperating," by establishing a Committee on Appointments of three 
trustees to whom the President should report any nominations she wished 
to make after consulting with the heads of the departments, and by ap- 
pointing as the Dean someone who would "relieve the President ... in 
representing the College before the public and so increase public esteem 


as to create a natural channel for gifts to the College." Mrs. Irvine, clear- 
headed as ever, knew that these expedients would not succeed, and so 
"Mrs. Irvine still insisting" on resigning, according to the Trustee Min- 
utes, a second committee of five was appointed to confer with her. This 
committee, composed of two clergymen, Dr. Hovey and Bishop Lawrence, 
an alumnae trustee, Mrs. Thompson, the Treasurer, Mr. Hardy, and Ed- 
win Abbot, a lawyer, could not persuade her to withdraw her resignation. 
The date on which she would leave was extended to June 1899, "Mrs. 
Irvine having kindly shown a willingness to grant this favor, though not 
more." In her determination to leave at what she believed was the right 
moment for Wellesley, as well as in her conduct of the presidency, she 
exemplified the comment of Dr. McKenzie, the Chairman of the Board 
of Trustees: "She adhered to her design with unswerving independence 
and faithfulness." 

As is recounted in the following chapter, Wellesley's first "Search Com- 
mittee" for a president was created, and its members set about the task 
of finding precisely the kind of person Mrs. Irvine realized that the Col- 
lege should have at that point in its history. Her own contributions to 
it have not been fully recognized — certainly not in traditional ways. She 
has been a somewhat shadowy figure in the succession of presidents; her 
name is associated only with her portrait, given by the Class of 1895, and 
with a small fund for the Greek Department which was established by the 
Class of 1896 at its tenth reunion. Perhaps, however, she would have pre- 
ferred only the "permanent memorial" which Dr. McKenzie mentioned: 
"the improvements which have been made under her care, and chiefly in 
the new system of studies which has been formed under her direction. 
Her wise and scholarly work will remain." Her achievements in connec- 
tion with the curriculum had also been marked by the award of the de- 
gree of D.Litt. from Brown University in 1895; under her, as the citation 
noted, Wellesley was "one of the first colleges to place the fine arts and 
music on the list of elective studies counting towards the bachelor's de- 

After she left Wellesley she lived in France and did not return to the 
academic life except once, again in response to Wellesley's need. On the 
sudden death of the head of the French Department in 1913, she re- 
sponded to the plea of President Pendleton (one of the young instructors 
whom she regarded highly when she was at Wellesley), returned from 
France, and reorganized the department during the year. (She lived in 
College Hall until the night of the great fire on March 17, 1914, when by 
chance she had stayed in Cambridge. Later she wrote that "one of my 
great losses in the fire was my class-books, with all the records of the nine 
years at Wellesley. By a painful effort, I made up from memory the lists 
of my French [and Greek!] classes after the fire, said list proving nearly 


correct.") At the celebration of Wellesley's Semi-Centennial, the College 
conferred upon her in absentia the LL.D. degree of which Miss McCarthy 
quotes the citation on page 356. 

Except for the academic year 1913-14 and occasional travel, southern 
France was her home from 1899 until her death in 1930. In view of her 
manifest joy in teaching and scholarship, one wonders why she did not 
resume them. She did write of "consoling" herself "with Homer," and of 
her pleasure in attending lectures in Grenoble one year when her Welles- 
ley fellow-classicist and friend Professor Adeline B. Hawes was with her: 
"Miss Hawes takes all that is going, but I am more moderate." She was 
deeply committed to the cause of the Allies during the First World War, 
when she held a responsible position in a military hospital in France. 

A small collection of her letters from France from 1914 until 1917 was 
privately published by a former student and lifelong friend, Isabel Fiske 
Conant '96; they are lively, vivid, and revealing of the close links she 
kept with Wellesley and of her continued interest in the College. Her 
successor as president, Caroline Hazard, expressed in her first Report her 
gratitude to Mrs. Irvine and wrote: "The personal admiration I had 
learned to entertain for her was deepened as I saw her ability in the man- 
agement of affairs, and the excellent condition in which they were placed 
in my hands." One matter, however, which through no fault of Mrs. 
Irvine's had not been cared for was the college debt — and when she re- 
ceived the news that Miss Hazard had eliminated it, she sent her a cable 
"Wellesley forever!" They corresponded cordially, but there is special 
charm in Mrs. Irvine's letters to her former students. In the last letter, 
written in 1929, to the Class of 1899, by whom she was "much beloved," 
she reflected on "the manifest advantage of age over youth! — So I recom- 
mend you all to persevere at least up to eighty." 

With the close of Mrs. Irvine's administration and the beginning of the 
twentieth century came the end of Wellesley's formative years. The vision 
and dedicated efforts of the founders, the early presidents, and the others 
who were centrally concerned with the young College had brought it to 
a stage in its development which would hold new challenges and would 
require new approaches to achieve the fundamental purpose: to prepare 
its students "for great conflicts, for vast reforms in social life, for noblest 





The faculty parlor in College Hall, one 
of Professor Horsford's many gifts 


The Browning Room 

The Library 
in College Hall 

Professor (later President) Shafer's mathematics class in 1882 included, seated on the 
right, Ellen Fitz Pendleton, who became Wellesley's sixth president. 

The memorial in the Chapel 

Mrs. Durant in her conservatory in her later years 

ADA L. HOWARD (1875-1881) 

Portrait by Edmund Tarbell 
Gift of Students 1875-1882 


Portrait by Abbott Thayer 
Gift of Eben N. Horsford 

HELEN A. SHAFER (1887-1894) 

Portrait by Kenyon Cox 

Gift of the Alumnae Association 

JULIA J. IRVINE (1894-1899) 
Portrait by Gary Melchers 
Gift of the Class of 1895 


The Selection of 
Wellesley's Presidents 

Wellesley is the one major college which throughout its hundred year 
history has had only women presidents — not, however, because of a man- 
date nor, since its early years, without having consideration given to the 
possibility of men. And it is probably better able than most colleges to 
chart the expanding role of the faculty and, recently, the inclusion of 
students in the selection procedure, and to document the secrecy with 
which searches were previously conducted. 

As is recounted in the preceding chapter, Mr. Durant selected Ada 
Howard to be the first president and had reason to believe that she was 
unusually well qualified, considering the fact that no woman had ever 
held such a position. (Even as he stated, "Women can do the work. I give 
them the chance," he made the point that if he had wanted experienced 
administrators and professors he would have had to appoint men.) 

The next three presidents were chosen from within the Wellesley fac- 
ulty: Alice Freeman, a historian and political scientist; Helen Shafer, a 
mathematician; Julia J. Irvine, a Greek scholar. Interestingly enough, all 
of them, including Miss Freeman, who was appointed to the office by the 
Trustees following Mr. Durant's death and on his recommendation and 
at his request, served initially as acting president and were not immedi- 
ately given the full title and responsibility. Apparently there was no 
"outside search" during the trial periods; trustee committees simply made 
inquiries at the College and satisfied themselves that all was progressing 
well. Some years later, when again a president was named from within the 
College, Ellen Fitz Pendleton was acting president for a year, despite the 
fact that during her predecessor's absence because of illness, she as Dean 
of the College had assumed presidential duties. Moreover, in her case 
there was a full-fledged search. 

The first president sought from outside the faculty was Mrs. Irvine's 
successor. This was on her urgent suggestion. At the trustees' meeting on 



February 11, 1897, Mrs. Irvine stated in her forthright way: "In order 
now to secure the proper development of the present course of instruction 
as well as to obtain funds with which to carry it on, the College requires, 
in my judgment, a president whose relation to the internal administra- 
tion will be somewhat different from that which can be assumed by a 
member of the faculty, and who will bring to the College new forces and 
new friends." 

Keenly aware that the College was in debt and its income did not "meet 
its necessary expenses, nor promise to do so at any early date," she realized 
that securing further endowment by gifts was imperative. As she analyzed 
the situation, Wellesley "should have a president who could command 
the confidence of the world of affairs and who could as a speaker or 
writer gain the interest, enlist the sympathy, and secure the support of 
persons of substance who do not yet know Wellesley." She therefore 
begged to recommend that the term of the present incumbent be under- 
stood to end with the close of the current college year. When the Trustees 
found that she was adamant, agreeing to remain one additional year but 
no longer, they appointed to find her successor a committee composed of 
Mrs. Durant, Louise McCoy North 79, and two clergymen, the Rev. Dr. 
Alexander McKenzie, Chairman of the Board and the Minister of the 
First Congregational Church, Cambridge, and the Rev. Dr. William H. 
Willcox, President of the Congregational Education Society. Thanks to 
the recent gift of very candid letters which Mrs. Durant wrote Mrs. North 
from November 11, 1897, until March 11, 1899, we have extraordinarily 
detailed information concerning the progress of the Committee. 

When Alice Freeman had resigned in 1887 to marry George Herbert 
Palmer, the Boston newspapers seemed to have championed the selection 
of a woman successor. According to the Boston Traveller, "It has been 
said that no woman can be found to fill the place in which she has been 
a marked success, and that for her successor some person of the other 
sex will be selected." But, continued the Traveller, "This is more com- 
plimentary to Miss Freeman than to her sex. Her position will be a diffi- 
cult one to fill, and her successor may not be her equal, but we believe 
that there are women in the country well qualified for the great responsi- 
bilities of the place. . . . The College has been so great a success in doing 
the work laid out by the founder that its friends would regret to see so 
marked a change in its policy as the election of a male president would 
be." The sentiments of the Boston Record would receive even greater 
acclaim from today's exponents of Women's Liberation. After writing 
of the "rare tact and ability" with which Miss Freeman had filled the po- 
sition, the Record added: "the Record suggests that Professor Palmer 
should give up his place at Harvard, and that he and Miss Freeman 
jointly preside over Wellesley." 


There is perhaps some irony in the fact that the first person specifically 
mentioned to succeed Mrs. Irvine was a man, the president of a college 
in Colorado, and that it was Mrs. Palmer who proposed his name and 
thought him well qualified and "an earnest Christian man . . . with a 
very fine wife." Mrs. Durant apparently scotched the idea with one sen- 
tence: "If we get a man now we will never again have the place for a 
woman in all probability." 

It was Mrs. Palmer, also, who on the suggestion of Horace E. Scudder, 
a trustee and the editor of the Atlantic Monthly, and with the hearty 
approval of Mrs. Durant first approached Caroline Hazard about the 
position, "finding an opportunity," Miss Hazard wrote later, "in what to 
anyone else would have been the hopeless confusion of a crowded re- 
ception. Never shall I forget her contagious enthusiasm, to which my 
own responded, and though weeks elapsed before a final decision was 
reached, my heart had capitulated long before my mind was convinced." A 
person who was influential in convincing her was President James B. 
Angell of the University of Michigan, a Brown classmate and life-long 
friend of her brother — the same President Angell who had been instru- 
mental in Alice Freeman's coming to Wellesley. Although Miss Hazard 
was listed as a member from 1889 until 1893 of Wellesley's Board of 
Visitors, of which Professor Eben N. Horsford of Harvard was chairman, 
there are no minutes of that Board's meetings and no evidence that she 
felt closely identified with the College because of her membership on it. 

Miss Hazard was precisely the kind of president Mrs. Irvine had real- 
ized was essential for Wellesley at that period in its history. At the time 
of her election in March 1899, she was a wealthy, highly cultivated forty- 
two-year-old woman who took an active part in the business and philan- 
thropic concerns of the Hazard family in Peace Dale, Rhode Island, and 
had broad interests and a wide acquaintance among people who were 
prominent in social, financial, literary, and musical circles. As a girl she 
attended Miss Shaw's School in Providence and later studied under vari- 
ous teachers at home and abroad. Before coming to Wellesley as president 
she had edited the philosophical and economic writings of her grand- 
father, a woolen manufacturer, and written a study of life in Narragansett 
in the eighteenth century as well as several volumes of poetry. Music, 
literature, and art were integral aspects of living to her. Students who 
lived in Norumbega Hall when she occupied the president's suite there 
before she built Oakwoods for her residence remember fondly her playing 
Chopin on the piano for them after Sunday dinners, and many of her 
gifts to the College were in the areas of the arts and the development of 
the beauty of the campus. Some indications of her enormous contribution 
to Wellesley and its reorganization and expansion are given in other 


When she resigned in 1910 she had served longer than any previous 
Wellesley president. Actually, she had placed her resignation in Mrs. Du- 
rant's hands in September of 1908, but the Board of Trustees declined 
to accept it and requested that she take a year's leave of absence to regain 
her strength following a gall bladder operation from which recovery had 
been slow. During that year the dean, Ellen Fitz Pendleton, had assumed 
the administrative responsibilities, and when Miss Hazard wrote on May 
31, 1910, "My health I regret to say is not however fully reinstated, and 
it is therefore my painful duty to sever my connection with the College," 
the Trustees voted that the Dean be requested to take charge of the ad- 
ministration until a president was chosen. 

The following fall a committee of seven trustees having as its chairman 
Samuel B. Capen, a merchant who was also President of the American 
Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions and President of Welles- 
ley's Board, was appointed to select a president. It was an interesting and 
diverse group: Mrs. Durant; Lilian Horsford Farlow, the daughter of 
Professor Horsford; Helen J. Sanborn '84, an author; the Right Rev. 
William Lawrence, Episcopal Bishop of Massachusetts; William H. Lin- 
coln, a businessman; Rowland Hazard, Miss Hazard's brother. 

Not until June 9, 1911, did the Committee make its report to the Board, 
explaining: "We have been slow in reaching a final conclusion, realizing 
the gravity of the question before the Trustees and that the matter was 
too important to be hurried unduly. The College we knew was safe, with 
a strong hand on the helm and many ready to cooperate. The Committee 
came to its task with an open mind, seeking only to know what was best 
for the College. We recognized that we had had in President Hazard a 
great personality who had stood before the public as a leader. We recog- 
nized also the great principles and ideals for which Wellesley had stood 
for all these years and that no mistake must be made." The Committee 
then described its procedures, which had included "taking counsel of 
other educators" and writing "eight or ten prominent College Presidents 
asking for suggestions." As a result the names of thirty-nine persons were 

Probably no subsequent Search Committee has ever given a more co- 
gent account of its deliberations, especially in regard to choosing a man 
or, a woman, than that committee which met more than sixty years ago: 
"It ought to be frankly stated that there is a decided difference of opinion 
among educators over the question whether it is better to have a man 
or a woman at the head of a college as large as a university. There are 
not only the great educational problems which have to do with a college 
of over 1,200 members, but there are great physical problems, especially 
with an institution situated as Wellesley is, away from a great city, and 
having to provide its own water supply, drainage, electric lighting, etc. 


The college community is double the size of many of the towns. The 
argument in favor of having a man preside over such a trust has been 
presented to us with great force and ability by those who hold that posi- 

"Everything that could be said upon that side we believe was brought 
before us. Your sub-committee, however, at a meeting held several weeks 
ago decided that it would adhere to the traditional policy of the College 
to nominate a woman for the presidency. We found that to change that 
policy would be considered a severe blow to those who are in favor of the 
higher education of women. If Wellesley had started, as did Smith and 
Vassar, with a man for President it would be very different. But for us 
after all these years now to change our policy would be saying to the 
world that no woman could be found to carry on the succession of women 
Presidents. After reaching this unanimous conclusion, we then reduced 
to four the names in our list of women that were the best available for 
the place; finally of the four no one seemed on the whole so well qualified 
for the position as the present Dean." 

Miss Pendleton was thereupon unanimously elected by the nineteen 
trustees present, and the following morning, a Saturday, her election was 
announced at the regular chapel service by Dr. Capen. According to the 
Wellesley College News, "The applause at this announcement was in- 
stantaneous and heartfelt. When Mrs. Durant, from the back of the 
chapel, suggested the singing of the Doxology, everyone felt it to be a 
fitting expression of their gladness and gratitude." And the News com- 
mented editorially: "We have loved our Dean; we will love and support 
our President with all the gladness and sincerity that is in us." 

No one has ever assumed the position with the extensive knowledge of 
what it entailed that Miss Pendleton had — and it is highly unlikely that 
anyone ever will. Like Miss Hazard a native of Rhode Island, from the 
time she entered Wellesley as a freshman in 1882 until she died in 1936 
she was closely associated with the College and away from it for only a 
few short periods. The fall after her graduation she returned as a tutor 
in mathematics; thereafter recognition and advancement were remark- 
ably rapid. According to the Trustee Minutes, "At the special request of 
the President," Miss Shafer, herself a mathematician, Miss Pendleton, "a 
superior young instructor in Mathematics," was granted a leave of absence 
"to pursue advanced mathematical studies" at Newnham College, Cam- 
bridge, in 1889-1900. Such a leave was highly unusual; even more extraor- 
dinary was her appointment in 1901, obviously at Miss Hazard's insti- 
gation, as assistant to the Secretary of the Board of Trustees (Mrs. Durant) 
"to attend the meetings of the Trustees and the Executive Committee 
and to record the proceedings and furnish a duplicate copy to be depos- 
ited at the College for use by the President of the College." She was also 


appointed Dean of the College in 1901, and when she assumed the high- 
est office in 1911, she knew intimately all of the details of the College's 

By the time she retired in 1936, the College had been largely rebuilt 
after the College Hall fire and had undergone vast changes in many re- 
spects. Also, as her successor recently pointed out, none of the trustees 
had had any experience in selecting a Wellesley president. Indeed, except 
for the actual choice of the person, it is clear that Miss Pendleton played 
a dominant role in this procedure. 

In 1930, shortly after her sixty-sixth birthday, she had been reap- 
pointed "for an indefinite term," a term whose limits she herself appar- 
ently could determine. In September 1934, she wrote Robert Gray Dodge, 
a prominent Boston lawyer who was President of the Board, that she had 
reached seventy years and that it seemed a suitable time to consider fixing 
a date for the retirement. At a meeting of the Board that year she "stated 
that she wished to place on record her conviction that both the alumnae 
and the faculty should be formally consulted by any committee which 
may in the future be appointed to find a new President of the College," 
and at a meeting on January 18, 1935, her "recommendations as to pro- 
cedures were approved, as was acceptance of her desire to retire June 
30, 1936." She proposed that the members of the Executive Committee 
exclusive of the President of the College act as a nominating committee, 
and that "the Executive Committee and the Academic Council of the 
Faculty appoint a committee to confer with the Nominating Committee 
and that provision be made to consult the alumnae of the College." 

The alumnae in due course suggested that Candace C. Stimson '92, 
Vice President of the Board of Trustees, "be asked to assist the Executive 
Committee," on which two other alumnae (Harriet Hinchliff Coverdale 
'10 and Grace Crocker '04) served, and, except for candidates proposed 
by individual alumnae, that seems to have been the extent of alumnae 
participation in the process. 

By the time of the meeting of the Board in March 1935, Miss Pendleton 
had met with the five members of the faculty committee and "explained 
its function," Sophie C. Hart, Professor of English Composition, had been 
elected chairman, Louise McDowell '98, Professor of Physics, secretary, 
and "a questionnaire had been contemplated as to the qualifications of a 
new President." The Trustees raised the question whether "it had been 
made sufficiently clear not only to the faculty committee but to the alum- 
nae as well that they are not expected to serve in a nominating capacity," 
and they were reassured on this point. 

There was no doubt that the faculty committee understood its circum- 
scribed role: the report which Miss Hart sent for the committee to Mr. 
Dodge in June began: "Realizing that it was not the function of the 


committee or the faculty to propose a candidate, the committee asked 
each one answering the questionnaire to mention various persons who in 
the opinion of that member might well be investigated." Two lists of 
names were appended to the report, the first of those suggested by one fac- 
ulty member and the second by two or more faculty members. (Inci- 
dentally, Mildred McAfee, Dean of College Women at Oberlin, was on 
the first list, and Mary Lowell Coolidge, Dean of Wellesley and member 
of the Philosophy Department, was on the second.) 

Miss Hart's summary of the results of the questionnaires stated: "There 
was strong emphasis upon the qualities of integrity and fair-mindedness 
that distinguished our present President. There was also a consensus that 
academic training and experience as a teacher, and if possible also as an 
administrator, are essential or at least highly desirable. A considerable 
number definitely wished to exclude from consideration businessmen, 
clergymen, and 'professional educators,' i.e. those whose field lies in the 
history and theory of pedagogy." 

In addition to having negative feelings about businessmen, clergymen, 
and professional educators, the faculty expressed positively their desire 
for a woman. "A strong preponderance of opinion favored a woman," 
Miss Hart wrote. "Among the reasons given for the preference were the 
following: the inspiration and encouragement it is to Wellesley students 
and to women in general to see a woman ably filling the chief executive 
position and representing the College among leaders of education in 
their country; the fact that the high distinction which Wellesley has at- 
tained has come to it under women presidents; the further fact that it 
would seem to be an indictment of the whole cause of the higher educa- 
tion of women if now a properly qualified woman were not found to 
carry on the tradition of a woman president." 

The faculty committee made its report and then disappeared into the 
wings, never again to be called on stage or to be given bulletins about the 
action taking place, even advance notice that a decision had been reached. 
Ella Keats Whiting, then Assistant Professor of English Literature and 
the very junior member of the faculty committee, recalled recently that 
its members divided into teams to prepare the questionnaire and to sum- 
marize the results. She worked with Alfred D. Sheffield, Professor of 
Rhetoric and Group Leadership, a precise gentleman with an equally 
precise goatee, who savored words with as keen appreciation as did his 
brother-in-law, T. S. Eliot. "One of my delightful experiences at Wellesley 
was being on the team with Mr. Sheffield," Miss Whiting said. "He put 
our summary into his elegant language; working with him was interest- 
ing and it was quite a lot of fun." Miss Hart and Miss McDowell com- 
posed another team, and they left out Miss Coolidge, the fifth member of 
the Committee, because she was definitely a candidate. A Bostonian who 


had done her undergraduate work at Bryn Mawr and received her Ph.D. 
at Radcliffe, Miss Coolidge had taught philosophy and served as Dean of 
the College since 1931. 

"As I remember it, Mary Coolidge's name appeared on about a third 
of the faculty questionnaires. Miss Pendleton wanted Miss Coolidge. 
She'd brought her here thinking she would be her successor, I know," Miss 
Whiting stated. "I think a good many people realized that Miss Coolidge 
would be very much the kind of president that Miss Pendleton had been 
and that, great as Miss Pendleton had been, perhaps it was time for an- 
other kind of president.'' 

A more different kind of president — except for integrity and intelli- 
gence and industry — could scarcely have been found than Mildred Mc- 
Afee. This was strikingly evident in their knowledge of Wellesley prior 
to taking office. Not long ago Mildred McAfee Horton said in an oral 
history interview, "As I think back on it now, it was really incredible 
how little I knew about the College." When she was a Vassar undergradu- 
ate she had been a member of its debate team. "We proved something 
about Philippine independence, as I recall. I've forgotten what it was, 
but I'm sure we definitely defeated Wellesley — through no real fault of 
my own, I may say. I recall getting completely tongue-tied in the rebut- 
tal." Then one spring vacation she spent with a member of the Vassar 
team who lived in the Boston area and drove her through the campus — 
"which I thought was attractive but a little too hilly." That was the only 
time she had even visited Wellesley until, after finally meeting the Trus- 
tees in May 1936 at the Dodges' home, Mrs. Dodge, a Wellesley alumna, 
took her "secretively to the campus to drive around." 

Mr. Dodge early that spring had gone to Oberlin to see her. Mrs. Hor- 
ton recalled: "My memory is that he really nearly asked me to come at 
that point, but he said that of course he would want me to meet the trus- 
tees. I was supposed then to go on to Wellesley to talk to the trustees 
fairly soon after that, and I got a bad sinus infection and went to the 
infirmary instead, which was very humiliating, and therefore deferred this 
visit to Wellesley until very late. It was May, I think, when I finally met 
the trustees. ... A very nice Mr. Hugh Walker Ogden was a Boston 
lawyer, and I remember his saying to me, 'Now you probably will feel a 
little inadequate about knowing what to do because of course you are 
young and inexperienced. But,' he said, 'you don't need to worry because 
the first day you go into the office your secretary will put something on 
the desk that you'll have to do something about, and you'll just learn.' 
And he said, 'If people say you are too young, just don't worry about that 
— you'll outgrow it.' " 

Miss Pendleton showed her the house but they had only one brief con- 
versation. It was a busy time at the College and the expectation was that 


Miss Pendleton would be living nearby on Dover Road and there would 
be plenty of opportunity to talk with her later — something that proved 
not to be true because of her sudden death that July. "At one point in 
that very brief conversation I had with her, I said, 'I really know so little 
about it and I'm so inexperienced about this that I really hesitate to take 
it on,' and she said, 'Miss McAfee, I've been the President for twenty-five 
years. If I haven't built a college which can run itself for a year or two, 
I've never done a good job. You've got plenty of time to learn.' It's my 
favorite quote from her, and a very significant one. And of course it was 
true; it could take care of itself." 

Mr. Dodge had reported to the Trustees in January that the committee 
had been hard at work and that the list had been provisionally reduced 
to a few names and that steps were being taken to secure information 
about them. On May 15, a week or so after the Trustees had met Miss 
McAfee, they unanimously elected her. It was agreed that Mr. Dodge 
would inform her and the president of the Alumnae Association by tele- 
gram, and that he would send a letter to members of the Academic Coun- 
cil. This stated: "Miss McAfee was selected, after extended investigation, 
from a very large number of women suggested by the Committee of the 
Faculty and the Committee of the Alumnae Association and from out- 
side sources." According to newspaper stories at the time, "Approximately 
1000 persons registered their choice for 100 different persons." 

Apparently no thought was given to special announcement to members 
of the Wellesley College community other than the faculty. At Oberlin, 
however, from which Mr. Dodge had received a request from President 
Wilkins that he be given the privilege of announcing there Miss McAfee's 
election, there was, according to the New York Times, "a unique demon- 
stration by the students who, in the early evening, thronged about her in 
the Faculty Club. In the crowd of students more men than women gath- 
ered to acclaim the dean." That story with an Oberlin dateline spoke of 
"her sense of humor as much in evidence at the press conference. 'I 
suppose I have to submit cheerfully to this sort of thing,' she said, 'but it 
seems so absurd. I never thought becoming a college president meant all 
this, but that's only part of what I have to learn, I suppose.' " 

During the next thirteen years, as President of Wellesley and Director 
of the WAVES, she became well inured to press conferences as a part of 
being a renowned administrator. After returning to Wellesley following 
her service in the Navy during World War II, marrying the Rev. Dr. 
Douglas Horton, and launching Wellesley's 75th Anniversary Fund Cam- 
paign, she resigned, effective at the close of the academic year 1948-1949. 
The Trustees with deep regret yielded to her decision, and the Rev. Dr. Pal- 
frey Perkins, Chairman of the Board of Trustees and Minister of King's 
Chapel in Boston, made the announcement to the college community on 


October 23, 1948, at the regular Saturday morning service in the Hough- 
ton Memorial Chapel and to the public in the press the following day. 

A few weeks later Mrs. Horton wrote the officers of the Alumnae As- 
sociation: "The newspaper reports of my resignation, together with cer- 
tain radio comments, have stirred up some curious impressions which this 
letter is designed to correct. Neither Mrs. Roosevelt nor Frances Perkins is 
slated to succeed me! ... I want to provide a place for a president who 
can concentrate all her energies upon the College. The College is in fine 
shape every way but financially, but it needs more vigorous and uninter- 
rupted leadership than I can give it permanently." 

The Trustees voted that "The Searching Committee shall consist of 
the Chairman of the Board, who shall serve as Chairman of the Commit- 
tee, and six other trustees to be appointed by him, two of whom shall be 
alumnae trustees, and two members of the faculty to be selected by the 
Academic Council." For the first time the two faculty members, Miss 
Whiting and Miss Coolidge, were to be full-fledged members of the Com- 
mittee. In addition to those two, three faculty members (M. Margaret 
Ball, Professor of Political Science, Harriet B. Creighton '29, Professor 
of Botany, and Edward E. Curtis, Professor of History) were elected to 
consult with them and to assist by compiling suggestions of candidates 
and serving in other ways as requested. 

The only official record of the proceedings of "The Special Committee 
on the Presidency" is a written report which Dr. Perkins sent to the Trus- 
tees on May 27, 1949. He wrote: "The Committee has held nine meetings 
since December, and the individual members have given a great deal of 
time to their important task. From alumnae, from faculty, and from in- 
terested individuals, the Committee received nearly 150 suggestions. At 
the first meeting it was agreed to follow Wellesley tradition and, if pos- 
sible, to nominate a woman president. Consequently, very little time 
has been spent investigating the men whose names were suggested. On the 
contrary, wide and careful inquiries have been made with regard to 
women candidates. 

"After screening the very large number of suggestions, and after some 
candidates had eliminated themselves from consideration, the Committee 
concentrated on the five women whose names were given to the Board in 
the Chairman's letter of March 21. Each of those candidates was seen 
personally by one or more members of the Committee. It is their unani- 
mous decision to recommend Margaret Clapp '30. 

"All of the members of this Committee have met Miss Clapp individu- 
ally and talked at length with her, and find themselves in complete accord 
about her qualifications — a formed and decisive mind, a fearless and 
affirmative attitude, a quickness of observation, a delightful sense of hu- 
mor, an inner serenity of spirit. She has taught in some or the most rug- 


ged, testing classrooms in our democratic system and gives the impression 
of having grown strong and wise under the challenge. The Committee 
considers the fact that she graduated from Wellesley, the fact that she 
has achieved distinction as a scholar, and the fact that she won the Pul- 
itzer Prize to be greatly in her favor. But beyond and above these facts, 
the members of the Committee share unitedly and without reservation a 
sure confidence in her capabilities as an administrator, and a deep faith 
in her qualities as a human being." 

She met the trustees on June 3 at the Brookline home of Marie Rahr 
Haffenreffer '11, Vice Chairman of the Board, and was elected at a special 
dinner meeting of the Board that evening. The following day, the Sat- 
urday just preceding the examination period when it was thought that 
the faculty would not welcome being summoned to a special meeting of 
the Academic Council, copies of a Wellesley College News Extra, put to- 
gether with great secrecy by the editor and managing editor of the News 
at the home of the Director of Publicity, were distributed to students on 
the campus and to members of the faculty at their homes. The newspaper 
"routes" were mapped out and the circulation handled by the few people 
in the administration, including Virginia Eddy, Secretary to the Presi- 
dent, who had to be privy to the election. Arrangements were also made 
for Miss Clapp to hold a press conference at the New York Wellesley Club 
so that the newspapers and magazines in the New York area could easily 
interview her while she was living there. 

Secrecy was indeed central in the whole procedure — and this extended 
to persons being considered for the position. Miss Whiting remembers 
telephoning some trusted discreet friends on other faculties where poten- 
tial candidates were teaching, and always making the calls from home 
"because we were really working in secrecy." Miss Ball and Miss Creigh- 
ton were asked on one occasion to scout a woman who was speaking at a 
meeting of alumnae of another college, and they still chuckle about pre- 
tending that they hadn't seen each other for many years and talking to 
each other vivaciously so that the alumnae wouldn't realize that inter- 
lopers were present. But the greatest subterfuges came in the screening of 
Miss Clapp. 

Her name had been suggested by Margaret Bancroft '12, who wrote 
that Allan Nevins, who had directed her doctoral dissertation at Colum- 
bia, "said that Margaret Clapp should certainly be looked into as a can- 
didate for President." Miss Whiting looked at the material about her in 
the College Recorder's Office and in the Placement Office, and she and 
Miss Coolidge agreed that she should indeed be considered and they 
took the information to the next meeting of the Committee. As Mrs. Hor- 
ton's letter to the members of the Alumnae Association Board of Directors 
indicates, this was the period of public figures as heads of educational 


institutions; for example, General Dwight D. Eisenhower had been 
named to Columbia and Harold Stassen to the University of Pennsyl- 
vania. (In fact, when Wellesley elected Margaret Clapp, she was the first 
person in that era who was chosen from the academic world to be presi- 
dent of a major college; Yale and Smith followed not long thereafter, and 
the former trend soon was reversed.) Eventually Miss Whiting's and Miss 
Coolidge's persistent mention of Miss Clapp at the meetings, which were 
always held at private dinners at the Union Club in Boston, was re- 
warded, and it was decided that the two alumnae trustees on the Com- 
mittee, Elizabeth King Morey '19 and Grace Ballard Hynds '17, should 
visit the young alumna who was teaching American History at Brooklyn 

Mrs. Morey recently gave her version in an oral history interview: "I 
was at that time on something called the College Committee of Public 
Education Association. It was to look into the teaching in the city col- 
leges, which were then under duress for having Communist leanings. And 
so it looked as if a good way for us to see Miss Clapp was to ask to watch 
the teaching of American History at Brooklyn College. They put us off 
and put us off and put us off, and we only discovered much afterward 
that they were hoping to get us there sometime when all of the Commu- 
nist students wouldn't be in too much of an uproar about something — 
but of course we knew nothing about that. Well, we weren't honest or 
honorable in this at all because we weren't supposed to have anybody 
know we were looking for a president. Don't ask me why but that's how 
we operated. I know it's because they were very aware of one or two peo- 
ple who had been told by some other college that they were looking for a 
president and had promptly resigned from their jobs thinking that they'd 
been asked. At all costs we were to avoid this, but I think it went further 
than that; I think they just liked to not talk about it. Anyhow, we were 
there under completely false terms. I had made the arrangements because 
I was a member of the College Committee. Grace Hynds wasn't even on 
that Committee at all. That's how we saw Margaret, and we got so ex- 
cited about her that Grace missed almost the last train home. ... At the 
meeting before she turned up, we'd decided, three or four of us, that we 
must ask for more time. We weren't willing to settle on anybody who had 
turned up, and we thought we'd have to have more time and we thought 
maybe we should send people around (or one person around) because we 
had people in various parts of the country we hadn't interviewed person- 
ally. But she was an immediate hit. So that took a great load off every- 
body's mind." 

In an oral history interview Miss Clapp said: "I was completely taken 
in by those representatives of the Public Education Association who came 
to visit. I did not link them with Wellesley in any way. I didn't know 


that they were trustees, and I don't know that I knew from anything that 
came up that they'd ever gone to Wellesley. But they were very pleasant, 
and one got us to Ellis Island, which I'd wanted to take my class to. (I 
was teaching immigration to one group at that time.) It was Mrs. Hynds 
who was able to arrange that. And Mrs. Morey agreed that she would 
write somebody in Albany about something we didn't like, or did like, 
I've forgotten what. So I felt that it had been a worthwhile day." 

Further dissembling was perpetrated to allow some of the members of 
the Searching Committee to see her in action without letting her know 
that she was a candidate for the presidency. Mr. Curtis, who had taught 
her when she was a student, known her as the president of College Gov- 
ernment her senior year, and had expressed the hope that she might be 
his successor in the History Department, arranged for her to give a pub- 
lic lecture at Wellesley. She was making speeches in various places, a good 
many of them in connection with her biography, John Bigelow: Forgotten 
First Citizen, which had received the Pulitzer Prize not long before, and it 
didn't occur to her that the invitation from Wellesley wasn't completely 
bona fide. Although she wasn't aware of the fact, the audience in Pendle- 
ton Hall that evening included a number of people who by no means 
attended all departmental lectures: Mrs. Horton, Mrs. Haffenreffer, Miss 
Whiting, Miss Coolidge. But very carefully they were not selected to be 
among the group which entertained her until time for her to return on 
the midnight train to New York. 

She didn't remember when she had any idea that she was under con- 
sideration. "One of my colleagues said to me one day, 'They are think- 
ing of you as president of Wellesley.' I said, 'Oh, that's ridiculous; I 
don't play golf.' I was working on the Nicholas Murray Butler papers at 
the time, and he certainly played golf up and down the country and got 
wills written for Columbia. It was pretty late on that the trustees got in 
touch with me, and one after another came down. I couldn't see why they 
couldn't all come together; they all seemed to live on the same street in 
Boston. But they had agreed to do it separately, and they were an inter- 
esting group. Kelley Anderson [O. Kelley Anderson, president of Liberty 
Mutual Insurance Company] came into my apartment saying, 'I haven't 
been down here since speakeasy days,' so one could relax with him. Ted 
Weeks [Edward A. Weeks, editor of the Atlantic Monthly] I just had a 
very pleasant dinner with — no talk of Wellesley that I could see, but very 
pleasant." John Schroeder, minister and professor at Yale University, and 
Palfrey Perkins ("I saw quite a bit of him") she recalled did talk with her 
about Wellesley. 

Among the impressions Mrs. Morey has of those interviews are: "Ted 
Weeks went down to interview her about an article for the Atlantic and 
they went to the Ritz. Kelley Anderson went down — I forget what he went 


to see her about, but he came back and said he knew she could make a 
budget and stick within it, because while she was only a woman, she'd 
paid back her loan for her college education faster than he'd paid his 
and she knew money and you could never make him believe she didn't 
know the value of a nickel and a penny as well as a thousand dollars. So 
he was immediately taken with her on her realistic attitude toward 
money. And of course Ted liked her, but he questioned whether maybe 
she was too feminine and fragile to stand up under the job!" 

Finally came the meeting of the Committee at which she was consid- 
ered and about which Miss Whiting reminisced: "I can remember that 
Mr. Perkins went around the table — he wanted every person to speak his 
mind. He liked to tell about Mary Coolidge, who was smoking one of her 
third-cigarettes in a long holder. When he came to Mary, she took this 
out and said, 'I think she's a natural for the position.' And he was greatly 
relieved! They all stood a little bit in awe of Mary Coolidge (she'd been 
very frank about some of the candidates), and he was just delighted when 
she made that statement. And of course it was a unanimous vote." 

When asked whether her predecessor gave her considerable advice, Miss 
Clapp mentioned one delightful bit in connection with the President's 
House: "She showed me the switch that put the lights on and off (this 
was in the guest room upstairs). She said, 'Look — right at the door!' 1 
marveled at this capacity to keep this childlike awareness of the wonder 
of invention — that you could just turn it on. I learned after I lived there 
that in every other room in the house you would go from light to light, 
turning them off. After those big parties, the maids go to bed and you go 
around and turn off every single light." 

It's a bit appalling to think of the number of lights Miss Clapp must 
have turned off during the seventeen years she lived in the President's 
House; it was not remodeled until her successor's administration. Many 
other major buildings were built, however (including Bates, Freeman and 
McAfee residential halls, the Jewett Arts Center, and the Wellesley Col- 
lege Club), and others were extensively added to or renovated (the Library, 
the dormitories in the Hazard Quadrangle, Stone-Davis, Sage Hall, and 
the Whitin Observatory), although, as will be pointed out in another 
chapter, her primary emphasis in fund raising was on faculty salaries and 
financial aid for students. 

The basic pattern of procedures in the selection of Miss Clapp's suc- 
cessor was unchanged from that followed in her case. When the Trustees 
in August 1965 reluctantly accepted her decision to resign effective in 
June 1966 because of "her conviction that Wellesley will benefit as it 
looks to the future from fresh vision and new leadership in its chief ex- 
ecutive officer," a special Searching Committee again was composed of the 
Chairman of the Board serving as the Chairman of the Committee and 


six other trustees (three women, all alumnae, and three men). Again 
there was an Assisting Committee of five tenured faculty members elected 
by the faculty, and the two who received the largest number of votes were 
invited to attend all meetings of the Searching Committee. This Assisting 
Committee sent questionnaires to their colleagues requesting suggestions 
concerning qualifications and candidates, and, according to John R. 
Quarles, the Chairman, prepared a comprehensive curriculum vitae for 
many of the 275 persons whose names ultimately were obtained from 
all sources and were very helpful in making inquiries about them. Sugges- 
tions were also solicited from students, alumnae, other educational insti- 
tutions, foundations, and other organizations. 

"We specifically left open the matter of choice between a man and a 
woman, although most of us probably preferred a woman if, and only if, 
fully as well qualified as the best man available," Mr. Quarles wrote fol- 
lowing the search in a memo giving for possible help in the future his 
comments and suggestions concerning the selection of a new president. 
Mary Sime West '26, a member of the Search Committees in 1965-66 and 
in 1971-72, recently made perceptive observations about great differences 
in their procedures. In an oral interview she gave this informal ap- 
praisal of "the woman question" in 1965-66: 

"We women on the Committee — that is, Rose Clymer Rumford '34, 
Eleanor Wallace Allen '25, and I — were very eager to have a woman presi- 
dent, and most of the letters that came (I'll say most, not all, but most of 
the letters) from alumnae said that Wellesley should have a woman presi- 
dent. So we leaned in this direction, but we weren't too sure of our men, 
and at the second or third meeting Judge Byron Elliott very seriously 
asked for the floor and moved that we seek the best qualified person for 
this job that this country, if not the whole world, could produce, and the 
hearts of us girls sank because we felt that he was going to look at men 
just the way he was going to look on women — everybody should be equal. 
'The best qualified person in the whole world,' he said, 'and as soon as 
we can find her ask her with the greatest possible dispatch.' And everybody 
was so happy! That settled a little something for all of us right then and 
there. The motion carried unanimously, but we went right on looking 
for men anyway, everyone — at least the ladies and Judge Elliott — feeling 
that we really leaned toward a woman. We looked at some awfully good 
men that time, but I don't think one of them had a chance of getting it 
because this was Wellesley's tradition and we felt very strongly about it." 

Once again, the Committee was a small group and met in Boston clubs. 
"There was an intimacy about it, and we used to meet in all of Boston's 
best clubs. After one club probably said, 'That group again!' we'd move 
to another club. I remember that in one nobody could read his or her 
papers because no light bulb was over ten watts — possibly fifteen but no 


more. We could barely see our notes, but we were always well fed. We 
met in the afternoon and had dinner, and then Mrs. Rumford and I were 
escorted, or at least put in a taxi, and sent to an absolutely scarey, empty 
South Station where the same porter was always roused where he was 
sleeping in a telephone booth, and he took her bag to the Federal mid- 
night train and mine to the Owl which went off an hour later. We almost 
were moved to report to him on the state of our search; we felt we knew 
him by the end of the winter," Mrs. West recalled. 

Secrecy was still an important consideration. Mr. Quarles's memo pre- 
sented in some detail and with his usual clarity the various steps taken in 
the selection process: "When preliminary data indicated that an indi- 
vidual merited further consideration, the name was assigned to one or 
more members of the committees for further investigation, on the basis 
of which the Committee continued its consideration. Through this proc- 
ess ultimately a small number of names emerged as really serious contend- 
ers. At this point, there was a strong temptation to arrange an interview 
with the candidates or go to his or her institution for more detailed and 
specific information. We felt, however, that either of these procedures 
could be prejudicial to the person and disturbing to the institution con- 
cerned, and might start harmful rumors, and so we adopted the policy 
of staying away from direct contact until all other sources of information 
had been exhausted and we were reasonably satisfied that we had found 
the right person. Ultimately the name of Ruth Adams stood out clearly. 
The Committee Chairman then got in touch with the President of her 
institution and with several faculty members there and received confir- 
mation of the tentative favorable conclusion. 

"As the next step, we arranged for Miss Clapp to meet Miss Adams in 
New York for an intimate and frank discussion. Miss Clapp reported that 
she was wholly satisfied that 'Miss Adams is right, and right for Welles- 
ley,' and that she was interested. Following this the Chairman arranged a 
similar interview and reached a similar conclusion. Without disclosing 
this conclusion, he then arranged for Miss Adams to meet all other mem- 
bers of the Search Committee and the Assisting Committee and the Col- 
lege Treasurer, not in a group but singly or in pairs, and asked each 
to report directly to him before consultation with others. 

"Finally, we invited Miss Adams to come to Wellesley for several days 
of confidential discussions with various people whose views and opinions 
would be helpful to her. In due course she authorized us to present her 
name to the full Board. A meeting was called, preceded by a morning of 
meetings with individual trustees who had not served on the Committee, 
and she was formally elected. She was our guest at a celebration dinner in 
the evening." This took place on March 16, 1966. 

As had been done seventeen years before, the editor and managing edi- 


tor of the College News put together an "Extra" at the home of the same 
Director of Publicity (although the timing in the calendar year obviated 
the necessity for home distribution to faculty members), and again plans 
were made for a press conference for the newly elected president in New 
York a few days hence while that was still her base of operations. 

A native New Yorker, she was graduated in 1935 from Adelphi College, 
and from 1960 until she came to Wellesley she was Dean of Douglass 
College in New Jersey. Miss Adams is a specialist in Victorian literature 
and received her Ph.D. degree from Radcliffe College in 1951. She was a 
member of the English Department of the University of Rochester from 
1946 until 1960. Especially while she was a housemistress at Radcliffe 
from 1943 to 1945, a teaching fellow and tutor at Harvard from 1944 to 
1946, and doing her graduate study in Cambridge, she had known some 
members of the Wellesley faculty. She said recently, however, that she 
had had no close associations with Wellesley before she was approached 
about the presidency. 

This is her recollection of the series of events preceding her election: 
"Miss Margaret Clapp asked me if I would be interested in being a candi- 
date for the presidency and I, of course, said yes. I heard little thereafter 
until Mr. John Quarles asked me to meet him in New York and indicated 
that the Board of Trustees looked sympathetically upon my candidacy. I 
met with a group of trustees in Boston and with another group in New 
York. No interviewing took place on the campus. I was driven to the 
campus late one February afternoon when, alas, it was impossible even 
to see the buildings. I met in Wellesley, at the home of Miss Virginia 
Onderdonk, some of the faculty members who had been on the faculty 
committee advisory to the Board of Trustees." 

Looking back on the six years of her presidency, she commented not 
long ago: "It was a period of great disturbance on all college campuses. 
Two of our greatest problems were, of course, the continuance of an un- 
justified war and the definition of the status of our black associates within 
the institution. Between 1966 and 1972 Wellesley students shared with 
other undergraduates in the United States, and indeed around the world, 
an impulse toward active participation in the affairs not only of the na- 
tion but also of the institution." 

By the time that she resigned effective on June 30, 1972, and became 
Vice President for Women at Dartmouth College, there were vast changes 
in the selection procedure, some of them the result of what Miss Adams 
described as "students' impulses towards active participation in the affairs 
... of the institution." Mrs. West commented that as she and Nelson J. 
Darling, Jr., Chairman of the Board and of the Committee, talked about 
the changes, he said, "We just moved with the times." "In the first place," 
Mrs. West pointed out, "democracy had set in; all the constituencies had 


to be represented." The Trustees responded rapidly. 

The full Board of Trustees decided on the number of members of the 
Search Committee, and the Executive Committee of the Board on the 
nine trustees (five women, all of whom were alumnae, and four men) to 
serve on it. The faculty voted that of its allotted four members, two should 
be tenured and two non-tenured. (As it happened, there were three 
women and one man.) Never before had there been so many faculty 
representatives and never before any not having tenure. 

The Senate of College Government decided to have self-nominations 
for the four memberships assigned to students, and seventeen students 
wrote statements which appeared in the College News setting forth their 
qualifications and views. Thereafter the Senate sponsored a kind of "Meet 
the Candidates" night in the Davis Lounge of the Schneider College 
Center, preliminary elections reduced the number of candidates to eight, 
and a final election was held with provision made that representatives of 
at least two classes would be chosen. (Two seniors, one junior, and one 
sophomore were elected.) The black community elected as its representa- 
tive a sophomore. 

It is interesting to note that two members of the Committee were black, 
one a trustee and the other a junior (who subsequently was elected presi- 
dent of College Government), but they represented their total constitu- 
encies. As Mrs. West explained in the oral history interview, "The black 
community sent a spokesman to ask our full board if we would please 
elect, or have elected, a representative of the black community. Barbara 
Loomis Jackson '50, a trustee member of the Search Committee, explained 
to us, with the greatest lucidity, what this meant to the black community. 
They wanted their own representative, elected by themselves — and as she 
explained it, we understood." 

The Committee numbered eighteen. "Some thought it too large," Mrs. 
West said. "As a matter of fact, as we met, it shrank. I don't mean in ac- 
tual numbers, but as it grew more intimate, it seemed smaller. At the 
beginning it did seem large. It seemed particularly large, I expect, to Mr. 
Darling and me who had served on the smaller committee in Boston in 
1966. When we finished, we were a small, close, warmly connected and 
related group." 

This appraisal was confirmed by Kathie Whipple 74. She attributed it 
in part to the fact that for the first few meetings they simply shared their 
thoughts "about what personal qualities were important." As she said in 
an informal interview, "We never came up with a list of qualities we 
thought was ideal, mainly because, when you think about the size of the 
Committee, such a list would really have been impossible. But we got a 
sense of what other members meant, what their verbal style was like. Later 
on we could pick up cues in the interviewing process, and it meant there 


were less lags and less awkwardness when we were actually talking to 
candidates later." 

Naturally enough, one of the first matters considered was whether the 
Committee should seek, and announce that it was seeking, a woman. Per- 
haps the most explicit account (the accuracy of which some of the other 
members have attested) was given in the interview with Kathie Whipple. 
She herself had stressed in her candidacy for membership the importance 
of selecting a woman: "I thought that to talk about a college that was 
dedicated to women and then tacitly admit to the world that you couldn't 
find a woman who was good enough to be the prime figure in the educa- 
tion of women at Wellesley was admitting a kind of defeat that I didn't 
think a hundred years of our education should have to be admitting if 
we'd been doing our job well! It wasn't that I didn't think a man neces- 
sarily was not qualified to lead women in education. I think the role 
model concept is important; I don't think it is absolutely essential. I 
thought that in terms of public relations and campus morale it was a 
much wiser move to go after a strong woman. It should be noted that in 
remaining a women's institution we took a rather unpopular stand. Under 
such circumstances it is best for morale if people know the reasons and 
if the reasons are substantive and not merely tradition-oriented. I also 
thought we should have somebody who would make some noise about 
the fact that we were a women's college and point out the reasons we had 
chosen to stay one." 

But, she said, "There was definitely not a consensus about the question 
of making a formal announcement that we wanted only to look for a 
woman. Many of the people on the Committee (or at least some) felt that 
this was sort of a reverse prejudice. There was even a question that we 
might be legally in trouble to go out and advertise a job this way. There 
was also the question, if we had made an announcement like that, of the 
kind of man who would ever come for an interview should we find a man 
that we were interested in. There was a definite breach between the people 
who thought we should make a definite announcement that a woman was 
what we wanted, for the sake not only of having a direction that people 
could readily identify us with but also because doing so would save us 
fifty per cent of the work right off, and those who didn't think this was a 
good thing at all. But it was a very friendly breach. There was vigorous 
discussion of the point but no sense of hostility toward each other, and 
what we finally agreed on was that we all pretty much accepted the fact 
that we would like to find a woman and if it was possible we would, but 
we would make no formal announcement saying that was what we were 
going to do." 

Among the striking external changes was that meetings were held, not 
in seclusion in Boston, but at the Wellesley College Club on the campus, 


and that they began, because of the schedules of the faculty and students, 
about 3:30 on Friday afternoons, went on during dinner in a very infor- 
mal way, and then resumed as formally as ever after dinner until ten 
o'clock or, frequently, considerably later. Also, twice in the course of the 
year meetings were scheduled at which some of the local trustees and 
the campus members of the Committee reported to all interested mem- 
bers of the college community on the current thinking of the Committee 
and on virtually all matters except specific candidates. 

More effort was made than ever before to elicit suggestions: Barbara 
Barnes Hauptfuhrer '49, President of the Alumnae Association and a 
member of the Committee, sent a letter to every individual alumna; the 
faculty members, as had been the usual practice, devised a questionnaire 
for their constituency, and the student members also distributed their 
questionnaire and followed up on it; a large number of educational in- 
stitutions, foundations, and knowledgeable individuals were queried. The 
result was that many responses were received and, as Mrs. West said, 'An 
enormous amount of secretarial work was done by an alumna who acted 
as our full-time secretary, with an assistant a good part of the time." 

According to Kathie Whipple, although meetings were usually held 
every week, "What was most exhausting was the thought that went on 
between the weeks. There was a lot of thought about what we'd said 
and reconsideration and soul-searching about what we thought were the 
best ways to get what we wanted and that sort of thing. Then we'd come 
to a new session with new ideas." In summary she said, "It was a very long 
process. It took a big personal emotional and intellectual tori. It was a 
very tiring process." 

It must also have taken a considerable physical toll, because the names 
of approximately 350 persons were suggested, and, Mrs. West commented, 
"We researched every single one. Our faculty members traveled around 
interviewing people who knew some of these candidates. The trustees and 
students also traveled, as nearly as we could in our own areas so that too 
much wasn't spent flying from here to there. We interviewed, not the 
people who had recommended them (we knew they liked them), but other 
people who knew them. Many of us scouted in our own areas and re- 
ported back: A committee must see this person,' or 'Forget this person; I 
don't think she's someone that anyone else needs to see.' That was scarey 
but we all had to do some of that. Then the next step was to send a 
group — a student, a trustee, and a faculty member, or sometimes two 
faculty members, one trustee, sometimes two trustees and one faculty 

Then the group reported to the Committee, in most cases recommend- 
ing that the candidate be brought to Wellesley to be interviewed by the 
full Search Committee. In some instances if the Board of Trustees hap- 


pened to be meeting at the time the candidate was on the campus, they, 
too, would have dinner and attend the meeting with her, although they 
did not take part in the actual questioning. Some ten candidates had in- 
terviews with the whole Committee. 

One of those, of course, was Barbara Warne Newell, who eventually 
was asked to become Wellesley's tenth President. In an oral history in- 
terview during the first year of her presidency, when she was asked to 
recall the selection process as it affected her, she spoke of "the extremely 
active role which the students played. Removing myself from the situa- 
tion, I would describe the dynamics as one in which the students asked 
the embarrassing questions or the leading questions, and the faculty and 
the trustees listened and then would help to probe the areas that were 
opened by the students. Students played the probing role without the 
social constraints of the older generation." 

Mrs. West totally corroborated this judgment during an oral interview. 
"I couldn't get over how articulate they were and what good judgment 
those students had. I think that working together with students taught 
us a great deal about the students of this College and that it opened our 
eyes to their capabilities. They were terribly good at interviewing. They 
asked the most penetrating questions. Like sheep we marched right in 
the minute the student opened the door. In we went with our further 
questions! But the students opened quite a lot of questions that I'm not 
sure we would have had — I hate to use the word 'effrontery,' but I'm not 
sure that we would have had the imagination to ask." 

The various steps so far as Mrs. Newell was concerned were: (1) Mr. 
Darling asked if she would meet with a small subcommittee of the Search 
Committee in Pittsburgh; (2) she met with that subcommittee, which 
consisted of one student and two trustees; (3) she met with the entire 
Committee in Wellesley; (4) she met informally, at her request, with 
groups of students in dormitories and at Harambee House, the center for 
black students, and with clusters of the faculty, tenured and non-tenured, 
who were selected by the Dean; (5) she met again with the Search Com- 
mittee as a whole and with Miss Adams at the President's House; (6) the 
Chairman and the Vice Chairman of the Board, Mr. Darling and Betty 
Freyhof Johnson '44, both of whom were members of the Search Com- 
mittee, went to Pittsburgh to ask if she would seriously consider accepting 
the position; (7) she met with the full Board of Trustees. She said: "My 
own reaction at the time was, and still is, that it was one of the tidiest 
search committee processes that I had ever witnessed. (I've seen a fair 
number of them in my day.) They were more than fair, with me at any 
rate, and very open with me as a candidate. There was a sense of free 
give and take all the way through." 

When asked why she decided to accept the invitation, she said: "I was 


extremely impressed. Let me put it more bluntly in another way. I was 
not looking for a job when the Search Committee subcommittee came, 
and the major reason I accepted the invitation to come to Wellesley to 
meet with the whole Committee was that I was upset at what the Seven 
Sisters hadn't done in the last twenty years. I really do think that as insti- 
tutions they play a unique and vital role in American higher education. 
I really didn't care who became President of Wellesley, but I wanted to 
see somebody who had thought about this role and the Search Committee 
seemed an appropriate place to register this concern. When I came to 
Wellesley (as I think maybe the Search Committee will vouch), I really 
pulled no punches in terms of my concerns in the area of women's edu- 
cation and that this was something that the colleges like Wellesley ought 
to take seriously and on which they should take a leadership position. I 
did not see the coeducational institutions with which I had been affiliated 
really doing anything in the area, and I didn't think they would because 
on the whole the male administrators did not see the problem. I remem- 
ber very specifically meeting the Search Committee here at Wellesley and 
going back to Amherst [where her parents live] and saying in effect, 'Well, 
I told them what I thought of the world and I was sure I would never 
hear anything more from them, but I felt better.' So I guess I was ex- 
tremely surprised that the Search Committee took me seriously. I was not 
only surprised but in the process I got a sense of the nature of the College. 
I was particularly impressed by the trustees' devotion to the institution 
and their sincerity. I think that my reaction to the Search Committee and 
the trustees was so extremely favorable that they sold the College to me. 
My trip to the dormitories was fun. It was the first time I had ever been 
in an institution where the students genuinely tried to convince me to 
come — and it was as true in Harambee House as in Tower Court, which 
in itself is interesting." 

The reaction of one of four student members of the Committee who 
took her around the campus is equally interesting: "We weren't trying 
to get a whole bunch of student leaders together or anything like that; 
we tried to get people who had pretty diverse interests to talk with her. 
They envisioned a conversation where they would ask her some questions, 
and she played the devil's advocate: 'Is Wellesley doing enough?' and that 
sort of thing. It got people riled up so they wound up doing most of 
the talking — which was one of the things I found attractive about her 
in the interviewing process on the three different occasions I was with 

Kathie Whipple, a member of the subcommittee which went to Pitts- 
burgh to talk with her, remarked, "We were very impressed by Mrs. New- 
ell because of the intelligence of her questions, particularly, and because 
her record seemed to be borne out by her answers to personal questions. 


She really had done a great deal in education and was a crackerjack 
administrator who still enjoyed teaching." Some students, she said, "men- 
tioned they'd like someone with a family, mainly because of role model 
considerations, so were glad that she had a nine-year-old daughter; they 
definitely wanted somebody who had had to buck sex barriers along the 
way and had come through okay." For the latter reason they especially 
liked her having been associated with five major universities: the Uni- 
versity of Wisconsin, where she obtained the Ph.D. in Economics and, as 
a part of her course, spent a year in the law school with a specialty in 
labor relations law, and later was Assistant to the Chancellor; the Uni- 
versity of Illinois and Purdue University as a teacher of labor history and 
industrial relations; the University of Michigan as Acting Vice President 
for Student Affairs and Associate Professor of Economics; the University 
of Pittsburgh as Associate Provost for Graduate Study and Research and 
Professor of Economics. On the other hand, Mrs. West commented that 
"When we knew that we wanted Mrs. Newell most of all, we were com- 
forted and delighted that she had gone to an undergraduate college very 
much like ours." 

Curiously enough, Mrs. Newell knew Wellesley at an earlier age than 
did any of her predecessors. When she was just starting school, her father, 
Professor of Economics at Amherst, participated in the Wellesley Insti- 
tute for Social Progress several summers, and she thoroughly enjoyed 
living on the campus and especially swimming and boating on Lake 
Waban. She also had an unusual assortment of other associations with 
Wellesley before she assumed the presidency in 1972: as a Vassar under- 
graduate she took part in 1950 in a joint Wellesley-Vassar Summer Intern- 
ship Program in Washington; while teaching at the University of Illinois 
and Purdue University she helped to found Seven College organizations 
in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, and Lafayette, Indiana, and to recruit 
students and interpret "the nature and thrust of women's colleges." 

When she became Wellesley's tenth President, she undoubtedly had 
more knowledge of the present day Wellesley than any other President 
had had, with the exception of Miss Pendleton, who had literally grown 
up with the College. The contrast between the extent of the information 
provided her and Mildred McAfee is almost incredible. But if the changes 
in the selection process — in particular the increasing openness, the con- 
certed effort to obtain the judgment of more segments of the college 
community, the consideration in great depth of many more candidates — 
are striking, in Wellesley and other educational institutions, so, too, are 
the concepts of the role of the president. 

This is perhaps shown most dramatically in statements made by Miss 
Hazard and Mrs. Newell. In 1904 Miss Hazard wrote in an article in 
The Congregationalist: "In our modern world a new and distinct class of 



men has arisen. . . . They have the most inclusive duties that can fall 
to the share of any one man, and in our democratic society they are per- 
sons of almost absolute power. The old monarchial theory seems to be 
revived in modern times for them, for the college president rules truly 
by divine right. If he technically rules in right of his Board of Trustees, he 
actually rules by his own force and goodness and power. He has the most 
absolute control, of any person in our modern life, of the destinies of 
his associates and of the welfare of his students. In hardly any other 
relation of life is final decision left so entirely in the hands of one man." 

When Mrs. Newell was asked in the oral history interview mentioned 
previously about her conception of the role of president, she replied: "I 
first of all see the President as part of a team. . . . One of the outstand- 
ing characteristics of this institution is the strong role of the faculty. I 
guess my administrative philosophy is that the major job of an admin- 
istrator is to try to facilitate the interests of faculty and students. This 
question is really one of nurturing, and how do you help support ideas 
as they come forward? How do you facilitate communication?" 

As Nelson Darling pointed out, Wellesley "moved with the times." 

Commencement procession in 1950 

Mildred McAfee Horton 
and Marie Rahr Haffenreffer 

Margaret Clapp and 
Dr. Palfrey Perkins 

CAROLINE HAZARD (1899-1910) 

Portrait by Cecilia Beaux 
Gift of the Class of 1903 


Portrait by Ellen Emmett 
Gift of Shakespeare Society 


Portrait by Gardner Cox 
Gift of the Trustees 

MARGARET CLAPI' (1949-1966) 

Portrait by William Draper 
Gift of the Class of 1930 

Mr. and Mrs. Douglas Horton posed hap- 
pily on the steps of the President's House. 

RUTH M. ADAMS (1966-1972) 

Portrait by George Augusta 
Gift of the Trustees 

Presidents Horton, Clapp, and Adams in the Wellesley College Club in 1966. 

President Barbara Warne Newell receiving the symbolic keys of the College from 
Nelson A. Darling, Jr., Chairman of the Board of Trustees. 

The Selection Committee composed of trustees, faculty, and students which 
nominated Mrs. Newell as Wellesley's tenth president. 


The Faculty 

The Faculty of Wellesley College could be the subject of an entire 
book rather than a chapter. The selection that is required to tell this 
story in a single chapter inevitably will result in the omission of 
many persons and events important in the history of the College. The 
story is one of growth, of many changes, and yet of continuity — a con- 
tinuity provided by the overlapping of generations of teachers in their 
service to the College, and also by the fact that the function of the College 
has remained constant throughout its history, though the ways of per- 
forming that function have changed with changing times. That it was 
originally and still is a college of the liberal arts devoted chiefly to the 
education of women undergraduates, most of them living on the cam- 
pus, has influenced the selection of the faculty and the nature of their 

When Mr. Durant assembled his first faculty there were not many 
women who were prepared for college teaching; nevertheless, he decided 
that the faculty should be composed of women. At Vassar College, which 
had opened a decade earlier, although there were more women teachers 
than men on the faculty, most of the professors were men. It is interest- 
ing to note that the editor of Godey's Lady's Book and Magazine in 
February 1864 called attention with disapproval to the preponderance of 
men in the professorships of Vassar College. In the June 1876 issue of the 
same magazine there is an account of the opening of Wellesley College 
which contains this statement: "This is a women's college. President, pro- 
fessors, and students are all women." There is no comment; apparently 
none was necessary. Surely it was a noteworthy achievement on Mr. Du- 
rant's part to be able to appoint in the year 1875 a group of women of 
unusual gifts and abilities. 

The first president, Ada Howard, had taught at Western College in 
Oxford, Ohio, but only one of the original group of professors had had 



previous experience in college teaching. That was Frances E. Lord, Pro- 
fessor of Latin, who had taught for seven years at Vassar College. Al- 
though several members of this first faculty were college graduates, this 
was not a requirement. For example, Mary Elizabeth Horton, Professor 
of Greek from 1875 to 1887, had not attended any college. At the time of 
her death in 1918 President Pendleton said, "Miss Horton had the nature 
of the true scholar, — precision, enthusiasm, a keen and original mind, 
and power of intense application." There were other members of the 
earliest faculty who, although largely self-trained, were true scholars. 

It was to be many years before the Ph.D. degree became the normal 
preparation for college teaching in the United States. Alice Freeman, who 
came to Wellesley in 1879 as Professor of History and was made President 
in 1881, had done graduate work at the University of Michigan. Although 
she did not complete her thesis, in 1882 the University conferred upon 
her the Ph.D. degree. The next members of the faculty to hold Ph.D.'s 
were Thomas B. Lindsay, who was appointed Instructor of Sanskrit in 
1886, and Helen W. Webster, who in 1890 joined the faculty as Professor 
of Comparative Philology. During the first century the proportion of 
the faculty holding the Ph.D. has increased steadily until today when al- 
most all members of the faculty have earned that degree. 

We also find that specialization has gradually increased. Sarah Frances 
Whiting of the original faculty taught both physics and astronomy for 
many years. It was in her classes that Annie Jump Cannon '84, who be- 
came one of the foremost astronomers of her day, first studied astronomy. 
Elizabeth Kendall, who joined the faculty in 1879, was first instructor in 
French, then in German, then in history and political science, and finally 
Professor of History. Katharine Coman, a friend of Jane Addams, who 
initiated the study of economics at Wellesley, began in 1880 as an in- 
structor in rhetoric, then having served as Professor of History for some 
time, she retired in 1913 as Professor of Political and Social Science. It 
is surprising to the scholar of today to learn that Mary Whiton Calkins, 
the distinguished philosopher and psychologist, began her teaching at 
Wellesley in 1887 as a tutor in Greek. People who joined the faculty in 
later years usually were trained in their graduate work in a single disci- 
pline and did their teaching in that discipline. Now, with changes that 
have brought some fields of knowledge that were once separate into closer 
relationships, the College is interested in making some interdisciplinary 

The first faculty chosen by Mr. Durant consisted of seven professors, 
who were heads of departments, and eleven teachers of academic sub- 
jects, who were not given the rank of professor. In addition there were a 
number of administrative officers and teachers of non-academic subjects. 
All of them were women except Charles H. Morse, Professor of Music. 


They all were members of evangelical churches, and all except Mr. 
Morse lived in College Hall. To college teachers of today this may seem 
to be a narrow community, perhaps even a dull one, but they should 
remember the excitement and interest for this group of being called upon 
to build a new college for women. 

Indeed, in the first quarter century many new paths had to be opened. 
It was in introducing the laboratory method in the sciences and in art 
that Wellesley was in advance of many colleges which had been estab- 
lished earlier. Susan M. Hallowell, who was appointed Professor of Nat- 
ural History in 1875, spent her first year visiting universities in the United 
States and in Europe before returning to Wellesley to open a laboratory. 
Then in 1876 Mr. Durant appointed Sarah F. Whiting as Professor of 
Physics and gave her two years to study the instruction in physics at 
several universities to prepare herself to establish a department here. In 
1878 she opened in College Hall the second student laboratory in the 
United States for experimentation in physics. The only one to precede 
it was at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Then in 1891 Mary 
Whiton Calkins established one of the earliest psychological laboratories 
in the United States and the first in a college for women. Next in 1897 
came Alice Van Vechten Brown, who accepted appointment as Professor 
of Art only when the trustees agreed that work in the studio — drawing, 
painting, and modeling — could be given in connection with courses in 
art history. The purpose of this work was to enable students through 
their own experience in the laboratory to understand better the works 
of art which they were studying. So began what later came to be known 
among teachers of the history of art as "The Wellesley Method." These 
are some of the innovations that show the forward thrust of Mr. Durant's 
plans and the ability and resourcefulness of the early faculty in realizing 

The steady growth of the student body during the first quarter century 
was a product of the times, but surely also the excellent quality of the 
faculty and their good teaching contributed significantly to this growth. 
We see fruits of their work in several graduates of the early years who 
were to become professors in the College. Annie Sybil Montague, who 
graduated with the first class in 1879, was a gifted teacher of Greek until 
her death in 1914. In the Class of 1880 there were two women who were 
to have an important influence upon the young college. Charlotte Fitch 
Roberts, a chemist who earned her Ph.D. at Yale in 1894, the first year in 
which Yale granted this degree to women, taught at Wellesley from 1880 
to 1917, except for some interruptions for study here and abroad. Her 
book, Development and Present Aspects of Stereochemistry, which was 
published in 1896, was one of the earliest books on that subject in the 
English language. Katharine Lee Bates of the same class, author of 


"America the Beautiful," poet and teacher, gave a lifetime of work from 
1885 to 1925 to Wellesley College where, with the help of colleagues, she 
built in her day a distinguished Department of English Literature. Al- 
though known primarily as a poet, she also engaged in scholarly work, 
writing numerous articles, editing several English classics, and publishing 
a valuable study, The English Religious Drama (1893). They were fol- 
lowed by Eleanor Gamble '89, who received her Ph.D. at Cornell in 1898. 
She too spent many years at Wellesley as a beloved teacher and scholar, 
becoming well known for her research in sensory psychology. Martha Hale 
Shackford '96, Ph.D. Yale 1901, a stimulating colleague and teacher, 
brought strength to the Department of English Literature during her 
long years of service. She published many scholarly articles which were 
pointed directly toward the enrichment of the courses she was teaching. 
An alumna who graduated fifty years ago said recently, "I think I learned 
from Miss Shackford what it means to be a scholar." These five women 
were taught by the faculty of Wellesley's first two decades and I think a 
faculty of any college in any period would be proud to number them 
among its graduates. 

I have spoken of the continuity provided by the overlapping in time 
of the terms of service of members of the faculty. It was not until 1916 
that the College lost by retirement the last of the professors who had been 
appointed by Mr. Durant: Ellen Hayes, Professor of Mathematics, and 
Sarah F. Whiting, Professor of Physics and later of Astronomy. Perhaps 
the most striking example of continuity is found in the Department of 
Physics where Miss Whiting was the teacher of Louise McDowell '98, 
who served the College as teacher, chairman of her department, and 
scholar from 1909 to 1945. She, in turn, was the teacher of Janet Brown 
Guernsey '35, now the Louise McDowell Professor of Physics. I think 
it is worth noting that the work at Wellesley of these three able women 
spans the first century of the life of the College. 

Continuity has been preserved and tradition strengthened by the 
presence in the administration as well as in the faculty of many gradu- 
ates of the College. Wellesley has given to itself two great presidents (and 
I have chosen the adjective with sober care): Ellen Fitz Pendleton '86 and 
Margaret Clapp '30. For thirty-three years, from 1919 to 1952, the office 
of Dean of Residence was filled by alumnae who set high standards for the 
life of students on the campus: Edith Tufts '84; Mary Cross Ewing '98; 
and Ruth H. Lindsay '15, who was also Associate Professor of Botany. 
Also three academic deans, longtime members of the faculty, were alum- 
nae. Each one used her strength and wisdom for the benefit of the Col- 
lege. Lucy Wilson '09, Professor of Physics, was Dean of Students from 
1939 to 1954; Teresa G. Frisch, M.A. '42, Professor of Art, was Dean of 
Students from 1954 to 1966; and Virginia Onderdonk '29, Professor of 


Philosophy, was Dean of the College from 1963 to 1968. 

Ever since that first group, which I have described earlier, joined the 
faculty in the 1880s many graduates of the College have been members 
of the teaching staff. In the 1930s over twenty percent of the faculty were 
alumnae, nearly all of them having earned higher degrees in other col- 
leges or universities. Now in the 1970s only about ten percent are gradu- 
ates of Wellesley. Many of these alumnae have been strong and influen- 
tial teachers and some have been distinguished scholars receiving wide 
recognition for their books and articles of lasting value. 

Every year the President's Report names professors who are retiring 
and mentions the length of service at Wellesley for each one. A good 
many retire having been here for twenty-five to thirty years, but it is im- 
pressive to find some who were members of this faculty for over forty 
years. Some of these I have known and I can testify to their vitality as 
teachers and scholars throughout their long tenure. Such people help 
to preserve the best traditions of the College and to provide stability as 
well as continuity. 

But this theme should not be stressed too much because the faculty 
has been enriched by having here for short periods some exceptional 
young people who have gone on to important careers elsewhere. Mary E. 
Woolley, who became President of Mount Holyoke College in 1901, 
taught for the preceding five years in the Department of Biblical History. 
It is interesting that a member of the Class of 1901 returning to Wellesley 
for her seventieth reunion vividly recalled Miss Woolley's interest in the 
students living in College Hall and her hospitality in inviting small 
groups to tea in her room. I think of two gifted young men who were here 
in the 1920s: Alfred H. Barr, Instructor in Art, who later became Director 
of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and Randall Thompson of 
the Department of Music, who in later years achieved distinction as a 
composer. An alumna who sang in the choir when he was the conductor 
still remembers that sometimes he would bring his own new compositions 
for them to sing and that "it was a very exciting experience." In the early 
1940s Julia Henderson, who initiated our Washington internship pro- 
gram, was a lively teacher in the Department of Political Science. She 
later held the highest post occupied in her period of service by a woman 
in the Secretariat of the United Nations. Also in the 1940s Paul L. Leh- 
mann, a distinguished theologian, spent five years at Wellesley where col- 
leagues and students were stimulated by his probing mind. After leaving 
Wellesley he became a professor at the Harvard Divinity School and later 
at Union Theological Seminary. The search for able young people such 
as these to fill vacancies has been a constant preoccupation of the presi- 
dents and of the senior faculty. Through these appointments the faculty 
is renewed and refreshed as the new instructors come with the most recent 


training in the graduate schools of the great universities. Whether they 
remain at Wellesley or stay here for only a short time, many in their early 
years of teaching make valuable contributions to the experience of stu- 
dents and colleagues. 

During Wellesley's first century the composition of the faculty has 
changed drastically. We know that it was Mr. Durant's policy to appoint 
women and that apparently he appointed men only when he could not 
find qualified women. I have already mentioned Charles H. Morse, Pro- 
fessor of Music, in the original faculty. He was unusually well prepared 
for college teaching, having studied at Boston University where in 1876 
he received probably the first Bachelor of Music degree to be given in 
the United States. In 1884 he left Wellesley, and in 1901 became the first 
Professor of Music at Dartmouth College. Most of the men appointed in 
the early years were here only for short terms. In 1882, however, Wil- 
liam H. Niles came to take charge of geology, sharing his time with Mas- 
sachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1895, twenty years after the open- 
ing, there were still only two male professors: Mr. Niles, and Junius Hill, 
who had succeeded Mr. Morse as Professor of Music; and there were 
four men listed as instructors. During the first century the number of men 
on the faculty has increased steadily from fifteen percent of the faculty 
in 1925, to twenty-five percent in 1950, and to about forty-five percent 
now as the Centennial approaches. There is no indication in the reports 
of the various presidents that it was a matter of deliberate policy of the 
College to increase the number of men, although sometimes in some de- 
partments this has been the case. We do know that in certain periods it 
has been difficult to find qualified women because of a decline between 
1930 and the 1960s in the number of women in relation to the number 
of men who prepared themselves for college teaching by earning the Ph.D. 
degree. The Commission on the Future of the College, which was estab- 
lished by President Adams, reported to the Trustees in March 1971. The 
report called attention to the fact that Wellesley has a higher percentage 
of women on the faculty than any of our sister colleges, indeed "probably 
the highest percentage of any secular college in the country." Because op- 
portunities for women are still limited in most colleges and universities, 
the Commission recommended that in future years at least half of the 
faculty should be women. Also President Newell, in discussing plans for 
the future of the College, has said that the present strong representation 
of women on the faculty should be maintained. 

Another change in the composition of the faculty has been a marked 
increase, especially in the last twenty years, in the number of married 
women. To make it easier for married women to serve on the faculty 
the Commission recommended the establishment of a day care center for 
children on the campus. In 1973 a fortunate arrangement was made. The 


Wellesley Community Child Care Center, Inc. leased facilities at the 
College. This center serves the children of working mothers in the town 
and also at the College. 

Mr. Durant's religious beliefs have been described in an earlier chapter 
of this book. We find an expression of these beliefs in the earliest bylaws 
of which the College has a record, those of 1885, where it is stated that 
every trustee, teacher, and officer "shall be a member of an Evangelical 
Church." Because this requirement for the selection of the faculty was 
not included in the act of incorporation of the College, the Trustees have 
been free to amend the bylaws. The published records show that this has 
been done at least three times. In 1898 when the bylaws were next pub- 
lished a change, which had, however, taken place earlier, was included. 
The requirement of membership in an Evangelical Church was removed, 
but every teacher was to be "of decided Christian character and influence, 
and in manifest sympathy with the religious spirit and aim with which 
the College was founded." In 1954 the statement was revised to read: 
"The members of the faculty shall be selected with a view to maintaining 
the Christian purpose of the College." The latest version of the bylaws 
(1967) simply states that "members of the faculty shall be selected with a 
view to maintaining the highest ideals of education." The reasons for 
these changes, although too complex to describe here, stem from 
changes in the larger society of which Wellesley is a part. As one result 
the present faculty is far more diversified in ethnic and religious back- 
ground than the earlier faculty which, except for the European teachers 
of foreign languages, was composed chiefly of Anglo-Saxon Protestants. 
It should be remembered, however, that that faculty was also a strong 
one and suited to its period. 

The Europeans on the faculty have brought welcome variety in educa- 
tional background and in point of view. Carla Wenckebach, who came in 
1884, an unusually forceful teacher, built a strong department of German. 
At the same time Rosalie See came from Vassar to take charge of French 
and she, also, was highly successful. At first instruction in Italian and 
Spanish was given by part-time teachers, but later these also became full- 
fledged departments. A signal honor came to the Italian Department 
when Gabriella Bosano, Professor of Italian from 1930 to 1952, was in- 
vited to establish the Italian summer school at Middlebury College. She 
served as its director for seven years. I wish there were space in this 
chapter to pay tribute to some of the other vivid personalities and splen- 
did teachers from these four countries. Most of the foreigners on the fac- 
ulty have been Europeans because of the emphasis in the curriculum on 
the languages and literatures of Europe. With changes in the curriculum 
in future years probably there will be more Asians and Africans than now, 
and thus the faculty will be still more diversified in its composition. 


Because of the revolutions occurring in Europe in the twentieth cen- 
tury, several interesting people who left their countries for political rea- 
sons joined our faculty. Among them were three distinguished authors of 
international reputation. Vladimir Nabokov, novelist, came first in 1941 
for a year as a visiting lecturer in Comparative Literature and returned 
in 1944 to be our first teacher of Russian. Friends here still remember 
his wit and his brilliant use of our language. From the Spanish Revolu- 
tion in 1936 came the distinguished poet and critic, Pedro Salinas, and 
in 1940 he was succeeded by another famous Spanish poet, Jorge Guillen, 
who remained as professor in the department until 1958. From Germany 
in the Hitler period Hedwig Kohn came to the Department of Physics 
where she spent ten busy years from 1942 to 1952 as teacher and active 
research worker. After her retirement from Wellesley she was appointed 
Research Associate in Physics at Duke University. Of course, Wellesley 
was not alone in having its faculty enriched by the exodus from Europe 
of many courageous intellectuals who were seeking escape from totali- 
tarian regimes. 

We know that the College began as a tightly knit community with fac- 
ulty, administrative officers, and students all living in College Hall. As 
other dormitories were built there were always some resident faculty in 
each one. In 1900 President Hazard reported that there were sixty-one 
members of the faculty living in dormitories and that this number, in 
addition to heads of house and officers of administration, occupied too 
large a proportion of the available rooms. Upon her recommendation the 
Trustees increased the salaries of the faculty by $300 and gave them the 
option of living outside or of remaining in college rooms and paying 
$300 for the privilege. With this choice available twenty-seven people 
moved out, but thirty-nine chose to stay. Since then there has been a 
slow but steady exodus. However, in the 1920s and 1930s a good many 
senior professors and others still lived in the dormitories, some becoming 
friends with students through the practice of having faculty tables at 
dinner and also because of living as neighbors in the corridors. There 
is a loss for students in the absence of some of the learned people who 
happily made their homes in the dormitories. I think of Sophie C. Hart, 
who joined the faculty in 1892, and in her forty-five years here developed 
a large Department of English Composition. In her rooms in Tower 
Court, which were decorated with treasures from the Orient, she enter- 
tained many foreign students, especially students from Japan. Elizabeth 
W. Manwaring '02 of the same department lived in a suite in Stone Hall 
until her retirement in 1947. There she had her valuable library of first 
editions of the English poets, including many autographed copies of the 
works of contemporary poets who were her friends. I think also of Eliza- 
beth Donnan, Professor of Economics, who lived in the dormitories 


throughout her years at Wellesley from 1920 to 1949. She was an active 
scholar who was recognized especially for her edition of Documents Illus- 
trative of the Slave Trade to America (four volumes 1931-1935). She found 
time to read aloud regularly with small groups of students in her rooms. 

As the faculty left the campus those who could afford it either built 
or bought houses in the village. Then in 1922 the Hallowell apartments 
were ready for occupancy and in 1923 Horton House opened, a faculty 
club with a dining room and with suites upstairs. Later a second apart- 
ment house was built, Shepard House. These facilities, just opposite the 
East Lodge, were near the campus and those who lived there could easily 
participate in events at the College, and some had their seminars meet in 
their apartments. As the number of married people on the faculty in- 
creased more houses for families were needed. President Horton and 
President Clapp both thought it important to provide living quarters 
near the College, and during their administrations the housing available 
to the faculty on the campus and in the town was increased substantially. 
President Clapp also built the Wellesley College Club for faculty and 
alumnae, a delightful meeting place for members of the College. 

In the first half century there seems to have been on the part of the 
faculty an unusually strong sense of the College as one community. Per- 
haps there is no better illustration of "one community" than the legend, 
based I feel sure on fact, that Miss Calkins, who lived always with her 
family in Newton, in the formal fashion of the period called on new 
members of the faculty in all departments, not just in her own. A larger 
college and changing times have inevitably brought some diminution in 
this sense of community. President Horton in her last report spoke of 
"vastly more pull of faculty and students off campus" and commented 
upon the increasing identification of members of the faculty with pro- 
jects outside the College. There is in this both gain and loss. Although 
the College should not be isolated from the town and the city, a valuable 
part of the experience of undergraduates lies in friendships with some of 
their teachers who live nearby and have time for them. I think especially 
of the Sunday "at homes" of Elizabeth Hodder, Professor of History 
from 1905 to 1942, where both faculty and students found a cordial wel- 
come and good talk. Seal Thompson, an influential member of the Society 
of Friends, was Professor of Biblical History from 1916 to 1941. An in- 
spiring teacher, she was a true friend and adviser to many students, al- 
ways ready to receive them in her office and in her apartment in Hallowell 
House. For many years, 1924 to 1952, Thomas H. Procter, Professor of 
Philosophy, and Mrs. Procter kept open house on Sunday evenings where 
there was music and lively conversation. It is interesting to recall that 
Mr. Procter was affectionately called "Mr. Plato" by his students. Later 
Henry Schwarz, Professor of History from 1942 to 1970, whose polished 


lectures in Central European History were appreciated by his students, 
with his Austrian wife entertained many students delightfully at their 
house on Cottage Street. 

Although "at homes" and formal "calls" are no longer the fashion, in 
the present day many members of the faculty entertain students infor- 
mally in their homes and others use the Wellesley College Club and the 
Schneider Center to entertain groups of students. Also, the opportunities 
for students to invite their teachers to the dormitories have been ex- 
panded. Formerly one night a week was set aside for this purpose but 
now students may invite their teachers for either lunch or dinner on any 
day. Thus Wellesley continues to be a college where teachers know their 
students outside of their classrooms and where friendships can develop. 
However, for the faculty this has become more difficult as their involve- 
ment in responsibilities outside the College has increased. 

From the beginning the heads of departments shared with the President 
certain responsibilities for the governance of the College, but soon a more 
formal organization ot the whole faculty was developed. The statutes, 
which were published in 1885, show that by that date there were two 
faculty bodies. The Academic Council, which consisted of the President 
and professors and associate professors, had charge of the academic ad- 
ministration and the discipline of the College. A larger body, called "The 
Faculty," included, in addition to members of Academic Council, in- 
structors and resident officers. This body decided questions relating to 
the personal life and conduct of the students and the social and religious 
life of the College. In 1910 "The Faculty" as a separate body was given up 
and the Academic Council became a single governing body consisting of 
the President, professors and associate professors, "and such other officers 
of instruction and administration as may be given this responsibility by 
vote of the trustees." 

When I first joined the faculty in 1928 all instructors were non- voting 
members of the Council and the debate in the meetings was conducted 
almost exclusively by senior professors. Although largely silent, the 
younger members enjoyed the sparring between Myrtilla Avery and So- 
phie Hart, who seemed to take opposite sides on every question. Julia 
Orvis was there to prick any platitude with her ironic wit; Louise Mc- 
Dowell to bring order out of confusion; Alfred Sheffield to set us straight 
on parliamentary law. Mary Lowell Coolidge was Dean of the College 
from 1931 to 1938 and continued as Professor of Philosophy until her 
retirement in 1957. During all these years her voice in Council was one 
of reason and common sense, and many a debate was shortened because 
of the solutions to problems which she proposed objectively and fairly. 

Over the years junior members of the Academic Council have become 
more courageous about speaking and the voting membership has been 


enlarged. When President Horton returned to the College after her serv- 
ice as Captain of the WAVES in the Second World War, she thought that 
the younger members of the faculty should be given more responsibility. 
In 1946 the Council voted that all assistant professors and full-time aca- 
demic instructors in their second year at the College should become voting 
members. In 1969 a radical change was adopted which extended the vote 
to members of the faculty on full-time appointment in their first year at 
Wellesley. Thus the power of the vote was given to people who do not yet 
know the College well and who may be here for only one year. Also, the 
trend throughout the country for students to participate in governing 
their colleges has resulted in the admission of twenty students as non- 
voting members of the Council. Although they may not vote, they have 
the privilege of speaking. It is too soon to judge whether or not the pres- 
ence of students in faculty meetings and on faculty committees in our 
American colleges will be beneficial. The experiment is, nevertheless, 
worth making and the results will be watched with interest. 

Committees have always been with us. President Shafer in 1893 referred 
to ten standing committees of the faculty and said "there is no escape 
from burdening teachers with administrative cares." Although most of 
the committees were elected by the Academic Council, it is interesting 
to note that for many years certain important matters were firmly held 
in the President's hands. In 1900 the President first appointed a Commit- 
tee on Curriculum and Instruction to serve with her in deciding what 
courses should be given. Apparently before that time these decisions were 
made by the President in consultation with the head of each department. 
Ten years later this became an elected committee with the Dean serving 
as its chairman. In 1930 for the first time there was a Committee on Reap- 
pointments, Promotions, and Dismissals, elected by the Council to advise 
the President in these important matters. The President was always 
chairman of this committee until a reorganization of committees in 
1968-69 gave the chairmanship to a faculty member while the President 
continued as an ex officio member. Realization of the need for continu- 
ity in the chairmanship of this important committee has brought another 
change. Since 1973-74 the Dean of the College has served as chairman. 
This committee is no longer advisory to the President but acts with power 
in voting on recommendations to be made by the President to the Board 
of Trustees. However, final authority now, as in the past, rests with the 

Wellesley has not been immune to the tendency of human organiza- 
tions to become more and more complex as time passes. The ten standing 
committees of President Shafer's day have increased to twenty-five, and in 
addition faculty representatives now serve on six committees of the 
Board of Trustees. Active members of the faculty do not serve on the 


Board, but in 1923 the trustees granted to the Academic Council the 
privilege of nominating one member of the Board of Trustees with the 
stipulation that the nominee should not be a present member of the 
faculty. The nominees of the Council have always been scholars with 
experience in college teaching and all except two have been former mem- 
bers of the Wellesley faculty. 

In 1917 a change in the organization of the academic departments took 
place. Previously there had been a "Head of Department" appointed to 
that office by the President. Henceforth, department members of Council 
rank would elect their own chairman for a stated term. 

The changes which I have been describing, the widening membership 
of the Academic Council, the relinquishing by the President of certain 
powers, service by the faculty on committees of the Trustees, have made 
the government of the College more democratic. But these changes also 
have increased the responsibilities of the faculty and the time that they 
must give to work on committees. 

We know that in the nineteenth century and the early decades of the 
twentieth everywhere in the United States teachers were poorly paid for 
their work. This was also true at Wellesley and we find that as late as 
1920 an instructor began at $1,400 and a full professor retired having 
attained a salary of $3,500. This was a low scale of payment when com- 
pared with the earnings of members of other learned professions at that 
time. An emeritus professor, who taught during the lean years, said to 
me recently, "I never felt poor." I think this is worth remembering. In 
the days of good train service between Wellesley and Boston, automo- 
biles were not necessary and only a few members of the faculty owned 
them. Television sets and other appliances which are now in every house 
did not exist. These teachers with their modest salaries were able to buy 
books, to travel, to live a good life. 

Each of the Presidents has tried to improve the economic position of 
the faculty. After the Second World War President Horton was able to 
announce a new salary scale to take effect in 1946 whereby the minimum 
for an instructor was $2,200 and the minimum for a full professor was 
$5,000. Twenty years later at the end of President Clapp's administration 
in her last Report to the Trustees she gave the average compensation 
for each rank. For an instructor it was $7,942 and for a full professor 
$16,404. And the upward movement has continued in President Adams's 
and President Newell's administrations. For the year 1973-74 the esti- 
mated average compensation including all benefits was $12,615 for an 
instructor and $26,979 for a full professor. Of course, inflation has been 
an important factor so that the change in the buying power of the dollar 
has made these increases less spectacular than the figures would seem to 
indicate. Nevertheless, there has been real improvement over the years. 


Not only were salaries low in the early years, but, also, no provision 
was made for retirement. We find in President Hazard's report in 1908 
that Professor Niles of the Geology Department retired with a pension 
from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, being 
the first person at Wellesley who was eligible on grounds of years of serv- 
ice and of age. He was followed by others who qualified to receive Car- 
negie pensions. It was not until 1927 that the College had its own pension 
plan, a contributory one for pensions and insurance for the faculty. In 
1937 this was replaced by a new plan which involved the purchase of an- 
nuities in the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association. Over the 
years the percentage of salary contributed by the College and by indi- 
vidual members of the faculty has increased to provide better annuities 
upon retirement. Other benefits have been added to include an improved 
sick leave policy and better life insurance. Thus we see that through the 
efforts of our Presidents, working in cooperation with the Trustees, and 
through the great generosity of the alumnae and others who have given 
so much to salary advancement funds, there has been steady improvement 
in the economic position of the faculty. 

The long years of service of many members of the faculty in the early 
decades suggests that there was "tenure" for certain members of the fac- 
ulty in practice although not in legislation. In 1923 the Academic Coun- 
cil voted that "the reappointment of a professor or associate professor for 
a second term should be construed as establishing in general a reasonable 
expectation of permanency." In 1942, in President Horton's administra- 
tion, a Faculty Appointment and Tenure Policy was adopted by the 
Academic Council and approved by the Board of Trustees. In this new 
policy tenure could be acquired not only upon reappointment as professor 
or associate professor, but also upon "reappointment to any professorial 
rank after at least six years of service as assistant professor." As a result 
of this change the fitness of members of the faculty for permanent ap- 
pointment could be decided earlier in their careers when a negative de- 
cision was less damaging than if it were made after service as an associate 
professor. This has led to more careful evaluation of each person's 
achievement and potential before the acquisition of tenure. In 1973 the 
legislation concerning tenure was revised to include in the probationary 
period an individual's years of teaching at other colleges before coming 
to Wellesley. This provision is in accord with policies recommended by 
the American Association of University Professors. It should be noted that 
the decision to grant tenure has to depend not only upon the qualifica- 
tions of an individual but also upon the availability of openings in his 

In the United States the concept of tenure was developed to assure free- 
dom in their teaching to college faculties and also to protect them from 


dismissal when, as private citizens, they became involved in political or 
social activities of which the trustees of a college or university disap- 
proved. At Wellesley throughout its history the faculty has been remark- 
ably free from interference by the administration or the Trustees. There 
have been radicals such as Vida Scudder, Professor of English Literature, 
and Ellen Hayes, Professor of Mathematics; both were members of the 
Socialist Party and both actively supported the strike of the mill workers 
in Lawrence in 1912. In Miss Scudder's autobiography, On Journey 
(1937), she tells of the "deluge" of letters received by the Trustees at this 
time objecting to her conduct and her presence on the faculty. Fortu- 
nately the Trustees did not ask for the resignation of this gifted woman 
whose teaching at Wellesley had begun in 1888 and continued until 1928. 
The titles of two of her books illustrate abiding interests of her life, for 
she was always a social reformer and a deeply convinced Christian: Social 
Ideals in English Letters (1898) and The Franciscan Adventure (1931). 

I find only one instance in which a teacher may have been dismissed 
for her radicalism and even that case is not clear. Emily G. Balch began 
her teaching in the Department of Economics in 1896. She was an au- 
thority on questions of immigration and author of Our Slavic Fellow Citi- 
zens (1910). An ardent pacifist, in 1915 she went with Jane Addams and 
other American women to the International Congress of Women at the 
Hague, and in 1916 she was in Stockholm as a member of Henry Ford's 
Neutral Conference on Continuous Mediation. After two leaves of ab- 
sence extending from 1916 to 1918, one of her terms as a professor expired 
in 1918. At this time the question of her reappointment came before the 
Trustees who, after long deliberations which extended until April 1919, 
decided not to reappoint her. It was a close vote and President Pendleton 
was one who voted in favor of reappointment. In the absence of detailed 
minutes we do not know whether this action was taken because of Miss 
Balch's activity as a pacifist when the United States was engaged in the 
First World War, or because of her long absences from the College to 
attend to her outside interests. After leaving Wellesley she continued to 
work for peace, chiefly through the Women's International League for 
Peace and Freedom, and was honored in 1946 when she received the No- 
bel Peace Prize, having been recommended for this honor by President 

It is interesting to note that Henry Raymond Mussey, Professor of Eco- 
nomics from 1922 to 1940, except for a brief absence to serve as editor 
of The Nation, had previously resigned from Columbia University in 
protest against limitations on academic freedom there at that time. We 
also know that in the McCarthy era, when Congress was investigating 
subversive influences in New England colleges, Wellesley stood by its 
faculty. Louise Pettibone Smith, Professor of Biblical History, was called 


before the Jenner Committee because she was chairman of the American 
Committee for the Protection of the Foreign Born, which was on the 
Attorney General's list of subversive organizations. When Miss Smith 
testified that she had never joined any organization which she considered 
to be subversive her case was dismissed. Throughout this period President 
Clapp and the Trustees gave the faculty wise advice and moral support. 

The qualifications for promotion have remained fairly constant 
throughout the years. President Irvine in her Report in 1897 mentioned 
the promotion of Sophie Jewett to the rank of Associate Professor of Eng- 
lish Literature and described it as "a promotion due the teacher, the 
writer, and the woman." Miss Jewett was the author of a beautiful trans- 
lation into modern English poetry of the long medieval poem, The Pearl 
(1908). I have quoted President Irvine's statement because it says so much 
in such a simple and direct way. Because Wellesley is primarily a college 
for undergraduates, greater emphasis has been placed on teaching ability 
than on research and publication, although the latter have not been neg- 
lected. And the character and personality of the candidate have always 
been considered important. In 1939 the legislation of the College stated 
that "qualifications for promotion include enrichment of equipment, 
teaching power, and personality." In 1946 the qualifications for promo- 
tion to the rank of full professor were stated as follows: "It is the policy 
of the College to expect recommendations of any candidate for the rank 
of professor to be supported by unusually strong evidence of teaching 
power and intellectual distinction." Now in the 1970s, although there are 
slight modifications of phrasing, the standards are the same. 

There has, however, been a marked change in the rate of promotion. 
Whereas formerly it was not unusual for a member of the faculty to serve 
several years as an instructor and then nine years as an assistant professor 
and another nine years as an associate professor before becoming a full 
professor, later it became normal to receive promotion after six years in 
each of the lower professorial ranks. Also, formerly a young teacher with 
the Ph.D. degree began service in the rank of instructor whereas now the 
initial appointment of a person with that degree is at the rank of assist- 
ant professor. Of course, this more rapid promotion makes a career at 
Wellesley more attractive to able young people. 

In President Clapp's Report to the Trustees after her first year in the 
office of President she made an important statement about the faculty: 
"Wellesley is fortunate in its present faculty. Wellesley has a number of 
nationally known scholars, a number of brilliant teachers, and a splendid 
faculty record for effective devotion to the needs and interests of students 
considered individually. We must maintain that by assisting as much as 
the budget permits the scholarly careers of our most promising young 
teachers whom we hope to keep with us; by holding tenure standards so 


high that each present permanent member of the faculty can take pride 
in being colleague to the newcomer; and by so shaping our budget and 
our attitudes that the higher professorial ranks are considered unusually 
desirable positions. All of this is easier to say than to do, but it is worth 
our every endeavor." President Clapp did give her "every endeavor" to 
achieve the goals described here, and by her leadership she encouraged 
the senior faculty to cooperate with her by recommending for tenure 
only those most worthy of it. 

In the first quarter century leaves of absence for research and writing 
were granted occasionally to certain individuals. Then in 1902 a regular 
policy was established when the Trustees voted that each full professor 
should be eligible for a sabbatical year on half salary. In 1929 the Trus- 
tees extended this privilege to associate and assistant professors and they 
gave more flexibility by allowing an absence either for a semester with 
full salary or for a year with half salary. The availability of a semester's 
leave without any reduction of salary was helpful especially for people 
with family responsibilities. In President Adams's administration very 
generous financial arrangements were made for people on sabbatical 
leave. The College would now guarantee a minimum stipend of $10,000 
for a year's leave. But for a person with an especially important research 
project, who had sought grants from outside sources, the College would 
supplement such grants to make the stipend equivalent to his full salary 
if he were teaching. 

To carry out her objective of assisting the scholarly careers of our most 
promising young teachers, President Clapp, with the support of the Trus- 
tees, initiated in 1959 a program of leaves of absence for some junior 
members of the faculty. This was, I believe, the first such program in the 
country. It helped to make Wellesley attractive to some of the most gifted 
young scholars by giving them an opportunity to pursue their research 
intensively without having to wait until they became eligible for sab- 
batical leaves of absence. 

Members of the faculty have used their sabbaticals in a variety of ways. 
Some have gone to distant lands in pursuit of knowledge. In 1902 Kath- 
arine Coman of the Department of Economics went to Alaska and to the 
Hawaiian Islands to make a study of the economic conditions in these 
territories. Two years later Elizabeth Kendall, Professor of History, went 
to India to study the colonial system there. And in 1911 she made her first 
great journey through central China, travelling alone with her Irish ter- 
rier and one Chinese servant. Finally, she crossed the Gobi Desert by 
cart and at Irkutsk took the Trans-Siberian Railway back to Europe. This 
bold journey and her record of it led to her election as a Fellow of the 
Royal Geographical Society of Great Britain. Before the days of travel by 
air these were very long journeys indeed. 



Much later Louise Overacker, Professor of Political Science, who taught 
at Wellesley from 1925 to 1957, having won recognition for her publica- 
tions in the field of primaries, and also of money and elections, decided 
to study the government of Australia. After she spent two leaves there her 
important book, The Australian Party System, was published in 1952, and 
in 1968 a second book, Australian Parties in a Changing Society. Miss 
Overacker's distinguished work has been recognized by her election to 
offices in the American Political Science Association, and in 1957 she 
was made a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Har- 
riet Creighton '29, who taught in the Department of Botany from 1940 
to 1974, served twice as a Fulbright lecturer: first at Perth, Australia, and 
later at the National University in Cuzco, Peru. In 1956 she was honored 
by her election as President of the Botanical Society of America. Bartlett 
Stoodley, a member of the Department of Sociology from 1947 to 1973, 
spent two leaves in the Orient. During the first one he was a Fulbright 
Lecturer at the University of the Philippines where he conducted re- 
search on the family and community systems of that country. A second 
leave was spent teaching at Chung Chi College near Hong Kong and 
there he made a study of the Chinese student population in that city. 
Leaves of this kind, spent in countries which are not often visited by 
most of us, bring to the campus firsthand observations which can be very 
useful. However, they should not be overemphasized, for the more usual 
sabbatical year spent in a library or laboratory of a university here at 
home can, of course, be very profitable for the person on leave and for 
his colleagues and students when he returns. 

Although throughout the history of the College strong emphasis has 
been placed on good teaching, there has always been recognition of the 
importance of the research activities of the faculty. In President Shafer's 
Report for the year 1887-88 we learn that Ellen Hayes, Associate Profes- 
sor of Mathematics, had spent a leave of absence at the observatory of 
the University of Virginia and while there she had "determined a defini- 
tive orbit of the newly discovered Minor Planet 267." In later Reports of 
the Presidents we find appreciative references to books written by mem- 
bers of the faculty: "Professor Scudder's scholarly edition of Shelley's 
Prometheus Unbound has been a welcome event of the year." And in 
another report: "Miss Calkins' recently published Introduction to Psy- 
chology reflects honor on the College." Then for the first time the Presi- 
dent's Report for 1905-06 contained an appendix giving a complete list 
of publications of the faculty for that year, and thereafter it became a 
regular practice to include this list in each President's Report. In 1926, 
when the College was entering upon its second half-century, six books 
were published by members of the faculty, each one from a distinguished 
press, and in that same year numerous articles were also listed. In 1966 


President Clapp reported that in the previous two years seventy-nine 
members of the faculty had published fifteen books and over one hun- 
dred and fifty scholarly articles, had edited or translated another seven 
books and five musical scores, and had written many reviews. Certainly 
this record gives evidence of a great deal of interest in research and writ- 
ing in the 1960s. 

During the first twenty-five years members of the faculty seem to have 
supported their own research. It was not until 1902, as I have mentioned 
earlier, that a policy of granting sabbatical leaves was established. In 
later years the College not only appropriated funds to aid research in a 
variety of ways, but it also provided subsidies for the publication of schol- 
arly books written by members of the faculty. In recent decades there has 
been a marked increase in financial support for research from sources out- 
side the College, from the government and from private foundations. 
Many members of the faculty have taken advantage of these opportuni- 
ties, some receiving Guggenheim Fellowships and others Fulbright Fel- 
lowships, and there have been many grants to aid research from such 
government agencies as the National Science Foundation, the National 
Institutes of Health, the Atomic Energy Commission, and the National 
Endowment for the Humanities. Figures for the years 1966 through 1972 
show that during this period research awards from outside the College 
amounted to more than a million dollars. 

It is apparent that in spite of their busy lives as teachers, many mem- 
bers of the faculty have been productive scholars and some have been 
well known outside the College. The laboratories established originally 
for use in teaching the experimental methods of science have served as 
centers for research by members of the faculty — and indeed because of 
the active research of the faculty many students have been inspired to 
become scholars themselves. There is space here to name only those scien- 
tists whose research resulting in the publication of many articles over a 
period of many years has been widely recognized outside the College. 

In the physical sciences two alumnae have been very active in research. 
In the Department of Chemistry Helen S. French, after graduating from 
Wellesley in 1907, studied in Germany and in Switzerland, receiving her 
Ph.D. at Zurich in 1913. From that time until her retirement in 1950 she 
published regularly the results of her studies of the structure of organic 
compounds in American chemical journals and sometimes in the proceed- 
ings of the Royal Society in London. Another alumna whose articles 
appeared in leading journals over a span of three decades was Louise S. 
McDowell '98, who after earning her Ph.D. at Cornell taught in the De- 
partment of Physics from 1909 until 1945. She was an authority in the 
field of power loss in dialectrics. Twice she was affiliated with the Radio 
Station of the Bureau of Standards where her appointment in 1918-1919 


10 5 

gave her the highest rank of any woman physicist in the Federal Civil 

In the biological sciences the best known scholar in botany was Mar- 
garet C. Ferguson, who taught at Wellesley from 1901 to 1932. Her mono- 
graph, Life History of Pinus (1904), was considered authoritative both in 
Europe and in the United States. For many years in the Wellesley lab- 
oratory she conducted experiments in the field of genetics, studying es- 
pecially the inheritance of color in petunias. In 1928 she was elected presi- 
dent of the Botanical Society of America. Two early members of the De- 
partment of Zoology unfortunately lost their research materials in the 
College Hall fire. At a later period the laboratory once again became an 
active center of research with the work of an alumna, Mary Austin '20, 
who taught in the department from 1928 to 1961. With grants from the 
National Institutes of Health she conducted research in protozoan genet- 
ics and after retirement continued as a Research Scholar at Indiana Uni- 
versity. From 1934 when E. Elizabeth Jones joined the faculty until her 
retirement in 1964 she was one of Wellesley's most productive research 
scientists. Her work on mammary tumors in mice received substantial 
support for many years from the National Cancer Institute. Twice she 
received fellowships to work at the National Cancer Institute in Maryland 
and twice she presented papers at International Scientific Congresses in 

Mary Whiton Calkins, who has been mentioned earlier in this chapter 
as the founder of the psychological laboratory at Wellesley, taught here 
from 1887 to 1929. She was an outstanding scholar who achieved distinc- 
tion both as a psychologist and as a philosopher. William James once de- 
scribed her as "the first woman of the first rank in the history of philos- 
ophy." Like William James she also was honored by being elected as 
president of two associations: the American Psychological Association in 
1905 and the American Philosophical Association in 1918. In the labora- 
tory she conducted experimental studies in several fields, chiefly memory 
and association, and was the inventor of a method of investigation which 
is still widely used. In addition to numerous articles she published four 
books, among them An Introduction to Psychology (1901) and The Per- 
sistent Problems of Philosophy (1907). Her able colleague in the depart- 
ment for many years was Eleanor Gamble '89, who has been mentioned 
earlier in this chapter. In 1934 Miss Gamble was followed by Edna Heid- 
breder, Professor of Psychology, who during her twenty years here was 
one of Wellesley's steadily productive scholars. Her book, Seven Psychol- 
ogies (1933), is still widely used in the United States and abroad in sev- 
eral translations for the study of systems of psychology. Although she is 
known for her work in several fields, probably of greatest interest to Miss 
Calkins would have been her experiments, conducted in the Wellesley 


laboratory, on the attainment of concepts, which made her an authority 
in this field. Her work has been recognized by her election to offices not 
only in the American Psychological Association but also in the National 
Research Council and in the American Association for the Advancement 
of Science. 

In the social sciences and the humanities, although numerous articles 
are written, the large research projects normally are presented in books 
rather than in a series of articles. I have spoken earlier of Louise Over- 
acker's distinguished work as a political scientist. In the same department 
M. Margaret Ball, who taught at Wellesley from 1936 to 1963 before going 
to Duke University, was the author of several important books. One of 
these, NATO and the European Union Movement (1959), received first 
prize in the International Atlantic Community Awards competition. 
She has been honored by election as a Fellow of the American Academy 
of Arts and Sciences. Leland H. Jenks, who taught at Wellesley from 
1930 to 1957, was an economic historian and a sociologist. He was the 
author of The Migration of British Capital to 1875 (1927), and Our 
Cuban Colony (1928). An authority on the Caribbean region, in 1934 he 
was made a member of the Commission on Cuban Affairs. Lucy W. Kil- 
lough, Professor of Economics, who taught at Wellesley from 1929 to 
1962, was a specialist in international economics and in public finance. 
She was a productive scholar, author of numerous articles and in demand 
as a lucid lecturer on problems of taxation. She collaborated with her 
husband, Professor Hugh B. Killough of Brown University, in writing 
several books on international economics. In 1951 during a sabbatical 
leave spent in Taiwan she made a study of taxes and markets in that 

In 1920 the Department of History appointed its first specialist in Near 
East History, Barnette Miller, who, like her predecessor Miss Kendall, 
was a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society of Great Britain. Miss 
Miller traveled widely in Arab countries, and in Central Asia she visited 
Samarkand, the splendid capital of Tamerlane's empire. Her research 
was concentrated on Turkey where she had lived for some years before 
coming to Wellesley. She published two impressive books: Beyond the 
Sublime Porte: The Grand Seraglio of Stamboul (1931), and The Palace 
School of Muhammad the Conqueror (1941). E. Faye Wilson, who taught 
in the History Department from 1941 to 1965, was a well known scholar 
of the Middle Ages. A Councillor of the Mediaeval Academy of America, 
she wrote numerous articles for Speculum, the journal of the Academy, 
and she was also the editor of two works by the medieval poet John of 
Garland. Ernest Lacheman, a member of the Department of Biblical 
History from 1943 to 1971, was invited by the Harvard Semitic Museum 
to edit its large collection of the cuneiform tablets of the ancient city 



of Nuzi, an Assyrian town of the fifteenth century B.C. These studies 
have been published by the Harvard University Press in a series of eight 
volumes, Excavations at Nuzi (1929-1962). Mr. Lacheman was the editor 
of volumes four through eight. 

Several alumnae have been mentioned among the scientists; some of 
our best scholars in other fields have also been Wellesley graduates. Myr- 
tilla Avery '91, who taught in the Department of Art from 1912 to 1937, 
was a well known medievalist with friends among the scholars of Paris 
and of the Vatican Library. Her masterpiece was the folio volume, The 
Exultet Rolls of South Italy (1936). Laura Hibbard Loomis '05, member 
of the Department of English Literature from 1916 to 1943, was another 
internationally known medievalist. She was the author of several books 
and numerous articles on the Arthurian legend and on Chaucer's work. 
The titles of two books illustrate her chief interests: Mediaeval Romance 
in England (1925), and Arthurian Legends in Mediaeval Art (1938). An- 
other alumna, Katharine C. Balderston '16, who taught in the Depart- 
ment of English Literature from 1920 to 1960, became a distinguished 
specialist in the literature of the eighteenth century. In 1933 she received 
the honor of being the first woman to be appointed a Visiting Scholar 
at the Huntington Library in Pasadena. After publishing three books on 
Oliver Goldsmith, she turned her attention to other members of Dr. John- 
son's circle. Her important book, Thraliana: The Diary of Hester Lynch 
Thrale (1942), was awarded the Rose Mary Crawshay prize by the British 
Academy in 1944. The work of another alumna, Dorothy Robathan '19, 
who taught in the Latin Department from 1931 to 1963, was recognized 
when she was elected President of the American Philological Association 
in 1965. Her fields of special interest have been the transmission of clas- 
sical authors in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, and also the topog- 
raphy of Rome. Her book, The Monuments of Ancient Rome, was pub- 
lished in 1950. 

Among the Europeans on the faculty there have always been some 
active scholars. For example, Marianne Thalmann, who taught in the 
German Department from 1933 to 1953, was a student of the romantic 
movement and has published several books on Ludwig Tieck. Her por- 
trait has been hung in the Austrian National Library in Vienna. Ger- 
maine Lafeuille, a member of the French Department from 1952 to 1975, 
has won recognition as a writer on medieval and renaissance French lit- 
erature. More unusual for a scholar is her ability to translate the works of 
American poets into French. She has done verse translations of several 
women poets, and in 1965 her book, Marianne Moore, Selected Poems, 
a bilingual edition, was published in Paris. 

Two members of the French Department, each with many years of serv- 
ice to the College, received the Cross of the Chevalier of the Legion of 


Honor from the government of France. Andree Bruel, who taught at 
Wellesley from 1927 to 1960, received her decoration "in recognition of 
her distinguished service to French culture and Franco- American friend- 
ship." And Dorothy W. Dennis '14, who spent more than forty years on 
the faculty, 1917 to 1959, was honored "for her work with American stu- 
dents studying in France." 

Several members of the faculty have received prizes for their books; 
two of them have been mentioned earlier in this chapter. In 1948 shortly 
before coming to Wellesley as its president, Margaret Clapp had received 
the important Pulitzer Prize for Biography for her book, Forgotten First 
Citizen: John Bigelow, and later she received another honor when she 
was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Ola 
Elizabeth Winslow, a specialist in American literature, who spent the 
last six years of her teaching career at Wellesley, retiring in 1950, had 
been awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1941 for her life of Jonathan Edwards. 
She is the author of several interesting biographies, among them those 
of John Eliot and Roger Williams. John McAndrew was a member of the 
Department of Art from 1945 to 1968, and during many of those years 
he was an unusually gifted Director of the Wellesley College Museum. His 
book, The Open Air Churches of Sixteenth Century Mexico (1965), was 
cited as the most distinguished work of scholarship in the history of 
architecture published by a North American scholar in that year. In 
1930 the Department of Art was fortunate in its appointment of Sirarpie 
Der Nersessian, Docteur es Lettres of the Sorbonne, who later was awarded 
the Prix Fould of the Institut de France. Her exceptionally distinguished 
work in the field of Byzantine art was recognized by her appointment in 
1946 by Harvard University as Professor of Byzantine Art and Archeol- 
ogy. It should be noted that this appointment was made at a time when 
there were only two other women at Harvard with the rank of full pro- 

Walter E. Houghton, who taught in the Department of English from 
1942 to 1970, is well known as a writer on Victorian literature. One of 
his books, The Victorian Frame of Mind, won the Christian Gauss Award 
in 1957. This prize is presented annually by the Phi Beta Kappa Society 
for the best book of literary scholarship published by a University Press. 
In 1964 he was honored by election as a Fellow of the American Academy 
of Arts and Sciences. In recent years he has devoted his time to The 
Wellesley Index to Victorian Periodicals, 1824-1900, published by the 
University of Toronto Press. Two volumes have been issued (1966 and 
1972), and there are more to come. Mr. Houghton is the originator and 
editor of this important work of reference, and his scholarly wife, Esther 
Houghton, is one of the associate editors. When completed it will contain 
tables of contents and an index of authors for articles appearing in some 


forty major Victorian periodicals. Since most of the writing was done 
either anonymously or under pseudonyms, the identification of authors 
is difficult but important because of the distinguished people who wrote 
for these periodicals. They included, in addition to well known authors, 
many political leaders, scientists, and philosophers. This impressive work 
has been supported generously by grants from Wellesley College and 
from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The fact that Mr. 
Houghton has given it the title The Wellesley Index has brought honor 
to the College. 

At all times in Wellesley's history there have been a few creative artists 
on the faculty: writers, musicians, painters. Some have been here for short 
periods but others for many years. The first to receive recognition as an 
author was Katharine Lee Bates whose work has been described earlier 
in this chapter. Then in 1889 Margaret P. Sherwood came to teach Eng- 
lish Literature. A scholar who was among the earliest group of women 
to earn the Ph.D. at Yale, she was also a novelist, usually writing under a 
pseudonym, whose first novel appeared in 1895 and her last, Pilgrim Feet, 
in 1949 when she was eighty-five years old. One composer, Hubert Lamb, 
taught in the Music Department from 1935 to 1974. His compositions for 
chorus, orchestra, and chamber ensemble have been performed in concerts 
at Wellesley and throughout the country. In 1963 the New England Con- 
servatory awarded him the honorary degree of Doctor of Music. The con- 
tinued success in the Art Department of the program of laboratory and 
studio work, which had been introduced by Alice Van Vechten Brown, 
can be attributed chiefly to Agnes Abbot, a distinguished water color 
artist who taught here from 1920 to 1963, and after Miss Brown's retire- 
ment in 1930 supervised all the laboratory and studio classes. Miss Abbot 
has held many "one man" exhibitions and there are examples of her work 
in the collections of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and of the Fogg 
Museum in Cambridge. 

In the preceding section of this chapter, I have been reporting on the 
research and other creative work of members of the faculty whose tenure 
fell within the first century of the life of the College and upon honors 
that have been received by some of them. The account is, of course, not 
exhaustive as many people who could not be named here have done 
valuable work. 

Now, when the College is entering its second century there is every 
reason to believe that the faculty will be as strong and distinguished as 
in the past. The ten year fund-raising program, which President Newell 
has announced, includes increased support for salaries and for aids for 
research. In the present faculty there are many able scholars who will 
be teaching here after 1975 and whose work will be recorded in the next 
history of Wellesley College. There is space here to give only a few ex- 


amples to illustrate the wide range of their interests and of their fields 
of specialization. 

In each of the science departments there are faculty members who 
have received substantial grants from the government and from private 
foundations. Virginia M. Fiske, Professor of Biology, is well known for 
her research in endocrinology, research which has been supported gen- 
erously by the National Institutes of Health. Another recipient of large 
grants from the same organization and also from the National Science 
Foundation is Helen A. Padykula, Professor in the Laboratory of Elec- 
tron Microscopy. Always active in research, most recently she has directed 
her major effort toward problems in the reproductive biology of mam- 

In the humanities interesting work is being done by scholars who are 
studying various periods and aspects of our cultural heritage. After the 
discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls a number of well known scholars began 
to work on them. At this time Lucetta Mowry, Professor of Biblical His- 
tory, published a valuable book, The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Early 
Church (1962). In the French Department there are two versatile pro- 
fessors whose books and articles deal with French literature both past 
and present. Carlo R. Francois's work includes numerous articles on French 
classical drama and a book on Saint-Exupery. His latest book discusses 
"the notion of the absurd" in seventeenth century French literature. Ren£ 
M. Galand has concentrated chiefly on literature of the nineteenth cen- 
tury. He has published a book on Renan and one on Baudelaire, and 
his most recent book is on a later poet, Saint-John Perse. In the large 
English Department there are specialists working in each of the great 
periods of our literature. Among them is Patricia M. Spacks, Professor 
of English, whose field is the poetry of the eighteenth century. Already 
she has published four significant books dealing with this period; the 
most recent one, An Argument of Images (1971), is a study of the poetry 
of Alexander Pope. Her colleague, David Ferry, has won recognition as 
a scholar specializing in Wordsworth and also as a poet whose work has 
appeared in anthologies and in a number of leading periodicals in this 
country and in England. He is the author of a volume of poems, On the 
Way to the Island (1960). 

Earlier in this chapter The Wellesley Index to Victorian Periodicals has 
been described. There is another long term scholarly project which also 
bears the name of the College. This is The Wellesley Edition, published 
by the College, a series of scores of music of early periods which have 
never before been published. Begun by Jan LaRue in 1950, the series at 
present numbers fourteen volumes, eleven of them published since 1963 
under the direction of Owen H. Jander. 

Throughout the College there is a great deal of interest in the con- 


temporary period. Mr. Jander, for example, whose chief field is music 
of the baroque period, is also studying electronic music. It is to be ex- 
pected that many scholars in the social sciences would be working on 
contemporary problems. Carolyn S. Bell, Professor of Economics, special- 
izes in the economics of consumption. She is the author of Consumer 
Choice in the American Economy (1967), and The Economics of the 
Ghetto (1970), and of numerous articles. In 1972 she was appointed a 
public member of the National Advertising Review Board, the advertis- 
ing industry's self-regulatory body. Marshall I. Goldman of the same 
department is well known for his articles and books on the economics 
of Russia. The Soviet Economy: Myth and Reality (1968) was his third 
book in this field. He has also written on environmental problems. 

Present members of the faculty, like their predecessors, have received 
significant honors. Alona E. Evans, Professor of Political Science, a spe- 
cialist in international law, has published many articles dealing with the 
legal problems of asylum and other related topics. She has served on the 
board of editors of the American Journal of International Law and in 
1971 she received the Achievement Award of the American Association of 
University Women. Edward V. Gulick, Professor of History, received 
the Carnegie Endowment Award of the American Historical Association 
for his book, Europe's Classical Balance of Power (1955). More recently 
he has written chapters for the New Cambridge Modern History. An in- 
vitation to contribute is one of the top honors for a scholar whose field 
is modern European history. Curtis H. Shell, Professor of Art, who died 
in 1974 while still on active service, wrote extensively on the painters of 
the Italian Renaissance. In 1972 he was decorated with the rank of Com- 
mendatore by the President of the Italian Republic in appreciation of his 
work in rescuing the art of Florence after the devastating floods of 1965. 

In writing about earlier periods I have spoken especially of alumnae 
who have contributed in important ways to the College as teachers, schol- 
ars, and administrators. It is good to know that on the present faculty 
there are nine very able graduates of the College in the two upper pro- 
fessorial ranks. Two of them have been involved in work that points di- 
rectly to future developments in the College. Eleanor R. Webster '42, 
Professor of Chemistry, has been interested in various aspects of contin- 
uing education, the opportunity at Wellesley for study by women be- 
yond the age of the undergraduates. From 1964 to 1972 she was director 
of the Wellesley College Institute in Chemistry, and in 1969 she served 
as the first director of Wellesley 's new program in Continuing Educa- 
tion. This program has developed well and will be increased in scope 
in future years. Mary R. Lefkowitz '57, Associate Professor of Greek and 
Latin, was Vice Chairman of the Commission on the Future of the Col- 
lege which was appointed by President Adams. Mrs. Lefkowitz was the 


author of an important section of the report on "The Education and 
Needs of Women," a matter of special interest to President Newell as she 
plans for the future of the College. 

At Wellesley emphasis has always been placed upon strong teaching. 
It has not been possible in this chapter to mention the many fine teachers 
of each generation who have been remembered gratefully by their stu- 
dents. From their classes have come not only graduates who have later be- 
come teachers at Wellesley, but many others who have become professors 
in other colleges and universities. Also the faculty can take pride in 
alumnae who have entered a variety of important and useful professions, 
and in others who have held responsible posts as volunteers. A letter from 
an alumna who is now a full professor in a distinguished university has 
been received recently by an emeritus professor. The alumna wrote: "I 
am very much aware of how strongly the spirit of inquiry that, in my 
experience, was fostered at Wellesley has influenced my sustained atti- 
tudes and intellectual values." She expressed gratitude for having begun 
at Wellesley "the kind of life that has constantly generated intellectual 
challenges and gratifications." I have quoted from this letter in order to 
pay tribute to the teachers of all generations in the College. 

The history of the faculty in four of our sister colleges (Bryn Mawr, 
Mount Holyoke, Smith, and Vassar) which were founded in the nine- 
teenth century as women's colleges, independent of any connection with 
a university, is similar in many respects to our own. Wellesley is, how- 
ever, unique in one respect, for it is the only college in this group that 
has always had a woman as its president. This has, I believe, influenced 
the selection of the faculty and may account for the higher percentage 
of women on the faculty at Wellesley now and reaching back for many 
years than in these sister colleges. 

The faculty of Wellesley College has been fortunate in many ways. The 
location has always been advantageous, near the theatres and concert 
halls, the great libraries and museums of Boston and Cambridge. This 
location has, for exmple, enabled the Music Department to employ mem- 
bers of the Boston Symphony Orchestra as teachers of instrumental 
music. Distinguished members of the Harvard faculty have always been 
available for single lectures, and it is interesting to recall that before the 
regulations of the University prevented professors from giving courses 
elsewhere, in 1901 and again in 1909 Hugo Miinsterberg and George San- 
tayana each gave a course at Wellesley, and in 1905 William James gave 
a course on "Pluralism." 

I have mentioned the availability of the great libraries of Boston and 
Cambridge, but the advantages of our own library should not be over- 
looked. As early as 1912 Sarah F. Whiting reported that the physics li- 
brary was in advance of many college libraries in possessing complete 


files of the great periodicals. This is true in other fields as well, so that 
in the collections of reference books, of periodicals, and of documents, 
the faculty find many of the tools for their research at hand in the Mar- 
garet Clapp Library. 

For each generation of teachers there has been the privilege of working 
in a beautiful setting on the spacious acres of Mr. Durant's estate. There 
is no better place to enjoy New England's changing seasons than at home 
on the Wellesley campus. 

Throughout the history of the College there have been privileges of 
deeper significance. The faculty have had in their classes many young 
women with serious purpose and exceptionally good intellectual ability. 
Also, there has been the privilege of association with one's colleagues 
on the faculty, colleagues who could be enjoyed as companions and 
many who could be admired for their distinction as teachers and scholars. 
And underpinning all their work, in the College as I knew it for thirty- 
three years, there was the steady support of the presidents and trustees, 
and a sense of security stemming from the integrity of the College, an 
integrity from which the faculty have benefited and which they in turn 
have helped to maintain. 

Opening Convocation, with President Margaret Clapp preceding Deans Teresa G. Frisch and Ella Keats Whiting. 

1 *f ' '^ , ft 


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English Literature 




English Literature 

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Philosophy and Psychology 

SOPHIE c. hart 
English Composition 






Biblical History 













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Political Science 










Political Science 




A Footnote to 
Keats Whiting 

If I were asked to characterize the intellectual life at Wellesley College, 
I might say, as a new academic dean, that it reminds me a bit of Hindu- 
ism. Both have an enormous capacity to absorb external values, yet both 
modify them to the point that they are appropriate and useful to their 
own contexts. Moreover, like Hinduism, Wellesley College seems to 
nurture and entertain what appear to be contradictions. 

As an example of this capacity to synthesize, to bring together the new 
and the old, we might look at the impact of graduate and specialized 
education on the curriculum of the liberal arts college. The pressures on 
the curriculum at Wellesley or elsewhere to replicate the offerings of a 
graduate department are constant. Young scholars come from increasingly 
specialized graduate departments and, of course, wish to teach in their 
speciality. Although the size of the faculty ordinarily does not expand, 
our college curriculum expands to allow this expression of virtuoso ac- 
complishment. For instance, the very excellent History Department has 
managed to expand the thirty-three courses taught by fourteen faculty 
members in 1962 to a total of sixty-one courses taught by thirteen faculty 
in 1974. How can this be done? These courses are taught in alternate 
years, fewer sections of the same course are taught, and topical seminars 
are given at the introductory level. 

This great teaching activity allows for specialization, but can it nourish 
a common core? There is evidence at Wellesley that it does through the 
simultaneous insistence on what is enduring. Where everywhere require- 
ments are disappearing and majors are simply a collection of courses 
given by the same department, Wellesley maintains a core curriculum for 
most majors, a distribution requirement insuring a broad sample of the 
liberal arts, and an insistence that the educated person is acquainted 
with a foreign language. 

The impact of graduate education has also made its way into the formal 



evaluation of scholars. The assessment of scholarly growth of candidates 
for tenure or full professor must be a blending of the external and in- 
ternal judgments. In 1974, the College extended to all departments the 
practice of using outside evaluators from other institutions to comment 
on the quality of written work of their candidates for tenure. Not sur- 
prisingly, the young candidates for promotion have been exceedingly 
supportive of this practice. They bring with them the values of their 
graduate institutions and may find an outsider with similar speciality to 
be more sympathetic. What impresses me, however, is not that the outside 
evaluation system was brought to Wellesley, but that it was brought here 
by those, the senior faculty, whose judgment would no longer be the sole 
evaluation. To me this demonstrates the confidence, strength of profes- 
sional commitment, and tolerance of the Wellesley faculty. 

This Wellesley capacity to absorb and to synthesize can also be found 
in the increasing student participation in evaluation of faculty. Faculty 
are, of course, expected to meet internal as well as external standards for 
promotion. But "who" gets included in the internal evaluation is the 
question. Excellent teaching is, and has been, the sine qua non for re- 
appointment at Wellesley. It is too important to be assumed, as it is in 
most research-oriented universities. Colleagues, through class visits and 
an extensive review process, have made and continue to make assessments 
of the quality of teaching. However, Wellesley has responded with greater 
alacrity and acceptance than elsewhere to the student demand for a voice 
in college governance and especially the opportunity to add their opinion 
to the judgments of faculty teaching. Where other institutions are en- 
meshed in deciding whether student letters can even be accepted as evi- 
dence for faculty evaluation, Wellesley lends validity to its students' de- 
mand by assuring a 100% sample of respondents to student evaluation 
questionnaires. A student must return her form before an examination 
can be taken. Alas, for our comparison with Hinduism, a consumer rat- 
ing on Brahman priests or gurus was not readily available for young 
Hindus, nor could priests receive terminal contracts. They were born into 
the job and tenured for life. 

In another area Wellesley has the capacity to take an external value 
and transform it. Paradoxically, there is within the faculty here an in- 
creasing recognition of women professors as women professionals. Al- 
though Henry Durant appointed only women to the faculty (even if he 
had to provide part of their training), I would argue that the steady 
stream of appointments for able women and the nurturing environment 
of Wellesley College allowed these women to think of themselves more as 
professionals in a discipline than as women professionals. With the de- 
cline of women on university faculties in the 1940s and 1950s, both rela- 
tively and absolutely, the successful woman academic was even more con- 


spicuous and the Wellesley achievement of more than 50% women on 
the faculty the more remarkable. The present strength of the women's 
movement in the country has begun to tap what has been enduring at 
Wellesley. It is not surprising that on the faculty of Wellesley College 
are seven women who chair the committee or task force on the status of 
women for their respective professional associations. They provide ex- 
ample and leadership, needling and encouragement for the concerns of 
professional women in the American Economics Association, the Ameri- 
can Physiological Association, American Society for Public Administra- 
tion, American Philological Association, American Philosophical Associa- 
tion, Association for Women in Mathematics, and the Association for 
Asian Studies. At the same time, these women and others on the Wellesley 
faculty are also thinking of themselves now as women professionals in 
order that sometime they, and certainly their successors, can again think 
of themselves as professionals in a discipline. 

A note on pronouns is perhaps appropriate here. From my experience 
at a large coeducational university which was essentially a male univer- 
sity in terms of its faculty and administration, the issue of pronouns or 
words giving gender was rather tense and often fought over. The insist- 
ence in the women's movement on vocabulary to suit expectation rather 
than reality seemed in the Berkeley context to be symbolic indeed. Why 
insist on Chairperson when the Chairmen of all but one of 105 depart- 
ments were, indeed, men? Changing the title will not change the likeli- 
hood. Moreover, our insistence on address in official letters to professors 
as "he or she" seemed a bit fatuous when "he" was correct 1155 out of 
1200 cases. To get a more sexually neutral terminology against heavy fac- 
ulty objection seemed to me a bit pyrrhic. At Wellesley the reality is dif- 
ferent and I have had to adjust the image accordingly. One says "the 
President, she . . .", the faculty is as likely to be "she" as "he," as is the 
commencement speaker, a trustee, or the college budget officer. Perhaps 
the wider academic society can someday be as tolerant and as absorptive of 
new values as is Wellesley. 

If Hinduism is marked by its absorptive capacity, it is also marked by 
its ability to sustain contradictions. Likewise Wellesley. The more appar- 
ent than real contradiction between teaching and research is a case in 
point. The Economics Department, for instance, stresses the values of a 
liberal arts college — good teaching and apprenticeships for fledgling in- 
structors — while its faculty have a record for publication that any research 
university would find enviable. Several departments run placement serv- 
ices for majors similar to those for graduate students in a large university. 
Indeed so proficient are some departments and individuals in sustaining 
this contradiction that a continuous fear of this Dean is that a university 
somewhere will try to steal our superb Art Department or kidnap any 
number of professors. 


Another apparent contradiction is that a women's college has a vigor- 
ous and responsible role for men. Henry Durant had said that if men were 
allowed on the early faculty there would never be a chance for women. 
Superior men in greater numbers would drive the women out. The recent 
Wellesley lesson, I believe, is that such is not the case. Men and women 
together can teach, administer, and work in the same institution — a lesson 
not yet learned in many coeducational colleges and universities. 

In addition to the paradox that a women's college has an important 
role for men, there are two further paradoxes in my estimation. We have a 
number of part-time appointments in the faculty and administration with 
full-time commitment to their profession. Whether this is achieved 
through institutional loyalty, professional calling or, as some would say, 
exploitation, I do not know. But its presence here is remarkable. Second, 
there is the contradiction between teaching and administration which 
seems to be resolved at Wellesley by turning teachers into administrators, 
through an extraordinarily demanding system of faculty governance, and 
giving administrators teaching responsibilities. Like Hinduism, Wellesley 
College gets its vitality from the tensions that arise from its contradictions. 

It is a temptation to expand the metaphor and suggest that, to many 
young academics in a tight job market, the faculty is like a caste system, 
hierarchically organized, with upward mobility difficult, if not impossible, 
to achieve. Although these hardened lines may be representative of a 
growing number of institutions, an important aspect of Wellesley College 
in 1974 is that the age and structure of faculty ranks give the possibility 
not only of making new appointments, but of promoting to tenure a num- 
ber of young scholars presently on the faculty. In an era when many insti- 
tutions have large percentages of their faculty on tenure, with few im- 
mediate retirements, Wellesley's working agreement of approximately 
50% of each department on tenure is serving the College well. 

But perhaps the most hopeful prospect the comparison between Hindu- 
ism and Wellesley brings to Wellesley at the time of the Centennial is 
that Hinduism is at least 4,000 years old. The "footnote" by the then- 
dean would have to be considerably longer! 


The scallop shell appeared not only on Miss Hazard's 
bookplate but on all buildings erected during her admin- 
istration. She built Oakwoods as her residence, and espe- 
cially in it the design was employed frequently — as Mrs. 
llchman, her husband, and their two children, who live 
there now, have discovered with great delight. 


The Curriculum 

On September 8, 1875, Wellesley College opened its doors to 314 appli- 
cants who, "ambitious to become learned women," presented themselves 
for entrance examinations. College Hall had been built and equipped; a 
staff of twenty-eight had been assembled, including seven professors and 
fourteen teachers; and a general plan for the curriculum had been worked 
out by a trustee committee consisting of Mr. Durant and the Reverend 
Edward N. Kirk. 

Only thirty of the original applicants were found to be fully qualified 
for the collegiate curriculum — not surprising at a time when there were 
few places where girls could "join in the high schools in which young men 
are fitted for college" and "as yet no schools exclusively designed to fit 
girls for college." (Some, perhaps a large proportion, of the first freshman 
class had been prepared in their own homes.) The unsuccessful candidates 
were not turned away. The "mortification and inconvenience caused by 
wholly rejecting imperfectly prepared students who come from a distance 
supposing themselves to be well fitted" was avoided by placing those who 
passed only some of the examinations in a semi-collegiate class and the 
least well prepared in the wholly separate Academic Department.* 

The original collegiate students followed a largely prescribed General 
Course. Before they graduated they had completed two years of Latin 
(which presupposed four years of preparatory work); at least a year of 
either French or German; four terms of mathematics; four years of his- 
tory, of essay writing, and of literature; three years of elocution; and a 

* Five years later the Academic Department, always thought of as a temporary ex- 
pedient, was given up "for the reason that there is no room in the college for these 



year each of chemistry, physics, and philosophy. In addition there were 
daily meetings for Scripture studies throughout the four years. At some 
point every student was required to take lessons in drawing unless she 
had already received sufficient training, and all were given instruction 
in vocal music. There was still room for electives — one for freshmen 
(Greek in place of French or German), two in the sophomore year, and 
three in each of the last two years. There were no courses to elect in any 
social science. A modern reader is struck by the fact that there were no 
majors. The stated aim was rather to provide means for "the broadest 
culture," built on preparatory work in mathematics and Latin and (if at 
all possible) Greek. 

The undergraduates at Wellesley were certainly kept busy, but perhaps 
their days were not quite as full as the list of subjects suggests. Classes 
were only 45 minutes in length. The college year was divided into three 
terms,* and not all studies were in full 3-hour courses. Botany, for in- 
stance, was a two-term elective in the sophomore year which could be 
fitted in after the required first term of spherical trigonometry. Elocution, 
essay writing, literature, and history all met just once or twice weekly. On 
the other hand, mathematics and language courses for freshmen met four 
times a week. 

No doubt parents worried about the ability of their daughters to with- 
stand the strains imposed by this difficult course of study "such as is pur- 
sued in none but the best colleges." Perhaps for this reason the early 
Calendars included a section on the health of students, which contained 
the reassuring statement that a resident "lady physician" would instruct 
their daughters in the laws of hygiene. It also stated emphatically that 
"diligent study benefits the health of students who regulate their lives 
by these laws." 

To list the subjects studied and the length of time devoted to each is to 
give only the externals of the curriculum. One would like to know more 
about the specific content of courses and the methods of instruction. The 
Calendar sections on instruction provide some clues; still more are sup- 
plied by what we know of Mr. Durant's enthusiasms and concerns, for 
almost certainly he was the main architect of the early curriculum. 

He obviously loved the classics. Among the first professors appointed 
were those in Greek and in Latin. One senses real regret that Greek could 
not be required for admission like Latin, but the absence of proper "fit- 
ting schools" made that impossible. However, the 1876 Calendar an- 

* The change from term to semester courses began in 1883-84 when some depart- 
ments divided their work into "i/ 2 years." Class periods were lengthened to 50 minutes 
in 1917. 


nounced that in September 1881 the General Course would be split into 
a Classical Course and a Scientific Course and that Greek as well as Latin 
would be prerequisite for the former. Furthermore, prospective students 
were told that the Classical Course was "considered of much more value 
than the Scientific Course, and all candidates are advised to prepare them- 
selves accordingly." 

Latin and Greek were among the few departments that offered enough 
work to enable a student, if she chose, to continue her study of either or 
both subjects throughout her college career. Evidence that the work 
done was of high level is found in a report of 1883 to the Trustees from 
a member of the Board of Visitors, who, according to the Trustee Min- 
utes, declared "the attainment [in Latin and Greek] on the part of the 
young ladies superior, he feared, to anything found in our colleges for 
young men." 

Modern languages also had a prominent place. Though French and 
German were not required for admission, most students must have offered 
at least one on entrance, for it was not until 1882 that beginning courses 
in either appeared in the regular course listings. Since one or the other 
was required for graduation, it is a relief to find embedded in the rather 
lengthy section on instruction the sentence: "Other classes will be ar- 
ranged for beginners." Clearly, elementary language instruction was felt 
to be somewhat inappropriate for collegiate work. The regular first-year 
class in German studied three works of Schiller and the ballads of 
Goethe; in French, "selections from the most noted contemporary au- 
thors." It was possible for a student to elect a full course in French or 
German in each of her four years, and if she did she would be qualified, 
the departments felt, to become a teacher of the language. 

The only other department that offered full courses for each of the 
four years was Mathematics. It was unquestionably one of the really 
strong departments, and this in spite of the fact that preparation in 
mathematics in the 1870s was usually very poor. The Calendar of 1876 
complained that girls "are encouraged to 'get through' arithmetic without 
understanding it and when they study algebra they soon learn to 'hate 
mathematics.' " It went on to say that "girls who are properly taught 
usually become very fine mathematical scholars and love the study. No 
study is more valuable for developing mental powers." Mr. Durant could 
have written this, for it accords with his views on the value of mathemat- 
ics. At any rate he was certainly not among those trustees who were said 
in an 1880 article in Barnard's Journal of Education to have "some mis- 
givings with regard to the success of girls in the higher mathematics." The 
article continued: "It had been asserted for so long that the mind of 
woman was not adapted to the study of higher mathematics . . . that 
many of the strongest advocates for the rights of women had their doubts 


and fears." Happily, such doubts were soon dispelled, and we are told 
in this same article that "in this study the college has taken a prominent 
position. . . . Were it not for the great surprise that awaited us in the 
scientific department, we should have said that these classes were more 
valuable than any other in the college." The required work ended with 
spherical trigonometry. After that the scientifically inclined and those 
who "love the study" could elect analytic geometry, differential and in- 
tegral calculus, analytical mechanics, and, in the senior year, mathemati- 
cal astronomy. "Should anyone wish to pursue this branch further, she can 
do so in a Post-Graduate course." This statement from the 1877 Calendar 
is the first mention of graduate instruction offered by a department at 
Wellesley. It coincides with the arrival of Helen Shafer as head of the 
department, under whom several new undergraduate courses were also 
offered. By 1883 President Freeman could say in her Report to the Trus- 
tees: "I know of no American college where more intelligent or advanced 
undergraduate work has been undertaken in mathematics than that ac- 
complished by the seniors [in Miss Shafer's course]." One of them, Wini- 
fred Egerton, applied for admission to graduate study at Columbia, and 
in January 1884 "after much controversy she was finally admitted as 
an exceptional case and one which was to set no precedent." She received 
the Ph.D. degree in 1886, probably (according to a later Wellesley mathe- 
matics professor) the first woman in the country to take it in mathematics. 
One other of Miss Shafer's students must be mentioned here — Ellen Fitz 
Pendleton of the Class of 1886, who upon her graduation joined the de- 
partment as tutor and later became Wellesley's sixth president. 

Some of the trustees may have had misgivings about "the higher mathe- 
matics" for young women, but they had none about literature. Though 
not generally emphasized in colleges at the time, at Wellesley it was con- 
sidered "essential to woman's education," and until 1882 a 1-hour course 
was required of all students in each of their four years. A staggering 
amount of material was crammed into these courses. The freshman year 
was occupied with an outline history of Grecian and Roman literature, 
the early literature of Italy, Spain, France, and Germany, as well as the 
general history of English literature from its earliest period. The range 
was narrower in the sophomore year: English literature from the Eliza- 
bethan age to the nineteenth century. Designated portions of the works 
of different authors were selected for critical study, but the aim was 
"to teach the classes how to study the authors for themselves and thus to 
cultivate correct taste." In the junior year the time was given to the three 
great poets Homer, Dante, and Shakespeare. Finally, the senior year was 
devoted to early English literature, especially Chaucer. In addition to all 
this there was evidently a good deal of systematic extracurricular reading, 
for the department announced that it would prepare private reading 


courses for all who desired them, and presumably also for any of me 
many reading circles. As the Calendar of 1877 said, "the refining and 
cultivating influences" of instruction in literature were felt from the out- 

The work offered in literature changed gradually in the first fifteen 
or so years. By 1882 only two 1-hour courses were required — nineteenth- 
century English and American authors for the freshmen and an outline 
history of general literature for the sophomores — and classic English au- 
thors became an elective for seniors. There was also the possibility of a 
special course for the study of English translations of Homer and Dante 
if enough students wished it. In 1879-80 "Literature" had become "Eng- 
lish Literature" in the Calendar, and within ten years all the courses 
offered were in English authors, except for one term in American authors. 
The 1885 Statutes of the College recognized "English Language, Rhetoric, 
and Essay Writing" as a separate department, though its three required 
courses and its elective in Anglo-Saxon were grouped in the Calendar 
with English Literature. 

Comparatively little was said in the early Calendars about instruction 
in history, though a 1-hour course was required in each of the four years. 
Grecian, Roman, medieval, and modern history were taken up in proper 
chronological sequence. In addition to lectures there were "constant 
topical studies of the original authorities in the library." As in language 
and literature courses, essays upon the subjects studied were required 
throughout the course. Wellesley was a writing college from the begin- 
ning. In 1883-84 history was required only of freshmen (one hour of Ro- 
man and medieval history) and juniors (a two-term course in the history 
of civilization), but there were a number of elective courses, among them 
a semester of political economy and three of political science — the first 
specifically social science studies at Wellesley. (Incidentally, Miss Free- 
man shortly after she became President acquired also the title of Pro- 
fessor of Political Science.) 

Mr. Durant's impatience with routine learning and his desire that stu- 
dents should observe and reason for themselves are nowhere better ex- 
emplified than in his plans for science in his new college. Science at the 
time did not have a large place in most undergraduate colleges, but from 
the beginning Wellesley required a year of chemistry of all sophomores 
and a year of physics of all juniors. Botany, zoology, astronomy, and geol- 
ogy were planned as electives for upperclassmen. Moreover, laboratory 
practice and work with instruments was to be an important part of each 
course. This was radical. Indeed, Wellesley was the second college in the 
country to provide a laboratory for undergraduate work in physics. 

The enthusiasm that characterized the planning for science is evident 
in an account of the beginnings of the Physics Department written by its 


first professor, Sarah Frances Whiting. She told how Mr. Durant "caught 
the idea of student laboratory work" from Professor Pickering of M.I.T. 
and how with his advice a physics laboratory was added in the only 
space available in College Hall — the loft above the chapel and the ad- 
jacent attic spaces; how the ordering of apparatus was facilitated by the 
visits Mr. Durant arranged for her to make to a half dozen or so colleges 
where the professors helped her to draw up lists of items to be ordered 
abroad. That similar care and energy marked the furnishing of the 
other laboratories is attested by the editor of Barnard's Journal of 
Education, who asserted in the 1880 article already cited that no college 
he knew had a collection of physical apparatus superior to that of Welles- 
ley College. 

Mr. Durant clearly believed that no liberal arts education was complete 
without mathematics, chemistry, and physics. Moreover, he and the other 
trustees soon came to realize that science deserved a larger place than 
the General Course ordinarily allowed. As early as 1877 a Scientific Course 
was prepared, to give to women opportunities "substantially equivalent 
to those given to young men in the best Scientific and Technical Schools." 
Its aim, however, was not to prepare civil and mining engineers (men only 
in those areas!), but rather "to meet the wants of teachers; to open the 
way for future special study; and also to provide satisfactory preparation 
for those who intend to become physicians." Note that "special study" 
was to come in graduate school. Undergraduates studied both physical 
and natural sciences, but no more than two years of work was offered in 
any one science. In 1881, when it was decided to award the B.S. degree to 
those who completed the Scientific Course, the strong preference for the 
Classical Course stated in the 1876 Calendar had disappeared. Instead we 
read: "The Scientific Course embodies difficult branches of collegiate 
study and is fully equal to the Classical Course in mental discipline and 
systematic culture." Mathematics was required for two years instead of 
the one year in the Classical Course; French and German (until both 
could be read with facility) were substituted for Greek and Latin; a year 
of botany or biology was stipulated; but all the other required courses 
were the same in both programs. Science was expected to be choseii to 
fill the available elective slots. 

It is perhaps significant that the newly added section on instruction 
in the 1877 Calendar gave more space to chemistry and physics than to 
any other subject. Language, literature, and history were familiar; science 
was not, and the candidate needed to know the nature and extent of the 
instruction. In the first year the chemistry student was taught the proper- 
ties of elements and their more important compounds (some fifty are 
mentioned) and the methods of qualitative analysis. In the second year 
she moved on to quantitative analysis and topics in organic chemistry. 


Throughout both years emphasis was placed on work in the laboratory, 
which had space and apparatus for ninety-six students. After one year 
of chemistry the student could elect a term of mineralogy and a term of 
lithology, both taught by the Professor of Chemistry. (Geology was men- 
tioned in 1879 as a third-term course, but not until 1881 was there a lec- 
turer in the subject.) Both stressed laboratory work with use of the blow- 
pipe, the compound microscope, the polariscope, and chemical reagents. 

Physics too stressed laboratory work. In the first year the doctrines of 
motion, force, and energy as applied to visible masses were discussed; 
the course then turned to "molecular physics," which included light, heat, 
electricity, and magnetism. There were lectures, but the student was ex- 
pected to deduce principles from the experiments and to give them mathe- 
matical expression or graphical representation. She was also expected to 
give short lectures on the subjects investigated. In the second year the 
work was almost entirely in the laboratory. The aim, we are told, was 
"to stimulate as soon as possible, original research on the part of the 
student" in the topics studied in the first year. In addition some time was 
spent on the new subject of photography, in which "positives on glass 
will be taken suitable for projection by the lantern," and on spectrum 
analysis, another area that was in its infancy when Wellesley opened. 

Astronomy seems to have been regarded at first as appropriate only for 
seniors. Members of the first senior class could, if they had the mathe- 
matics prerequisites, elect a course in mathematical astronomy; but for 
the next senior class there was physical astronomy, taught by Professor 
Whiting at the request of Mr. Durant. She had a 4i/ 2 -inch telescope — for 
observation only, since measurement was not possible with it — and the 
apparatus of the Physics Department which could be used for spectrum 
work. Her goal was to give students "the facts of astronomy that belong in 
a liberal education," and this included teaching them the principles at 
the bottom of astronomical measurements and giving them "a conception 
of the dignity of the law of gravity." 

Physics and astronomy were evidently not enough to satisfy the en- 
thusiasm for science of either Mr. Durant or Miss Whiting. Mr. Durant, 
she tells us, was possessed with the idea that microscopes should be more 
widely used in schools. He persuaded her to form a "Microscopical Soci- 
ety," a sort of scientific club for students and faculty members, which, 
she says, was for years a distinct part of the Physics Department, and for 
which Mr. Durant "would finance anything we wanted to make the meet- 
ing interesting." The Calendar for 1877-78 could assert proudly that the 
collection of compound microscopes (fifty that year and sixty-seven two 
years later) "is already known as the most extensive and valuable in any 
college in the country." They were not, of course, used only for the so- 
ciety but played an important part also in the botany anld zoology courses. 


Botany was the leading natural science in the first decade. While zool- 
ogy was at first only one of the elective studies for seniors, botany was 
open to sophomores as early as 1876-77 and thereafter could be studied 
by juniors or seniors in a second full year course. In 1882 it became the 
first science in which three years of work were offered. (Anyone tempted 
to suppose that botany was prominent because it was somehow ladylike 
should note that the course added in 1882 was in Economic Botany, 
which hardly suggests a concession to genteel tastes.) Zoology made a 
slower start. Mr. Durant had expected that both subjects would be taught 
by Susan M. Hallowell, whom he had named Professor of Natural His- 
tory, but she almost at once discovered that botany, which she preferred, 
occupied all her time. The first Professor of Zoology, appointed in 1878, 
stayed only three years, after which there was a two-year period when no 
one taught the subject. The real founder of the department was Mary 
Alice Willcox, and within a few years of her arrival in 1883 zoology had 
drawn abreast of botany with three full years of study. 

The topics taken up in both branches of natural science were the usual 
ones — anatomy, morphology, histology, animal or vegetable physiology. 
It was the method of instruction that was unusual. In an account of the 
College published in the Christian Union in June 1880, Dr. Lyman Ab- 
bott makes this clear: "Wellesley College ... is better equipped in 
many respects to develop individual activity in its undergraduates than 
any male college in the land. . . . For example, the approved method of 
studying biology and botany is in most colleges to sit in a lecture room 
and take notes of the instructions of a lecturer; he tells his pupils what 
can be seen in a microscope and possibly gives them an occasional glimpse 
of the microscopic world through a single instrument. In the higher edu- 
cation of women, as represented by Wellesley College, every student of 
biology and botany has her own microscope and dissecting tools and 
table. ... So long as Wellesley College equips the girls for independent 
study in this respect better than Harvard equips the boys, so long may we 
expect to hear scepticism and see much shaking of the head at the radical- 
ism of the former institution. There is a great deal of human nature in 
men and they do not like to see the girls better educated than themselves." 

Some indication of the place of science in the first decade or so can be 
found by examining the number of teachers in various areas. In 1876-77 
Latin and mathematics led all the other departments. In 1882-83 Greek, 
mathematics, and chemistry led, with four in each. Latin and botany fol- 
lowed with three each. Another indicator may be found in the number 
of degrees conferred. From 1883 to 1895, when the B.S. degree was 
awarded to those who completed the Scientific Course, about 37 percent 
of Wellesley graduates won that degree. It is possible that a few of these 
chose the course in order to avoid Latin and Greek, but it is unlikely 


that many would have chosen to double the mathematics and science 
requirements of the Classical Course unless they found the work good 
and the course satisfying. 

The 1874 announcement of the opening of the College indicated that 
philosophy would be offered and that it would include logic, psychology, 
ethics, and the history of philosophy. Indeed, within a few years all were 
required. The required work for seniors — one term of psychology, one of 
the general history of philosophy, and one of moral philosophy — ap- 
peared in 1878-79, as soon as the new college had seniors. From 1881 to 
1891 a term of logic was required of all juniors, and from 1882 to 1890 a 
two-term course in Christian ethics counted as part of the requirement 
in Scripture studies for freshmen. The first elective course was announced 
in the 1884 Calendar — a senior course entitled "Speculative Philosophy, 
Theism, and the History of Religions." It was typical of the time that 
philosophy should have embraced not only psychology but also much 
that would later be thought more appropriate for a department of reli- 

For ninety-three years study of the Bible was considered an essential 
part of the education of all Wellesley students. The religious interests of 
the Founders, spoken of in an earlier chapter, explain in part the re- 
quirement in the early years, but it should be noted that such a require- 
ment was not unusual at the time. Its continuance until 1968 is surely 
to be explained by the excellence of the work done. Generations of stu- 
dents have said that they found it good, evidently believing with the de- 
partment that the Bible offers "insights which should not be ignored" 
and that "as a historical record it is essential to the understanding of 
Western civilization." 

There was at first no department, nor were the subjects to be studied 
listed in the Calendar. The 1874 Circular and subsequent Calendars 
merely said, "The systematic study of the Scriptures will be continued 
throughout the course." This is all until 1882. As far as I can determine, 
no hours of credit were given for the work, nor were there any faculty 
members appointed specifically for this instruction. Since the early Stat- 
utes of the College stipulated that every member of the faculty must be 
a member of an evangelical church, it is not hard to understand why, in 
those days before the "Higher Criticism" was widely known or accepted, 
any teacher in the College could be asked to take a section of Scripture 

Material is scanty about the work done before 1882. There is a history 
of the department written by its long-time head, Eliza Hall Kendrick '85. 
In it she says that her recollections are few and her memory is faulty 
about her undergraduate study of the Bible. She does, however, recall 
the first Sunday in her freshman year when at perhaps 9:30 in the morn- 


ing she betook herself "along with 20 or 30 of her classmates to one of 
the regular weekday classrooms in College Hall for her first Bible les- 
son." She recalls further that "the leader was Miss Hallowell of the de- 
partment of Botany and her talk was on the opening chapter of Genesis, 
an appropriate topic, which seemed to imply that we were now embarked 
on a course of study which would bring us, if we were fortunate enough 
to survive, to the last chapter of Revelation by the end of the senior 
year. There were then given out references to books in the library dealing 
with the relations between Genesis and geology as our work for the fol- 
lowing week and the liberal and harmonizing hypothesis was offered that 
a 'day' in this chapter meant not literally a day but an indefinitely long 
geologic era." 

Miss Kendrick's inference that the Sabbath course would move from 
Genesis to Revelation in the four years was correct. In the aforementioned 
1880 article in the Christian Union Dr. Lyman Abbott said that the Sab- 
bath course, laid out by the Reverend Dr. Howard Crosby, the vice- 
president of the Board of Trustees, was systematic and thorough, "extend- 
ing over a period of four years and covering the whole of the Old and 
New Testaments." He added that "the studies in this course are made the 
basis of a regular examination, with all other studies, at the end of the 

Though Miss Kendrick did not mention it, Dr. Abbott attested that 
there was also a weekday course, "less systematic and organized for a 
different purpose." The daily meetings were short — fifteen minutes — and 
each teacher arranged for her section "a course of Bible study for direct 
practical and spiritual results." One gathers that these results were not 
measured by examination. 

In 1882-83 there was a decided change. Bible studies became regular 
credit courses, required for two hours in each undergraduate year. 
Though the content varied slightly over the next eight years, the main 
outline of studies was constant. Freshmen usually devoted one hour a 
week to the Parables and another to a Christian ethics course given by 
the Department of Philosophy. Sophomores spent the year on "The His- 
tory of the Jewish Church," i.e. on the historical books of the Old Testa- 
ment. The work for juniors concentrated on the life of Christ, prefaced 
by a study of the Prophets. The senior course, entitled "The History of 
the Church in the First Century," took up Acts and the Epistles, and 
occasionally added "the poetical books of the Bible," especially Job. 
President Freeman reported in 1883 that in each year provision was made 
for at least eight lectures by specialists in the canon of the Old and New 
Testaments. Still, the regular classes were all taught by non-specialists. 
The first printed schedule, attached to the 1886 Calendar, listed no names 
under the heading "Bible"; it merely said, "20 classes, 20 instructors, 


Tuesday and Friday 2:20 PM." This means that close to half of the 
faculty members in that year were teaching Bible. 

The first hints of the beginning of a true department of Biblical stud- 
ies are found in the 1886-87 Calendar, in which the courses listed under 
"The Classics" included Greek New Testament (two 2-hour courses 
which could be elected by juniors and seniors to meet their Bible re- 
quirements) and Hebrew (one 2-hour elective for seniors). Greek New 
Testament was the province of Miss Chapin, Professor of Greek, who 
continued to teach it until her retirement in 1920. The single course in 
Hebrew, though elected by very few students, nonetheless represented an 
important step in the recognition at Wellesley of the scholarly field of 
Biblical studies. Its first instructor, Sara A. Emerson, a member of the 
Latin Department who had been one of those non-specialists teaching 
required Scripture, became aware of the rapid development of Biblical 
scholarship, studied Hebrew, read the works of Higher Criticism as they 
kept appearing, took what courses she could at Boston University, and 
became Wellesley's first specifically trained Old Testament teacher. 

By 1892 Hebrew was listed separately in the Calendar and included 
not only the year course in the language but also the English Old Testa- 
ment courses then required of freshmen and sophomores. This meant 
that Old Testament study, all under the direction of Miss Emerson, had 
achieved a place as a separate scholarly field. The New Testament 
courses for juniors and seniors had to wait a few more years and mean- 
while continued to be taught by members of other departments — Philos- 
ophy, History, English, Physics. 

Long before most other colleges, Wellesley recognized music and art as 
appropriate liberal arts subjects. It was the first college in the country to 
offer a major in art history, and in 1909 President Hazard could write: 
"The Wellesley work in music is in a way pioneer work, since few colleges 
undertake to do what we do," i.e. to treat it as a subject of serious study 
rather than simply an accomplishment. But it took some twenty years of 
experimentation before regular departmental status was achieved in ei- 
ther art or music. Not that they were neglected before 1895. Far from it, 
though at the very beginning, when instruction in vocal music was given 
to all students and drawing was a required freshman course, they seem 
to have been regarded as practical accomplishments. The real programs 
in music and art started in 1878 and 1879, when semi-autonomous schools 
were set up, perhaps as part of Mr. Durant's "university idea," spoken of 
in an earlier chapter. 

Music led the way. The model seems to have been the conservatory, 
for the emphasis was on the techniques and skills of performance. Special 
students who desired to pursue music exclusively were accepted and after 
four or five years could earn the diploma of the School. (The B.Mus. de- 


gree was mentioned as a possibility for those "especially talented," but 
was only once awarded — in 1883.) But the distinctive feature of the 
Wellesley plan was the combination of conservatory work with regular 
collegiate study in a Five Years' Course. Each student in the course se- 
lected piano playing, organ playing, or solo singing as her specialty 
(later any orchestral instrument could be chosen), and in addition all 
studied harmony, counterpoint, composition, and the history and aesthet- 
ics of music, none of which earned credit towards the B.A. degree. Those 
who completed the course received a diploma in music and at the same 
time the B.A. or B.S. degree. 

In September 1879 a course of instruction in art was commenced, "upon 
the same plan which has proved so satisfactory in the study of Music," 
with work in drawing, painting, and modeling. As in music, the plan was 
to admit five-year B.A. and B.S. candidates as well as special students who 
might if they persisted earn a diploma. 

The new course in music was, as the nexj four or five Calendars de- 
clared, "deservedly popular and successful," so much so that enlargement 
of the department became necessary and a new building for it was com- 
pleted in 1880. The numbers are impressive: 130 students in 1881-82 out 
of a total college enrollment of 450; 143 in 1884-85 out of 506. The School 
of Art, as it was called after 1883, attracted far fewer students. While 
Music in the eighties had a faculty of ten to thirteen, Art had only three 
to five, and this in spite of the fact that a fair amount of faculty time must 
have been needed for the required freshman drawing course and for 
"free instruction in flower painting and watercolors given to all the 
classes in Botany." In 1884-85 those two groups accounted for 170 of a 
total of 213 elections in the School of Art. By 1892-93, with freshman 
drawing no longer required, only forty-three students were doing any 
work in the School of Art, of whom twenty-five were botanists in water- 
color painting, and just three were enrolled in the Five Years' Course. In 
that same year the School of Music, in addition to thirty-nine non-degree 
students, counted an enrollment of forty-nine students in the Five Years' 
Course and fifteen regular degree candidates who were "taking music 
as an extra." 

That last group marked an important change — the recognition of 
music as an elective counting for the B.A. degree. When the first Pro- 
fessor of Music left Wellesley in 1884 to become the head of a conserva- 
tory, his place was taken by Junius W. Hill, who in 1886 offered a year 
course for juniors in musical history, theory, and composition. In the 
same year (but quite independently of the School of Art) the history of 
art became a regular elective for juniors when Elizabeth H. Denio, who 
had been at the College from the beginning, returned from two years' 
leave of absence in Europe as Professor of the History of Art as well as 


Professor of German. Two semester courses were offered, both supple- 
mented by work in the laboratory. By 1889, with the new Farnsworth Art 
Museum ready for occupancy, Miss Denio was giving five semester 
courses in art open to seniors as well as to juniors. 

The President's Reports in the following years spoke of the steady 
gains in elections in the history of art, and also of Mr. Hill's urgent re- 
quest that a larger place be made for "music as a science" — that is, that 
more electives in harmony and the history of music be made available to 
regular collegiate students. In 1896 the Trustees decided that a complete 
reorganization was needed. They voted that there should no longer be 
separate schools, but that music and fine arts should be organized like 
other departments, offering only courses that would count towards the 
degree. However, the Five Years' Courses were not entirely abandoned. In 
Art, a footnote in catalogues for the next twenty-five years mentioned the 
possibility of "giving yearly the time of one full course to studio art" and 
taking the B.A. degree in five years. In Music, the Five Years' Course, 
leading to the B.A. and the certificate, as it was later called, continued 
until 1935, but since the opportunity for "practical music" had been 
extended to any student who elected a course in theory, its numbers 
declined rapidly. 

Even at the beginning, as we have seen, there were some elective stud- 
ies at Wellesley. To recent alumnae they will probably seem few in number 
and on the whole narrowly restricted to further work in the required 
areas of mathematics, languages, and science. At the time, however, the 
policy of elective studies was a novelty. George Herbert Palmer, writing 
of Miss Freeman's administration, said that this policy "stirred strong 
opposition" (he is, I believe, referring mainly to critics outside the Col- 
lege) on the grounds that it threw more work on the faculty and involved 
"grave financial difficulties in execution." He added that its stimulating 
methods were easily mistaken for absence of restraint. Undoubtedly it 
was expensive and the faculty at Wellesley did have heavy teaching loads 
(fifteen hours a week was usual), but Mr. Durant clearly felt that special 
needs and interests had a place. He was ahead of the times here too, and 
his policy of "wide variations by means of elective studies" was continued 
after his death. Most of these electives were advanced courses in estab- 
lished departments, but by no means all. Some, like Italian which first 
appeared in 1882, Spanish in 1883, Political Economy in 1883, and Phys- 
ical Geography in 1887, were the forerunners of new departments. Others, 
like Taxidermy in 1881, Sanskrit in 1886, Bibliography (taught by the 
librarian) and Oriental Civilization in 1887, and Domestic Science in 
1890 flourished for a few years and then disappeared. 

Not only were there electives within the General Course, there were 
also alternative courses. (A "course" here means a whole program of stud- 


ies.) Mr. Durant had planned them from the beginning. The first pub- 
lished Calendar (1876-77) described the "special parallel courses" which 
the 1874 Circular had said "will be arranged." They were Honors Courses 
in Classics, in Mathematics, in Modern Languages, and in Science. In 
1877-78 the Five Years' Music Course was announced, and the following 
year the Five Years' Art Course. "Few colleges in the country had at that 
time a programme so liberal," wrote George Herbert Palmer, who saw 
it as further evidence of Mr. Durant's dread of routine and his approval 
of whatever might arouse individual activity. 

Three of the Honors Courses were described in considerable detail in 
the Calendars of the next five years. They were arranged to allow for what 
would later be called a major — or a double major, for the Classics candi- 
date studied both Greek and Latin for four years, the Modern Language 
candidate French and German. In Science, we are told, the course "will 
depend so much on the tastes and special pursuits of students that details 
need not be given." By 1878-79 this was no longer an Honors Course, but 
simply "the Scientific Course," in which four or five sciences were studied, 
but no single one for four years. 

The 1877-78 Calendar said that Honors in Classics had "already been 
adopted by many students," but as far as I can determine, none of them 
finished the course. The only students who graduated with honors were 
three members of the Class of 1880, in Mathematics. A history of the de- 
partment written by Professor Helen A. Merrill '86 added the valuable 
detail that the honors examinations for these three students were given 
on three successive days in June and lasted for 10i/ 2 hours. If the Honors 
Course was the early equivalent of the major, these examinations can, it 
seems, be taken to be the forerunner of the General Examination, albeit 
much more extended. 

The 1881-82 Calendar said merely that courses for honors might be 
elected by students of superior scholarship. The next year, honors work 
dropped out entirely, not to reappear until 1922. 

Dr. Lyman Abbott, writing in 1880, before the Honors Courses were 
given up, said that "the development of the College curriculum into seven 
co-equal branches was the first step towards the University idea in Welles- 
ley." The second step, he declared, was the addition of a teachers' "an- 
nex." He was referring to the opening of Stone Hall as a dormitory for 
teacher specials, and doubtless also to a plan mentioned in the 1879 Cal- 
endar. "When Stone Hall is completed," we read, "it will probably be 
established as a Normal College with special courses and grant special 
degrees." This did not happen, but for some years there was a teachers' 
collegiate course. 

Mr. Durant was vitally interested in the education of teachers. The 
1877 Calendar pointed out that "by a gradual and almost unnoticed 


revolution, the education of the youth of our country has, to a great ex- 
tent, passed into the hands of female teachers." Mr. Durant expected that 
many of the graduates of his new college would be teachers, and he 
wanted them to be "learned and useful." (It was not, however, until Miss 
Freeman was President, and at her request, that Professor Wenckebach 
of the German Department offered the first course in the science and 
art of teaching, an elective for seniors.) He also wanted to give older 
women who were already teachers the opportunity "to perfect themselves 
in particular studies." They were received at least as early as 1876 as spe- 
cial students. They were not required to pass entrance examinations, nor 
did they become degree candidates; they were simply free "to pursue 
such studies as they desire in any of the regular classes." They could, if 
they wished, spend all their time on one subject, "reciting daily in three 
different classes." They could also attend classes in the Academic Depart- 
ment to observe the methods of instruction. According to the 1877 Calen- 
dar, this program afforded "privileges bestowed by no other institution 
during so short a period." 

In 1877 a limited number of mature women who were not teachers 
were also admitted as special students. They, too, were excused from the 
usual requirements. The only stipulation was that they be capable of 
diligent study in their selected courses. 

The proportion of special to regular students was large in the first ten 
years. In 1876-77 there were 34 specials, 118 collegiate students, and 153 
students in the Academic Department. Two years later when teacher 
specials were listed separately, they numbered 31 and other specials 33 
out of a total enrollment of 361. In 1881-82 the numbers were: 80 teacher 
specials, 92 other specials, 275 collegiate students (the Academic Depart- 
ment had closed); in 1884-85, 160 specials and 346 regular students. There- 
after the number of specials gradually declined as the number of degree 
candidates steadily increased. These numbers suggest that the admission 
of special students not only met the needs of teachers and other mature 
women to pursue particular studies, often on a part-time basis, but also 
helped the College to offer a wide variety of courses to classes of reason- 
able size at a time when the number of regular collegiate students was 

One might compare special students with the continuing education 
students of the last ten or so years, though at Wellesley many of those in 
continuing education are degree candidates, and none of the specials was. 
In some ways the comparable program in recent times is that for auditors, 
especially those who arrange to participate in the classes they attend. 

Mr. Durant also made provision for graduate students. As early as 1876 
the Calendar announced that "graduates of this and other colleges who 
desire to pursue their studies will be received." Two members of Welles- 
ley's first graduating class earned the first Wellesley Master of Arts de- 


grees, both in Greek in 1882. From 1879, when graduate students were 
first mentioned in the enrollment figures, to 1898 there were a total of 
583, but only 57 earned the M.A. in those years. The proportion of suc- 
cessful candidates seems very small until we realize that before 1898 
graduate students included a recognized group who had no intention 
of working for a higher degree. They were simply "special" students who 
happened to have a B.A. degree. Another and more interesting group, 
designated by the term "non-resident," consisted of graduate students 
who were permitted to do all their M.A. work independently (i.e. by 
correspondence under the guidance of a faculty committee) or "under 
instruction elsewhere." Graduate work by correspondence was discon- 
tinued in 1893, but the possibility of earning a Wellesley M.A. by study- 
ing elsewhere remained for decades. The reason for this rather unusual 
arrangement is clearly indicated by a statement in the 1901-02 Calendar: 
"Graduate students who have done the entire work for the M.A. degree in 
non-residence are accepted as candidates for the degree only when this 
work has been done at some institution which does not grant the M.A. 
degree to women." 

Even in the early nineties, when fifty or sixty graduate students were 
counted in the enrollment figures, there was almost nothing that could 
be called a graduate program. Wellesley was and has remained primarily 
an undergraduate college. Over the years the College continued to admit 
a small number of graduate students, most of them for special work like 
that offered in Hygiene and Physical Education or in the Chemistry In- 
stitute (both described later in this chapter) or in other departments that 
could offer them assistantships along with part-time study. Today the 
M.A. degree is offered only in Art and in Biological Sciences. 

Revision and Growth: 1893-1932 

Four times in the history of Wellesley major auricular reviews have been 
undertaken. The first one began fifteen years after the opening of the 
college. As we have seen, the old curriculum had not been entirely static. 
Year by year, changes had been made — new courses added, some old 
ones dropped. But the basic structure worked out largely by Mr. Durant 
had remained. By 1890 the President and the faculty felt that it was time 
to rethink the entire program of studies. They wanted especially to 
lighten the work of the freshman year and to expand the freedom of 
choice for all students. In 1893 President Shafer reported that a new 
curriculum, representing three years of faculty discussion, had been ap- 
proved by the Trustees. 

When the discussions began, the freshman program consisted of three 
full courses (meeting three or four times a week) and five required 1-hour 


courses: drawing, elocution, literature, Christian ethics, and Bible. All 
the latter except Bible now became elective, but a new required 1-hour 
course in English composition was added. Of the former, only the 4-hour 
mathematics course remained unchanged. Instead of Latin and Greek 
(for the Classical Course) or French and German (for the Scientific 
Course), the new requirement was one full course in a foreign language 
to be taken at any time in the four years. The required non-credit lec- 
tures in hygiene were transformed into a new 1-hour course for sopho- 
mores. (Non-credit physical training was required of freshmen three 
times a week, and by 1905 of sophomores also.) Chemistry, botany, and 
zoology (and physics after 1898) were opened to freshmen. Instead of the 
required sophomore chemistry and junior physics, two courses from any 
of the science departments were to be chosen (but not both from the 
same department). 

Upperclassmen too had fewer required studies. They were still directed 
to study philosophy, now in the junior year, Bible and English composi- 
tion in both the sophomore and junior years. Literature and history 
ceased to be required at any time. In the whole undergraduate course of 
59 hours, required work was reduced from 40 hours to 26. 

The separate Scientific and Classical Courses were discontinued, and 
after 1895 the B.S. degree was no longer awarded. 

For the first time there were stipulations about an area of concentra- 
tion. Earlier Calendars had spoken merely of the "opportunity for spe- 
cialization" through elective work. Now, six full courses were to be taken 
as follows: "either (a) three in each of two subjects; or (b) three or four 
courses in one subject with three or two in any one of two tributary sub- 

President Shafer said of the new curriculum that it "offers the widest 
election consistent (1) with the completion of certain subjects which we 
deem essential to all culture, and (2) with the continuous study of one 
or two subjects for the sake of the mental discipline and breadth of view 
which belong to advanced attainment." 

President Shafer and her co-workers on the faculty succeeded in fram- 
ing a curriculum that stood in all essentials for the next forty years. There 
were shifts and adjustments, but they were relatively minor. Hygiene 
was moved back into the freshman year; the required work in English 
composition came to be four hours divided between the first two years, 
and in Bible studies four hours divided between the second and third 
years. In 1915, following a faculty decision to do away with 4-hour re- 
quirements, freshman mathematics became a regular 3-hour course, and 
English composition was reduced to a single 3-hour course for freshmen. 
Since the Trustees expressed unwillingness to authorize any further cut in 
Bible study, the faculty voted to make it conform to the standard 3-hour 


pattern by requiring a year for sophomores and a semester for juniors. 

In 1922 further changes were announced. A required 1-hour course in 
Reading and Speaking was added for sophomores. The science require- 
ment now specified that students should elect one physical and one bio- 
logical science, but those who offered two entrance units in science were 
excused from one science course in college. The requirements in mathe- 
matics and foreign language could now be met by satisfactory pre-college 
work — four entrance units in mathematics in the one case and a demon- 
strated knowledge of three foreign languages in the other. 

Honors work reappeared in 1922. Like the earlier Honors Courses, it 
was designed for students of exceptional ability who wished to use their 
electives for concentrated study in what was now named a Field of Dis- 
tinction. Both the old and the new honors plans culminated in a com- 
prehensive examination taken at the end of the senior year. They differed, 
however, in that the new plan included three year-hours of research, 
independent of scheduled courses but under faculty guidance. Honors 
were first awarded to seven members of the Class of 1923. Until the late 
forties the number continued to be small, averaging about eight each 
year. The Dean's reports more than once expressed disappointment that 
the number was not larger. "The rewards of greater flexibility in a chosen 
course have not been sufficient to draw many from the conventional 
course. More special inducement must be sought." 

Another way to allow greater flexibility was found in the 350 course, 
"Research or Individual Study." The Department of Zoology was the 
pioneer with a course called "Undergraduate Research" introduced in 
1920-21. Gradually in the late twenties and in the thirties others followed 
until every department which offered a major had its "350." 

The only other significant change in the "New Curriculum" of 1893 
came in 1928, when the General Examination in the major was first given 
to seniors. In 1930 the Dean reported that although there was "a cry of 
dismay at first, the purpose is now more generally understood and ap- 
preciated." In her opinion, "the General Examination has distinctly 
strengthened the course." 

Though a student of the Class of 1894 would have found, thirty-six 
years later, a great increase in the number of courses and departments 
and an even greater change in course content, still I think she would have 
recognized the requirements for the B.A. degree for the Class of 1930 
and felt quite at home with them. How she would have reacted to re- 
ceiving letter grades in all her courses is harder to guess. For her, as for 
all previous students, there had been a sort of general pass /fail system. 
There were grades (numerical at first, then letter grades), but they were 
not announced to students. Only if a student failed a course was she noti- 
fied. In 1896, when a distinction was made between "passed" and "passed 


with credit" and students were required to pass at least half of their work 
with credit, it became necessary to report to each student for each course 
which grade she had received. President Pendleton, in a retrospective 
report, noted that "it was soon felt that students were too often content 
if they obtained straight 'credit.' . . . Accordingly in 1905 it was decided 
that any student who asked for them might obtain at the end of the year 
her grades for both semesters." In 1912 all students were given their 
grades, A, B, C, etc., at the close of each semester. (The further refine- 
ment of added pluses and minuses did not come until 1946.) It is interest- 
ing to see how in the late sixties the direction of change was reversed 
with the reintroduction of a limited pass/fail system. 

Some of the developments within the stable framework of the 1893 
curriculum will be commented on here as examples of the kind of cur- 
ricular growth that was taking place. 

English Literature and Psychology (the latter still considered as part 
of Philosophy) are especially noteworthy because they were the depart- 
ments chosen to prepare the special exhibitions at the Paris Exposition of 
1900 which won for Wellesley a gold medal. The English Literature ex- 
hibit consisted of the volumes published by its professors and associate 
professors ("a very good showing," as Miss Hazard's Report said), to- 
gether with a descriptive outline, prepared by Katharine Lee Bates, of 
the work of the department, "of the various courses in Old English, and 
Chaucer, and through the poets to modern times." In 1900 the depart- 
ment offered twelve full year courses, including one in Old English lit- 
erature for freshmen, and a 1-hour course in American literature. None 
of its work was required, but from a student body of 688 there were 418 
elections. Thirty years later, just before the next general curricular re- 
vision, the department led all others in the number of courses (twenty- 
three full year courses and seven part courses), the number of elections, 
and the number of majors. 

The Psychology exhibit at the Paris Exposition consisted of four vol- 
umes of printed theses, articles by members of the department, photo- 
graphs of the laboratory and its apparatus, and cards showing graphically 
the results of experiments. It was, according to President Hazard, "a 
very unusual and quite wonderful exhibit — one of the fullest records 
which has ever been made of psychological experiments with women." 
The credit belongs chiefly to Mary Whiton Calkins, who in 1891 had 
established that psychology laboratory at Wellesley, one of the first in 
America. Her appointment as instructor of psychology, also in 1891, illus- 
trates much about the College before the turn of the century. Psychology 
was beginning to be an experimental, scientific subject; Wellesley wanted 
to include it and wanted it taught by a woman. Since there were no 
women psychologists, Professor Mary S. Case, who had herself migrated 


from the Latin Department to Philosophy, and who remembered a con- 
versation in which a young instructor in Greek had expressed a deep in- 
terest in philosophy, recommended Miss Calkins' appointment. The recom- 
mendation was accepted, with the proviso that Miss Calkins take a year's 
leave to study philosophy and psychology. Here is another example of the 
policy initiated by Mr. Durant of searching out the right person first and 
then, if necessary, arranging for further preparation for the position. 

Fifty-four students elected Miss Calkins' first course in physiological 
psychology, and the new laboratory, equipped for experimentation in 
sensation, reaction times, attention, association, and memory, was hard 
put to it to accommodate them. The first series of papers on studies done 
in the laboratory appeared in 1894. In 1895 an advanced course was added, 
in which students undertook individual investigations of special topics. 
Ten such investigations were carried on in 1896, three of them published 
in psychological journals. After 1898, when Eleanor A. McC. Gamble 
joined the department, the experimental work gradually came under her 
direction, and Miss Calkins, though she continued to publish articles in 
psychology and to teach a course in types of psychological theory, taught 
mainly in the philosophy half of the department. Even as instructor in 
psychology she had taught philosophy courses (the first full course in Greek 
philosophy, as well as courses in British and German thinkers), and her 
title was soon changed to Associate Professor and then Professor of Philos- 
ophy and Psychology. When she retired in 1929, having been head since 
1898, Miss Pendleton spoke of her department as one of the strongest in 
the College. 

The general reduction of prescribed work brought about by the 1893 
curriculum involved cutting required Bible studies from eight hours to 
four. The consequent drop in the number of students to be taught meant 
that several of the courses which had been given by members of other 
departments were withdrawn, and this in turn undoubtedly hastened the 
emergence of an academic department with a recognized field to be taught 
by specialists. The process had been begun by Miss Emerson, but since 
her appointment was not renewed after 1895, the task of organizing the 
new department was given to the newly appointed Mary E. Woolley. Dur- 
ing her five years at Wellesley Miss Woolley taught most of the Old Testa- 
ment work and in addition a couple of courses in church history. The 
instructors she brought in for the New Testament work included Ade- 
laide I. Locke, whose course in the life of Christ was especially important, 
for it was destined to become the required course for juniors. Miss Locke 
also introduced a full year course in the history of religions which, ac- 
cording to Miss Kendrick, was the first of its kind to be offered in an 
undergraduate college. 

Miss Hazard's Reports in the first years of her presidency commented 


with satisfaction on the new department of Biblical History, Literature 
and Interpretation. Noting that in 1900 not only had Miss Woolley left to 
become president of Mount Holyoke but two instructors had accepted 
important administrative positions in other colleges, she remarked that 
"this department seems to have been a training place for future leaders." 
In 1901 she called attention to the fact that a major was now possible, 
and in 1902 she spoke of the richness and variety of the department's 
offering and added that "the growing opportunity for such study excels 
that of any other college from which statistics have been obtained." 

By 1900 the basic curriculum of the department had been established. 
Some courses were later added but the pattern remained essentially un- 
changed for the next thirty years. All sophomores studied the Old Testa- 
ment for a year (2 hours until 1915 and 3 hours thereafter). Until 1915 
the requirement for juniors was a 2-hour year course in the New Testa- 
ment; after that date all juniors studied the Synoptic Gospels for a 
semester, and those who wished further work (as many did) could elect 
a second semester course which dealt with other books of the New 
Testament. One or two years of Hebrew continued to be offered, as did 
the Greek New Testament courses. For three years (1920-23) Olive 
Dutcher offered a course in the "Development of Thought in Later Jew- 
ish Literature," covering largely Biblical material of the period 300 B.C.- 
A.D. 100. The only regularly offered electives in non-Biblical material 
were the year course in the history of religions and Miss Kendrick's "In- 
terpretations of Christianity" (introduced in 1920). Clearly, the depart- 
ment felt that its main task was to teach the Bible, and to make this 
teaching academically rigorous and intellectually satisfying. 

In Music the transition to departmental status, though voted by the 
Trustees in 1896, was not fully made until Hamilton C. Macdougall came 
in 1900 to head the department. (Mr. Hill had resigned in 1897, and for 
three years the offerings in music were minimal.) Under him courses in 
the history of music expanded greatly, as did those in theory and com- 
position. The department continued to recommend instruction in per- 
forming music as an important complement to its credit courses. In addi- 
tion, for about thirty years it offered for degree credit a number of "ap- 
plied" courses — "applied harmony," "applied counterpoint," etc. — which 
sought, "following what might be termed the laboratory method," to 
"realize synthetically at pianoforte" the principles taught in the theory 
courses. Mr. Macdougall also introduced in 1900 Wellesley's first non- 
technical course in the appreciation of music. As choirmaster he gave 
informal instruction to a large group of students as well as pleasure to 
the College as a whole not only through the performances of the choir 
but also through the many recitals and concerts he arranged. 

For Art, too, the transition to departmental status was complicated 


by the resignation of its former professor. Only two courses were given 
in 1896-97, by Alice Walton, who soon became a member of the Latin 
Department, though her art interests continued to find expression in the 
classical archeology courses that were listed under Classics for many years. 

Alice Van Vechten Brown was called in 1897 from the Norwich Art 
School to head the newly organized department. The combination of 
"study and practice" that she worked out for the art history courses, 
often referred to as "the Wellesley method," has continued to this day. 
"Laboratory work" was required in most art history courses, not for the 
sake of producing works of art but to sharpen observation and to increase 
awareness of the constraints and possibilities of the medium used. (In 
the last few years a separate course, required of majors, in "General 
Techniques" has replaced laboratory work in nearly all art history 
courses.) Within two years of Miss Brown's arrival, new instructors and 
new courses were added and student elections had increased so much 
that it was necessary to remove from the art building all classes in other 
subjects. President Hazard in 1900 reported that "the hours counting for 
the degree have been finally adjusted to include some actual practice in 
drawing." She was referring not to the laboratory work incorporated 
into art history courses, but to a separate studio course, introduced in 
1898, which could count for the degree after a year course in art history 
had been completed. Studio work continued and gradually expanded, 
though it was always limited to those who had studied some art history. 

With changing faculty and student interests, course offerings in art 
history varied over the years, though work in Italian painting seems al- 
ways to have been prominent. Naturally enough, courses, particularly 
advanced ones, have appeared from time to time to take advantage of 
special faculty competence. Harriet B. Hawes, the excavator of Gournia 
in Crete, and later W. Alexander Campbell, the director of the Antioch 
excavations, taught courses in ancient art. (Mr. Campbell also introduced 
a course in Chinese and Japanese art — work that was to continue under 
others.) Myrtilla Avery was a medievalist, but she is probably best re- 
membered by the hundreds of alumnae who as seniors took her survey 
history. Alfred Barr, at Wellesley for a few years before going to the 
Museum of Modern Art in New York, introduced in 1929 a course called 
"Tradition and Revolt in Modern Painting," the first course in modern 
art taught in any college in the country. When the distinguished Byzan- 
tinist Sirarpie Der Nersessian came in 1930, courses in her specialty were 

In 1930, when Miss Brown retired, President Pendleton wrote, "It is 
not too much to say that the present department is her creation." She 
had chosen most of its faculty; she had with them developed a rich offer- 
ing in art history (54 semester hours); she had introduced studio courses; 


and as museum director she had built a collection of choice works of art. 
She would have agreed wholeheartedly with the statement of a later 
chairman, Agnes Abbot: "One of the department's basic aims through 
the years has been to train not only students who go on as art historians 
and artists, proud as we are of those who have done so, but also to 
broaden the discrimination and taste of a far larger number, who simply 
as educated members of a community may so enrich its cultural life." 

The auricular changes of 1893 made a significant difference in the 
pattern of language study. Latin was still required for admission (four 
units until 1925-26), but with the demise of the Classical Course neither 
Latin nor Greek was required in college; the only stipulation was that 
one full course in a foreign language should be elected. Within a few 
years enrollments in Latin and in Greek dropped sharply, while French 
and German leapt up. German had always been large (it was, after all, the 
language of scholarship in the nineteenth century), and after 1893 it had 
a commanding lead which it held until World War I. Then French be- 
came the largest foreign language department and has remained so ever 
since. In addition to language study (which included occasionally philo- 
logical courses in Gothic and Old and Middle High German in the one 
department, Old French and Old Provencal in the other), both depart- 
ments offered a rich fare of literature courses. 

Italian, introduced in 1882 by a member of the French Department, has 
always been a small department. Florence H. Jackson, its sole member 
from 1890 to 1926, found time in her first fourteen years at Wellesley to 
teach not only Italian but also, when the need arose, courses for three 
other departments, among them French epics of the Middle Ages, ele- 
mentary Spanish, and the history of Greek sculpture. After 1904, when 
she became associate professor and curator of the Plimpton Collection 
in the library, and when enough courses were given for a major, she was 
fully occupied with Italian language and literature. 

Spanish, the only other modern foreign language at Wellesley in this 
period, had a hesitating start. For twenty years after it was introduced 
in 1883 there were never more than two courses, usually one, and some- 
times none at all. It was taught by instructors from other language de- 
partments or by part-time instructors until Alice H. Bushee came in 
1911. Her arrival marked the beginning of a steady growth, until by 
the end of the First World War it was the second largest language de- 

In 1894, when the new curriculum went into effect, the courses offered 
both in economics and in political science were included in the Depart- 
ment of History. (Though its name made no acknowledgment of their 
presence, its head, Katharine Coman, who taught not only history but 
also four semester courses in economics, had the words "and of Political 


Economy" added to her professorial title.) In the following year two 
courses were added — including one in Social Pathology, "a study of the 
defective, dependent, and delinquent classes" — that presaged the develop- 
ment of another social science; and in 1897 Emily G. Balch joined the 
department as instructor in economics and sociology. In 1900, after Miss 
Coman had served for a year as Dean, she returned to teaching as head 
of the fully independent department of Economics and Sociology. 

The new department flourished; within a few years it had almost as 
many students and courses as History. Economics may have been regarded 
as a man's subject in coeducational institutions (there are some indica- 
tions that this is still so), but not at Wellesley. In 1908 President Hazard, 
noting that there were nearly 300 student elections in the department that 
year, said, "A similar marked increase in the number of students took 
place at the time of the free silver campaign, when it became commonly 
recognized among students that some understanding of economics was 
necessary to any intelligent opinion on current national problems. Sim- 
ilarly today, the child labor problem, the Roosevelt policies, so called — 
the Pure Food Laws, regulation of transportation and of trusts, con- 
servation of coal and woodlands . . . stimulate the desire to study eco- 
nomics and sociology." Monetary policy, public regulation of business, 
industrial history, the analysis of selected industries (wool and cotton in 
1902, lumbering in 1905), principles of statistical analysis, labor econom- 
ics, and general sociology were all taught, and courses in immigration, 
consumption, and money and banking were soon added. 

Political Science emerged much more slowly. Elizabeth Kimball Ken- 
dall, who joined the Department of History in 1888 and became its head 
in 1902, gave what work was offered, at first only a single course called 
"Political Science" which continued to be given under the title "History 
of Political Institutions" until her retirement in 1920. The only other 
courses were in constitutional law, taught by Miss Kendall from 1891 to 
1896, and constitutional government, taught by a part-time instructor 
from 1912 to 1920. After a two-year gap in which no course at all was 
offered, Wellesley brought in its first full-time instructor in political 
science, but it was Louise Overacker, appointed in 1925, who laid the 
foundations of the present department, adding courses and shifting the 
emphasis from the history of political institutions to analysis of current 
problems and organizations. By 1931 it was an autonomous subject within 
the dual department of History and Political Science, with its own in- 
troductory course, a separate major, and an enrollment of about 100 

Meanwhile History itself remained strong throughout the period. The 
1893 curriculum removed all history requirements, but the department 
regularly attracted more free elections than any other except English 


Literature. Though its courses focused on Western Europe, England, and 
the United States, other areas were studied. A course in the political 
history of Russia was introduced by Julia S. Orvis in 1908; courses in 
the Middle East and in the Far East were taught by Barnette Miller from 
1927-28 until her retirement; and the Spanish Department's growing 
interest in Latin American literature was supported by a course, first 
given in 1926 by Edward E. Curtis, in the rise of Spanish American 

Though the new curriculum of 1893 required two sciences, it no 
longer specified chemistry and physics, and not surprisingly elections in 
those departments dropped within a few years to about half what they 
had been before. It seems generally true everywhere that the physical 
sciences have relatively small elections among women students. Part of 
the explanation may be found in students' recognition that it is difficult 
for a woman to be accepted as a professional in the "hard" sciences. The 
dramatic increase in elections during and immediately after World Wars 
I and II bears this out, for in those years the demand for trained scien- 
tists, men or women, was great. As Mr. Durant believed, women can do 
the work, and whether the numbers have been large or small, Wellesley 
has continued to give them the needed tools. 

Providing the tools meant very different things in 1893 and in 1932. 
The course names often remained the same, and in general the offerings 
in all the sciences were fairly stable, but the new discoveries coming rap- 
idly in the early years of the twentieth century were reflected within the 
courses, though often in ways that only the specialist can fully appreciate. 
Miss Whiting in 1912 spoke of the restructuring of Physics as the result 
of the discoveries "in the last decades." Wellesley, she said, "has paralleled 
the development from the battery to the power plant and the radio and 
the analysis of the atom." As she pointed out in 1916 at the end of her 
thirty-six years at Wellesley, "Subjects which have interested advanced 
students in later years did not exist in the earlier days." Course descrip- 
tions in Chemistry reflect an analogous development, which might be 
characterized in general terms by saying that the direction of change 
was from descriptive to analytic study. 

A similar shift can be seen in the offerings in Botany and Zoology, 
where, for instance, the early stress on taxonomy gave way to develop- 
mental morphology and anatomy. In 1895-96 a single seminar called 
"Philosophical Biology" introduced advanced students to the writings 
of Darwin and Wallace; within a few years evolution was mentioned in 
the descriptions of several courses and then became a substantial section 
in introductory work in both departments. In the 1920s theories of 
heredity and variation, later called genetics, became the subject of lab- 
oratory courses in which students worked on practical problems in plant 


or animal breeding. Microbiology appeared in 1908, and today's students 
may be surprised to learn that ecology, far from being a recent concern, 
was introduced into the curriculum in 1918. 

When the Whitin Observatory, "furnished with the best instruments 
for advanced work," was opened in 1900, Miss Whiting wrote that it was 
the finest students' observatory in the country. The newly acquired 12" 
equatorial telescope led to considerably more sophisticated observations 
and measurements than were possible with the original 4i/ 2 " portable tele- 
scope, and courses in "practical astronomy" and in "advanced observatory 
work" were added. Daytime laboratory work, using photographs then 
becoming available from research observatories, was also introduced, 
even for elementary classes. In 1905 astronomy was recognized as a sep- 
arate discipline, its courses no longer listed under Physics or Applied 
Mathematics but as the offering of an independent department. 

From 1896 to 1916 there were two departments of mathematics at 
Wellesley. The division into pure and applied mathematics was perhaps 
natural, since from the beginning there had been courses in analytical 
mechanics and mathematical astronomy. Ellen Hayes, who became head 
when Miss Shafer moved to the presidency, taught these courses. She 
clearly was impatient with theoretical work, which she was reported to 
have called "useless stuff." It is equally clear that the other teachers of 
mathematics did not agree with her estimate, and the result was the for- 
mation of a separate department of Applied Mathematics with Miss 
Hayes as its sole member. The President's Report of 1896 merely said, 
"It is desirable to give this side of the subject [i.e. pure mathematics] the 
full recognition due its central importance . . . and also to encourage 
studies in applied mathematics and to establish a close relation between 
the latter work and allied work in Physics, Astronomy, and Geology." 
The new department, which continued until Miss Hayes retired, was 
always small, with an average of ten students a year. 

A program unique in Wellesley's history was begun in 1909 when the 
Boston Normal School of Gymnastics was incorporated as a part of the 
College, and its head, Amy M. Homans, became the director of a greatly 
enlarged Department of Hygiene and Physical Education. Though the 
program started as an undergraduate course, accepting as special students 
those who had been at the Boston Normal School, it was intended from 
the first to be a graduate professional course to "fit students to become 
specialists in the field of physical education and health work." It awarded 
a certificate upon the completion of a two-year course, and from 1923 on 
awarded the Master's degree to specially qualified students. Wellesley 
undergraduates were allowed to enter a five-year course which enabled 
them to earn a certificate or a Master's degree with one year of graduate 
study. In addition to a varied program in the techniques of teaching 


sports (over a dozen were listed), in gymnastics, and in dancing, the de- 
partment offered degree-credit courses in such areas as leadership in play 
and recreation, kinesiology, applied physiology, health problems of school 
and community. 

President Clapp's Report in 1953 noted that the department "had pio- 
neered in professional training of college graduates, had helped to win for 
the profession recognized status in colleges and universities, and was 
known in the field for its excellent standards." She had also noted in an 
earlier Report that the number of graduate students in the College as a 
whole continued to be a small group, adding that presumably "that will 
always be the case in a college intended primarily for undergraduates, 
unless Wellesley should wish to pioneer in a phase of education which it 
considers important and which is not available elsewhere." In 1909, and 
for several decades after, Wellesley had carried on and strengthened the 
pioneer work of the Boston Normal School of Gymnastics. By 1951 there 
were many places offering graduate work of high quality in that field, and 
the Trustees voted to accept the recommendation of the Academic Coun- 
cil that the program be discontinued in 1953 in order that "the College's 
energy and resources should be concentrated on education through the 
liberal arts." 

The Second Major Revision: 1932-1965 

The next major curricular revision was voted in 1932 to take effect be- 
ginning with the Class of 1936. As in 1893, the most important goal was 
greater freedom of choice. In 1927 Dean Alice V. Waite had written: "It 
is perhaps not surprising that as individualism increases in the world at 
large, the young student should show less acquiescence in a system of 
education imposed rather than elected." And in that year the faculty 
did vote a 6-hour reduction of prescribed work. The members of the 
class of 1931 and the next four classes could choose 3 hours in mathemat- 
ics or in philosophy and psychology, and 3 hours in a foreign language or 
in a second science. The logic of these alternatives is not clear, but at 
any rate the scheme was a transitional one. Under the 1932 revision, the 
prescribed work was reduced to 9 year-hours: 3 hours in Biblical history, 
3 hours in English composition, and 1 hour each in hygiene, speech, and 
physical education. Exemption examinations were authorized for all 
these except Bible and physical education. (Physical education meant 
two periods a week of "practical work" in the freshman and sophomore 
years.) Instead of the earlier requirement of a course in a foreign lan- 
guage, there was the stipulation that every candidate for the B.A. degree 
must have a reading knowledge, tested by examination, of a modern 
foreign language, usually French or German, though Italian or Spanish 


could be substituted in cases where the student could show their rele- 
vance to her work. (Within a few years this was liberalized by including 
ancient as well as all modern foreign languages and by allowing the stu- 
dent to meet the requirement by passing the College Board examination 
with an appropriately high score or by completing a course in college at 
the second-year level or higher.) The remainder of the 60 hours required 
for the degree were not all unrestricted, for in addition to the prescribed 
work the student was directed to elect at least 6 hours from each of 
three broad curricular areas: Group I, the arts, languages, and literature; 
Group II, the social sciences, history, Biblical history, philosophy, and 
psychology; Group III, mathematics and the sciences. Every department 
of the College appeared in one or another of the groups, and work from 
two different departments in each group was stipulated. In 1934-35 there 
were about fifty courses, open without prerequisites, from which the 
student selected six to meet the distribution requirement. In later years, 
as the number of courses open without prerequisite to juniors and sen- 
iors increased, she had even greater freedom of choice. To balance this 
wide latitude in course selection, there was an increase in the number of 
hours for a major. Work for concentration was to consist of a major of 
12 to 15 hours with related or supplementary work in other departments 
of 9 to 6 hours. 

It is fair to say that this new curriculum lasted for thirty years, but 
important modifications within its basic pattern were brought about by a 
curricular review that took place in the war years between 1943 and 1945. 
Though the College was much less affected by the war than were the 
men's colleges, still it had lent its president to the Navy and had intro- 
duced a number of special curricular and extracurricular courses. By 1943 
the faculty felt that it would be wise to look beyond the immediate needs 
of the war years. Accordingly a Long Term Policy Committee was ap- 
pointed and directed to consider all matters that had a bearing on edu- 
cational policy. It was a broad mandate. The committee did look at a 
variety of topics from freshman housing policy to the place of graduate 
study at Wellesley, but only the curricular recommendations are relevant 
to this chapter. What emerged was a modified group distribution plan 
and a slight reduction in prescribed work. Both the 1-hour freshman 
hygiene course and the 1-hour sophomore speech course were dropped. 
(One result, not unanticipated, was the gradual elimination of 1-hour 
courses in other departments, many of which were transformed into 3- 
hour semester courses.) Six full courses were still required for distri- 
bution, but the choices within the three groups were somewhat more 
restricted. Since Biblical history and English composition were required, 
courses from these departments could no longer be chosen for distribu- 
tion. Nor could courses in education or speech, the two departments in 


which no major was offered. In Group I, one full course was to be in 
literature (English or foreign); in Group II, one was to be in economics, 
political science, or sociology, to insure some acquaintance with con- 
temporary social institutions, and the other in philosophy or history; in 
Group III, one full course was to be in laboratory science. (Psychology, 
which was placed in Group III, did not count as a laboratory science, 
nor did mathematics or geography.) The choices were narrowed, but at 
the same time there was increased opportunity for exemption, so that the 
able and well-prepared student was allowed to anticipate some of the 
work for distribution by passing examinations given by the appropriate 
departments.* There were some changes in the scheme for concentration, 
including the setting up of four or five interdepartmental majors, but on 
the whole this curricular review can be taken as a reaffirmation of the 
1932 plan. Perhaps the only remarkable thing about it was the unanimity 
of the faculty vote of acceptance. 

Although the curricular framework was essentially unchanged from 
1932 to 1965, there were nonetheless a number of significant develop- 
ments within departments and some departmental reorganization. 

In Biblical history, with the requirement cut from 4i/£ to 3 hours, Old 
Testament study was reduced in the sophomore course to a single se- 
mester in order to make room for the study of the Synoptic Gospels in 
the second semester. There was, however, further elective work in both 
the Old and New Testaments. Offerings in non-Biblical material ex- 
panded, especially in the area of the history of Christian thought, in 
Christian ethics, and in Judaic studies, but the study of the Bible itself 
remained central. For most of the period the department was the third 
or fourth largest in the College. President Horton, commenting on the 
Academic Council's decision in 1945 to retain the Biblical history require- 
ment, said, "Its significance lies in the effect it has of maintaining the 
Judeo-Christian tradition as a dominant fact in the cultural heritage of 
American students." 

Except for Biblical History, the departments in Group II were all 
double ones, and they were all large. In 1936, for instance, Economics 
and Sociology, History and Political Science, Philosophy and Psychology 
ranked 1, 2, and 3 in the number of major students. No doubt the prob- 
lems of the depression years and the political upheavals in Europe stimu- 
lated student interest in the social science courses, though it had been 
large before. In 1939 the Academic Council voted the separation of 

* Later, after the College Board Advanced Placement Examinations had come into 
being, the faculty voted to give credit toward the degree to students who achieved an 
honors grade in these tests. This meant that after 1959 an increasing number of stu- 
dents found it possible, perhaps with summer study, to graduate in less than four years. 


Political Science, Psychology, and Sociology from their parent depart- 
ments — not, however, because of size, but rather because the interests and 
methods of each half of the dual departments had become increasingly 
different. Political Science, with ten semester courses, and Psychology, 
with fifteen, had long had separate majors, so that the division meant 
chiefly that each now had its own chairman. Since there had been fewer 
courses in Sociology, the separation in this case led to a considerable ex- 
pansion in course offerings. A new course in the community, which in- 
cluded a study of urban society, another in ethnic groups in the United 
States, and a third in cultural anthropology marked the beginnings of sub- 
jects which were to become increasingly prominent in the later offerings 
of the department. 

Until 1947 English Composition and English Literature were separate 
departments. Composition had, of course, been responsible for the many 
writing courses then offered, but in addition its members had over the 
years offered courses in contemporary and recent literature — drama, po- 
etry, the essay, and fiction — probably because of its importance in pro- 
viding models for student writers, while Literature had focused on pre- 
twentieth-century authors. But both taught literature. Moreover, the 
graduate training of instructors in both was largely the same, as were 
their interests and aims. Thus, on the recommendation of a large major- 
ity of the faculty members of each department, the Academic Council 
voted that the two should be merged into the single department of Eng- 
lish. After a transitional period of some ten years, the work for the major 
came to be essentially in literature. Workshops in writing — that is, 
courses beyond the required freshman composition — continued to be 
offered, but most of the courses and most of the elections were in litera- 

There are relatively few curricular changes to record in foreign lan- 
guage instruction, though the language laboratory, new in 1958, did 
make a difference in methods of instruction, particularly for beginning 
students of modern foreign languages. 

Throughout the period French held a commanding lead among the 
languages, with an average of about three times as many students as any 
other language department. A change in admission requirements was 
marked in 1936-37 by the appearance of a course in beginning Latin, 
given "on request"; Latin (or Greek) was now only recommended, not 
required, as an admission subject. Greek, by this time, had become a sub- 
ject that was almost always begun in college, but the excellence of in- 
struction and the rapidity of student progress were strikingly illustrated 
by the plays in Greek given usually in the Hay amphitheatre, but occa- 
sionally, for a performance of The Frogs, in and around the swimming 


World War II had a profound effect on several departments. German, 
which had gradually recovered from the effects of World War I, again 
declined sharply, and Spanish took its place as the second largest lan- 
guage department. The rapid rise in elections in Spanish may, in part, 
have been the result of interest generated by the Roosevelt good neighbor 
policy, but the more important reason was the presence of two remark- 
able scholar-poets — Pedro Salinas from 1936 to 1940 and Jorge Guillen 
from 1940 to his retirement in 1958 — both exiles from war-torn Spain. 

World War II may also have been the immediate reason for adding 
Russian to the curriculum. There had long been courses in Russian his- 
tory and politics, but the study of the language came in 1944, when 
Vladimir Nabokov, who had been at Wellesley two years earlier as "in- 
terdepartmental visitor in comparative literature," was appointed Lec- 
turer in Russian. When he resigned four years later there were two full 
years of language study in Russian and a course in Russian literature in 
translation. A third year of language study was added by his successor in 
1949, and ten years later a fourth course. By 1969 the number of elec- 
tions was large enough to warrant offering a major. 

Changes in the science curriculum came gradually in the period from 
1935 to 1960. To describe the constant updating that went on within 
courses as the sciences themselves developed would require more space 
and more scientific competence than the writer of this chapter commands. 
But even the layman can recognize a shift that came after 1960, the result 
of vastly increased government support of science in the post-Sputnik 
era. Study commissions in the physical sciences, in mathematics, and in 
biology led to greatly improved secondary school courses, which in turn 
made more sophisticated college work possible. Increased competence 
in mathematics was particularly important, for it meant that calculus, a 
necessary tool in many science courses, could be given as the standard 
freshman course at Wellesley. All the sciences benefited, as they did also 
from a number of National Science Foundation equipment grants. Men- 
tion should also be made of the Undergraduate Research Participation 
program, supported by the N.S.F., which enabled students in chemistry 
first, and later in biology, to spend eight weeks in the summer working 
with faculty members on various research projects. A more extended 
program, also supported by the N.S.F., was the Chemistry Institute 
(1964-72), designed to enable mature women who had been undergradu- 
ate majors five to twenty-five years before to revive and extend their 
knowledge of chemistry and to earn a Master's degree. 

One notices in reading the science sections of the catalogues over the 
years that subjects which once were taught only on the Grade III level 
tend to find their way into Grade II or even Grade I courses. Often this 


marks a dramatic growth in the subject itself, as well as better student 
preparation, so that departments seek to introduce underclassmen as 
early as possible to areas in which further advanced work is offered. 
Physical chemistry, for example, formerly a Grade III course, now oc- 
cupies a large section of the introductory course, while one biochemistry 
course has moved from Grade III to Grade II. Other examples are Grade I 
microbiology and Grade II courses in genetics and in histology-cytology, 
all formerly taught only on the Grade III level. One also notices quite 
new subjects appearing in course descriptions, such as lunar geology and 
continental drift in the introductory geology course, and in a Grade II 
astronomy course radio galaxies and quasars. 

There have been two important changes in departmental organization 
of the sciences in the last twenty years. Geology and Geography, in a 
dual department from the beginning, had grown apart over the years. 
Geology was and is a "laboratory" science having close ties with both the 
physical and the biological sciences, while Geography always stressed its 
relations to economics and history. In 1954 they separated. The work in 
each continued much as before during the next decade. Then in 1965, 
after both members of the Geography Department had resigned to take 
positions elsewhere, only a single course in urban geography was given, 
and thereafter no geography. Any middle-sized liberal arts college has 
the problem of deciding how many departments it can support. There are 
many important and interesting areas that could claim a place, but with 
limited resources and a relatively small student body it is necessary to 
choose. Wellesley chose not to try to rebuild Geography, but rather to 
concentrate on the other sciences which seemed more central. 

A second organizational shift came in 1964 when Botany and Zoology 
merged to form the Department of Biological Sciences. The many com- 
mon concerns, evidenced by the fact that both gave courses in physiology, 
genetics, histology, cytology, and both dealt with evolution in several 
courses, made this union logical and even inevitable. After the merger, 
common introductory courses were given, and consolidated Grade II 
courses in genetics, cell physiology, and ecology could achieve new rich- 
ness and more biological understanding by referring to both plants and 
animals. Other courses which focused on one area or the other remained 
— horticulture, for example, and endocrinology, and separate courses in 
animal and plant physiology. For all majors there are now four semesters 
of common work, after which students may design a program in general 
biology or one that emphasizes subjects dealing with animals or plants 
or microorganisms. In recent years an interdepartmental major in mo- 
lecular biology, sponsored by Biology and Chemistry, has been added. 


A Decade of Change: 1965-1975 

Miss Clapp in her Report on the years 1958-60 spoke of the new serious- 
ness in American education that "is bringing to Wellesley a student body 
each year more nearly ready on entrance for the scholar's idea of 'higher 
education.' " One mark of this was a new class schedule, voted in 1958, 
which reduced class time from three 50-minute periods to two 60-minute 
periods a week for most classes and freed Wednesday and Saturday morn- 
ings from all appointments. The resulting increase in consecutive time 
for individual study was coupled with the expectation of more student 
initiative and responsibility. As Miss Clapp said, the hope was that 
"Wellesley students will accomplish as much as heretofore with more 
serenity, more independence, and consequently with more on-going in- 
terest and competence in learning." Most students and faculty members 
evidently found that the new schedule lived up to expectations. Class 
meetings were later increased to 70 minutes when the number of weeks 
in a semester was reduced, but meeting twice a week has remained the 
norm to the present time. 

In her Reports in 1956 and again in 1960 Miss Clapp suggested that in 
addition to the annual review each department made of its own courses, it 
was desirable that there be, perhaps every decade, an inclusive examina- 
tion — one which could cross subject and department lines to appraise the 
total educational opportunity for Wellesley students. In 1962 a new fac- 
ulty review committee was elected to do just this. Its report, presented 
to the Academic Council two years later, was debated at length, somewhat 
modified, and then adopted to go into effect in 1965-66. 

Much was kept from the old curriculum: a distribution requirement, 
somewhat modified by placing psychology again in the group with the 
social sciences;* English composition for freshmen, now reduced to a 
one-semester course; and Biblical history for sophomores, unchanged, 
though only after a good deal of questioning on the part of many fac- 
ulty members who felt that other subjects were equally important. The 
new plan was innovative in the arrangement of the courses and in the 
stress that it placed on varied methods of instruction and of learning. 
The most striking change was in the calendar, which divided the aca- 
demic year into three terms, the first two of thirteen weeks in which the 
student carried four courses each meeting for two 70-minute periods a 
week, the third of six and a half weeks in which she carried two courses 
each meeting twice as often. As Miss Clapp explained, the purposes of 

* It had been in Group III from 1945 to 1965. 


the change were "to end the unsatisfactory interruption caused by the 
Christmas vacation shortly before the examination period in the first 
semester, to permit more variety of ways of learning during the aca- 
demic year, and to lessen the number of academic interests which the 
student must maintain at one time without lessening the opportunity 
for breadth which the five-course program gives." 

The "variety of ways of learning" came not only with the change of 
pace in the academic year, two terms for more extensive work and one for 
intensive work; it was also one of the motives for the introduction of 
large lecture courses, in which, it was hoped, the student might develop 
a kind of independence in learning complementing her experience in the 
usual, and rightly dominant, small classes. For freshmen there was a 
1-term course in the Hellenic heritage; for upperclassmen, a course in the 
history of China, or in the modernization of traditional societies focusing 
on Africa, or in turning points in recent scientific thought. 

Another sort of independent learning was built into the scheme with 
the "290" course for juniors and the "340" for seniors. In 290 each jun- 
ior spent one half of her time in Term III carrying through a project of 
her own choosing within the major field and outside the context of in- 
struction. In 340 each senior spent half her time in Term III preparing 
for the comprehensive examination in her major, re-evaluating and in- 
tegrating her earlier course work. 

The new calendar entailed more than merely shifting some courses to 
the new third term. It was possible now for departments to plan 3-term 
sequences of courses within the academic year so that students could 
be ready earlier than before for advanced work in a field that interested 
them. It also meant that nearly all departments offered 1-term introduc- 
tory courses, which made it easier for students to explore a variety of 
fields before choosing their majors. (It should be explained that from 
now on the standard course is called a "unit" of work, corresponding 
roughly to what had been called a 3-hour semester course.) A noteworthy 
example of both trends was a cooperative physical science sequence, in 
which an introductory unit in the basic principles of physics, important 
to all the sciences, preceded work in chemistry, astronomy, or geology. 
To cite another example of the effect of the calendar on curriculum, the 
Department of Education for the first time found it possible to offer a 
course in supervised teaching (in the third term), with the result that 
a student who had taken other courses in the department could earn 
certification as a teacher by the time she graduated. 

It may have been the most innovative and imaginative curriculum 
in Wellesley's history. The students especially liked having courses end 
before vacations. A large majority of students and faculty found the 
290 independent study unit both exciting and valuable, though there 


was much less enthusiasm about the large lecture courses. But the scheme 
lasted only three years. Perhaps it required too many changes too rapidly. 
The calendar arrangement itself required many departments not only to 
devise new sequences of courses but also to restructure existing courses 
and in some cases to offer new 1-unit introductory work. When by 1968 
the M.I.T. exchange program was in full swing, the calendar differences 
in the two institutions made cross-registration very difficult for many 
who wanted to take advantage of it. Added to this was the widespread 
student unrest of the period (much less disruptive at Wellesley than at 
many other colleges, but nonetheless a factor), one manifestation of which 
was a general impatience with any required studies. 

And so once again the faculty reconsidered the educational scheme 
at Wellesley and in 1968 yet another "new" curriculum was voted, this 
one relatively unstructured and on the whole more relaxed than earlier 
ones. A two-semester calendar was reinstated (which meant giving up 
290); Biblical history for sophomores, English composition for freshmen, 
and the lecture courses were dropped, as was the General Examination in 
the major (which meant giving up 340). The number of units of work 
required for the degree was cut from 40 to 32, which entailed a reduction 
in distribution requirements to three units in each of the three groups. 

With the abandonment of the requirement in Biblical history, the de- 
partment felt it necessary to introduce major curricular changes. The 
"systematic and serious study of the Scriptures" continues, but now for a 
much smaller group of students in courses which are wholly elective. 
Beginning in 1968 we find a notable increase in non-Biblical courses, 
which in 1975 constitute over three quarters of the total offering. 

Work in the department is open to freshmen, who can elect grade I 
work in the Old and in the New Testament, in Asian religions, or in 
religion in the modern Western world, or, if the grade II label does not 
discourage them, any one of three courses in theology. For upperclass- 
men there is expanded work in theology, both Jewish and Christian, in 
Asian religions, and in American religious history. Among the new 
courses are two in the psychology of religion, one in primitive religion, 
and one in black religion and social protest. 

Perhaps the best way to summarize the changes is to point to the new 
name of the department. In 1968, at the request of its members, the 
Trustees voted to entitle it "Religion and Biblical Studies." Since then 
there have been two fairly distinct majors — one in Biblical studies and 
the other in religious studies. 

The framework of the curriculum has remained the same since 1968, 
but the period has been one of rapid change. The Dean reported that 
whereas there were 160 curriculum changes in 1968-69, the number in 
1972-73 was 284. Only those that seem to mark general trends will be 


mentioned here. Two or three of these may remind the reader of courses 
or programs in the first period of Wellesley's history. In 1890 there was a 
department of Comparative Philology with courses in Sanskrit and in 
the comparative grammar of Greek and Latin and of the Teutonic lan- 
guages; today there are courses in historical linguistics, in the philosophy 
of language, and in the psychology of language. In 1875-79 the study of 
"literature" meant reading in translation masterpieces from most of the 
countries in Europe; and again in the 1970s there are courses devoted to 
literature in translation, now given separately by the modern language 
departments as well as by Classics. Providing a place for studio art and 
performing music was the main function of the old Schools of Art and 
Music. In the last few years "practical" work, as it used to be called, has 
achieved a significantly larger place than it had had since the demise of 
the Five Years' Courses, but now within the regular curriculum. In 
Music, as many as four units of credit may be given for "intensive study 
of interpretation and of advanced performance problems in the litera- 
ture." In Art, a major in studio work is now possible, with eleven se- 
mester courses to choose from — in drawing, painting, sculpture, design, 
printmaking, and photography. 

For some of the other recent curricular developments there are no early 
analogues. Obviously there could be no course in automatic computation 
in the first decades of the College. That came in the 1960s, by which time 
it had become clear that all science majors, as well as many in the social 
sciences, needed to be able to use a computer. Hence in 1968 the statis- 
tics laboratory in Green Hall was transformed into a computer center, 
and an instructor in computer science was added to the staff. Relatively 
new, also, is the need to introduce courses in science and mathematics, 
not to be counted in the major, for those who, at home in only one of 
C. P. Snow's two cultures, are reluctant, or not well enough prepared, to 
undertake the rather sophisticated work now found in most beginning 
Group III courses. The non-scientifically-minded student needs to learn 
something of what goes on today in the rapidly expanding and tremen- 
dously important other culture. After all, Wellesley has always believed 
that any liberally educated person must have some acquaintance with 
this area of human endeavor. Thus there are courses that presuppose no 
college mathematics nor any specific secondary school science. In physics 
there are two such courses, both non-quantitative in approach, entitled 
"Physics in Perspective" and "Physics of Perception and Esthetics." 
Chemistry offers two semesters in contemporary problems, one focusing 
on the properties of water, the other on foods and metabolism. In biology 
the need is met by a course in the anatomy and physiology of man; in 
mathematics, by an introduction to mathematical thought and an intro- 
duction to finite mathematics. In astronomy, where courses for the major 


have always presupposed mathematics and physics, the non-technical 
introductory course goes back to 1916-17. 

Courses dealing with areas and cultures outside North America and 
Western Europe are not new. The art, history, and religions of Asia have 
long been studied at Wellesley. But in the past decade the growth of 
subjects loosely called "non-Western" has been striking. The Department 
of History leads with some fifteen courses, dealing not only with China 
and Japan but now with Africa and with the Arab world as well, and 
there is further work in these areas given by the Departments of Political 
Science, Sociology and Anthropology, and Economics. 

In the spring of 1966 it was decided that Wellesley should offer in- 
struction in Chinese, six units in 1966-67, later increased to thirteen units, 
and in addition two units of Chinese literature in translation. Since 1970, 
an interdepartmental major has been possible combining study of the 
language with courses in Chinese history, art, politics, and religion. 

The Black Studies program, greatly expanded since its introduction 
in 1968, now has departmental status. The 1974-75 catalogue listed 
twenty-six courses, many of which were cross-listed in other departments 
— History and Sociology and Anthropology with the most, but seven 
other departments represented — from which a major can be constructed. 

The newest area to be represented in the curriculum is, appropriately 
enough, Woman. The lengthy debate on coeducation ended when the 
Trustees voted in 1971 that the College should not grant degrees to men, 
but it seems to have been what the women's liberation movement would 
call a "consciousness-raising" experience. (For one thing, student opinion 
seems to have shifted in three years from strong advocacy of coeducation 
at Wellesley to general approval of continuing as a women's college.) At 
any rate, courses on women began to appear in the curriculum, ranging 
from "The Role of Women in Antiquity" to "Contemporary Woman: 
An Interdisciplinary Perspective," and including within this time-span 
courses in women writers in English, the image of woman in French lit- 
erature, a psychological study of the implications of being female, and 
a philosophy course in feminist theories. 

Flexibility and variation are now built into the curriculum. Most de- 
partments offer courses numbered 249 or 349 in which the subject may 
change yearly to meet student interests or to take advantage of special 
faculty competence. And if a student's special interest is not satisfied she 
may, as before, elect a unit or two of independent study. If she wishes 
still more variation or desires work in subjects like architectural design 
or electrical engineering not offered at Wellesley, she may, if she has the 
approval of the department adviser, elect courses at M.I.T. under the 
cross-registration program which was worked out in 1967, tried by a few 
students in that planning year, and officially inaugurated in 1968-69. A 



shuttle bus runs between the two campuses carrying an average of well 
over 200 cross-registrants each semester. Majors, too, are more flexible. 
Some eight interdepartmental majors are outlined in the catalogue, and in 
addition a student may, with the advice of two faculty members, design 
an individual major which centers on an area or a period or a subject 
that cuts across departmental lines. 

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The laboratory of Sarah Frances Whiting, the first professor of physics and astronomy. 
Annie Jump Cannon '84, renowned astronomer, was the third student from the left. 

A present-day physics laboratory taught by Professor Janet B. Guernsey. 

Zoologist Mary Alice Willcox, class, and skeletons in 1883. 

Botanist Harriet B. Creighton in 1970. 

Zoologists Gladys McCosh, Harriet Water- 
man, and Virginia Fiske and skeleton in 1956. 

Jean Crawford, Charlotte Roberts Professor of Chemistry, and a recent class. 

A House of Commons debate in Elizabeth 
Kendall's class in government in the 1900s. 

A political science class taught by Alan H. Schechter in the 1970s. 

Helen T. Lin's seminar in Chinese. 
Richard W. Wallace's art history class in the lewett Arts Center. 

Classes which moved outside Founders 
Hall on a lovely spring day. 



In the Beginning and Now 

Considering the span of years and the continuing emphasis on a di- 
versified student body, it is remarkable that Wellesley students can be 
characterized at all. Certain characteristics have persisted, however, chiefly 
perhaps because from the very beginning, as the first College Calendar 
cautioned, Wellesley was intended "for those students only who have 
vigorous health, more than ordinary ability, and the purpose to give 
themselves faithfully to the pursuit of knowledge, and to discipline and 
develop their minds by arduous study." Although these first requisites 
for admission have been modified in detail over the years, evidence of 
good health and intellectual competence and interest have remained 
essential attributes and hence have provided a measure of consistency to 
the character of the student body. 

The very first students were indeed pioneers. For women — faculty as 
well as students — to have the opportunities which they had at Wellesley 
was remarkable, as the following account in the Syracuse Journal in 
1879 of a visit by Lucy Stone, one of the earliest leaders in the women's 
rights movement, indicates: "At this college 'the cooks are men, the pro- 
fessors are women.' The visitors were invited to look at the microscope 
work of the school. The girls have more than fifty microscopes constantly 
in use, and gave an exhibit of animal, mineral and vegetable specimens 
which was much to their credit. They also have row-boats, each with its 
own colors, captain and crew. The girls are accustomed to exercise 
themselves at their oars, in the lake, every evening, and are said to look 
very rosy and healthy." 

It is not surprising that the students were "very rosy and healthy." In 
the early years great emphasis was placed upon good health because one 
of the principal concerns of prospective applicants and their parents 



was the possible deleterious effect of rigorous study. Mr. Durant, how- 
ever, was firmly convinced that "the prevailing ill-health of American 
school-girls is not due to hard study, but is in most cases due to the viola- 
tion of the plain laws of nature as to fresh air, simple and nourishing food, 
daily exercise, sufficient sleep and suitable dress." He therefore included in 
the first catalogue this reassuring statement: "The health of the students 
is of primary importance. In the construction of the college buildings 
this was constantly in view. Everything possible has been done to give an 
abundance of light, sunshine, and fresh air to the inmates. . . . The 
location is known as the most healthy in the healthy state of Massachu- 
setts"! Reiterated throughout the early history of the College is the 
Founder's concern for health, his belief in the importance of proper diet 
and exercise. The first students were required to have one hour of out- 
door exercise daily, a requirement which could be met by walking on the 
campus. But if they chanced to encounter Mr. Durant on such an excur- 
sion, they ran the risk of a personal lecture on the importance of deep 
breathing and the proper way to engage in healthy exercise. It must have 
been a source of great pride to him that the 1877 catalogue advised 
students that their wardrobe should provide for "great allowance for 
increase of size that almost invariably results from life at the college." 
Good health, however necessary a condition for good scholarship, was 
considered, then as now, only one factor in a student's education. Recog- 
nizing the influence which young people have on each other and desiring 
to create a residential community in which learning is more than a class- 
room experience, Wellesley has always sought a diversified student body, 
n its first fifty years more than sixty percent of the students came from 
utside the New England area. As early as 1881-82, Wellesley could claim 
two students from Oregon, two from Texas, and one each from Colo- 
rado and California! 

Upon being asked not long ago why she chose Wellesley although she 
lived in the distant state of Montana, Edith Mills Purcell '09 recalled: 
"Being an outdoor person, I did not fancy a postage-stamp campus, and 
Wellesley's beautiful campus and lake were most appealing. Although 
used to western scenery and the grandeur of the Rockies, the thought of 
living amidst New England beauty as typified by the Wellesley campus 
was most attractive. ... I liked the history of Wellesley and its early 
presidents and especially the Wellesley motto and the emphasis placed 
upon it. I liked the fact that Wellesley stressed the enrollment of stu- 
dents from all parts of the country. Later I was delighted to find class- 
mates from Texas, Georgia, Hawaii etc. to balance those more to be ex- 
pected from Maine and Massachusetts. Last, but by no means least, the 
proximity of Boston had strong allure! ... In retrospect, acknowledg- 
ing of course Wellesley's preeminence in the vanguard academically, I 


would say that the campus and lake and nearness of Boston were the 
chief factors in making my decision." Wherever students come from, 
their reasons for choosing Wellesley have not varied greatly over the 
years. Its academic reputation, the beauty of the campus, proximity to 
Boston are all frequently mentioned. In addition, applicants often cite 
the enthusiasm of alumnae relatives and friends. Sometimes, however, the 
enthusiasm backfires. One alumna daughter, accepted by Wellesley, was 
unequivocal about her decision to go elsewhere: "Let me just remind 
you that for seventeen years my mother said, 'If you don't eat your 
spinach, you can't go to Wellesley.' By the time I learned to like spinach, 
I just couldn't stomach Wellesley." 

Geographic diversity extended beyond the United States. In 1888-89 
Wellesley had its first foreign student, Kin Kato Takeda, a "Special Stu- 
dent," as was another Japanese student, Tadzu Sugiye Tokita '94. The 
distinction of being the first foreign student to receive a Wellesley B.A. 
belongs to Jisuye Koike Takehara '12. 

The Japanese were the first to come, but the Chinese were responsible 
for our first foreign scholarships. On February 13, 1906, the Chinese 
High Commissioners of Education came to Wellesley as a part of their 
inspection of the American system of education. The Dowager Empress 
of China had expressed a wish that they visit a large college for women, 
and Wellesley was selected. When the Commissioners arrived at the 
Wellesley station they were met by a delegation representing the trustees, 
the administration, the faculty, and the students. "We were so fortunate 
as to have two students [Lottie Hartwell Ufford '06 and Frances Taft 
Pyke '09] who could address them in their own language," Miss Hazard 
was to comment later. A short tour of inspection of College Hall and 
the campus ended at the Chapel, where the faculty and students had 
assembled to hear Miss Hazard's welcoming address and the announce- 
ment that the Trustees had voted to provide three scholarships for Chi- 
nese students to foster "friendly relations between the women of the old- 
est and youngest civilizations in the world." In the fall of 1907 three 
students from China duly arrived on campus, but only one was found 
to be fully prepared for college work. The other two students went to 
Walnut Hill for further preparation, returning to Wellesley and gradu- 
ating a few years later. 

In 1946, when few American colleges had come to recognize the need 
of foreign students for special counseling and orientation, President 
Horton asked Carol Roehm '22, a member of the Spanish Department, to 
serve as adviser to Wellesley's foreign students. At the same time she 
requested Miss Roehm to organize the Wellesley Summer Institute for 
Foreign Students. This provided orientation to American academic life 
for students of many different language backgrounds, both men and 


women, who came to study in American colleges and universities during 
the years which followed World War II. When the Institute was discon- 
tinued in 1950 it had served as a model for scores of similar orientation 
sessions on other campuses. 

By 1955, students from fifty-four countries had studied here. In that 
one year there were fifty-six foreign students on campus. In 1973-74 there 
were ninety-three students from forty-three countries in Asia, Africa, Eu- 
rope, and South America. As early as 1923 the Trustees voted to provide 
scholarships specifically for foreign students, and they have allocated 
increasingly larger sums for this purpose over the years. In recent years 
the campus has been further enriched by the presence of Slater Fellows, 
students from abroad who study at Wellesley for a year and then return 
to their home universities. The Slater International Center, opened in 
the fall of 1972 in Agora, formerly a Society House, provides a gathering 
place for all students, both foreign and American, who are interested in 
international understanding. Both the Slater Fellowships and the Center 
were made possible through the generosity of Priscilla Allen Slater '16 
and her husband, Ellis D. Slater. 

Geographic diversity is, however, only one aspect of the many kinds 
of diversity which Wellesley has traditionally sought. In his address on 
the "American Scholar" delivered at Bowdoin College in August 1862, 
Mr. Durant stated the premises of his educational beliefs: "The first 
object and duty of the true patriot should be to elevate and educate all 
our people" so that national greatness can be assured. The very first Col- 
lege Calendar lamented the fact that there were "many young women of 
fine talents earnestly desiring to fit themselves for usefulness, who can- 
not meet even the small expenses of the college," and went on to petition 
for the provision of funds for scholarship aid. 

The charge for board and tuition was placed as low as possible ($250, 
which even at that time was considered moderate) to encourage applica- 
tions from students with limited means, and Henry Fowle Durant's 
preference for "calico girls" over those of "velvet" is well-known. He was 
also adamant that "those who are wealthy as well as those who are not, 
are expected to practice economy and to discourage display and extrava- 
gance in dress and personal expenditure." To this end he established 
the practice of domestic work whereby all of the students aided in some 
of the lighter household tasks. By giving one hour a day, the College 
Calendar maintained, students enabled the College to keep the price 
for board and tuition at nearly half what it might have been. 

In the spring of 1878, Mrs. M. H. Simpson, a trustee of the College, 
invited a group of Boston women to her home at Mrs. Durant's sugges- 
tion to discuss ways of providing aid to those who could not afford 
Wellesley's fees. As a result, the "Students' Aid Society of Wellesley Col- 


lege" was founded and three of the guests pledged $5,000 each. For the 
ensuing year the College Calendar was able to state that "Students re- 
quiring pecuniary assistance are referred to Students' Aid Society." For 
1878-79 four scholarships were available, but this was hardly enough: to 
meet the wants of the numerous applicants for assistance, one hundred 
scholarships were needed. Although more scholarship funds became 
available, both through the Students' Aid Society and through indi- 
vidual donors to the College, in 1893 President Shafer was still obliged 
to report "that applications for financial aid from students already in 
college, who have met the various tests of life and work, among us, ex- 
ceed the means at the disposal of the college and of the Treasurer of the 
Students' Aid Society." By 1904, twenty-one percent of the student body 
received some form of scholarship aid, a figure which by no means 
equalled the number to whom the College would have liked to give aid 
had the funds been available. 

Another means of enabling students of moderate means to attend 
Wellesley was the establishment beginning in 1886 of cooperative houses 
in which students assumed greater housekeeping responsibilities for re- 
duced fees. This arrangement, however, defeated the larger goal of hav- 
ing students from a variety of economic backgrounds learn from each 
other in the informal setting of residential life. In 1952 President Clapp 
decided to abolish cooperative houses, lest the College "forfeit for all 
students some of the democratic values which it wishes to uphold and 

In 1946 the Faculty Committee on Long Term Educational Policy 
urged that more attention be paid to economic and social distribution to 
avoid the possibility of Wellesley's becoming a one-class college. Thus 
far, since most grants had been relatively small, scholarship aid had 
favored the student of moderate means over the student with limited 
resources. Roughly twenty-five percent of the student body received 
between $400 and $500 (the all-inclusive college fee then being $1,250). 

One of the goals of the 75th Anniversary Fund Campaign was to in- 
crease funds so that the Committee's expression of hope could become 
a reality. In the end, half of the total amount received through the cam- 
paign went to scholarships, and there subsequently was a deliberate effort 
to offer substantial scholarships to secondary school students who would 
not even have considered Wellesley previously. However, as Mary E. 
Chase, Director of Admission from 1946 until 1962, frequently com- 
mented, it was difficult to make members of the college community 
aware of the success of the effort because within two or three weeks of 
the opening of the College the students who had been selected from low- 
income families were indistinguishable from other students. This was 
partly the result of the casual dress on campus, the fact the students paid 


no attention to the financial status of their friends' parents (and fre- 
quently weren't aware of it), and the fact that Wellesley students were 
fiercely egalitarian (and still are)! 

In addition to providing larger awards for students with extremely 
limited financial resources, Miss Clapp was instrumental in bringing 
about two other important policies involving financial aid. On the 
theory that the student, her parents, and the College should all have a 
share in financing her education, students from this country received 
awards that were a combination of gift and loan. After the freshman 
year, a student was expected to work for from three to five hours a week 
in college departments or offices. In general, this procedure for making 
awards is followed today. In 1960, when there was an inadequate supply 
of good teachers for primary and secondary schools and colleges, Miss 
Clapp conceived a plan to encourage able students to enter the teaching 
profession through an arrangement for retroactively converting to gift 
some or all of a loan of a student who entered the teaching profession 
upon graduating from Wellesley or after graduate study in arts and 
sciences or education. The program stimulated a considerable number of 
well-qualified students to become teachers who otherwise could not have 
afforded to so. It was discontinued in 1970 when the need for teachers 
was no longer urgent. 

In very recent years more scholarship aid has become available. The 
Class of 1977 was the first in which no freshman requiring aid was denied 
it. Freshmen receiving financial aid comprised thirty-seven percent of 
that class. Also, a new procedure for awarding aid has evolved. When 
there were not enough funds to meet the need, the Scholarship Commit- 
tee had to choose among the students requiring aid. The members of the 
Scholarship Committee, whose name had been changed to the Financial 
Aid Committee in 1971, became increasingly disturbed that they were 
making decisions affecting the academic life of a student, because if they 
failed to award aid to her she might be forced to withdraw from the Col- 
lege. They deemed it more appropriate for the Academic Review Board, 
which is responsible for reviewing the records of students, to decide 
whether or not a student should continue at Wellesley. If the student's 
record, along with the evaluations of her faculty and, often, extenuating 
circumstances reported by her Class Dean, justified her continuing at 
Wellesley, the Financial Aid Committee believed that she should be 
awarded the necessary funds. And as long as sufficient funds are available, 
financial aid will be provided for any student with demonstrated need. 

Aside from economic, social, and geographical diversity, Wellesley 
students also represent a broad spectrum of religious affiliation and racial 
backgrounds. Despite his evangelism, Mr. Durant insisted that the Col- 
lege be non-sectarian. Gradually, a deliberate effort was made to in- 


elude students from a variety of religious and ethnic backgrounds. The 
concept which prevailed up to 1947 was explained in that year by Presi- 
dent Horton: "to select a freshman class from among candidates fully 
qualified for entrance in such a way that geographic, racial and religious 
groups would be represented in proportion designed to provide varied 
contacts while maintaining so far as possible a prejudice- free commu- 
nity." But in 1947, stimulated by a Fair Educational Practices Act en- 
acted in New York State and proposed in the Commonwealth of Massa- 
chusetts, the College decided that the selection of students as representa- 
tives of groups rather than solely as individuals was not necessarily the 
best way to create a prejudice-free community. Accordingly, it was voted 
that for the classes entering in the fall of 1949 and thereafter the in- 
quiries about race and religion should be omitted from the application 
blanks. At that time President Horton commented prophetically: "It is 
a witness to the tragic state of human relations even in free America 
that the way to prove good faith toward members of minority groups 
has to be by studied ignorance of their membership in those groups!" 
Twenty years later the minority groups themselves asserted a desire to 
be recognized and identified as separate, and not to be assimilated with- 
out first gaining recognition for their own cultural contributions. Ac- 
cordingly, religious minorities have experienced a resurgence of interest 
in traditional rituals; and, similarly, racial minorities have formed as- 
sociations in which they can join together in observances of their ethnic 
heritage. Black students may join Ethos, an organization designed to 
promote black awareness; and Chicanos, Puerto Ricans, and American 
Indians have organized Mezcla, which supports and encourages activities 
on and off campus that contribute to the College and stimulate cultural 

Because the records of the College are not maintained according to 
race, there is no way of learning with certainty the number of black stu- 
dents who have attended. From 1880 to 1960 Wellesley, like most colleges, 
was largely content to afford black students equal opportunity to enter 
and to qualify for financial aid. There was an effort, only moderately 
successful, during the 75th Anniversary Fund Campaign to seek funds 
specifically for "Negro Students." The first black student, as far as can 
be ascertained, entered as a member of the Class of 1884. Among other 
early black students was Harriet Rice '87, who went on to become one 
of the first women physicians in the United States. A special effort was 
initiated in 1963 after a series of White House meetings called by Presi- 
dent Kennedy and designed to emphasize the urgency of developing edu- 
cational and employment opportunities for blacks. 

In response to this critical national problem, Margaret Clapp con- 
ceived a program to permit able students at predominantly black South- 


ern colleges to take their junior year at Wellesley. At that time, President 
Clapp reflected: "We have not been able to locate as many qualified 
Negro women students who wish to come to Wellesley as we would like 
to have. We think it important that our white students live and work 
with some Negro students, for the same reason that we try to have all 
kinds of diversity (except in integrity and basic ability) in the student 
body — as a means to help all to learn how inadequate are most of the 
cliches and generalizations about groups of people, to learn from each 
other the problems and hopes of different regions and cultural back- 
grounds, and to make a wide variety of personal connections which so 
few people can do easily outside of this type of campus. These guest- 
juniors will bring a new dimension to us, and, possibly, if we can afford 
to maintain the program for several years, may through talks in their 
home communities lead in due course to our receiving more applications 
from qualified southern Negro girls for the four-year course." This "Jun- 
ior Year in the North Program," which continued for three years, was 
named in memory of Catherine Hughes Waddell '20, chairman of the 
New York Women's Committee of the Negro Colleges Fund, who had 
given much of her life to the advancement of educational opportunities 
for blacks. 

In 1966 Miss Clapp conferred with the presidents of the United Negro 
Colleges Fund and concluded that a post-baccalaureate program would 
be more beneficial. Waddell Fellowships were awarded to women gradu- 
ating from member colleges of the United Negro Colleges Fund, who, as 
undergraduate students, had prepared themselves for certification for 
secondary school teaching, and who wished to add a year of advanced 
study in specified fields to their background for a teaching career. By 
1972, when there was a substantial undergraduate black population on 
this campus, the Waddell Fellowships gave way to the Catherine Hughes 
Waddell Program for study by Wellesley students at African and Carib- 
bean universities. 

As the number of black students on campus increased, so did their 
sense of identity and of fellowship, from which arose the organization of 
black students at Wellesley known as "Ethos." In May of 1968 members 
of this group met with President Adams and, as had their counterparts 
on other campuses, demanded that more black students be admitted. 
Miss Adams agreed that every effort would be made to enroll up to 
twenty-five additional qualified black students in the fall of 1968, but 
despite a variety of summer recruiting efforts, only one additional black 
student could be enrolled. It was simply too late in the year. 

In the fall of that year, however, Wellesley students, both black and 
non-black, participated in an intensive recruiting effort, supported by 
alumnae recruiters and interviewers and a newly-hired black staff member 


in the Admission Office. The Class of 1956 with the support of other 
classes established and contributed generously to a Coretta Scott King 
Fund to help meet the financial need of these students. Of the 104 black 
students accepted, fifty-seven of them chose to become members of the 
Class of 1973. Thirty-five of these students were considered "uniquely 
qualified" applicants — that is, they were for social and economic reasons 
disadvantaged educationally but had demonstrated evidence of talent, 
strength of motivation or character, and potential for intellectual growth. 

However capable and highly motivated these new candidates might 
be, in most cases they had neither the customary preparation nor even 
sometimes a common language of experience to share with their class- 
mates. Therefore, at the same time, an Office of Educational and Com- 
munity Services was established to help provide both educational assist- 
ance and counseling help for those who found Wellesley to be more 
of a challenge than they were immediately able to derive benefit from. 
Of these thirty-five, twenty-one graduated with their class in June of 
1973. One more graduated in October, and two more the following June. 
Another is presently a member of the Class of 1975. Only four were 
dropped by the College for academic reasons. Ten withdrew, two in 
order to transfer to other institutions. Of those who completed the de- 
gree requirements in four years, one was a Durant Scholar and elected 
to Phi Beta Kappa. The others included a Wellesley College Scholar, a 
freshman class Vice-President, seven Senate Representatives, a House 
President, and other student leaders. More important perhaps is that, of 
the thirty-five students chosen principally for their potential, three are 
in medical school and eight others are doing graduate work in business 
administration, in theology, in public health, and in comparable fields. 

Wellesley, of course, was not unique in actively searching out minority 
candidates in the late sixties. Partly in response to the assassination of 
Martin Luther King, partly with the aid of increased Federal funding, 
partly as the conscience of a nation was aroused, private colleges and 
universities began to acknowledge an obligation to provide increased 
educational opportunities for minority groups. Since the response came 
not only at the college level but at the preparatory school level as well, 
the number of minority candidates applying for admission to Wellesley 
who met conventional admissions criteria gradually increased. Although 
the College's special effort to reach candidates from different backgrounds 
and the more inaccessible corners of America still continues, there is 
now a reasonably large pool of black students who present credentials 
comparable with those of the "traditional" Wellesley candidate. More 
recently the search for other deserving minority candidates, including 
Chicano, Puerto Rican, and American Indian, has been intensified. 

Since 1968 with the inception of the Wellesley-MIT Exchange Pro- 

students: in the beginning and now 173 

gram, men have appeared on campus as students, although not as degree 
candidates. The original purpose of the Exchange, "to extend the diver- 
sity of educational experiences now available to the students in the cur- 
ricula and in the environment of both institutions," has been eminently 
fulfilled. Between two and three hundred students take courses each 
semester at the other institution. The two institutions complement each 
other in course offerings. Even where there is an overlap in fields of 
instruction, their emphases differ. Thus, in art, Wellesley tends to stress 
history and studio art; MIT offers courses in architecture, form, and de- 
sign. Wellesley's Psychology Department emphasizes social psychology, 
personality, and child development; MIT's, physiological psychology. 

A group of male students took up residence in 1970 as Wellesley en- 
tered into another cooperative program, the Twelve-College Exchange. 
(This consortium includes Amherst, Bowdoin, Connecticut College, Dart- 
mouth, Mount Holyoke, Smith, Trinity, Vassar, Wesleyan, Wheaton, and 
Williams.) Designed to provide students with a variety of academic and 
residential options, the Twelve-College Exchange is a residential pro- 
gram in which a student can attend another college for a year or, in some 
cases, a semester, thereby experiencing a different environment (such as 
co-educational) or an academic department with an additional facility or 
emphasis (such as the Kiewit computer at Dartmouth or the National 
Theater Institute at Connecticut). 

A still different kind of diversity which has enriched the college com- 
munity since 1969-70 is the Continuing Education Program. Offering 
qualified women the opportunity to elect courses on a part-time or full- 
time basis, whether as candidates for the degree or simply to supplement 
their educational experience, Continuing Education now includes over 
one hundred students. The different perspective offered by these women, 
ranging in age from twenty-two to sixty, enlivens the classroom and often 
provides a realistic stimulus for the younger undergraduate. 

The importance of diversity is, of course, not merely a matter of vary- 
ing geographical or ethnic background, age or sex, or even the more 
embracing category of socio-economic beckground. The diversity which 
Wellesley seeks is the diversity of a group of people coming together who 
can share different values and beliefs, and discover that there are issues 
on which reasonable people can differ (reasonably). In this sense Welles- 
ley has always sought diversity, but it is also important to recall that this 
diversity has always presupposed a community of interest in the world 
of the mind. From the beginning the search for diversity has presupposed 
the search for excellence. 

Over the years the number of qualified applicants for admission has 
increased, in large part owing to the efforts of loyal alumnae, so that the 
Admission Office finds itself faced with the need to be increasingly se- 


lective. In 1950 it was able to offer admission to 66 percent of its appli- 
cants; in 1960 to 33 percent. Among those entering in the fall of 1960 
and for whom a rank in class was reported, 182 were among the top 
four in their graduating class and 87 of these were valedictorians. By 
the time the Class of 1969 entered, 221 out of a class of 524 (or 45%) 
were among the top four of their graduating class, and 102 of these 
(21%) were first in their graduating class. Over a quarter of the Class of 
1977 were first in their graduating class, and more than half were in the 
top four places. 

Lest these figures suggest that academic excellence manifested by su- 
perior secondary school performance has become the sole criterion, or 
even the most important criterion, for admission, it should be empha- 
sized that these figures demonstrate only the generally high quality of 
the applicant pool. Admission to Wellesley today requires the same two 
qualifications that were required for the Class of 1879: good health and 
ability to meet the very high academic requirements. Beyond that, how- 
ever, the Board of Admission seeks a variety of talents and qualifications; 
it searches for motivation, intellectual curiosity (whether theoretical or 
practical), character, creativity, evidence of concern for others, and also 
unusual interests and abilities. And the success of its efforts is perhaps 
attested by the fact that approximately 76% of the freshmen remain to 
graduate — a percentage strikingly higher than the national figure. 


Although in the first years of the College, organized extracurricular ac- 
tivities might seem to have been almost precluded by the specified hours 
for study, for exercise, for prayer, and for domestic work, it did not take 
students very long to establish "traditional events," as Miss McCarthy 
recounts in her chapter on the subject, and to form associations of vari- 
ous kinds. In addition to three daily classes, students' schedules included 
six hours for study, two twenty-minute quiet periods for meditation, a 
chapel service, and an hour each for exercise and domestic work. The ten 
o'clock "lights out" regulation provided for eight hours of sleep. Ap- 
parently Mr. Durant also wished to encourage learning in a less formal 
atmosphere than that of the classroom, and so in 1876 he founded two 
literary societies, Zeta Alpha and Phi Sigma. Membership was limited 
and coveted. In addition to their intellectual function, these first societies 
clearly served as important centers of fellowship and fun. In 1881 both 
Zeta Alpha and Phi Sigma were discontinued, the faculty having con- 
cluded that they interfered too much with the academic work of the 
members. They were reorganized eight years later, apparently at the 
behest of President Shafer and upon the vote of the faculty. 

students: in the beginning and now 175 

The only society not to fall under the ban of 1881 was Shakespeare, 
which had been founded in April 1877 as a branch of the Shakespeare 
Society of London. From its beginning, Shakespeare provided a vital 
outlet for the dramatic impulse, for this was an era when Wellesley 
students were forbidden to attend the theatre during the college year. 
Although amateur theatricals were in general looked upon with disfavor 
by the early administration, dramatic representation of selected scenes 
from Shakespeare's plays was allowed at the Society's monthly meetings 
on the premise that it was one of the best ways to study the poet's work. 
From that point it was easy to conceive the idea of presenting an entire 
play once a year for an outside audience. The first, in 1889, was As You 
Like It. Thereafter performances of Shakespearean plays were given 
outdoors at Commencement every year until 1912. 

In 1889, a charter was issued to the Art Society of Wellesley College 
in order "to give opportunity for additional study of art, to offer a 
stimulus to scholarly work and to promote good fellowship among the 
undergraduates." Five years later the members of the Art Society assumed 
the Greek name Tau Zeta Epsilon. In 1900 TZE presented to a college 
audience its first studio performance of the living representations of classic 
paintings for which the Society was to become justly famous. 

The active interest of Professor Katharine Coman in social and po- 
litical questions led to the organization of Agora in 1891 for those inter- 
ested in the study of politics. Alpha Kappa Chi, founded in 1892 as the 
Classical Society, adopted its Greek letter name in 1897. It too combined 
an academic interest with the sense of fellowship which all the Societies 

Since membership in all of the Societies was limited, they became the 
focus of continuing controversy, for the egalitarian element in the Welles- 
ley student body opposed the idea of any form of exclusion. Throughout 
the thirties and forties there was a growing feeling that Societies were 
too "exclusive." At that time juniors and seniors were elected after a 
series of formal teas which any junior or senior might attend. As mem- 
bership fees became increasingly expensive, they appeared to discriminate 
against the less wealthy. In response to this criticism, in 1950 the Inter- 
society Council introduced a policy of admission to one of the Societies 
for any senior who wanted to join, but the student had to agree to accept 
an assignment which was not necessarily her first choice. The Societies 
still had a nominal academic purpose and an occasional program meeting, 
but their basic purpose was now avowedly social. In the next two decades 
interest waned — in part as it became easier to attend functions off the 
campus, and in part as the Well, the Recreation Building, and finally 
Schneider College Center came into existence and provided places to 
entertain informally. By the early seventies, three of the Societies had 


voted themselves out of existence: AKX, renamed Harambee (meaning 
"working together" in Swahili) House, had become a cultural center for 
black students; Phi Sigma was serving as the headquarters for Continuing 
Education students and the Counseling Center; and Agora had been 
converted into the Slater International Center. 

Another early organization, the first of the departmental clubs, was 
the Microscopical Society. Established in 1876, its purpose was the "Pur- 
suance of Scientific Research by the Aid of the Microscope." At early 
meetings papers were presented on lenses, their preparation, limitations, 
and defects. Each active member was required to spend one hour per 
week in "research." In 1879 the members added to their equipment a 
new section cutter, a case of forty slides, and twelve Zeiss dissecting micro- 
scopes. Papers were read on various subjects, such as "Importance of a 
Course in Microscopy as a Regular Study in Our Schools and Colleges 
for Females." The Society disbanded in December 1891 because the 
members decided that the time for original work was too limited, and 
the work that could be done was necessarily too much a repetition of 
classroom experience. 

The first organization to embrace all members of the community was 
the Christian Association, which combined a number of smaller organiza- 
tions upon the recommendation of President Freeman. The history of 
this Association is treated in some detail in Miss Hawk's chapter, but it 
deserves mention here as the earliest all-college organization. 

The origin of student government can be traced back to the second 
year of the College. When a student cheated on an examination, other 
students responded by enacting their first regulation: it expressly for- 
bade the use of "a translation, or key in the study of any lesson or in any 
review, recitation or examination." Signed by the presidents of the classes 
of 1879 and 1880, this rule became effective on February 18, 1876. Lit- 
erally imposed by the students upon themselves, it recognizes the most 
universally accepted principle of behavior in an academic community, 
the stricture against academic dishonesty. 

In 1887 a formal conference between representatives of faculty and 
students took place in order to consider questions of class organization, an 
incipient form of student government. The next year, 1888, students 
first received permission to justify absences from scheduled appointments 
by having "a true, valid and signed excuse." In 1890 the idea of personal 
responsibility was extended when the Students League was organized to 
take over the task of maintaining order in college buildings. An article 
in favor of student government written by a member of the Philosophy 
Department appeared in The Wellesley Magazine of November 1892, 
and two issues later a student wrote a concurring article. But it was not 
until March 6, 1901, that students voted at a mass meeting to petition 


the Academic Council for self-government in all matters not academic in 
nature. Thereafter events followed in swift succession: in April 1901, 
a student-faculty committee conferred, the faculty committee being 
headed by Miss Pendleton, then Secretary of the College and an ally of 
the student cause; in May the constitution was submitted to the Execu- 
tive Committee of the Board of Trustees and an election conducted for a 
president; on June 6, 1901, the agreement was signed by the President and 
Secretary of the Board of Trustees and by the President of the College. 
On the following day, June 7, 1901, the Student Government Association 
was officially and ceremoniously established at a joint meeting of the 
faculty and the student body in the Chapel. The agreement was read 
aloud and then signed, first by the Secretary of the College and then by 
Frances L. Hughes, first President of the Association, May Mathews, 
President of the Class of 1902, Margaret C. Mills, President of the Class 
of 1901, and Mary Leavens, President of the House Council of College 
Hall. As the College News in its first issue of the 1901 college year jubi- 
lantly reported: "So the executive branch of the government is seen to 
be simply constructed and effectively assembled, while the Association 
finds its judicial seat in the breast of every girl at Wellesley." 

The advent of student government was not a succession of grimly- 
fought battles for student power. On the contrary, the right of students 
to govern their affairs seemed self-evident to both faculty and adminis- 
tration. Then, as is often true now, a president of the College or a mem- 
ber of the faculty appears as the staunchest advocate for the participation 
of students in the management of most college matters not strictly cur- 
ricular in nature. Therefore, the reorganization in 1917-18 of the Stu- 
dent Government Association, in which direct representation was sup- 
planted by a representative form of government in which students, fac- 
ulty, and administration participated in one joint body, seems appropriate 
and reflective of the way in which the system actually worked. 

In 1922 the student body became dissatisfied with the provision in the 
constitution which lodged both the judicial and the executive functions 
in the Senate. A separate Judiciary was created. (The chairman of the 
Judiciary was, and still is, a student, and the position of Chief Justice 
ranks second only to that of President of College Government in author- 
ity and prestige.) This was the only important structural change in a 
system of self-government which lasted until 1971. 

The rights and powers which were entrusted to the College Govern- 
ment Association included the regulation of "all matters not strictly 
academic concerning the conduct of students in their college life, ex- 
cepting those pertaining to public health and safety of the students and 
the management of college property in buildings." Included within Sen- 
ate's original domain were such matters as registration, absence from col- 


lege, regulation of travel, permission for Sunday callers, rules governing 
chaperonage, and the general conduct of students on the campus and in 
the village. 

A greater departure from the situation existing during the opening 
years of the College, when almost every aspect of student conduct was 
strictly regulated by the administration, could hardly be imagined. Two 
recollections of this earlier period illustrate the degree to which student 
life was circumscribed by rigid regulations. An alumna of the Class of 
1880, Harriet Blake Pingree, recalled: "Students living near were allowed 
one day at home during a term. We could not receive young men callers. 
Our only nocturnal outing in my four years was permission to leave the 
college [i.e. College Hall] at 7:00 p.m., two by two, escorted by teachers, to 
march across the campus to the conservatory, in and past the night-bloom- 
ing cereus, then in blossom, and back to the college." Another alumna 
has recalled: "On Friday morning students were permitted to write 
queries on manners and conduct, which were answered by Miss Howard, 
a la Mrs. Post, at morning chapel. I recall only two questions, though 
this broadcast was always anticipated with interest! 'Is it proper to eat 
cheese with a knife?' This question was laid aside without comment. 'Is 
it au fait to wear a gymnasium suit all day?' Answer: 'If one wore a 
gymnasium suit all the time, it would be necessary to have more than 
one.' " 

Accordingly, once the students had been given the authority, they 
turned their attention to the gradual liberalization of the various restric- 
tions. One of the first to go was "ten o'clock lights-out." By 1907 students 
were proposing a relaxation of the Sunday prohibitions against boating, 
pleasure-driving, traveling in "either railroad or electric cars," and re- 
ceiving guests. In 1914 undergraduates were permitted to entertain their 
fathers (but no other men) on Sunday, and then, in a succession of small 
steps, the rigorous Sunday regulations and those concerning absence from 
the College were relaxed. 

The big issues in the 1920s and 1930s were the system of chaperonage, 
smoking (where and when), late permissions, and the use of the Society 
Houses. The fight for new freedoms became the self-imposed responsi- 
bility of each new generation of students, as was vividly recalled by Mar- 
garet Clapp '30 in an oral interview concerning her days as College Gov- 
ernment president: "We wanted more liberal rules. Anybody worth their 
salt wants that. We wanted more places to smoke. Virginia Onderdonk 
was president the year before me, and they had won the great battle to be 
allowed to smoke inside the College in certain places, and we wanted 
extensions. I remember calling on Miss Pendleton about that, and she 
had tears in her eyes. I was shocked, because she was the great figure 
above, the Buddha whose expression never changed. And she said, 'You 


girls are never satisfied.' Of course we weren't thinking about anything 
except that it was almost our obligation to try to get a little bit more." 

The first warning of strain upon the system which had prevailed since 
1918 came in 1964 in Miss Clapp's President Report: "Responsible stu- 
dents, who constitute the large majority, are groping for a new formula 
or revised pattern of residential life which will offer more gradations 
of personal independence across the four years, without undercutting 
either the encouragement to serious academic work and the concept of 
personal and community moral responsibility which have marked Welles- 
ley or the institution's obligation to provide a frame of reference." 

The restless students of the late sixties, accustomed to considerable 
freedom in their homes and personal responsibility in their secondary 
schools, would not be confined by what they perceived to be an outmoded 
constitution. In the fall of 1969 the question of unrestricted visiting 
hours in the students' rooms was brought up in Senate. The parietal 
discussions, seemingly endless to those who participated, became the 
focus for the much larger issue of a student's right to have complete 
autonomy in her social activities. Soon thereafter Senate voted uniform 
twenty-four hour parietal privileges for all students except freshmen. 
Those who did not wish this privilege (and responsibility) had the option 
of living on separate corridors. This was the beginning of a profound 
alteration to the Faculty-Student Agreement of 1918. 

In an amendment dated October 15, 1970, the Preamble to the Agree- 
ment between the Faculty and Students of Wellesley College concerning 
the Wellesley College Government Association and defining its somewhat 
limited powers was deleted in its entirety; the paragraph substituted for 
it provided that "the Association shall be entitled to legislate in the areas 
of residential and dormitory life." Although the President of the College 
continued to have the responsibility for "the public health and safety 
of students in situations of emergency, crisis, or neglect," College Govern- 
ment now assumed the entire responsibility for regulations pertaining to 
community life which were not academic in nature. Even more of a break 
with the past was the decision of Senate that its members from the faculty 
and administration would be non-voting, so that the only power left to 
officers of the College was that of persuasion. In actual practice, this 
change has not made much difference. Lucy Wilson, Dean of Students 
from 1939 to 1954, recalls that in her experience over the years, there 
was never a sharp, clearcut vote with the faculty and administration on 
one side and the students on the other. Readers of the current student 
handbook will soon discover that there are very few rules and regulations 
other than Federal and State laws and some very basic health and safety 
restrictions. By and large, again, this has meant very little difference in 
the actual behavior of students: common sense, respect for the rights of 


others, and reason usually prevail. 

Student life, of course, never has been entirely devoted to serious pur- 
poses. A survey of use of time made in 1944 suggests that the average 
student at Wellesley achieved a very reasonable distribution of her week, 
with an average of 46.4 hours spent on academic work, 22.4 on relaxa- 
tion, 6.5 on exercise, and 6 on the so-called "extra-curricular activities" 
(plus war work). Next to academic work, then, relaxation in its many and 
various forms consumed the most time, and indeed many organized extra- 
curricular activities had originated as nothing more than the urge for 
fun. The first president of Barnswallows (the college dramatic associa- 
tion), Mary E. Haskell '97, frankly allowed: "We began sheerly for lack 
of jollity and social chance in general non-society student life, — restricted 
to annual class histories, the Christian Association reception, Float, Tree 
Day and the Monday concerts and lectures. The Shakespeare Society 
play was the only one yet a custom, Commencement entertainment was 
thin and gray, — the Society parties were limited affairs. . . . We adjured 
the Trustees by Joy and Democracy to bless our charter, to be gay once 
a week, and when they gave the Olympic nod we begged for the Barn to 
be gay in — and they gave that, too. It was a grim joy-parlor: rough old 
floor, posts bristly with splinters, few windows, no plank walk, no stage, 
no partitions, no lighting. We hung tin-reflectored lanterns on a few of 
the posts — thicker near the stage end — and opened the season with an 
impromptu opera of the Brontes." The "entertainments" given in the 
Barn soon became polished productions complete with wardrobes and 
make-up. In 1921 the students decided to reorganize Barnswallows into an 
exclusively dramatic organization for which try-outs would be competi- 
tive. For a good many years all roles were played by women (and the 
Boston reviews of Beau Brummel, given by the Class of 1915 in order to 
raise money after the Great Fire, were extremely enthusiastic about the 
skill of the female players in depicting male roles). But in 1928, with 
the production of Arms and the Man, men for the first time appeared 
in the production: they were Amherst students imported for the occa- 
sion. Their appearance, however, did not establish a precedent, and 
Wellesley students continued to play the male roles much of the time 
until the 1940s. 

The recent history of Barnswallows has witnessed its change to the 
Wellesley College Theatre with productions professionally directed and 
designed, the director since 1955 being Paul Barstow. The plays and 
policy, however, are determined by students. Experimental Theatre 
since the mid-1950s has also presented productions — often one-act plays, 
sometimes written by students — which are directed and designed by its 
members. Usually the Wellesley College Theatre performances are in 
Alumnae Hall and those of Experimental Theatre in Jewett Auditorium, 


but it was the Wellesley College Theatre which in 1959 inaugurated the 
use of the Jewett Arts Center for dramatic performances with All's Well 
That Ends Well. The repertoire of the Wellesley College Theatre has 
included a wide variety of plays, among them A Midsummer Night's 
Dream (a frequent visitor to the Wellesley stage), The Way of the World 
(1968), The Rivals (1972), Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1967), and 
Marat/Sade (1968). Actors now come to Wellesley from many neighbor- 
ing colleges, and M.I.T. and the exchange programs have provided some 
in residence — a great convenience for rehearsals. 

Another form of relaxation, music, has always played an important 
role in college life. The Beethoven Society, organized in 1876 and trans- 
formed in 1897 into the Choral Society, was the first of the singing groups 
(although when the talent was available it also included a string quartet). 
The Choral Society was reorganized under the impetus of President Haz- 
ard in 1900 as the Wellesley College Choir, an organization which con- 
tinues to this day. Miss Hazard took a special interest in the Choir, and 
its very first processional took place in September 1900 when the students, 
garbed in choir robes, marched through the rooms of the President's suite 
in Norumbega while she played "Jerusalem the Golden." Her choice of 
choirmaster, Professor Hamilton C. Macdougall, was clearly a superb 
appointment: he had been at the College just ten days when he had the 
first choir ready for a Sunday service, and soon thereafter he and Miss 
Hazard instituted the custom of fortnightly vesper services with special 
music (often composed by him). In more recent years Choir, since 1952 
under the direction of William A. Herrmann, has often combined with 
choral groups from various colleges for men, and although there are no 
longer fortnightly vesper services, there is still the traditional Christmas 
Vespers. College musicians and professional soloists combine to present 
biennially a distinguished Dober Memorial Concert in the Chapel, and 
occasionally the Music Department has held Reindel Concerts in the 
Jewett Auditorium, often featuring compositions by Hubert Lamb and 
other members of the faculty. From time to time collaboration between 
music and theatre has resulted in notable performances. For example, the 
American premiere of Gluck's opera Alceste was given in 1938, Dido and 
Aeneas in 1972, and the twelfth century liturgical drama Miracles of St. 
Nicholas in 1974. 

Orchestra, which had been founded in 1904, in the late 1930s and early 
1940s under the direction of Malcolm H. Holmes performed many full- 
length concert pieces and some previously-unfamiliar music which he 
had photographed from original manuscripts in Europe. In 1958-59 the 
Wellesley College Orchestra was succeeded by the Chamber Music So- 
ciety, which has presented concerts not only in Jewett but also in dormi- 
tories on Sunday afternoons. March 21, 1971, marked the formation of 


the Collegium Musicum Wellesliensis, a group of faculty and students 
who perform early music on such instruments as lutes, harpsichords, re- 
corders, and viole da gamba. Two specialized singing groups also enable 
students to participate in the musical arts: the Wellesley College Madrigal 
Group, composed of sixteen proficient student musicians who cultivate the 
art of unaccompanied singing, and the Ethos Choir, established relatively 
recently, which performs frequently on and off the campus. More infor- 
mal music has been provided over the years by groups which have had 
particular appeal for their generations. The Glee Club and the Banjo 
Club were formed in 1889, and the Mandolin Club came into existence 
about the same time; their modern (though very different) counterparts 
perhaps are "Octets" — which usually have from twelve to twenty mem- 
bers, never eight — such as the Tupelos and Wellesley Widows. 

Literary interests have shown perhaps the greatest diversity in form 
and appearance. Journalism has had the most stable history, commencing 
with a section devoted to items of college interest in the local newspa- 
per, The Courant, from 1881 to 1889. In 1889 the students produced their 
own publication, The Prelude, succeeded by the Wellesley Magazine in 
1892, a monthly, later an alumnae publication. The College News 
launched nearly ten years later has continued as a journalistic commen- 
tary on college life and on the world outside, frequently assuming the 
role of the crusading reformer as well as the righteous teacher. In an 
editorial on January 30, 1902, the first year that News was published, the 
editor berated herself and her fellow students in the monitory tone 
which was to become part of its prevailing style. "We are a rather sorry 
lot when mid-years are in progress. The freshmen cannot be blamed for 
meeting their mid-years with a goodly amount of fear and dread. But, 
for the upperclassmen, there is no excuse. By them, the good example 
should be set, of encountering the examinations with peace and calm of 
mind. Women can never hope to be truly scholarly until they learn to 
do their work with less subjection to their nerves." Through its editorial 
pages the News has campaigned for student rights, usually in more out- 
spoken style than the somewhat deliberate student Senate. Other topics 
which have appeared frequently in its editorial pages are the Honor 
System, student apathy (or "lethargy" as it was referred to in the twen- 
ties), athletics at Wellesley (whether too much or too little), and a recent 
favorite, feminism. An editorial of 1902 mentioned campus reaction to a 
speech by President Eliot of Harvard in which he extolled the life of 
service as the best possible and the most rewarding. The editor declared: 
"The indignation at the speaker for his supposed conclusion, that the 
only place for woman was her own kitchen, was immediate and wide- 
spread. . . . Why is it that the very words 'Woman's Sphere,' are to the 
American college girl as a red flag to a bull? Are we ashamed of being 

students: in the beginning and now 183 

women? Are we trying to cast off the heritage of womanhood and become 
as men? Indeed, no. . . . We believe honestly in the equal education of 
men and women. Then let us use all our strength to prove that we are 
right, and waste none in childish resentment at the criticism which must 
come." Her counterpart seventy years later "is convinced that until 
women are fully accepted as equals to men — not by law, but by custom — 
and until women receive the same job opportunities, wages and prestige 
as men, there is a vital role for women's colleges. . . . The women of 
Wellesley must take a stand." An unofficial publication of the College, 
News has enjoyed the unique position of being responsible to no one 
but its own editorial board, and hence its pages do not necessarily reflect 
the opinion of the majority of students, but they do provide a chronicle 
of the topical issues. 

Another group which provides news and entertainment to the campus 
is radio station WBS. The first independent station in a women's college, 
it began broadcasting in 1942. Students prepare their own scripts and 
direct and produce their own shows. 

Literary magazines have had less staying power. The Literary Review, 
Boar, Counterpoint, We (in the forties and then again in the seventies), 
and Freshman Focus are but a few of the periodicals in which many a 
future illustrious writer has first seen publication. The quality of these 
publications has often been very high, and the variety of articles, stories, 
poems, and essays appearing in them manifests in yet another way the 
diverse points of view represented by the undergraduates. 

The first Legenda, published by the Class of '89, was more a record of 
the College as a whole than the class book which it became later on. In 
addition to pictures, there was a remarkable collection of lists: the trus- 
tees, the faculty, students, and a complete roster of the alumnae. Even 
the college library was described in every detail, including the exact 
number of volumes and a complete list of the periodicals to which the 
College subscribed. Each college class thereafter tried to produce a 
unique and worthwhile publication, and some in their effort to be 
original produced valuable historical records. The Class of 1894, for 
example, included a section on the Founders of the College and pre- 
served information about Mrs. Durant not readily available elsewhere; 
the Class of 1906 attempted to reconstruct the history of the College and 
of student life, again providing a chronicle of the early years; the Class 
of 1896 chose to make their volume a literary number, and was so success- 
ful that it went into second and third editions! After the Second World 
War, pictures began to occupy more space than the printed text. Several 
of the Legendas published in the last dozen or so years have omitted 
almost entirely the printed word and have virtually become photo- 
graphic essays. 


For more active recreation, students have always seemed to enjoy the 
pursuit of a variety of athletic activities beyond the required Physical 
Education program. In the early years crew, or rowing as it was then 
known, was the most popular sport, closely followed by golf and bas- 
ketball. At first participation in crew was largely a "social event. . . . 
Since they rowed only until they were tired, various members of the 
crew might be seen resting languidly on their oars while the others 
stroked on courageously," according to an article which appeared in 
1895 in Ladies' Every Saturday. Initially crew members were selected 
as much for their singing as their rowing ability, but by 1893 President 
Shafer was able to report that "crews are no longer selected because of 
their vocal talent, but because of their general physical fitness. . . . The 
emulation is the healthy [sic], since it is not for speed, but for skill and 
grace. Racing is not allowed, hence there is no temptation to overstrain." 
Ladies' Every Saturday noted two years later that "The sport has now 
become so popular at the college that the crew begin training on rowing 
machines in February each year; and in April, as soon as the water is free 
from ice, the oarswomen may be seen upon the lake. There are now six 
eight-oared shells in use." Today's crews are equally enthusiastic, dis- 
playing their zeal on many an early spring morning with mittened 
hands and sleep-heavy eyes. 

In 1896 an Athletic Association was formed which combined into one 
organization clubs for practice in the various sports. According to an 
article in the April 1897 issue of The American Athlete, "Its object . . . 
[was] to assist the students in their intellectual life by offering them 
natural, healthful recreation." Much of this interest can be attributed to 
the dynamic leadership of Lucille Eaton Hill, Director of Physical Train- 
ing, who tried to instill in every Wellesley student a sense of the inti- 
mate relationship between good health and the good life; as one alumna 
put it, few of us "have ever worn unnatural shoes, gone deliberately 
without sleep, or grown round-shouldered, without a guilty sense of hav- 
ing fallen below Miss Hill's standard of intelligent living." 

Since the days when Mr. Durant imported tennis equipment from 
England because it was not available in the United States, Wellesley has 
always had unusual facilities for sports. And of course most important of 
all has been the campus itself, with Lake Waban and with hills whose 
contours have permitted the construction recently of a practice ski run 
and tow. Even without elaborate facilities, the sheer variety of recrea- 
tional sports has always been impressive. The first students played games 
such as "Fox and Geese," "London Bridge Is Falling Down," and "The 
Last Couple Out," in addition to rowing, tennis, golf, cross-country walk- 
ing, and running. Soon after the turn of the century twenty-two sports 
were offered; today's student has the choice of more than thirty activities 


including, along with the more traditional sports, ballet, scuba-diving, 
yoga, backpacking, and trampoline. Although for many years Wellesley 
eschewed competitive intercollegiate athletics, students can now compete 
in as many as twelve different sports on an intercollegiate basis. And 
even though walking around the lake is as active as many choose to be, 
one Wellesley student was among the entrants in the 1974 Boston mara- 

One of the most unusual activities was the Wellesley College Verse 
Speaking Choir, founded by Cecile de Banke in March 1933. At first 
solely an extracurricular activity, three years later it was also the basis 
for a course in the Speech Department. Trained by Miss de Banke in the 
art of choral speaking, the students recited poetry selections from an ex- 
tensive repertoire. The novelty and skill of their presentations extended 
their reputation beyond the campus, and in 1935 they were invited by 
the English Verse-Speaking Association, of which John Masefield was 
president, to give a recital at Oxford. Being unable to go to England, the 
Choir gave a round-the-world short-wave radio broadcast instead, the 
first of its kind. In the forties the group produced a series of spoken 
poetry festivals, combining their talents with those of many distinguished 
poets, including May Sarton, William Rose Benet, David McCord, and 
Archibald MacLeish. The choir was finally disbanded in June 1948, after 
a long history of public appearances, radio broadcasts, and educational 

Not all of the many extracurricular activities which, at one time or 
another, have commanded the interest and energies of Wellesley stu- 
dents can be included here. Some, like the Bird Club established in 
1917, in which Isabel Bassett, the president, won the annual competition 
by sighting sixty-eight birds, were short-lived. Others, like the various 
departmental clubs, have had long lives, but with undulating member- 
ship curves. While the conception of what constitutes a good time has 
undergone considerable transformation, there has always been a strong 
demand for unorganized social life, for recreation that serves no other 
purpose than having a good time. The first students, for whom transpor- 
tation was limited and college regulations seemingly unlimited, were 
largely thrown upon their own resources for amusements and convivi- 
ality. In mild weather, picnics, excursions to various places of interest in 
the vicinity, tennis and boating, walking parties and sketching clubs 
were all popular. If Harvard students could be lured out to help gather 
firewood for beach parties, so much the better. In the winter ice-skating, 
ice-polo (or "shinny"), parlor games, dramatics, and candy pulls were 
very much in favor. On Monday, the recreation day, no classes were 
scheduled, so many students took the opportunity to go on daytime ex- 
cursions to Boston for shopping. A magazine account of Wellesley life 


in November 1890 reports that "there have been maidens brave enough 
to walk all the way to Boston, fifteen miles away; but that is a feat not 
often performed, though few girls who enter Wellesley do not promise 
themselves to accomplish it before they graduate"! 

The perimeter of Wellesley social life soon extended beyond the con- 
fines of the campus. The advent of the automobile and the gradual 
relaxation of social regulations have created a much less self-contained 
community, although along with the relative ease of transportation to 
other campuses has also come an increasing interest in social activities on 
campus. Alumnae who remember primarily the big off-campus weekends, 
such as the Dartmouth Winter Carnival, Yale boat races, Princeton house 
parties, and comparable events at Wellesley such as class proms, might be 
surprised by the number of men now attracted to the campus by the 
variety of events offered throughout the year. Major cultural presenta- 
tions in Alumnae Hall, the Jewett Arts Center, and the Chapel which are 
made possible by the Treves Fund, the Baum Fund, and the Mayling 
Soong Foundation, lectures sponsored by the Wilson and Finnigan 
Funds, and "traditional" events such as Spring Weekend attract a good 
many dates. Movies and house dances and parties have helped to make 
the campus increasingly a center for student social life. "Study-dates" in 
the library are still popular, but since the construction of Schneider Cen- 
ter, students and dates are likely to gravitate to the vicinity of the snack 
bar. Providing lounge areas, entertainment, a menu which caters to col- 
legiate tastes, and, most recently, beer and wine, Schneider has become 
a social center for the entire college campus. Run by the Schneider Board 
of Governors, composed of students, administration, and faculty mem- 
bers, the building, imaginatively designed, provides an informal atmos- 
phere for college activities ranging from speakers to rock concerts. It 
also has a mini-store where many a hopeful diet has been undermined 
by the immoderate purchase of penny candy! More important, it serves 
as a gathering place where students can lunch with faculty, bring their 
dates, watch TV, study, or enjoy informal entertainment in the coffee 
house room. 

The danger over the years seems not to have been a dearth of activities 
but rather, as the Dean of the College as long ago as 1907 queried: "Can 
the academic work compete successfully with the various non-academic 
interests which claim the attention of the college student?" In one form 
or another this question had been repeated over the years. Supported by a 
grant from the Ford Foundation Fund for the Advancement of Educa- 
tion, a study was undertaken with the assistance of the Elmer Roper 
Organization in 1953 to evaluate student life outside the classroom. 
Among other findings, the survey revealed that before they graduated 
four out of five students actively participated in one or more organiza- 


tions, and that more than half of the alumnae who responded felt that 
students who did not participate in extracurricular activities "missed a 
great deal." An interesting discovery was that the most adverse criticism 
of individual organizations came from the most involved members. The 
historical record substantiates the conclusion of the authors of the study: 
a study of student life "gives an over-all impression of an alive, alert, 
loyal body of students who, on the whole, are finding outlets for their 
energies and interests." 


There are many differences which immediately separate the Wellesley 
student of today from her counterpart of one hundred years ago. Neces- 
sarily the changes in the society at large are manifested in both the indi- 
vidual and the institution. But, in the long view, continuity is more 
striking than change. The period in the late sixties when students were 
clamoring for change does not, in perspective, seem so very different from 
an alumna's recollection of the days of Miss Howard in 1880: "No one 
could have had a more difficult task than our first president . . . domi- 
nated on the one hand by the masterful personality of the founder and 
beset on the other by the hundreds of students, already clamoring, even 
as now [this was written in 1924 by Edith S. Tufts, then Dean of Resi- 
dence] for freedom of self-expression." There has always, in short, been 
a little bit of the reformer in Wellesley students. But, after all, reform 
was one of the moving ideals of the founder. "All of our plans are in out- 
spoken opposition to the systems and the prejudices of the public. There- 
fore, we expect everyone of you to be, in the noblest sense, reformers," 
spoke Mr. Durant in College Hall Chapel the year the College opened. 

There have indeed been periods when students were bent on internal 
reform, and other times when their zeal was directed towards vast social 
reformation. But these periods have been sporadic and hardly character- 
istic of the student body as a whole. Normally it is the academic side of 
college life which provides the focus. In very recent years this has been 
especially true; students have shown a pronounced absorption with their 
studies and a renewed sense of commitment to them. 

Some of the incentive for this recent enthusiasm may be attributed to 
innovations in the academic requirements of the College. Students have 
often contributed to curricular changes, most recently in 1970, when a 
group of interested juniors and seniors wrote the "Walrus Report." This 
document discussed such topics as the introduction of self-scheduled ex- 
aminations (soon thereafter instituted by vote of the Academic Council), 
more flexible course loads, interdepartmental courses, and a credit/non- 
credit grading system as an alternative to the pass/not-pass system al- 
ready in existence. Many of these topics were already under discussion 


by faculty members; others soon found their way to the agendas of ap- 
propriate committees. All of the suggestions eventually became imple- 
mented, although one of them, the credit/non-credit grading system, was 
actually a revival of a system used from the beginning of the College 
until 1905 (when, as Miss Onderdonk points out in her chapter, students 
could, for the first time, know their grades). The system of letter grades 
was retained until 1967, when a very intensive study of grades and grad- 
ing systems was undertaken by a committee of the Academic Council. 
As a result of that study, the faculty voted to institute a pass /not-pass 
system of grading as a possible alternative to letter grades. This alterna- 
tive allowed the student to receive a "pass" for work considered to be 
the equivalent of the letter grades A through D; "not-pass" meant that 
the student did not receive credit for the course, a fact which appeared 
on her transcript, although when her grade-point average was computed, 
only letter grades were counted. This system was in part designed to 
encourage the student to be more experimental in her choice of courses 
by removing the stigma of a poor grade in an untested area of study. 

For some students, the system was eminently successful and enabled 
them to perform at their highest level, free from concern over grades. 
Others were quick to admit that they needed the stimulus of grades to 
encourage their best effort. Still others admitted that, despite their best 
intentions, they tended to neglect their pass /not-pass courses for the sake 
of their graded courses, and hence were not using the system in the way 
intended. Faculty members also exhibited a wide range of feeling in 
their evaluation of this option. Almost all, however, were concerned 
about the fact that a very minimum performance might receive a "pass." 
Accordingly, in 1971-72 the Academic Council voted to replace the pass/ 
not-pass option with a credit /non-credit system. Credit is given only if the 
student demonstrates satisfactory familiarity with the content of the 
course and the ability to use this knowledge in a satisfactory manner (the 
standard which also defines the grade of C). It is true that if a student 
does not receive credit, the course is expunged from her record — a fact 
which led one professor, in a memorable moment of the Academic Coun- 
cil, to liken this system to the sundial which records only the sunny hours. 
However, it does have the advantage of assuring that to obtain credit for 
a course, a student must have at least a C in it. Students who prefer 
grades can eschew credit/non-credit (and in increasing numbers they 
are doing so); those who are thinking of graduate and professional 
schools are urged to use it with caution, or even better, not at all; and 
those who work best free from the competitive and evaluative shadow 
of grades can elect the system in its entirety, knowing that it is essen- 
tially the same as the one which served Wellesley's first (and some of its 
most illustrious) graduates. 


Another development in recent academic life is the increasing number 
of students who, discovering that they can meet the requirements for a 
major in two departments, choose a double major. Considerable latitude 
in the choice of courses, along with the decision of the Academic Council 
in 1967-68 to abandon the General Examination, have made this option 
feasible, and in a world of shrinking job markets, attractive. Still another 
option now available to students is the individual major. With the ap- 
proval of two faculty members and the Committee on Curriculum and 
Instruction, a student may design a major program which crosses tradi- 
tional departmental lines. 

Even more recently the academic life of the student has expanded to 
include one more role, that of the teacher. In its most modest form, the 
student teaches herself by an alternative method of learning, "The Keller 
Plan," utilized by the Psychology Department since 1971-72 and more 
recently by the Astronomy and Chemistry Departments. The Keller Plan 
originated in 1964 when psychologist Fred Keller and his colleagues 
instituted an individually-paced, mastery-oriented, and student-tutored 
course at the University of Brasilia. Essentially the student works, with 
the help of a reading list and a study guide, on a unit of material until 
she feels she has mastered it; then she demonstrates her competence in 
that unit on a short test administered by a student tutor. Although 
tests are not graded and may be taken whenever the student feels pre- 
pared (and retaken in the event that her first, second, or later perform- 
ance is inadequate), she cannot move on to the next unit until she has 
mastered the previous one. This plan, offered as an alternative method of 
learning for a five-week period in the introductory Psychology course, 
has been elected by a varying number, ranging from forty to nearly one 
hundred percent of the students enrolled in the course each semester. 
And over eighty-five percent of the students who participated said they 
would do it again, given the opportunity. 

Students may also participate in a variety of programs in which they 
have the opportunity to teach other students. The Economics tutorials 
initiated in 1959 by Professor Richard V. Clemence offer selected senior 
majors in the department an opportunity to take part in a weekly tutors' 
seminar in which they plan a program of research and independent study. 
As part of this program, each senior tutor also meets twice a week with 
a small group of freshmen who have elected the introductory Economics 
courses. They follow the sequence of material taught in the course, but 
also offer supplemental material. Faculty members do not attend these 
sessions, which are in no sense remedial but rather provide an oppor- 
tunity for freshmen to ask further questions and to explore some topics 
in greater depth. The senior tutors soon discover that the very best 
way to learn is to try to teach someone else. 


Two other tutorial programs have also been offered recently, both 
open to all students, both avowedly remedial, and neither for academic 
credit. In a tutoring program for students whose preparation has been 
inadequate, advanced students, recommended by the various academic 
departments, tutor students in introductory courses. Once a student has 
been assigned a student as a tutee, she works out a careful plan with 
the instructor of the course and meets her tutee one or two hours a 
week. The tutor is paid for her assistance but does not receive academic 
credit. For most tutors it is a very gratifying personal experience, and 
many have either been attracted to a teaching career by their tutoring 
job or have found a teaching position because of it. The second of these 
tutoring programs is an experimental writing course first offered in the 
spring of 1974. The student tutors are selected on the basis of samples 
submitted to the instructor, who trains them in the techniques of teach- 
ing writing skills. Then, in conjunction with him, these students tutor 
other students in expository writing. Both the tutors and their pupils 
learn through this program, and now that English Composition is no 
longer required, it meets a real need. 

Another recent innovation in academic life at Wellesley was the in- 
troduction in 1969 of a leave of absence policy which has permitted a 
student to take time off from the four-year sequence for a variety of 
reasons: to attend another institution, to work, or simply to sit back 
and take a look. Students who have taken leaves are almost without 
exception enthusiastic — glad that they have experienced a different mode 
of life or of learning and even more appreciative of Wellesley once they 
have compared it with other institutions. 

In our consideration of some of the factors which seem both to reflect 
and augment the renewed interest in the academic life, we should not 
omit a practical one. Part of the reason students are concentrating on 
their studies is the desire to perform well in order to be accepted by the 
best professional and graduate schools. There have been dramatic in- 
creases in the numbers of students who enter college intending to pre- 
pare for a medical career and of those who during their college years 
evince interest in a career in law. In the fifties and before that time most 
students took it for granted that they would marry although they might 
also have a career; students in the seventies seem to take it for granted 
that they will have a career (though this by no means precludes marriage; 
sometimes, however, it precludes children). 

One of the results of this career orientation has been the stimulation 
of interest in field work and internship programs. The oldest of these, 
the Washington Internship Program, began during the winter of 
1942-43 when fuel shortages caused an enforced winter vacation for 
Wellesley. At that time the participants were all political science majors, 


but now the program takes place in the summer before the senior year 
and is open to students in all departments. Fifteen members of the Class 
of 1974, including an Art History major (who worked at the Corcoran 
Gallery), a Philosophy major (working for the Children's Defense Fund 
of the Washington Research Project), as well as History, Economics, and 
Political Science majors, interned in Washington during the summer of 
1973. Another program, an Urban Politics Summer Internship, was ini- 
tiated in 1970, largely through the efforts of Thomas Atkins, a City 
Councilman in Boston and then the instructor in a course in Urban 
Politics at Wellesley. This program was redesigned in 1972 with the help 
of Los Angeles alumnae. One group of interns now goes to Los Angeles 
and is affiliated with the Coro Foundation, which conceives its program as 
a "laboratory in urban affairs"; another group of seven participates in 
the Boston Urban Internship Program, all in different capacities but all 
concerned with urban area problems. In 1970-71 the East Boston-Welles- 
ley College Cooperative Program (known as Eb-Well) was initiated as 
another opportunity for students to combine service with study in an 
urban situation. Although the program was discontinued in 1974, it pro- 
vided one more opportunity for students to acquire pre-professional 
training during their college years. 

Along with an increasing interest in pre-professional training and 
career plans, Wellesley students have become increasingly aware that 
they are women in a world defined largely by men. They seek a redefi- 
nition of their roles and their aspirations. For the most part, they are 
sympathetic to the women's liberation movement and wish to participate 
in and benefit from it. 

But this is not the only message they are hearing. Unlike her male 
counterpart who is nurtured by the conviction that to be a male in 
American society means to achieve success, the young woman of today 
hears conflicting signals. She is encouraged to achieve, and yet she is 
urged to remain "feminine." If becoming a wife and mother is what 
she aspires to, she may well feel she has betrayed her heritage. Whether 
for this reason, or for others, students in the late sixties expressed a 
strong desire for more counseling services in addition to academic coun- 
seling. In response to this wish, existing services, such as Class Deans, 
faculty advisers, and the Career Services Office, have been expanded, and 
Wellesley also now has as specialized counselors a Clinical Psychologist, a 
Human Relations Consultant, and three part-time psychiatrists. (Welles- 
ley, incidentally, was the first of the women's colleges to have a psychia- 
trist on the medical staff: Dr. Elizabeth L. Martin, who was appointed 
consultant in Mental Hygiene in 1926.) 

The variety of personal counselors is indicative of another trend 
which has emerged comparatively recently. In almost all areas, students 


have felt a stronger sense of individuality than of the community. Instead 
of a community religious concept, for example, there is a denominational 
approach to religion, equally vital but more private and individual; in 
addition to the Chaplain, almost all of the traditional religious groups 
now have their own part-time advisers. Speaking to this issue, Carolyn 
Bartel Lyon '28 said in an oral history interview: "When I was in college, 
the individual was willing to accept a sense of community experience in 
terms of a group relationship so that, for example, when you went to 
Chapel, you had counseling, but it was group counseling. You never 
knew, when you went to Chapel, when somebody was going to say some- 
thing that met your needs for that particular day." Today's student per- 
ceives her problem as unique and individual, and counseling is struc- 
tured much more in terms of immediate personal needs. 

Another aspect of community life which has changed the attitudes of 
students is their new involvement in the decision-making process of the 
College. By vote of the Academic Council in 1969, students are included 
as voting members of major college committees, including Admission 
and Curriculum and Instruction, and they also serve on many of the 
Trustee Committees. Although their contribution is often that of an- 
other intelligent person, rather than representative of "the student point 
of view," it is nonetheless valuable. As one student put it, "There is no 
easily identified or quantified student opinion on many relevant issues," 
but there is student perspective and often a student can anticipate am- 
biguities or problems not so immediately apparent to a faculty or ad- 
ministrative member. Since they now have an active voice in policy-mak- 
ing decisions of the College, students have taken a less active role in 
many student organizations — unless they are fairly professional ones, 
such as theatre, or are connected with academic departments, such as 
the traditional Greek play and music concerts. Activities outside the class- 
room tend to be either supportive of the academic life or perceived as 
pre-professional training. 

Although it is always difficult to date precisely a dramatic change in 
the attitudes and basic assumptions of a college population, there would 
probably be general agreement that these changes began to take place 
in the mid-sixties. Although the restlessness of that period has given 
way to a new sense of purpose, to a focus on the academic life and, for 
many students, a desire to exemplify the ideals expressed in Wellesley's 
renewed commitment to the education of women, certain bridges with 
the past appear to have been broken. No longer is it self-evident to this 
generation that experience and office possess a certain authority. Such au- 
thority was recognized, for example, in the earlier period when a student 
going to the office of her class dean always put on a skirt and tried to 


make herself "presentable," however casual her normal dress code might 
be. Beginning in the late sixties students appeared in the dean's office 
with bare feet, cut-off jeans, and an old shirt tied around the midriff. 

Startling at first to those who knew an earlier generation, this seeming 
lack of respect for office was in reality an inchoate attempt to express the 
very sincere belief that appearance did not matter and that what was 
truly important was the "inner man" (or woman). It made life more diffi- 
cult for harried administrators because respect had to be earned — it 
was not given. Students did respect competence, integrity, the ability to 
listen and to hear; they respected intelligence and wit and imagination. 
But they did not take it for granted that those in authority possessed 
these attributes. And although almost always courteous, they pursued, 
sometimes gently, sometimes more vigorously but always with relentless 
energy, what they considered to be their rights. Students of this genera- 
tion were nurtured by a society which had so grossly manipulated lan- 
guage that the "free world" imperceptibly had grown to include some 
of history's crudest dictatorships, and it was commonplace to describe 
the struggle in Vietnam as a "bad war," thereby implying that normally 
wars were good. This was a generation brought up by TV. Before they 
could read they were enticed by television commercials deceptively pre- 
senting a variety of playthings, and they soon learned that they had to 
distinguish between the real article and its television blow-up. As they 
grew older they were confronted by pictorial advertisements extolling 
smoking while simultaneously proclaiming (in small print) "Cigarette 
Smoking May Be Hazardous to Your Health." It is no wonder that they 
became distrustful of words and images, and often demanded immediate 
action as evidence of good faith. It is harder to estimate the impact of the 
continuation of the war in Vietnam, which threatened the lives of their 
male counterparts without promising a better or more just world for 
their sacrifice, but it was clearly a factor. And the affluent society which 
preached instant gratification in order to consume what appeared to be 
an inexhaustible supply of superfluous goods also had its effect. Finally, 
the assassinations of Martin Luther King and President Kennedy not only 
revealed the undercurrent of violence in their society, but also incited 
the Civil Rights movement to more active measures. The really extraor- 
dinary aspect of the late sixties, which can only be seen in retrospect, 
is how typically Wellesley solved its problems: by endless conversation, 
by mutual respect, by consideration for the rights of others. To those 
who were confronted with one "crisis" situation after another, it did not 
appear to be an easy period. But there was no violence, no destructive- 
ness, and the rights of the silent minority were never overlooked. 



In each generation Wellesley students have exhibited a variety of char- 
acteristics and attitudes. For this reason, and also because they are selected 
in part for their diversity, any particular statement about them may not 
correspond to an individual alumna's recollection of her own college 
generation. There have always been — and there will always continue to 
be — exceptions, but some generalizations hold true across the years. The 
Wellesley student is remarkably earnest, and she is earnestly egalitarian. 
She wants in some way to be of service to society. She takes her work, 
herself, and her fun seriously, although not always in that order. Above 
all, she is interested in her studies and works hard at them. She wants to 
learn. And she is convinced that learning, together with her sense of 
purpose and of social responsibility, provides "the beginning of a new 

The 1889 crew (left) and the 1888 crew posing before rowing; those classes also held 
a tennis tournament, according to the notation on this old picture. 

Golf, basketball, and the Bicycle Club about the turn of the century. 

A student room in 1880 

Lyman Abbott, the honorary member of the Class of 1877, and his wife sat with dig- 
nity at the Junior Tree Day of the class while President Alice Freeman and Professor 
Eben N. Horsford observed the ceremonies from a window in College Hall. 

The editors of the 1892 Legenda, the yearbook. 

The Banjo and Mandolin Club in 1892-1893. 

A midyear spread in 1894. (Notice the cat 
which preferred photography to a tidbit.) 

The pioneers of WBS in 1942 

Members of Barnswallows dueled realistically in an early 
production of Monsieur Beaucaire. 

Backstage in a Barn play, 
from the 1935 Legenda. 

Synchronized swimming in the Davenport 
Pool in the Recreation Building. 

A Senate meeting of College Government held in 
CH II in the 1950s. 

The Wellesley College Choir rehearsing in the Chapel in the 1940s. (An incidental fashion note: 
saddle shoes prevailed, but a few avant garde loafers were in evidence.) 

***** /■ 

Sailing on Lake Waban in the 1970s. 

Choir, from the 1909 Legenda. 

An exciting transformation: Billings 
auditorium as it looks now in the 
Schneider College Center. 


Tor) do-r^Vs Bar-Qe." 
fa-re /cy T* R.R. St^tf©*) 

From the 1898 Legenda. 

The opening of the Slater International Center in 
1971. Ellis D. Slater, the donor, is on the right. 

The baccalaureate procession marching 
through the great arch of Green Hall. 

Elegance was the word for 1939's prom in Alumnae Hall. 

Has this ever happened to you ? 
From the 1923 Legenda. 

(Left) Dean of Residence Mary Cross Ewing 
entertaining students in the 1930s, President 
Mildred McAfee in the 1940s. 

(Below) President Margaret Clapp talking 
with students after a dormitory dinner in 
the 1950s. 

President Barbara W. Newell greeting 
freshmen in the 1970s. 

From the 1909 

Required Lecture 


A Motto in Transit 

Wellesley College has been fortunate in having a motto as durable 
as Non Ministrari sed Ministrare. Through changing times, it is true, 
it has been variously appraised and implemented (occasionally, it must 
be confessed, made a subject of jest, in versions ranging from the early 
"not to be ministers but to be ministers' wives" to the "non minis- 
trari sed intoxicari" of the 1961 Junior Show). Yet somehow it remains 
the "honored tradition" that President Hazard called it in 1909. She 
added, "Its wording is translated into contemporary language from 
generation to generation," a remark that rings true almost seventy years 
later. At the start it was built into the fabric of the College to remind 
onlookers of Mr. Durant's admonition that they live "an earnest life of 
Christian usefulness." It hung among Biblical texts on a wall of the 
College Hall chapel. Engraved in the Houghton Memorial Chapel, in the 
stone of a chancel arch not far from the Durant memorial windows which 
represent "The Call to Service" and "The Life of Service," it still conveys 
its message. It was adopted in 1882 as an essential feature of the college 
seal. Sermons, speeches (especially at Commencements), college papers 
from Courant through News, Legenda, reunion booklets, the Alumnae 
Magazine — all have used it in some way. 

An attempt to measure exactly the motto's impact on any one college 
generation is sure to be futile, but enough alumnae remember and share 
their own reactions, both during and after their undergraduate days, to 
indicate the trend of their times. Some affirm an immediate and lasting 
call to action and some deny that they reacted at all. The majority in 
every decade until the late 1960s agree with a graduate of the 1950s: 
"We were very conscious of the motto . . . wanting to do something 
worthwhile with our great privileges but assigning action to the future. 
We felt too young at the time, were concerned with preparing ourselves 
for something often not definable, . . . and thought that intellectual 



growth was a great end in itself." Even alumnae to whom the motto 
meant little in their undergraduate days believe that "something of its 
spirit must have filtered into" their later, serviceable lives. The late 
1960s and the 1970s wanted "action now." 

The First Twenty-Five Years 

Mr. Durant's expectations for his young ladies, consonant with the 
motto, called for Christian charity, practiced by each one with the zeal 
of a "reformer in the noblest sense of the term." Two organizations were 
established at once, a Temperance Society and a Missionary Society. 
Charlotte Conant '84, an enthusiastic supporter of both prohibition and 
evangelism, was at the same time the kind of student whom Dean Tufts 
recalled as "already clamoring for self-expression." Her letters home 
provided an outlet for her feelings about too-frequent missionary meet- 
ings. "Hallowe'en," she wrote, "the girls were planning quite a time, 
but Miss Howard kindly provided a missionary meeting instead." And 
again, seething with indignation over a delay in granting a class consti- 
tution, she closed her remarks with "If not granted, how provoking. No 
Tree Day, no class, no Commencement, — nothing but grind and mission- 
ary meetings." That her activities were in fact well balanced she makes 
plain in her accounts of spirited debates and speeches, of pursuing topics 
like the Unity of Races, to which she was introduced during a Lenten 
service, of first steps toward student government, parties, and off-campus 
social services. She especially enjoyed a Thanksgiving visit of one hun- 
dred students to the Women's Reformatory in Sherborn, a three-year-old 
"tradition" which was destined for a long life. "We carried over," she 
said, "about 400 little bouquets, each with a printed text, and distributed 
them to the prisoners." There was an entertainment: "Singing, Recita- 
tions, and Piano Music." Everyone had a good time. 

As the scope of undergraduate social concerns broadened, the titles of 
their two organizations tended to be so misleading, not to say cramping, 
that President Alice Freeman suggested their reconstruction as a single 
body. Naming the resultant "umbrella" society was easy since, to quote 
Louise McCoy North 79, the whole College was already, in fact, "a 
Wellesley Christian Association." In 1884, a statement of principles, laws, 
and regulations was ready for adoption, and the long career of a power- 
ful all-college organization began. 

Pledge cards issued to potential members (that is, everyone) of the 
organization from 1884 to that "time of stress," World War I, stated: 
"You do, in uniting with this Association, declare your belief in Jesus 
Christ as your Lord and Savior and dedicate your life to his service. . . . 
You will cultivate a Christian fellowship with its members, and, as op- 


portunity is afforded, endeavor to lead others to a Christian life." But 
on the reverse side of the card cherished by Anne Paton Goodman '18 
there is reassurance: "This pledge was adopted in its present form with 
the express understanding that its interpretation was to be left to the 
individual thought and conscience. All who in their own judgment can 
honestly subscribe to it have always been welcomed to membership in 
the Association." A new statement issued during Mrs. Goodman's term 
as president of the organization softened the wording to read: "to deepen 
one's own spiritual life, in cooperation with all Christian workers within 
and without the College; to stimulate the Christ-like life; and to express 
this life in His service." 

Membership in the Christian Association was from the first nonde- 
nominational. The Reverend Dr. Noah Porter, President of the Board 
of Trustees and of Yale University, in his address at the cornerstone lay- 
ing of Stone Hall placed sectarianism high on his roster of the "foes of 
Christianity." The Durants and the majority of the undergraduates were 
of the same mind. In 1905, when the organization was invited to join 
the national YWCA, it declined because acceptance would have meant 
cutting down the Wellesley membership to Evangelical sects; and when, 
in 1913, Wellesley did join the national association, finding it by that 
time more liberal, "she retained her own pledge and her own constitu- 

Every area of the College's social concern was benefited by the reorga- 
nization of 1884. The campaign for temperance was carried on, partly 
by the bringing to the campus of such well-known lecturers as Frances 
Willard and so enlisting student workers. A Missionary Committee pro- 
vided speakers for numerous meetings, founded a Student Volunteer 
Band, contributed to the support of a missionary in India, and gave some 
backing to a city mission in New York. Out of contributions of $1400 
for "the missionary cause" in 1887-88, all but $150 was spent for the 
"spread of the gospel in all lands." 

"Promotion of religious life in the college" was reached through the 
selection and entertainment of Sunday preachers (President Freeman 
conducted the weekday services); the sending of delegates to the annual 
Christian Association conference at Silver Bay on Lake George, New 
York; and entering into those "other branches" of service in which the 
goal of "the arousing of intelligent interest in social reform" was an 
inseparable partner. Mr. Durant's words, "The cause of God's poor is 
the sublime gospel of American freedom," reinforced the college motto. 

The President's Report for 1887-88 listed among "services undertaken 
by the General Work Committee": "the Saturday evening club of the fac- 
tory girls of South Natick, and the Sabbath-School in Charles River 
Village," then a factory town. Soon another club was organized consist- 


ing of South Natick women who were workers in a shoe factory on Love- 
well Road, now Cottage Street, and who boarded in an adjoining house. 
Later, when the factory moved away, the house became a freshman resi- 
dence, Eliot House, and in the summer vacations students managed it as 
a resort "for hundreds of working girls." In 1891-92 a new project was 
inaugurated for women workers, this time workers on campus. "The 
Protestant girls employed in different houses," President Shafer reported, 
"have been taught systematically each week, and Sunday evening sings 
and King's Daughters meetings have been held with them. To reach 
those of another faith is more difficult, but we shall find ways." (This 
proselytizing bent was deplored by Vida Dutton Scudder of the English 
Department and other liberals.) A room had been "comfortably furnished 
in College Hall," its everyday name "the maids' parlor," its site, beneath 
the gymnasium, its capacity, "space for more than thirty women serv- 
ants." The students had "arranged several social evenings in which they 
should learn harmless games and music." A library was started and a sew- 
ing machine donated for the maids' use. 

While Wellesley students in 1892 were devoting most of their char- 
itable funds and efforts to the local community and, of course, to foreign 
missions, their social concerns had broadened, so that recipients of the 
$1700 collected that year included a North Carolina school for mountain 
white girls, a French Catholic school in Springfield, Hampton Normal 
School and Tuskegee Institute for Negroes. Chapel furnishings were 
supplied for a hospital that cared for epileptic children, and boxes were 
prepared for the victims of calamities in the Dakotas. Clothing was sent 
to Indian children in an Oregon school, and money helped to provide 
homes for Alaskan Indians. 

According to the President's Report, interest in the Indian question 
had been "deepened by a report of 20 years' work among this people 
and by the stirring appeals of the Indian Rights' Association." The 
Progressive Era, sensitive to oppression of all kinds, had begun. Campus 
discussions and alumnae meetings tended to center on topics like settle- 
ments, "great American cities," sharecroppers, immigration, child labor, 
sweated labor, women's suffrage. An Ivory Tower syndrome, experienced 
at its mildest as discomfort, at its worst as self-blame, was spreading. 
Tender consciences that had not to any great extent felt the impact of 
the motto as it applied to religion proved to be responsive to sheer 
human need. Many Wellesley women beginning in the 1890s were led by 
sympathy for the poor to join the Settlement House Movement. When 
Jacob Riis lectured on "Children of the Poor," he "made the listeners' 
hearts to burn." Interest in local working girls continued, along with 
work in refuges like the Dedham Female Asylum for released prisoners. 

This active involvement of undergraduates of the time belies the 


image presented frequently in contemporary magazines of campus life as 
a not quite real world without cares or worry, a charming setting for 
athletics, plays, and the creation of entertaining traditions. H. G. Wells, 
gathering material for The Future of America, to be published in 1906, 
was told by his Boston hosts that when he visited the College he would 
be reminded of Tennyson's Princess. And so he was. He described "that 
most delightful, that incredible girls' university ... set in a broad park 
with a club house among glades and trees." Tongue in cheek, he wrote 
of the girl students "fitting themselves for their share in the great Ameri- 
can problem by the study of Greek" and of his state of "mighty doubting" 
as he leafed through the calendar of courses. Still, he left the scene with 
his "hope" that some usefulness would emerge, and also with his 

Mr. Wells on this visit met only briefly with certain members of the 
Wellesley faculty who were doing rather more than their share toward 
solving America's problems: Professors Balch, Coman, Hayes, and Scud- 
der. Some years later, when Emily Balch thought over her career as a 
teacher, she referred to her diary for details and was surprised to find that 
Wells had found fault with her course on the history of socialism, his 
ground being that her students were "still reading Marx." "As if," she ex- 
claimed in the diary, "one could discuss that history without doing so!" 
As for Katharine Coman, she was simply mentioned as a teacher of 
industrial history. Yet that course and Miss Coman's later courses in eco- 
nomics turned many students into social activists. One of them described 
her ability to "give insight into principles and practice so that students, 
in whatever field of social work they entered, would recognize the con- 
cepts that came to be generally accepted as to the relationship of class to 
class, of man to man." She shared with them her experiences as a census- 
taker, as a caseworker for the College Settlements Association, as a mem- 
ber of the Strike Committee during the 1910-11 strike of the Chicago 
Garment Workers. A dedicated member of the Consumers' League, she 
managed in 1909 to found a Wellesley branch whose projects ranged 
from entertaining three hundred workers on the shore of Lake Waban 
to TZE's backing the League's crusade for purchasing only union prod- 

H. G. Wells mentioned Miss Scudder only as a teacher of English 
Literature. He might have been interested in President Julia Irvine's 
calling her "a detriment to the institution" since she was also a labor 
unionist and a Socialist. When the question of college acceptance of 
Standard Oil's "tainted money" was disturbing the Wellesley liberals of 
1900 (as it disturbed other colleges and also the Protestant Board of Mis- 
sions), Miss Scudder, according to her autobiography On Journey, 
joined, if she did not instigate, a vehement "movement of revolt and 


inquiry among faculty and students . . . naturally disconcerting to the 
Wellesley Trustees." She asked her bishop whether she should resign. He 
said, "No, . . . not until they force you out. Loss of the radicals would 
spell death for the college." She was not "tipped out," since Wellesley 
was "always liberal toward their most troublesome teachers" — except for 
Miss Balch, as it later turned out. In 1912, when Miss Scudder supported 
and spoke at a strike in Lawrence, Katharine Lee Bates, as head of the 
English Department, was obliged to deal with protests, including a de- 
mand for her dismissal which appeared in the Boston Transcript. Both 
Miss Bates and Miss Scudder were idealists; both, in the opinion of Flor- 
ence Converse '93, who not only wrote a history of the College but for 
many years shared Miss Scudder's home in Wellesley, had "a good deal 
of the rebel in them." And so, in the end, Miss Bates merely pointed out 
that the radical ideas in which Miss Scudder believed so strongly "would 
involuntarily seep into her lectures" and that she "was employed to teach 
English Literature, not Economics." It was agreed, however, that for at 
least a year she should not give her greatly loved course "Social Ideals in 
English Letters." When the course resumed, it was, as always, "a heartfelt 
arraignment of modern society" in which the Communist Manifesto 
was read as "illustrative material." 

Professor Ellen Hayes, a partner in Miss Scudder's Lawrence activities, 
might seem to have had very little chance of introducing her social ideals 
into her teaching of astronomy and applied mathematics, and for some 
years after her appointment in 1879 she did not do so. Then she became 
an ardent Socialist, a fearless suffragist, an experimenter in adult educa- 
tion for working girls, an innovator who, according to M. M. Randall's 
Improper Bostonian, the biography of Miss Balch, "dragged the Com- 
munist Manifesto into her lectures on astronomy." 

There were, of course, other instructors bent on social reform. In the 
English Department, Sophie Hart encouraged a cosmopolitan view of 
society; Margaret Sherwood wrote even-tempered, impressive novels 
based on the social wrongs of her day. But it was Miss Balch who out- 
did all the rest of the faculty in the scope of her influence. In 1897, 
when Miss Coman invited her to take a half-time position, at first mostly 
to read papers, she was already in some ways a citizen of the world and an 
immovable pillar of the causes that she supported. She had been acting 
as a "sort of apprentice" to a social pioneer in Boston's North End, filling 
her diary with experiences that she shared with "the ardent and enthusi- 
astic" Vida Scudder and other members of the little group that had 
opened Denison House, and it was during a year as head worker at Deni- 
son House that she summed up her observations of Boston's poverty: 
less indecent than that of Glasgow and London's East End but as cruel. 
Trade unionism, which was still economic heresy for men and non-exist- 


ent for women, was a magnet for Emily Balch. In 1894 she wrote in her 
diary, "joined Federal Labor Union under American Federation of La- 
bor." On Sunday afternoons she and Vida Scudder drew mental stimu- 
lation from discussions with members of the Central Labor Union, and 
she herself was a delegate of the Cigar Makers' Union at one of their 
conventions. A controversial figure always, she was finally denied reap- 
pointment as a Wellesley professor in 1919. (See page 100 in the chapter 
on the faculty.) 

It was no wonder that, with progressive teachers and with visiting 
lecturers like Mary Simkovitch, Jane Addams, and Ida Tarbell, more 
and more students were caught in the national upsurge of social reform 
that lasted until World War I. Their first publications, the Courant 
(1888), the Prelude, and the Wellesley Magazine, complemented course 
work with articles like those of Mary Wriston '89 on union as a possible 
remedy for the plight of the working girl, of Mary Conyngton '94 on a 
strike in New Bedford, others on the Pennsylvania coal strike, the Home- 
stead strike, and the scandal of child labor. Miss Coman contributed an 
article on "The Transition in the Industrial Status of Women." The lec- 
tures of distinguished visitors (a steady stream) from Great Britain were 
reported in detail, notably a series on "The Development of Socialism 
in England" and "The London Working Classes." Recurrent topics were 
the Single Tax, Women's Suffrage, and Settlements. 

Agora, a college society founded in 1891, directed its work program 
toward a viable understanding of political issues and systems. Knowledge 
was to be followed by action, as the quoting of Non Ministrari sed Minis- 
trare at every ceremony of induction made clear. Meetings in a given 
year might be centered on municipal reform or on current trends within 
the national government or on comparisons of political movements at 
home and abroad — for example, a series on Communism in France, Eng- 
land, and the United States. Fifteen minutes were always allotted to one 
or two ex tempore speakers who gathered news from all over the world. 
In 1895, topics like "The Tramp and Out-of-Work Problems," "The 
Poor, Sick, and Infirm," and "Rescue Work" were well received. The 
year ended with a talk by Miss Coman, a member since the beginning, 
on "The Tenement House." 

The Early Twentieth Century 

When jubilant bells ushered in the twentieth century, they accompanied 
a hopeful spirit and a steady rise in the Progressives' influence as reform- 
ers. Colleges tended to carry over from the 1890s their zeal for social bet- 
terment; the radical students stood "only a little left of center" and "the 
liberals not far away" — a description applicable to Wellesley. There, 


social action progressed at a reasonable pace, enlivened by occasional 
outbursts of indignation. Faculty members listened to disagreements, 
suggested paths to reconcilement, and at times found themselves at the 
center of a controversy, as when, in 1900, their salaries seemed to con- 
cerned students to call for investigation whereas faculty votes were al- 
most unanimously against joining a teachers' union. Social work contin- 
ued into the new century at such institutions as Denison House, where 
the "philanthropic angle'' was partly replaced by "genuine democratic 
contacts," most notably through the founding of the Circolo Italiano- 
Americano. (Italians had replaced Irish as the neighbors closest to Deni- 
son House.) The Circolo, whose president was Miss Scudder, spread its 
enterprises throughout the city, and its spring and summer fiestas at 
Wellesley were favorite schemes for breaking down barriers. Some of the 
foreigners "at home in Denison House" were able, through a simple lec- 
ture or a few visits on campus, to make an unforgettable impression "of 
anguish inherent in privilege unshared and of glorious opportunities 
for sharing in America." Miss Scudder was particularly moved by the 
eloquent lectures and the "electric" personality of Catherine Breshkov- 
sky, know as Babushka, the exiled grandmother of the Russian Revolu- 
tion. On one of Babushka's return visits to the College, "some lucky 
girls," invited to the President's House to meet her, were in doubt about 
what to expect — "probably a fanatic, pouring out inflammatory talk." 
Instead, they saw a joyous old woman, simply dressed, so happy to see 
them that she had to dance a little pas seul on a terrace above Lake 
Waban. Then she talked informally about her life and, Miss Scudder 
reported, "conviction grew that the worst prison in the world is priv- 
ileged class consciousness." Partly in response to such contacts, a study 
group on Russian and Chinese revolutionary trends and practices met 
from 1910 to 1912. 

In their search for a democratic society the undergraduates formed 
and re-formed study groups, each with a faculty adviser or two. Meetings, 
especially those of the Social Studies Club, supplemented class and field 
work. The Debate Club favored topics like "The Merits of Federal Own- 
ership of Railways." A Socialist Club (including young faculty and vil- 
lagers as well as students) met regularly at the home of Professor Hayes. 
The numbers attending were so great that, according to Geraldine Gor- 
don '00, who later bought the house and lived in it for many years, one 
entry had to be widened and an extra one built. In a 1915 Boston parade 
of suffragists, Miss Hayes was one of the Wellesley contingent, an affiliate 
of the National Equal Suffrage League, which was widely known on 
campus for its several well-attended lectures a year. 

The Service Fund Committee moved with the new century, improving 
its structure, increasing, year by year, the size of its budgets, and broad- 


ening the scope of its allotments within established classifications. The 
heading "Education" still embraced native and foreign schools, grouped 
as "white," "Negro," and "Indian," now more numerous and more widely 
scattered than before. Half of the schools for whites were located in the 
South, especially the Carolinas; most of the rest were in Montana, Wis- 
consin, and Massachusetts. All of the schools for blacks were in the Caro- 
linas and in Georgia, where a favorite of the Wellesley community, Aunt 
Dinah (i.e. Dinah W. Pace), directed the Reed Home and Industrial 
School. Aunt Dinah's spirited letters so far outdid the average appeal 
that Agora invited her to speak at one of their meetings and reacted 
strongly to her vivid descriptions of the school's ups and downs. Among 
the foreign schools, the majority were related to Wellesley's missionary 
connections in Smyrna, Constantinople, and India. Yenching College 
for Women, outside the West Gate of Peking, received its first allotment 
in 1908 and was formally adopted as Wellesley's sister-college in 1919. 
Tsuda College, in Tokyo, Japan, also became a favored recipient for 
many years. 

As social activism on campus increased, evangelism declined without 
weakening the religious life of the College. In 1913-14, the Christian 
Association, almost completely in the students' control, had 1297 mem- 
bers. Student volunteers, under the direction of faculty members, led 
Bible and Mission Study groups, and weekly meetings for worship on 
campus and in St. Andrew's Church in the village were run with great 
proficiency by student and faculty leaders. Alumnae speak nostalgically 
of the regular and special chapel services, the Christmas vespers initiated 
by President Hazard, and the inspiring preachers who "covered the col- 
lege circuit." Silver Bay conferences were carried on as usual except for 
wartime changes in subject matter and for gaps in attendance. At the 
same time, Quakers were provided a meeting place in the Observatory, 
and Roman Catholic students became affiliated as a group with the local 
parish church. 

In the prewar years the Wellesley students also did what they could 
for peace. Some of them demonstrated in parades with Veterans of For- 
eign Wars banners and posters. The whole College "made a great thing 
of Henry Ford's Peace Ship, and a procession of seniors cheered Miss 
Balch as she left to board it." From 1914 to 1917 campus groups inevi- 
tably turned from peacetime commitments to an attempt to "alleviate 
the sufferings of war." French and Belgian orphans were adopted by 
dormitories, money was raised for various relief organizations, and work- 
rooms were established for sewing, bandage making, and knitting. Ac- 
cording to Kathleen Elliott '18, "There was knitting in the classroom 
and outside the classroom (the in influenced by the effect that dropping 
needles had on the instructor)." 


World War I 

After the entrance of the United States into World War I, these activities 
were accelerated and expanded, and students who had not previously 
taken part in projects inevitably became involved in them. Miss Pendle- 
ton and the presidents of the other colleges in the Seven College Confer- 
ence and Goucher joined in a resolution sent to President Wilson in 
April 1917 pledging wholehearted support to whatever measures he 
undertook and placing at his disposal "any service which we and (as far 
as we are able to speak for them) any service which the thousands of 
trained women whom we have sent from our colleges may be able to 
render." (Ruth Altman Greene '18 wrote her mother: "President Pendle- 
ton has offered Wellesley body and soul to the country, and we are going 
to turn our green meadows into potato beds and the geranium beds into 
onion patches." The War Farm under the supervision of Professor Mar- 
garet C. Ferguson of the Botany Department that summer employed forty- 
eight students in squads of sixteen, thirteen in the field and three in the 
"back-up housekeeping groups.") The Wellesley College War Relief Or- 
ganization initially had charge of much of the volunteer work; then Miss 
Pendleton in the spring of 1918 appointed a War Council composed of six 
faculty members and five students to have general oversight of all organ- 
izations and committees for relief work and patriotic services. A Red 
Cross workroom was established in Agora Society House, and to spur the 
production of surgical dressings the juniors and sophomores held a com- 
petition which resulted in 19,600 dressings in one week. 

Two members of the faculty, Eliza Newkirk '00 of the Art Department 
and Margaret Jackson of the Italian Department, served overseas with 
Wellesley Units. (Miss Newkirk was also appointed by the Army Educa- 
tional Commission as the only woman on its architectural teaching staff; 
among her duties was touring soldiers through first Paris and then Genoa, 
pointing out buildings and objects of art.) The four Wellesley Units were 
staffed primarily by alumnae and, Kathleen Elliott has noted, "To the 
Wellesley community of World War I years, reports of their work proved 
an inspiration which led to more dedicated efforts on the campus." Of 
special interest on the campus were funds raised for the Frances Warren 
Pershing Ambulance, given in memory of the member of 1903 whose 
husband was the commanding general of the American Expeditionary 
Force; the Edith Wharton Tubercular Hospital in France; a bed at the 
American Hospital at Neuilly, France; the "soldiers' boxes" presented 
to John Masefield, who aroused great enthusiasm for English causes when 
he came several times to Wellesley to read his poetry. (On one of these 
occasions he established the John Masefield prizes for Wellesley students 
excelling in prose writing and verse.) 


Zest and spirit normally devoted to such "traditions" as the Harvard- 
Wellesley Choir Concert, May Day, Garden Party, and Senior Prom, 
which were patriotically cancelled, seem to have been transferred to fund 
raising events. Witness this account of such an affair in the spring of 
1918 as described in a letter by a senior: "Yesterday we had as beautiful 
a celebration as I've seen since I've been here. The College, which is 
raising money to back the Wellesley Relief Unit in France, gave an ex- 
hibition to the village, charging fifty cents admission. The whole college 
marched from the college green, up Central Street to the Athletic Field — 
first the flag carried by soldiers from Fort Devens, then all the college 
employees, the Freshmen and Sophomores in middies and bloomers, the 
Juniors in white and the Seniors in cap and gown. Last came the fac- 
ulty in full academic dress, their Masters and Doctors hoods of every 
color under the sun. Imagine the pageantry of it, streaming along in the 
sunlight! As they filed past us we all broke into a deafening clap and 
cheer and I wish you could have seen their faces — dear Doctor Lockwood 
with her Yale-blue doctor's hood, beloved Mary W. Calkins with her 
cap over one ear, the good old dean with a chic quirk to her hood. And 
the grand old Macdougall, gorgeous in his rose velvet music doctor's 
hood, leading the Star Spangled Banner. President Pendleton, who was 
a thing of wondrous stateliness and beauty, presented the town of Welles- 
ley with a three-hundred-starred service flag. A portly alderman accepted 
it. T^ band struck up a lively jig and we all danced on the green and ate 
ice cream cones." 

Although primary emphasis was on wartime activities, social service 
interests were by no means abandoned. Elizabeth King Morey '19 in an 
oral history interview in 1973 recalled that "There was a good deal of 
pressure put on us to go to Denison House. I had a little bunch of Greek 
children. I knew less about little Greek children than anybody living 
could possibly know. I had them all out for a picnic and they all went 
swimming in Longfellow Pond." She also remembered the importance of 
"helping the labor movement" by wearing only underwear with the 
union label — and finding it so coarse and crude that she "spent loads of 
time putting fancy lace and ribbons on it." But, she added, "The real 
social conscience in our class was not in my group but in other people 
who were and have continued to be identified with movements and 
organizations." In these years of war work, the motto was recognized as a 
major influence, according to alumnae of that era. 

The Twenties 

After the war, however rapidly Wellesley mores may have changed in the 
Jazz Age, for social activists the doctrines inculcated during the Pro- 
gressive Era still formed a sound basis for protests against newly power- 


ful enemies of the people: racism, at its worst in the Ku Klux Klan; fun- 
damentalism as it was exhibited in the Scopes trial; restriction of immi- 
gration; anti-intellectualism. The College was not alarmed by William 
Jennings Bryan's claim that it was a dangerous place because of the 
teaching of the Bible Department. Nor was it daunted by taunts flung at 
it during the Sacco and Vanzetti trial in Dedham. Accused of radicalism, 
students and faculty alike went to the hearings; the students sent a peti- 
tion to the Governor of Massachusetts, asking that justice be done, and 
in 1926, at the age of seventy-six, Miss Hayes made another of "her ap- 
pearances in the headlines" by picketing against the execution, as Miss 
Scudder said, "of those martyred men, condemned not for murder for for 
being alien." 

Among innovations that promised well for their developing social 
consciousness, the freshmen's establishment of a Service Council in 
1922-23 stands out. With seniors as their counselors, they not only fol- 
lowed the traditional lines of work in Boston settlement houses and the 
Wellesley Convalescent Home for Children but branched out into the 
North Bennet Industrial School, the Institute for the Blind, Boston dis- 
pensaries, and — to learn about case work — the Boston Society for the 
Care of Girls. Some Christian Association officers of the same generation 
at Professor Sophie Hart's suggestion inaugurated a social and educa- 
tional Cosmopolitan Club. Each foreign member had an American sister. 
Harvard and M.I.T. students were invited to some of the meetings, add- 
ing greatly to the Club's popularity. Agora, true to its socio-political aims, 
surpassed itself in the '20s by its work toward the development of har- 
mony among children of the neighboring schools. Profiting by discussions 
of their plans with Hunnewell School teachers and with boys and girls 
from Grades 4, 5, and 6, some of them immigrants, they decided on 
themes for a series of plays, all related to citizenship. Illustrative "field 
work" consisted of excursions, three times a year, in and around Boston. 
Junior and senior high school classes were brought to the campus for 
pleasure and "indoctrination" — they were proud of the word. In 1923-24, 
the basic program for this age group was reshaped, its climax a crowded 
meeting in Alumnae Hall where pupils illustrated Negro contributions 
to American culture through skits, music, painting, and modeling. 

Immediately after the war, the College had set about modernizing the 
Christian Association. To begin with, in the words of Barbara Kruger 
Way '23, "a sort of offspring . . . escaped from the protecting wings 
of the parent organization" to join an Intercollegiate Community Service 
Organization. In her senior year she was president not only of the Welles- 
ley branch but also of the combined Eastern women's colleges, eighteen 
in all. Government of the association was entirely in student hands. Mrs. 
Way remembers that, together with outstanding social workers and teach- 


ers, she spoke at meetings in New York and Washington and had as her 
individual assignment visiting a Lithuanian family every week to teach 
them "enough English to get needed supplies and to communicate with 
the doctor who took care of their crippled child." The group as a whole 
worked so faithfully in three settlement houses (Denison, Hale, and 
South End) and in Chinatown that they began to feel worthy of course- 

The Christian Association, meanwhile, was busy responding to com- 
plaints. One, often heard, objected to the pledge, which was therefore 
abandoned. Others were accompanied by directives toward moving "from 
piety to dynamic living." Midweek services, decried as "ineffectual and 
uninteresting," were replaced with fewer, more "relevant," and better- 
attended meetings. Small groups, some short-lived, were formed: de- 
nominational clubs, early-morning meditation groups, and a Round 
Table of faculty and students that was apparently close kin to the "rap" 
sessions of the 1960s and 1970s. Complaints of "too little student partici- 
pation in the chapel services" were met by providing more speakers from 
outside the ministry, giving over some services to carol-singing, and ener- 
gizing the daily meetings. Carolyn Battel Lyon '28 recently described the 
religious base of it all as "very liberal." Harry Emerson Fosdick's preach- 
ing of his social gospel at Christmas vespers was one of her "most dra- 
matic memories" and "an experience symbolic of the spirit of the whole 
place at the time." 

Susan Shepherd Sweezy '29 not long ago wrote an appreciative account 
of the Christian Association activities in which she was most interested — 
those "with Christian motivation although the general tone, especially in 
the Student Industrial Committee, was one of sociological sharing and 
challenging of each other." Inspired by the motto, she wrote editorials 
for the News, "attacking the 'soft' life of the College." As a freshman, 
she helped to promote mutual understanding with women shoe workers 
in Brockton through an exchange of over-night and weekend visits, join- 
ing in games, and holding conferences. The following summer, at the 
Silver Bay Conference, where "there were talks about everything from 
brotherhood to sex," she listened spellbound to two leaders whose ideas 
"were stirring up the colleges" — William Simpson and Frank Buchman, 
head of the Oxford Movement, later known as Moral Rearmament. Their 
practical interpretation of Jesus' and St. Francis' teachings was supple- 
mented for her by Bible courses and by friendly talks with Miss Scudder, 
Henry R. Mussey and Elizabeth Donnan of the Economics Department, 
and Annie K. Tuell of the English Department. 

Zella Wheeler Nichols, also '29, noted that Wellesley's horizons were 
steadily widening, perhaps most perceptibly in the territory of the Chris- 
tian Association and its closely allied Service Fund. Through its affilia- 


tion with the YWCA, the Wellesley Association had become a member 
of, and contributor to, the National Student Christian movements in 
forty-five countries. The interests of the Service Fund, both nationally 
and abroad, were constantly being extended by Christian Association's 
World Fellowship Committee. Together they responded to "appeals for 
relief which no college girl wished to slight." 

With the expansion of their projects both organizations took on a most 
businesslike air. In a typical year, 1925, the Service Fund News Extra, 
published in the opening week of college, included reports on the previ- 
ous year and budgets for the new year, articles by alumnae and under- 
graduates who knew and respected some of the applicants, and letters 
from "characters" like Aunt Dinah, whose story was centered on crops 
"all parched over" and, more happily, on boll-weevils that "didn't trouble 
the cotton" one mite. The Sunday morning collection in chapel belonged 
by tradition to the C. A. Central Committee. In 1925 it was turned over 
to a Japanese Relief Fund for the earthquake-devastated island of Hon- 
shu. Chapel talks, occasional flyers (some on the subject of unpaid 
pledges), and the Alumnae Magazine kept alive the subject of giving. 

Religious, humanitarian, and educational aims were becoming less 
and less separable as guides to the allocation of funds. The C. A. Com- 
mittees on World Fellowship and Foreign Education and the Service 
Fund Committee were in general similarly motivated. C. A. had mis- 
sionary obligations of long standing such as the Women's Board of Mis- 
sions, the Student Volunteers, the Movement of Foreign Missions, and 
the salaries of individual missionaries like Dr. Ruth Hume '97, a surgeon 
at the American Marathi Mission Hospital in Abednegar, India. (In 
1925, Dr. Hume also received $700 to replace her balky Ford, "Ellen 
Fitz," itself a replacement for a team of oxen, with "Ellen Fitz II.") The 
medical profession appeared on the lists in various contexts: for example, 
the International Grenfell Mission, the Chinese Mission of New England, 
a Mission to the Lepers (devoted to discovery of a cure), a local Com- 
munity Health Association. Among educational institutions given allot- 
ments, many were becoming obligations, if they were not so already: 
Piedmont College, Atlanta University (for blacks only), settlement schools 
(Hindman and Pine Mountain, for example), the Bryn Mawr Summer 
School for Women Workers in Industry, a girls' school in Spain and an 
International Institute for Girls (the only place in Spain offering college 
education to women) — and so on around the world. 

The Service Fund Committee's recommendations leaned a bit more 
than those of the Christian Association toward the causes of American 
Indians, Negroes, immigrant and migrant communities — without ignoring 
the needs of "suffering lands" abroad, including Serbia, Armenia, Smyrna, 
the Near East, and Central Europe. To Tsuda College in Tokyo, it allot- 


ted not only a substantial gift to speed its recovery from the earthquake 
of 1923 but also a scholarship fund to support a teacher of English. In 
1925, the teacher was Yoshi Kasuya '23, later President of the College. 
One of the Committee's responses to the calamities of war was its financ- 
ing of care for French orphans in private homes. 

Another kind of Service Fund giving was really an exchange of service 
for valuable experience. Ida Craven Merriam '25 was one of a succession 
of Wellesley students to serve as an assistant teacher in the Bryn Mawr 
Summer School for Working Women in Industry. She found everything 
in the school exciting but "most exciting of all, the exceptional and 
unusual persons — adventurous, independent, and with qualities of lead- 
ership." The student neophytes learned, to their surprise, that "the labor- 
ing 'class' is not a homogeneous group." The largest allotment of 1927, 
$5000 to Yenching College, covered the salary of a visiting professor, Jane 
Newell of Wellesley's Sociology Department, and much rebuilding and 
modernizing of the campus as well. 

The Depression Years 

Only two years later, in 1929, "the Crash" put an end to a sharply de- 
fined, open-handed, era. The depression that followed was unprecedented 
in length. The Nation thought that colleges and universities were in 
danger of a reaction from "frivolity toward insipid, smug sobriety." For- 
tunately, neither of these extremes applied to Wellesley, where austerity 
and common sense had the upper hand throughout the period. 

Alumnae of the depression years, as many and as unified in spirit as 
respondents of the twenties, agree that they felt singularly fortunate 
though relatively poor. They volunteered for service in campus organiza- 
tions, accepting leadership however burdensome it might be. And in try- 
ing to find the best means of turning thought into action, they "re-invigo- 
rated their social thinking." The Christian Association and Service Fund 
Committees faced staggering lists of requests for help, all valid but, as a 
whole, impossible to meet. They had to break many precedents and some 
rules such as an early agreement that none of the Service Fund should go 
to a campus organization. In 1931-32, $500 went to Students' Aid. The 
Christian Association reduced more drastically than in the 1920s its al- 
lotments to evangelical causes, at the same time valuing its obligations 
to Yenching and to Dr. Hume as almost equal to the emergencies of Un- 
employment Relief and Social Service in the United States. In 1932-33, 
unemployment relief became the business of a separate committee, sup- 
ported by advice from the Service Fund Committee. And the lists of 
emergencies of all sorts grew and grew, taking in, for example, the schools 
of Wellesley, Natick, and Framingham and also Natick's own Relief 


Committee. The usual Boston allotments were curtailed to allow for 
help to the Massachusetts Emergency Committee on Unemployment and 
to the American Friends' Service Committee. The Wellesley Relief Com- 
mittee especially favored Lawrence among the state's industrial cities, 
but its greatest undertaking, as the Springfield Republican put it in 1933, 
was "the adoption" of Millville, a factory town near the Rhode Island 

With its factories closed, its town government in disarray, and state aid 
nominal at the start, Millville would have been altogether helpless if its 
unpaid teachers had not been models of charity and of patience against 
all odds. To back them up, Wellesley furnished a clinic, school meals, 
and vegetable gardens, and also tried to meet individual needs that the 
student committee and two faculty advisers discovered during frequent 
visits until well into the 1940s. At Christmas, there was much industrious 
campus knitting (and re-knitting by experts before delivery), dressing of 
dolls, and collection of games, candy, and clothes for distribution at a 
school party — all families and teachers invited, as well as the town steer- 
ing committee. In its third year, the Unemployment Committee could 
budget for the town only two-thirds of its earlier allotments, but a State 
Commission kept its promise to pay for a Public Health nurse if the Col- 
lege went on with such contributions as it could afford. Year after year, 
the students could watch encouraging changes: employment restored 
with some W.P.A. assistance; some rebuilding, though not enough to 
meet hygienic standards; increasing health education; better school 
lunches, thanks to help from the Kellogg Foundation. 

In 1935 and 1936, the New Deal's creative years, an end to the De- 
pression began to seem possible. Yet there was no decrease in the number 
of decisions that faced the Unemployment Relief Committee. New ar- 
rivals in the budget included the Works Progress Nursery School in 
Wellesley, Red Cross Relief in Cochituate, an Anthracite Coal Area Com- 
mittee. (Elizabeth Sickler '37 wrote after a summer in Pennsylvania about 
the miners' families trying to keep warm on pickings from the slag- 
heaps.) The Church World Service Committee was just as urgent in its 
appeals on behalf of child laborers and of a migrant community of crop- 
pickers from eight states made barren by dust-storms. The World Student 
Christian Federation was one of the obligations that had to be dropped, 
to be taken up again in better times. 

In and outside classrooms, upheavals in the capital-labor relationship, 
poverty, welfare, and the New Deal were the subjects most discussed dur- 
ing a good share of the 1930s, according to alumnae whose careers were 
founded on these concerns. Wilma Dubin Marlow '38 mentioned, as es- 
pecially influential teachers, Professors Mary Treudley of the Sociology 
Department. Seal Thompson of the Bible Department (expressing her 


belief in the one-ness of men), and Marion Stark of the Mathematics De- 
partment, who was a "power-house" in the Service Fund's management. 
Then, as the decade neared its end, the Christian Association, Forum, 
Agora, and informal gatherings of students and faculty were speaking 
for world peace above all else. Forum was by then an all-college organiza- 
tion, in a position to stir into action more followers than its predecessors 
(the Liberal Club and the International Relations Club) had inspired. 
Among the optimists there were many whose faith that peace could be 
preserved outlived the time when the United States began to provide 
England and France with the materials of war. The Christian Association 
was the last to give up hope. 

Throughout the troubled years the students added to their personal 
services a variety of projects patterned on traditional lines and unrelated 
to the Depression. In Boston they took on extra work: the Floating Hos- 
pital for Children, for instance, and the placement section of the Chil- 
dren's Aid Association. Also, there was always apprentice work to be done 
for Service Fund recipients such as the Grenfell Mission in Newfound- 
land, the Reformatory for Girls in Sleighton, Pennsylvania, New York 
settlement houses, children's camps, and the School for Women Workers 
in Industry, which had been transplanted from Bryn Mawr to the Hudson 
Shore. They attended as many conferences as possible, two lucky ones 
going to a meeting of the World Student Union Federation in Switzer- 

But the most rewarding of the summer meetings must surely have been 
those held on the Wellesley campus: the Institute of International Rela- 
tions (1931), and the Institute for Social Progress, founded by alumnae 
in 1933. The Institute of International Relations drew representatives of 
all ages from all walks of life: "clergy, missionaries, farmers, bankers, set- 
tlement youth, economists," all eager to "study the Good Life of religion, 
honest skepticism, economics, and political points of view . . . Anti- 
Nazi Germany, Italian Fascism, China, Japan, Southern sharecroppers, 
leaders of corporate industry, the negro race, organized labor . . . social 
work ... all instruments to fend off another war." The Summer Insti- 
tute for Social Progress followed a single line of questioning: "What Are 
the Fundamentals of Good Social Order and How Are They To Be Real- 
ized?" It was founded with the understanding that it would be self-sup- 
porting. Professor Mussey of the Department of Economics aroused the 
interest of his students in the venture, and Professor Katharine Balder- 
ston '16, of the English Department, was an alumna member of the found- 
ing committee. Dorothy Hill '15 was the director of the institute, whose 
topic for the first year was "The Direction and Control of Our Economic 

The first time Massachusetts colleges were confronted by a loyalty oath 


was in the fall of 1935, and, as would be true some twenty years later 
when a similar situation arose, Wellesley was in the forefront of institu- 
tions expressing opposition. The General Court had passed the preceding 
spring a bill requiring teachers to take an "oath of affirmation" to the 
Constitutions of the United States and the Commonwealth. When the 
Commissioner of Education notified the College that the "oath slips" 
must be filed before December 1, "the widespread feeling of the college 
community . . . was expressed in a written protest signed by one hun- 
dred and forty-nine members of the faculty and sent with the oath slips 
to the Commissioner," according to the President's Report for the year. 
Moreover, "A motion to send a second protest was passed unanimously 
on February 27 at a meeting of the Academic Council. At the hearings 
which were subsequently held at the State House, the President and 
representatives of the faculty, together with officers of neighboring institu- 
tions, appeared and spoke against the bill requiring the oath." The pro- 
test, which was prepared by Professor Edward E. Curtis of the History 
Department, began by stating, "We feel that the requirement of the oath 
is an unwarranted reflection on the patriotism of the teachers of the Com- 
monwealth," and concluded: "We concur with President Conant of Har- 
vard University in regarding the oath as 'unnecessary, unwise, and un- 
fortunate' and we advocate the immediate repeal of the law." President 
Pendleton pointed out that its passage had been a "depressing effect of a 
national malady, the Red Scare," to which the College was almost en- 
tirely immune. 

World War II 

In 1939, with war clouds on the horizon, Legenda, with the Non Minis- 
trari motto decorating its parchment fly-leaf, gave considerable space to 
Christian Association's reminders of opportunities to "become sensitive 
to life's significance through worship, thoughtful discussion, and purpose- 
ful activities." This yearbook indicates that even the tea parties were 
centers for talking about the unemployed, the plight of prisoners, the 
oppressed minorities in Germany, Spain, and China. 

The mood of the college community and the attitude of students to- 
ward the issues raised by the war which had broken out were expressed 
by Miss McAfee in her President's Report for 1939-40: "Students all over 
the United States were criticized in the spring of 1940 for their skepti- 
cism and apathy in regard to the European and Oriental situations. It is 
true that many undergraduates found it difficult to readjust their think- 
ing from a strong anti-war basis to an assumption that some things are 
worse than war. There was no exuberant rush toward involvement in the 
war across the seas, and there were undoubtedly some students who were 


carelessly unresponsive to the challenge of the war conditions. On the 
other hand, there was a vigorous group of highly sensitive and intelligent 
students who were tremendously concerned about their relations to the 
fast-moving events abroad. . . ." She could also point to the fact that 
when, shortly before Commencement, announcement was made that the 
College had offered the use of its campus and buildings as a temporary 
shelter for refugee children, and students were invited to volunteer to 
return if they were needed, within twenty-four hours almost four hun- 
dred students submitted application forms. (Actually, it was the following 
year that the College entertained for the summer months a group of 
British children, with student volunteers assisting in their care and recre- 
ational programs.) Another indication of the desire to aid refugees was 
the Faculty Fund for Dispossessed Scholars, which in 1939-40, for ex- 
ample, made possible visits for short periods by seven foreign scholars 
and for longer periods by two others. 

A Committee on the National Emergency was established in the sum- 
mer of 1940 to act as a coordinating agency for the many kinds of activi- 
ties which developed. Its report issued in May 1941 stated that the part 
of its program which is "educational in nature has been the logical out- 
growth of a desire for correct information in an intelligent group; on the 
other hand, various activities have resulted from the demands for both 
social and relief work, most of which have also had important educa- 
tional aspects." Sewing and knitting produced in a workroom for war 
relief, and money raised through Service Fund, resulted in substantial 
contributions to the American Red Cross, British War Relief Society, 
China Relief, Greek War Relief Association, and the YWCA and the 
American Friends Service Committee for relief work in France. 

Then on December 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. At a 
crowded chapel service the following morning, President McAfee urged 
the avoidance, on everyone's part, of hatred. The Christian Association 
registered its "deep compassion for [the nation's] enemy." The News 
declared editorially, "As war news swept over the campus suddenly a 
generation of adolescents passed into maturity. A generation who were 
previously seeking to find themselves stood ready to receive responsi- 

Kathleen Elliott '18, an undergraduate in World War I and an ad- 
ministrative officer of the College in World War II, has said: "Many of 
our activities on the campus were the same in both wars. We once more 
had workrooms for sewing and surgical dressings, and knitting needles 
clicked once more." Again, most students and faculty took part in proj- 
ects, this time including gardening, Air Raid Protection, USO, farming, 
ground maintenance, and donation of blood. In the WAFEE (Wellesley 
Auxiliary for Extra Energy) five hours in the workroom made one an 


ensign, ten a lieutenant. (Navy terminology was part of the Wellesley 
idiom; after all, President McAfee was granted leave to become the Di- 
rector of the WAVES, and on the campus the Navy Supply Corps trained 
officers who slept in double-decker bunks in Cazenove and Pomeroy Halls, 
had a galley and mess hall in Alumnae Hall, and marched to classes in 
parts of the Recreation Building and Mary Hemenway Hall.) Some of 
the usual program of social work continued, and there were such new 
activities as dances for enlisted men in the Recreation Building and en- 
tertainments provided for die soldiers stationed at Camp Devens. In a 
less organized fashion the students also helped to entertain the Supply 
Corps midshipmen; the men's free time was usually restricted to a few 
minutes after dinner, and the Wellesley girls sometimes walked them 
back to their dormitories in time for them to start classes again at 7:30 
in the evening. The officer in charge, Commander Ernest C. Collins, 
USN, was the husband of a Wellesley alumna and was as cooperative as 
possible, according to Dean Lucy Wilson. She recalled in an oral history 
interview that when he "found that the students thought that the men 
were pretty aged, the next group was younger, much younger. Then the 
word from the Wellesley undergraduates was, 'Well, perhaps they would 
be of interest to the freshmen and sophomores, but certainly not to the 
seniors.' Ultimately the ages in the different groups were fairly well 
spread, and I think that a few romances developed, but not many." And 
in a similar interview Mildred McAfee Horton chuckled over the sudden 
coolness she experienced on her first visit to the campus after the arrival 
of the Supply Corps. She said, "I couldn't put my finger on the cause of 
the coolness until finally someone came and asked me why I had arranged 
that all of these men should be married. I was very much amused because 
of course I had had absolutely nothing to do with the assignment of any- 
body for anything, and that they thought I could run it that way from 
Washington was very flattering to me — but pretty silly!" 

Virginia Beach Hoyt '47 commented, "The war helped us to focus out- 
ward to the world," and so said one Forum president after another. A 
chapter of the United World Federation was founded, and a two-day 
conference of eighteen colleges was held on International Service, with 
Eleanor Roosevelt as the keynote speaker. (Topics centered on the impact 
of war on Life, the Pocketbook, Freedom of Speech, and the Job.) In the 
President's Report for 1943-44 Captain McAfee declared: "If there was 
ever a cloistered life on the campus, the war has certainly altered it." 
Among "expanding community relations" she noted the Sociology De- 
partment's cooperation "in a survey on problems of ethnic relationship 
for the Cambridge Community Council" and its "important interviewing 
in Wellesley for the Committee on Food Habits of the National Research 
Council"; solar observations for war use made by the Astronomy Depart- 


ment; plans to hold in the summer of 1944 the Wellesley School of Com- 
munity Affairs "to work on questions of intercultural relations within the 
American community under the direction of Dr. Margaret Mead"; the 
establishment of the Wellesley Reconstruction Work School, which she 
termed "an elaborate name for an important effort to meet a labor short- 
age in the neighborhood while introducing students to farm and factory 
work during the vacation." 

The Mayling Soong Foundation had been established in 1942 in honor 
of Madame Chiang Kai-shek at the time of her twenty-fifth reunion "to 
interpret China and the other nations of the East to American college 
students," and in 1943-44 Madame Chiang contributed $25,000 to it 
and alumnae $42,100. In March 1943, shortly before Madame Chiang 
addressed a joint session of the Houses of Congress, she made a historic, 
truly legendary visit to the campus. Her radio address from Alumnae Hall 
was carried all over the world. 

The Service Fund Committee raised $15,471, of which $7,500 was allo- 
cated to war relief through the Committee on War Activities. With 
Forum that committee sponsored a series of lectures on postwar recon- 
struction. It also collected clothes for European relief, conducted paper 
salvage drives, continued to supervise the workroom for knitting, sew- 
ing, and surgical dressings, and participated in two war loan drives which 
resulted in the sale of bonds and stamps totaling more than $100,000. By 
selling war stamps for admission to the Faculty Show, "The Thing Is the 
Play," the faculty added $1,445 to the effort of the Committee on War 

Some students prepared to serve after graduation with the Red Cross or 
the armed forces, and a considerable number of the younger members of 
the faculty and maintenance staffs entered the Army, Navy, and Marine 
Corps. As had been true in World War I, some members of the Academic 
Council used their professional expertise for the "war effort": Dr. Marion 
Loizeau was on the staff of the English Hospital of the British Emergency 
Medical Services; E. Elizabeth Jones of the Zoology Department partici- 
pated in a secret war project at the Harvard Medical School; M. Mar- 
garet Ball of the Political Science Department worked with the State De- 
partment on various assignments. Not closely related to her discipline, 
Biblical History, was the work of Louise Pettibone Smith, who spent 
much of a sabbatical leave with a unit of the Greek War Relief, six 
months of the time at a Greek refugee camp in the Gaza Strip where 
she was in charge of a surgical ward. Gwenyth Rhome and I were among 
the people who combined with our usual occupations totally unfamiliar 
chores on the three to eleven shift at a factory in Waltham. 

Ann Campbell Campbell '43 perhaps summarized well the views of her 
contemporaries when she wrote: "We were thoroughly immersed in the 


war, and whether fund-raising, helping to entertain servicemen, or sup- 
porting our own particular men, we felt we very much lived out the 
motto. No gasoline for pleasure, an oil-short winter, limitations on meat 
etc. reinforced our belief that we were serving others, not ourselves." 

Post- War Years 

After the war, all over the world people were making radical adjustments 
in their own lives and were examining freshly every aspect of society. On 
the campus the organization which received the most searching reap- 
praisal was Christian Association. A faculty-student committee under the 
chairmanship of Herbert M. Gale of the Biblical History Department 
devoted a year to carrying out the mandate of C. A.'s Board to "study 
the place of that organization in the life of the College." President Hor- 
ton stated in her Report for 1947-48 that the committee proposed "estab- 
lishment of the Wellesley College Community Chapel which shall be 
administered by a joint board of faculty and students, together with the 
organization of a Service Organization. The thought is that each of these 
agencies shall be the official body for organizing those aspects of the 
community which will have to do with worship and with social service so 
that the College will function institutionally without obligating indi- 
viduals to commit themselves to creedal statements in the area of Chris- 
tian worship." Action was taken on the proposal the following year, and 
Miss Clapp in 1949-50 reported: "This has been the first complete year 
of the Community Chapel and of the Service Organization. The latter 
has flourished, having a clear-cut program of action. The former has 
gone through tribulations in efforts to define itself and to develop areas 
in which its influence could be manifest, and there is some concern lest 
the separation of the two functions will make less evident on this campus 
the religious motivation from which have stemmed most acts of brother- 
hood throughout history." The Chapel Organization continued to ex- 
perience "tribulations"; in her President's Report for 1950-53 Miss Clapp 
commented that "it was still adjusting to its new role in 1950-51. Gradu- 
ally it has gained assurance and competence. Religious clubs representing 
various denominations and faiths operate under its aegis, while the Board, 
composed of student and faculty representatives and a new, continuing 
administrative officer, a Director of Chapel [Carol M. Roehm '22], plans 
daily and Sunday Chapel services, forums, and study and discussion 
groups within the framework of the religious tradition of the College." 
The Worship Committee of faculty and students planned formal services 
along traditional lines and also such special services as "may be desired 
by a contemporary generation." The plan for weekday services, other 
than those led by President Clapp and some faculty members, was to 


select fifty or sixty students who were free to replace Bible readings with 
"talks." The talks turned out, generally, to be "rich, sincere, broad" in 
approach. The new method of choosing Sunday preachers was painstak- 
ing. The Committee sifted first the suggestions, and then the votes, of 
the community and finally produced a slate of "thirty to fifty winners." 

Then in 1959 a three-year experiment undertaken with the support of 
a grant from the Danforth Foundation provided for the appointment as 
Dean of the Chapel of Charles A. M. Hall, a young member of the Bib- 
lical History Department who was a Presbyterian minister. The purpose 
was twofold: "to discover whether the Sunday service would have more 
meaning for larger numbers" if he gave some continuity to it by regu- 
larly conducting part of the service while distinguished visiting clergymen 
usually continued to preach the sermons; to have someone responsible 
for giving advice to Chapel Organization if its members wished help in 
planning its programs. In 1962 Fred Denbeaux, Professor of Biblical 
Studies, was appointed Chairman of the Board of Preachers and had 
charge of arranging the Sunday services, but the Director of Residence 
or the Dean of Students assisted the Chapel Board in obtaining speakers 
for other occasions. Chapel Organization as an "umbrella" fell apart with 
increasing rapidity during the 1960s; denominational and other "splinter 
organizations" such as the Radical Christian Movement assumed greater 
importance than the overall structure. Agitation for the appointment of a 
chaplain intensified at about the same time, and in 1968-69 the Reverend 
Paul Santmire, already adviser to the Lutheran students on campus, 
agreed to assume the responsibility. Mrs. Chaplin in the chapter on the 
students describes the changing interests and emphases in the late 1960s 
and early 1970s which led to the "decline and fall" of a number of or- 
ganizations including the Community Chapel. 

For a good many years after World War II, however, and even when 
Chapel Organization took over some of Christian Association's functions 
and Service Organization its other activities, the venerable Religious 
Forum and the more recent Interfaith Forum were held almost every 
year. The prototype of Religious Forum probably was the program called 
"Vesper Services," which was conducted for twelve days in 1910-11 by 
Eliza Hall Kendrick of the Bible Department, Katharine Lee Bates of the 
English Department, and ministers from Philadelphia and Boston. The 
twelve days may have seemed excessive to students and faculty alike; in 
any event, nothing of the kind was held again until the "Week of Prayer" 
in 1914-15. Under various names and for varying lengths of time (usually 
from two to four days), and often near the beginning of the second se- 
mester, a forum was held at which a well-known theologian, who was 
almost always liberal and sometimes "controversial," lectured and held 
discussions. Occasionally a Jew or a Catholic but ordinarily a Protestant 



was selected. On the other hand, when Interfaith Forum came into being 
in the early 1940s, representatives of the Protestant, Roman Catholic, 
and Jewish faiths, and sometimes a humanist or an agnostic, appeared on 
the same platform. This event usually was confined to one session in the 
fall and in it, as in the "Vesper Services" in 1910, Wellesley faculty mem- 
bers occasionally took part. 

Increasing emphasis on interfaith activities in the 1950s is attested by 
statements from two presidents of Chapel. Janet Ayres Coles '55 wrote: 
"On campus much time was spent on interfaith activities and there was 
an effort to de-emphasize the Protestant Christian tradition so clearly 
stated by Mr. Durant. We were concerned with the beliefs of all students 
and sought ways to share them." Carolyn Friend Erickson '59 remem- 
bered that the emphasis "was definitely to keep activities not only inter- 
denominational, but also interfaith (with the exception of the worship 
services themselves, which were of course of Christian orientation)." And 
Mrs. Coles added, "I really think Service Organization was the social con- 
science of the students, though some may have been awakened by Chapel 
to realize a need for service." 

Service Organization certainly provided the principal focus for the 
philanthropic and social service interests of students from the time it was 
established in 1948 until the mid-1960s. It absorbed Service Fund's role 
of raising money for charitable purposes and disbursing it wisely after 
careful study of the uses to which it would be put. For example, Eliza- 
beth Kinney Johnson, president in 1965, told of her Allocations Commit- 
tee which had three subgroups — educational, American, and world — 
which collected information and made recommendations. (It especially 
liked "unique projects" such as giving a heifer to a family with a low 
income and having the first calf passed on to another needy family, and 
the American Women's Hospital's program to improve the status of 
women in medicine and to prevent illness.) With its yearly budget, some- 
times as much as $16,000, S. O. supported children through the Foster 
Parents Plan, contributed to educational institutions in various parts of 
the world, sent wheat to India, money to the Netherlands for flood re- 
lief, food to Arab refugees in Palestine, and supported a wide range of 
other causes at home and abroad. 

The other function of S. O. was to arrange opportunities for volun- 
teers. Work continued in settlement houses, with the Bloodmobile, and 
in some of the other long-standing projects, and the number of students 
working in hospitals increased notably as the kinds of possibilities for 
service expanded. In the Boston Psychiatric Hospital, for instance, stu- 
dents were able to learn simple occupational therapy, and mental hos- 
pitals provided a large array of opportunities. Students were among the 
early volunteers in doing sound-scribing for the blind, and they also 


devoted many hours to the children at the Perkins Institute for the Blind. 
During S. O.'s later years there were a good many tutoring programs, 
especially in Roxbury (and a dozen or more other campus organizations 
also had such programs). Transportation was, however, a major problem; 
it was more difficult to reach settlement houses by train or bus than it 
had been in the earlier days of the College. 

On the campus there was during the second semester of 1956-57 a spe- 
cial project in which nearly all of the members of the college community 
participated in one way or another. This was a program, the first of its 
kind in a women's college, for ten Hungarian refugees who had managed 
to escape following the Communist takeover of their country. The pur- 
pose was to teach them enough English and to acquaint them sufficiently 
with life in this country and, in particular, its educational institutions so 
that they could be admitted to regular classes in a variety of schools and 
colleges. In charge of the program was Carol M. Roehm '22, who at that 
time was the Foreign Student Adviser and who had been the Director of 
the Wellesley Institute for Foreign Students which in the summer of 
1946 had pioneered in teaching students with a variety of language back- 
grounds. The Trustees provided room and board in Dower House, as well 
as tuition, for the Hungarians. Money for books and "extras," except for 
clothes which the Students' Aid Society supplied, was earned by under- 
graduates, who organized a "work weekend" and cleaned, cooked, and 
shoveled snow for townspeople. Wellesley students conducted regular 
practice sessions in spoken English as adjuncts to the classes given by 
faculty members. Three Hungarian-born undergraduates were invaluable 
as interpreters. 

In the 1950s college students in the United States were being cate- 
gorized as the "silent generation" in an Age of Anxiety, to use W. H. 
Auden's term. One Wellesley alumna of that period in responding to 
questions about the temper of her time said that the community was in- 
deed inactive, "afraid of becoming involved"; another believed that she 
and her friends were simply "apathetic," quietly in line with their "se- 
curity-conscious generation, each in her own track to 'success' whatever 
that might be"; still another felt that "people tend to forget that there 
was always an active and concerned group." Certainly there was in gen- 
eral considerable hesitation about supporting or signing petitions of 
unknown organizations during the years 1950 to 1954 when Joseph R. 
McCarthy flourished as Chairman of the Permanent Senate Subcommittee 
on Investigation. On Miss Clapp's suggestion, members of the Political 
Science Department cooperated with individual students and student 
groups in providing information about outside organizations and in 
helping students draft petitions which they sent to their Congressmen 
and Senators under their own aegis. 


One faculty member who had no hesitation about being associated with 
all manner of organizations was Louise Pettibone Smith, Professor of 
Biblical History. She had been in Germany soon after Hitler came into 
power and she was impressed by the fact that people she "had known for 
some years, liked and trusted as individuals," were "unconsciously accept- 
ing" Hitler's propaganda. She thought that she detected a similar re- 
sponse on the part of friends here to McCarthyism, and, she said, "I 
realized that I had never taken any responsibility for my liberal ideas." 
Thereupon, as she stated in an oral history interview, "I signed every- 
thing for months unless I definitely disagreed with it. Once you've started 
signing, they pass names around, and a couple of months later I was 
asked to be on the sponsor list for the American Committee for the Pro- 
tection of the Foreign Born." By the time that the Jenner Committee 
was investigating subversive influences in New England colleges, Miss 
Smith was the chairman of the organization and was summoned to testify. 
In an oral history interview, Miss Clapp said that when she learned of 
the plans of the Jenner Committee to come to the Boston area, she ex- 
pressed to some of the trustees her wish that faculty members who were 
puzzled about their rights and what they should do if they were called 
could obtain "an impartial, straight statement of 'If you do this, this 
will follow, and so on.' judge Charles Cabot said he'd be glad to help if 
he could in any way. The only case that ever came up was Louise." 

According to Miss Smith, as soon as she received the subpoena and 
informed the President, "Miss Clapp promptly got one of the members 
of the Board of Trustees, who was a noted Boston lawyer, to come out 
to Wellesley. We had an appointment at her house where he told me 
exactly what my rights were before such an investigating committee. And 
then I went to the interview — which was rather fun, as a matter of fact, 
since I knew the College was behind me." She said that she and a Har- 
vard professor "were perfectly content because we both had our institu- 
tions behind us, but it was terribly hard for a number of people who 
didn't have that kind of support." When she was asked whether she knew 
that the American Committee for the Foreign Born was on the Attorney 
General's list of subversive organizations, she replied: " 'I had been told 
so, but I didn't know it.' They said, 'Well, it is; if you did know it, would 
it have made a difference?' This was a committee chaired by a Repub- 
lican. I looked at him and I said, 'I don't think so. I am sixty-five years 
old.' (This was my last year at Wellesley.) 'I think I trust my judgment 
more than Tom Clark's.' And of course that went down very well with 
the Republicans, and then I said that I had never joined any organization 
which I considered to be subversive. And they said, 'That's all right, 
that's all we want. Good-bye.' " Miss Smith added: "The subpoena from 
the Jenner Committee forced a short-notice cut for my classes, and of 


course the hearings had received large newspaper headlines. Some of the 
Bible majors drew the correct inference, verified their conclusion in the 
department office, and then canvassed the student body. I happened to be 
leading chapel later in the week. When I came in, the chapel was com- 
pletely full. (There were usually a hundred or so present.) If Miss Clapp 
had not had the wisdom to give me a warning beforehand that this would 
happen, I don't think I could have kept my voice steady." 

In an oral history interview Miss Clapp recalled a statement she es- 
pecially liked that Miss Smith had made to her after the hearing: "The 
reason I answered their questions was that all my non-Communist friends 
said, 'Well, you'll have to do what you think is right,' and all my Com- 
munist friends said, 'Don't answer their questions.' Nobody's going to 
tell me what to do!" 

The other issue concerning civil liberties which affected Wellesley and 
other educational institutions in the 1950s was the disclaimer affidavit 
included in the National Defense Education Act of 1958. Wellesley did 
not apply for federal loan funds in the five-year period when the dis- 
claimer affidavit was a prerequisite for obtaining them. Miss Clapp ex- 
plained the reason for Wellesley's opposition in a statement that was 
widely publicized and served as a model for some other colleges: "The 
Academic Council and the Board of Trustees believe that it is improper 
for this College, which urges inexperienced students to search zealously 
and freely for truths, to invite them to take loans under the law as it now 
stands. Although at first glance the Disclaimer Affidavit may seem harm- 
less enough, it subjects students to risk of future penalty if in the course 
of their investigation of ideas (which for young people frequently in- 
volves the trying on of successive ideas) they should support an organiza- 
tion or even hold a belief which an unnamed source on unnamed grounds 
at an unnamed time may declare advocates the overthrow of the United 
States Government by illegal means. Such a law is an invitation to timid- 
ity, not a bulwark to the America that believes in the free market place 
of ideas." Students were also involved in the protest and had letter-writ- 
ing campaigns urging their Senators and Congressmen to repeal the Act. 

The Sixties 

It is interesting to notice that among the alumnae who responded to a 
questionnaire sent in connection with this chapter, members of 1961, 
1962, 1963, and 1966 all expressed the belief that theirs was the class that 
marked "the end of the apathetic generation and the beginning of the 
'activist student' era." Carolyn Revelle Hufbauer '61 regarded the sit-ins 
in the South in 1960-61 as- "the beginning of the new era among college 
students." Her successor as president of Forum, Carol Bensinger Lieb- 



man '62, also remembered the sit-ins in which some Wellesley students 
took part; in addition she commented on the Peace Corps, the on and 
off-campus activities of "the peace group, which was concerned with dis- 
armament, and of the civil rights group," and a special drive to support 
other students engaged in sit-ins. She said, however, "Although we saw 
ourselves as significantly more 'committed' than members of the 'apa- 
thetic generation' who were our immediate predecessors, our expression 
of social consciousness for the most part took the form of attendance at 
lectures and discussion groups. I remember particularly the African Sym- 
posium presented by the Barnette Miller Foundation and the appearance 
of Dr. Martin Luther King." Perhaps the issue on the campus which 
aroused the greatest controversy (at least as reflected in the columns of 
News and the minutes of Senate) was the "recognition" of Students for 
a Democratic Society as a college organization: SDS was first denied and 
later granted permission to organize a chapter. Rosemary Metrailer '66 
pointed out that during her college years "things were really happening 
in the South and with the war and the Cuban crisis; many students had 
summer involvements in those areas. Noontime 'fasts' and freedom rides 
and anti-war activities were just starting to happen." 

In the chapter on the students Mrs. Chaplin, from her direct experi- 
ence, gives an account of some of the activities and interests and thinking 
on the campus during the next few years. What the views of the students 
of the late sixties and early seventies will be a few years after their gradu- 
ation no one can predict. But they too may be interested in the summary 
of the comments made by the Class of 1960 in 1971. The editors of the 
Class Record Book wrote: "The one strain that comes through so many 
personal statements again and again is the desire to have a life of value. 
To have meaning, to find meaning, to care, to help, to participate. Where 
we do this and how we do it differ, but the striving is commonly felt. We 
laughed at Wellesley's 'Non Ministrari, Sed Ministrare'; it was part of 
the dusty mythology . . . and here we are, still trying to find a way to 
minister, not to be ministered unto. It's not a bad way in which to be 
alike." All of which brings the reader around to the saying, "The more 
things change, the more they are the same." 

From the 1935 Legenda. 

For many years students and faculty volunteers worked at Denison House. 

Delegates to the Christian Association Conference at Silver Bay in 1915. 

Faculty children posed with dolls which students dressed as Christmas gifts for poor children (circa 1955). 



II w j 



sr v 



IL 4* 

World War I: Wellesley Farmerettes work- 
ing under the supervision of Professor 
Margaret C. Ferguson; poster from the 
1918 Legenda; cartoon from the 1922 Le- 









fill 1 




J ^ 



There <uas a ivar garden 

The triumverate during World War II when President McAfee was Director of the WAVES: 

Marie Rahr Haffenreffer 

Ella Keats Whiting 

Lucy Wilson 

A war-time visit of Mme. Chiang 
Kai-shek to the College. 

Students entertaining the Navy Supply Corps at a dance in 
Mary Hemenway Gymnasium. 

Gardening in World War II. From 
the 1945 Legenda. 


~? ^' 4 

- of> 

W^ v" 

A rally in support of the Bonus Army. 
From the 1935 Legenda. 

Wellesley suffragettes joining in a demonstration demanding votes for women. 

Forum rally supporting the candidacy of Wendell Willkie. 

A welcome to Wellesley for Hungarian refugees. 


Carol M. Roehm, the Director, and a class in the Wellesley Institute for Foreign Students, 1946. 



When I was asked by the Centennial Historian to discuss "Traditions," 
those recurring extracurricular events which have a definite Wellesley 
flavor, I protested the assignment. Traditions in this sense are the activi- 
ties of zealous undergraduates and the memories of nostalgic alumnae. 
I went to Pembroke, not Wellesley, so I argued that I could write about 
Wellesley traditions only as an observer. When pressed, however, I had 
to admit that my observation had extended over a fairly long period as 
a member of the faculty from 1929 to 1970, that in those forty-one years 
I had witnessed the death, birth, and rebirth of various traditions, and 
that I had participated actively in one or two, such as Greek play and 
faculty show. So I finally agreed to undertake the topic, relying on the 
tolerance of Wellesley alumnae if I seem not to appreciate fully the inner 
meaning of some of their more arcane rituals. 

Various attempts have been made in the past to single out from the 
multiplicity of dramatic, musical, athletic, and social events such as occur 
at every college, those which deserve to be designated as "Wellesley tra- 
ditions." An undergraduate orator in 1892 wrestled seriously with the 
question and came up with a list of four: Flower Sunday, Float Day, Tree 
Day, and Anniversary of the Founder's Death. Of these, the fourth con- 
tinued to be observed into the 1920s for as long as there were speakers 
available who had personally known Mr. Durant; the other three all go 
back in origin to the Founder, and I shall start my history with them. 

Flower Sunday is Wellesley's oldest and longest surviving tradition, 
recurring annually from the second year of the College to the present 
time. On the first Sunday of each college year, the chapel is gay with 
flowers, and the text for the morning service is "God is love." This happy 
opening program was the Founder's reaction to a disturbing experience 
on the first Sunday of Wellesley's first year when an insensitive minister 
chose as his text, "Thou hast hedged me about so that I cannot get out," 



— this for a congregation of young girls starting a "new life" with cour- 
age undoubtedly but also with trepidation and not a little homesickness. 
Mr. Durant saw eyes filled with tears, and for the opening Sunday of 
1876 he invited a clergyman with the delightfully ecclesiastical name of 
Dr. Pentecost to preach on the text "God is love." The opening hymn was 
"Joyful, joyful," and the College Hall chapel was filled with flowers. 

A description of the occasion in 1884 mentions "banks of foliage plants 
from the greenhouses of Mrs. Durant, Japan lilies and roses from the 
Waban conservatories, beautiful floral decorations contributed by Mr. 
Hunnewell and Mr. Cheney, a large cross of brilliant flowers in the center 
of the platform with large wreaths and tall baskets at each corner, and 
twelve baskets of choice flowers suspended from the chandeliers." The 
cut flowers were sent by Miss Freeman to class prayer meetings in the 
evening to be distributed to the students. In addition to the abundant 
chapel decorations, it was Mrs. Durant's custom to mark the day also by 
a few flowers left in the early morning in the room of each new student. 

Flowers and Love are still the motifs for Wellesley's first Sunday 
Chapel. In 1972, according to the College News, "Freshmen, traditionally 
given flowers by Big Sisters, carried many varieties, including carnations, 
snapdragons, and daisies." In Houghton Chapel, where the familiar text 
is inscribed high in the center of the chancel, the chaplain, Paul Sant- 
mire, gave a sermon on Love. During the service the congregation was 
invited to come forward to the altar and daisies were distributed in an 
emphasis on the same theme. And — a symbol of community love — cook- 
ies and punch were served on the steps of the chapel. 

Tree Day, dating from May of the College's second year, also owes its 
origin to the Founder, although it probably did not, as is usually as- 
sumed, spring full-grown from his head. According to Greek Professor 
Annie Sybil Montague '79, participant in the first Tree Day, the seed was 
sown by girls who had heard of Vassar's tree planting and wanted to emu- 
late their older sister college. "When the idea was mentioned to Mr. Du- 
rant, he was very much pleased." By a happy coincidence Mr. Hunnewell 
had just given him two Japanese golden evergreens, highly suitable trees 
with which to inaugurate an annual festival. After chapel that evening he 
made an announcement to the college classes (only two in 1877) and gave 
them a few days in which to prepare appropriate ceremonies for a tree- 
planting holiday. The freshman rites were kept simple by lack of time, 
since before proceeding further they had to adopt a constitution and elect 
officers. The more sophisticated sophomores prepared printed programs 
and managed to produce a semblance of costumes with tissue-paper caps 
and long tissue-paper ribbons pinned to their shoulders. Their authors 
were so professionally minded that before composing a poem and a song 
they prevailed upon a librarian, Miss Rosamond Pentecost (sister of 


the clergyman who had preached on Flower Sunday), "to chaperone 
them in rowing over to the Hunnewell estate before breakfast on a May 
morning for an accurate observation of the trees." The first sight of the 
green foliage tipped with yellow inspired the lines: 

Brave tree of our choice, pale gold gleaming through 
The green of thy boughs. 

In the chorus of this first Tree Day song, they sought identity with their 
tree, the "Daphne syndrome," in the words of Mary Rosenthal Lefkowitz 
'57, Associate Professor of Greek and Latin, whose Tree Day lecture each 
year in the Mythology course is fast becoming a new college tradition. 
(Daphne, you may remember, fled from the embraces of Apollo and was 
turned into a laurel tree.) 

Oh, nymph divine, we're thine, we're thine. 
Thy beauty is our chosen shrine. 
We'll dare, we'll dare thy fate to share, 
Our chosen nymph with golden hair. 

At the moment of the planting, the freshman orator assigned to deliver 
an "Apostrophe to the Trowel" was dismayed to find that the implement 
put into her hand was a spade as tall as she was. The following year a 
freshman class with a sense of history purchased a lighter spade to be 
"preserved forever and ever" and had their numerals 1881 carved on the 

In the next few years a pattern developed which included a march of 
the classes in costumes, a program of orations and odes held close to the 
senior tree (later in front of College Hall) and presided over by the sen- 
ior mistress of ceremonies, and a program near the site of the new fresh- 
man tree in which a sophomore orator handed over the spade to the 
freshman mistress of ceremonies (in 1899 Bessie Wheeler Manwaring '02, 
later a Professor of English), and announcement was made by the fresh- 
man class of their color, their flower, and their motto, all of which sopho- 
mores tried to discover in advance, sometimes by "questionable means." 
(Witness a letter of protest in the News in 1903, signed by twenty-five 
alumnae, including Katharine Lee Bates '80, Ellen Fitz Pendleton '86, and 
Olive Davis '86.) From 1883 to 1917 juniors had a little ceremony of 
their own late in the day, the planting of ivy (beginning with an ivy 
brought to them from "Ellen's Isle" by Professor Horsford of Harvard, 
friend of Mr. Durant and of the College), which alternated after 1905 with 
the planting of a rosebush near the chapel, ivy in even years, roses in 
odd years. 

Tree Day was in the beginning a closed festivity for members of the 
College and alumnae, with a few clergymen and men of letters invited 


as special guests. Later, students were allowed a limited number of tickets 
for their families. Only when money was badly needed was the occasion 
opened to the public: in 1905 to raise money for a library; in 1914 for 
the Fire Fund; and in 1919 for the Red Cross. 

In the early years of Tree Day class costumes were all important and 
were kept strictly secret in advance of the procession. We hear how the 
freshmen in 1880 bought out Jordan's entire stock of white calico with 
small red figures and, with the help of the housekeeper and two sewing 
machines, secretly created uniform skirts and waists with belts of turkey 
red. They carried red and silver Japanese fans and displayed a turkey- 
red banner with an inscription in letters of silver paper, "Calico versus 
Velvet," reference to a recent sermon by Mr. Durant in which he ex- 
pressed preference for calico girls. They had an uneasy feeling that they 
might be reprimanded for this display, but instead they were personally 
congratulated by Mr. Durant, while President Ada Howard expressed 
pleasure that their costumes had cost only thirty-nine cents and that they 
had put Mr. Durant's sermon to such practical use. In 1883 the freshman 
class wore "the daintiest white Mother Hubbards with daisy parasols 
and the sweetest white baby caps ever found in the country." Their 
orator was Ellen Fitz Pendleton whose speech must have been heard by 
college guest Oliver Wendell Holmes. (The original copy is in the Ar- 
chives, written in the familiar firm round hand. It is decorated with a 
daisy and the Greek words to kalon, the good or beautiful.) In a Tradi- 
tion Meeting in 1922 President Pendleton recalled that the senior cos- 
tume that year was a black silk dress with a red geranium at the belt 
and a black parasol. "This ensemble," she added dryly, "was alleged to 
represent beauty." The next year, 1884, seniors fashioned for themselves 
caps and gowns, setting a precedent for subsequent Tree Days, ten years 
before the College adopted academic regalia. For their honorary member, 
President Alice Freeman, they made a gown of finer stuff, which was 
"distractingly becoming." The president of this enterprising class, who 
gave the speech of welcome, was Edith S. Tufts, for many years Dean of 
Residence. Sophomores the same year were dressed in white with yellow 
daisy hats, juniors were "a walking rainbow, each of the seven colors of 
the spectrum seven times reproduced," while freshmen in green and white 
wore "pretty headdresses of the peasant maids of Italy." 

Dramatic story and dancing were first introduced into Tree Day in 
1889 when seniors presented a masque in which the Spirit of the Tulip 
Tree, their Class tree, left other tree spirits to become a mortal and join 
the Class of 1889. In the cast was their honorary member, Dr. Phillips 
Brooks, later Episcopal Bishop of Massachusetts and a Wellesley trustee, 
as Jack-in-the-Pulpit. The freshmen, English maidens of the fourteenth 
century in gowns of pink and white, included dancing in their cere- 


mony: twenty-four of their tallest winding a maypole while the rest of 
the class accompanied the dance with song. Until the First World War 
Tree Day pageants generally presented a dream world of tree spirits 
and animated flowers, sentimentalized versions of Greek myths, or literary 
scenes touched with splendor. The 1906 senior pageant was played on the 
bank of Longfellow Pond, where Dryads and Naiads danced and Pan 
pursued Syrinx in a technique of "picture dancing" originated by Welles- 
ley's Lucille Hill, Director of Physical Training, and said to be a "re- 
vival of the Greek art which is found nowhere else at the present day." 
In 1910 all four classes, instead of being disparate groups, united in pre- 
senting "A Merrie Festival performed before her Majestie, Queene Eliza- 
beth of England, in the springtime," with knights and ladies, tradespeople 
and choir boys. The freshmen were peasant children led in merry coun- 
try dances by their mistress of ceremonies, Evelyn Wells '13, later Pro- 
fessor of English and authority on English ballads. Even the giver and 
receiver of the spade were made part of the general ensemble, as court 

Of all the Tree Days before I came to Wellesley, the one I would most 
like to have seen took place in 1916, two years after College Hall fire, 
when instead of a myth or a romance, the pageant was an allegory of 
Wellesley's history: the triumph of Faith over the Doubts and Prejudices 
that had blocked the path of women's education, the ideals of Wisdom 
and Honor that directed the work of the College, the development of its 
courses of study, then, in the midst of a triumphant dance, the sudden 
onset of Fire, Smoke, and Flame, with Despair and Grief, which changed 
quickly to Hope and Promise. The story ended with the coming of a 
golden New Era, which led the Vision of the College Beautiful (the senior 
Tree Day mistress) and the whole brilliant pageant across the green and 
up the hill toward the new Wellesley that was being born out of the 
recent crisis. 

The basic form of the Tree Day ceremony altered little after 1916. 
Held on "Severance Green" (except for 1920 and 1923 when it was on the 
lawn of the "Durant Guest House," now the President's House, with the 
lake as a background), it began with the procession of classes, seniors in 
cap and gown, the rest in white with beanies and other touches of their 
class colors. Moving to form a great W, they sang the Alma Mater and 
gave the musical Wellesley cheer, then broke ranks and ran to join the 
rest of the audience on the hillside. To the music of "Pomp and Circum- 
stance," the beautiful Tree Day mistress with sweeping robes and flowing 
hair moved gracefully down the Art Building Hill with her aides to sit on 
a dais at the side of the Green. (In 1934 the Boston Post noted that no 
girl with bobbed hair had ever been elected Tree Day mistress.) The 
pageant was played out before the Queen and her court by dancers from 


all classes, coached to a high degree of perfection by members of the 
Physical Education Department. Then came the familiar Spade Ceremony 
with its little intra-mural jokes, and finally the race to the new class tree, 
with freshmen trying to reach its secret location ahead of the sophomores. 

While the general program remained the same, dance techniques 
changed through the years, and so did the themes of the pageant. The 
last tree spirits danced in 1917, combining rather strangely with a Spade 
Ceremony in which America gave the spade to Joan of Arc, youth called 
to service. In 1918 and 1919 Icelandic and American Indian stories sym- 
bolized suffering, succeeded by hope. In the opulent 20s came fairy sto- 
ries and in the early 30s, the depression years, mechanical realism (the 
Machine Age, Man's Control of Light). As amplification of recordings 
improved to concert reproduction, emphasis shifted to music, with the 
choice of a composition by Prokofieff, for example, or Stravinsky, or 
Aaron Copland, determining the mood of the pageant and the nature of 
the choreography. 

In the late 1950s and 1960s student interests were directed more and 
more away from the campus. There were always dancers who were willing 
to perform short group numbers in a colorful Spanish Fiesta or in Alice 
in Wonderland or Peter Pan, but the majority of students could think of 
more congenial ways to spend a spring Saturday afternoon than to march 
in white dress and class color and sit uncomfortably on a hillside to par- 
ticipate in a ritual which had little meaning for them. In the hope of 
keeping more students on campus, Tree Day was expanded into a spring 
weekend with dances and concerts. But a picture of the W, the year of 
the last pageant in 1968, shows that the festival with its formal beauty 
had become an anachronism. The W is straggly and ill-formed, the few 
students participating in it seem by their choice of dress and their non- 
chalant poses to be deliberately avoiding any appearance of uniformity. 
In 1969 "due to the proximity of exam week to Tree Day," the pageant 
was omitted. Tree planting and crew races were preceded by a picnic, 
with refreshments sold for the benefit of Upward Bound. News urged 
students to contribute to a good cause while enjoying spring on the cam- 
pus and so to "institute a new, perhaps more worthwhile tradition at 
Wellesley." This was the College's last Tree Day. The ritual ceremony of 
planting a tree, however, still goes on, carried out now by sophomores 
on Sophomore Parents' Day. 

Mr. Durant had founded his college on a lake; from this fact came 
two famous traditions: the Wellesley crew and Float Day (or Float 
Night). Boating for young ladies was at once "attractive and beneficial 
to the health," and safe craft of various sizes were provided for them. 
The larger boats, accommodating eight rowers and a cox, became the 
property pro tern of a crew attractively dressed in uniform boating cos- 


tumes. Writing in the Christian Union in 1880, Dr. Lyman Abbott, a 
favorite preacher at the College, described how the senior crew took him 
on the lake: "It was a curious experience to sit quietly in the stern and 
be rowed by a crew of young ladies, while the lake was dotted with the 
tasteful uniforms of the crews, each in its own colors, and the setting sun 
painted a picture rare in its beauty." Another early college guest, Long- 
fellow, was similarly entertained on the lake in a boat christened for the 
occasion "Evangeline." Each of the three upper classes had an official 
crew; freshmen could form as many crews as there were extra boats. In 
1883 a group which organized such a crew for the good ship "Prydwen" 
included Ellen Fitz Pendleton and Helen Merrill. According to Miss 
Merrill when she was a Professor of Mathematics, it was said to be the 
best looking and worst rowing crew on the lake, and no single member 
of it made the sophomore crew the following year. 

One day every year all the crews held a demonstration in which they 
exhibited their rowing skill, their talent as singers, and seemingly above 
all, their charming costumes. The outfit of the new sophomore crew was 
always a sensation. The Annals of 1883 describe how sophomores of that 
year shut themselves mysteriously in their rooms for days with signs, 
"Please do not knock," to emerge in time for Float Day with "cream 
blouses and full skirts, gilt edgings and jaunty caps, spoon oars glistening 
and banners flying." The many freshmen crews that year, which included 
the distinguished one of the Prydwen, seemed to the senior writing the 
Annals like "pretty hordes of ducklings." A typical program of the 
eighties was described in the Wellesley Courant of May 30, 1884. The 
three upperclass crews, the only ones to boast spoon oars, and eleven 
freshmen crews met at the south porch of College Hall in full boating 
costume. Arriving at the lake they rowed about at first, then the boats 
gathered together "until the whole flotilla made a floating island in a 
sunset-tinted lake." As hundreds of spectators stood on the banks, each 
crew sang its own original song. Finally with the singing of "Goodnight, 
Ladies," they pulled away for further exercise. The reporter did not 
mention the formation by the boats of a circle and a star which appear 
in photographs of the 1880s. An account of Float in 1889 described 
its effect on the distinguished honorary member of the junior class, 
Chauncey Depew, unsuccessful candidate the year before for Republican 
presidential nominee: "Arriving in the midst of the exercises, as he de- 
scended the hill the scene upon the lake was hidden from view until he 
had almost reached the shore where the picture burst suddenly upon him 
and in his exclamation, 'How charming,' those who were with him knew 
that his heart was won for Wellesley." This simple version of Float, 
"comely" young ladies rowing and singing in the sunset, also charmed 
the readers of popular magazines. A writer in Demarest's Family Maga- 


zine in 1890 described with fervor the moment "after the last level ray of 
sunlight had died away. Then, one by one, along the wide curve of the 
shore and from the many boats, gleam out the lanterns, and they are re- 
flected in the quiet water until the whole scene is a fairyland." Another 
writer the same year in Illustrated American marveled at the "various 
boat songs, grave and gay, English, Latin, German, French, and Irish," 
and called the Float "a gala time to which the brothers like to be invited." 

During the 1890s Float Day became Wellesley's "open house," and 
special trains were run for the occasion from Boston. New light cedar 
boats in 1892 no doubt improved the rowing. Bands played during the 
evening, in 1896 the Germanic Band of Boston. Besides the glory of the 
sunset (always extolled in accounts of Float) and the lights on the boats, 
there were hundreds of Japanese lanterns strung among the trees, colored 
lights thrown from the shore, and displays of fireworks. In 1898 Abbie 
Carter Goodloe '89 writing the lead article in the May Scribner's, "Un- 
dergraduate Life at Wellesley," estimated that Float that year drew 7,000 
guests including the Governor of Massachusetts and the Mayor of Boston. 
A restrained undergraduate reporter, whose highest praise of the evening 
was that "one's own particular man was not bored to death," agreed that 
there were at least 6,000 visitors. With so large an outdoor event there 
was always one major concern — the weather. But in 1899 when a sudden 
storm erupted after trainloads of guests had arrived, this was not the 
disaster it would be in later years. The boat crews could still parade in 
College Hall, showing off their costumes and singing their new songs. 
"The bands played and the crowds drank lemonade while thunder 
pealed, lightning flashed, and rain poured steadily down." 

As the twentieth century got under way other activities crowded out 
rowing as an all-college interest. The crews were reduced to four, one for 
each class, and in exhibitions the W replaced the many-pointed star. 
Float began to lose its glamor until in 1908 it was admitted that "while 
the guests seemed to enjoy it, most of the girls pronounced it a bore." At 
this point the water pageant came into being in an attempt to make the 
evening "more an expression of the spirit of the whole college." The 
earlier features of Float were also retained with one added attraction, the 
christening of the freshman shell. For some years the pageants consisted 
of a procession of boats, many of them student-owned, elaborately lighted 
and decorated, each representing part of a general theme, Canadian Water 
Festival, for example, A Modern Carnival, or United States Colleges. The 
subjects were less nature-oriented than those of early Tree Days, with 
no Water Sprites to parallel Tree Nymphs. With war came patriotic 
themes, America and Her Allies in 1917, and in 1919 World Leaders and 
the League of Nations. (The pageant was omitted in 1918 and only the 
crews performed.) In 1917 a large float in the middle of the lake was oc- 


cupied by the Harvard Military Band, which failed in an attempt to 
play Wellesley songs, but "redeemed itself with stirring national airs." 

In the 1920s came the real floats, comparable to those in land parades, 
each platform with its tableau carried on two canoes. These floats in- 
volved elaborate and expensive staging, and on a windy night they could 
offer problems to the paddlers. On Float Night one went to the lake 
early in the evening for a good seat, armed with a sweater for the night 
breezes and citronella for the mosquitoes. Crew races came first while it 
was still daylight. Then as the sun went down came the parade of the 
crews, the W, and the singing, and in the last of the sunset, the rowing 
in perfect form of the varsity crew. An intermission (which sometimes 
seemed interminable) followed until it was dark enough for the pageant, 
but the floats were always worth waiting for. Picked up by floodlights on 
the shore, they were extraordinarily beautiful as they moved along the 
dark lake to appropriate music. One remembers favorites: Idylls of the 
King, Wanderings of Odysseus, Alice in Wonderland. Other colleges 
might have spring masques similar to Tree Day, but Float was a uniquely 
Wellesley experience. Fireworks ended the evening until in 1933 a young 
man, who insisted he knew all about rockets, set fire to a box containing 
three dozen of them. As Mr. Collins of the Service Building described the 
accident to a News reporter in 1947, the year of the last Float, "Rockets 
were shooting all over Claflin and Tower Court, and no one's been very 
keen on the idea since." 

Float did not stop because people were bored with it, but because of 
a lapse of three years during the Second World War followed by acts of 
God. In 1946, though none of the classes in college had ever experienced 
Float, students set out with enthusiasm to revive it. The pageant, Hansel 
and Gretel, was rained out. The next year Float, still Hansel and Gretel, 
emerged "after years of darkness," a triumph. But in 1948 with entranc- 
ing floats ready to present Arabian Nights, it rained again. Two rainouts 
of a very expensive and time-consuming show in one generation after an 
enforced blackout of three years was too much. Float was abandoned. 

In 1949 class crew races became part of Tree Day, and since the aban- 
doning of Tree Day, they have continued as a separate event, with the 
winners challenging a crew of the faculty. The "varsity" crew, praised in 
the News for their "dedication to clean sport," is a hard-working, inter- 
collegiate team, rowing against other women's crews in regattas that used 
to see only male competition. 

Another longstanding tradition, a less formal rite than Tree Day or 
Float Night, was May Day (play day), the origin of which is generally 
attributed to the Class of 1895. Alice Hunt frequently recalled with 
pleasure how on April 30 of that year she and other seniors were standing 
in front of College Hall before lunch, lamenting the Wellesley tendency 


to take oneself too seriously when the idea occurred to them "to celebrate 
May Day as blithesomely as Elizabethans, as children, if necessary." Pro- 
ceeding that same afternoon to acquire hoops, balls, jumpropes, they 
"electrified the College" the next morning by rolling hoops, in their caps 
and gowns (regalia which had been adopted only the year before) around 
and around the circle of College Hall until chapel time, and then back 
and forth to classes. In the afternoon they dressed in short skirts, jumped 
rope, and played such games as Drop the Handkerchief, Hide and Seek, 
and London Bridge. 

Miss Tufts claimed an earlier origin for May Day when she told a 
News reporter in 1925 that in the early eighties they used to enjoy a gala 
day with maypole and hoop-rolling on the slope of Stone Hall hill. Ac- 
cording to her recollection, 1883 was the first class to have hoop-rolling. 
This date is borne out by mention of a May frolic with rolling hoops in 
a slim pamphlet, Wellesley Annals of 1883, in which an anonymous sen- 
ior recounted with engaging humor the events of the current year. "By 
the close of the winter term," she wrote, "seniors looked worn out and 
felt the need of rejuvenation. Besides we had noticed that the freshmen 
but half knew the joy of childish sports. Therefore, for their benefit en- 
tirely, we made a great outlay of money invested in rubber balls with 
strings attached, jumping ropes, teeters, springboards, and rolling hoops. 
With our hair neatly braided down our backs and long-sleeved white 
aprons we hurried out to play one morning in May. It was simply beauti- 
ful to view our infantile playfulness. Miss Whiting [Sarah Frances Whit- 
ing, Professor of Physics and Astronomy] herself was so attracted by the 
seesaw that she teetered and teetered right over the edge of silent time" (a 
period of twenty minutes, morning and evening, during which students 
were required to be in their rooms, silent). Records do not reveal whether 
this agreeable mass hysteria occurred again at any time between 1883 
and 1895. Even in the News reports of 1895 I find only one reference to 
their momentous play day. In the Tree Day speech of the senior class 
president (Athena Akademika) the juniors were told, "If the hoops do 
descend from class to class, when they have gotten as low as they can, un- 
doubtedly '96 will get them — undoubtedly. Snatch not the gifts of the 
gods with such untimely haste then." I cannot help wondering if some 
of these hoops had already descended (as hoops have always done from 
class to class to class) from the seniors of 1883. In any case, after 1895 
May Day was an annual event. College Notes in the Alumnae Magazine 
mention on May 1, 1897, the "usual custom" of rolling hoops around the 

For many years these May events were preceded by a secret and very 
strange ceremony of purification, attributed also by Miss Hunt to 1895. 
This was the scrubbing of the Backwoodsman, a colossal marble statue 


of a man with raised axe, which stood on the south porch of College Hall 
from 1886 to 1912, gazing out through the pillars at the lake. The work 
of Henry Dexter, it had been displayed for some years in the Athenaeum, 
where it was much admired as a naturalistic American portrait. But the 
unappreciative students of 1886 found the subject "grim and gaunt," of 
"fierce and ghastly aspect," and felt sure he was left on the back steps 
because his "certificate of admission was unsatisfactory." This certificate, 
which he was said to have "trampled beneath his feet," was a handsomely 
lettered inscription on the granite base, "The Backwoodsman 1844, 
Henry Dexter fecit." Despite this initially poor reception, the Woodsman 
became in time an object of strange devotion to Wellesley students. For 
many May Days, in a sunrise ceremony, he was thoroughly bathed and 
his teeth brushed by energetic seniors who sang as they worked: 

We are the Seniors 
Seniors are we 
Washing the Woodsman 
Right merrily. 

So vigorous was the scrubbing that in 1906 the College News reported, 
"In the bustle and excitement a chip was taken from his Greek nose 
and a thumb swept off." On that same occasion, perhaps in compensation, 
he was given a crowbar decorated with a crisp blue bow and a blue and 
silver scarf was tied around his stalwart neck. The excitement of May 
Day prompted also the early morning decorating of other statues. For 
some unexplained reason it seemed hilariously funny to give them in- 
congruous hairdos, frills, bows, and parasols, in the same spirit, what- 
ever it was, which prompted male contemporaries to coat with paint 
monumental statues such as that of John Harvard. 

One statue was always given particular attention, the large seated 
representation of Harriet Martineau (a gift to the College from the artist, 
Anne Whitney), which occupied a commanding position in College Hall 
center from 1887 until the fire of 1914. Harriet was a very special lady, 
since every freshman, however plump, was pushed and pulled under the 
rungs of her chair in a ceremony known as "Going through Harriet." 
(We hear of one fat maiden who got stuck in the process and stayed there 
for a long time "like a pig under a fence.") The Class of 1909 chose to 
perform the May Day ablutions on Harriet instead of on the Backwoods- 
man. As they worked, their orator "in a simple homespun gown of 
calico" recited a long ode which would have delighted the socially con- 
scious Miss Martineau. I quote a few lines: 

Woman has thrown off the yoke — she is free. 
She is no longer a toy — no more a slave! 


Let man keep the bottle — woman claims the ballot!!! 
We scrub Harriet. 

According to the Boston Sunday Globe, June 8, 1913, Harriet was bathed 
once each year by succeeding senior classes. We have a description of the 
rite in 1902 when at 6:15 a.m. on November 19 a "company of pilgrims" 
bathed the statue of Miss Martineau so industriously that "for fifteen 
minutes no sound was heard save the swashing of water, the scrubbing 
of stiff brushes, and the soft rubbing of towels." Occasionally they paused 
to sing: 

See dust of ages flee from the scrubbing, 
See how she takes all this vigorous rubbing, 
Seniors, advance to the annual tubbing 
Of Martineau, Harriet. 

Except for 1909, other classes, on May Day at least, continued to scrub 
the Woodsman until during a vacation in 1912 the beloved statue disap- 
peared. What had happened to him was a deep mystery. One rumor 
made him an "ingredient of the doughnut," a concrete circular walk 
that was under construction at the time in front of College Hall. An- 
other rumor placed him in the aqueduct as witness the final stanza of a 
mournful poem in the 1913 Legenda: 

The aqueduct is far away 
And they have laid him deep; 
But always in the month of May 
His weary ghost comes back to weep; 
For he laments as spirits can 
That they should steal our only man. 

This second theory received support many years later when the statue's 
base was discovered on the golf course in the widening of Fuller Brook. 
But a memorandum (recently presented to the Wellesley Archives) writ- 
ten by Edwin J. Monaghan, who was the superintendent of College Hall, 
confirms the first hypothesis. Vividly he described how "learned people 
assembled in solemn session" at midnight and condemned the Backwoods- 
man to be "dismembered, piled on a drag, and dumped into the excava- 
tion for the doughnut." One meek, mild lady protested that she had 
known this good and just man ever since she was a child and that she 
knew no evil of him. But to the other elders of the College he had obvi- 
ously become an intolerable eyesore. (Who knows how many other pieces 
of his anatomy had followed the nose and thumb broken in 1906?) On 
May Day 1913 the seniors, deprived of their Backwoodsman, scrubbed 
the Doughnut and included his ghost in their ceremony. The practice of 
ritual cleansing continued for years, with 1914 scrubbing the library steps, 


1916 the walls and steps of the new Tower Court, and 1915 and other 
classes transferring the ceremony to the steps of the chapel. Dressed as 
bedraggled scrubwomen, they made a great effort each year to be funnier 
and funnier, talking in "supposedly Irish" accents, until the Class of 1923 
wisely voted to abandon the scrubbing as "of no present significance." 
There was one abortive attempt to revive the custom when juniors washed 
the chapel steps in 1959. 

The second, and after 1922 the first, event of May Day was the rolling 
of hoops by the seniors, at first around the circle of College Hall, later 
down Tower Court Hill and up to the steps of the chapel. For some years 
they rolled for sheer joy in the exercise and in the incongruity of senior 
gowns and childish sport. As they reached their goal, the seniors formed 
into two rows and raised their hoops to make a picturesque archway 
under which the other classes marched into chapel. In time the spirit 
of competition entered into the sport which became a race, then inevitably 
the victory took on symbolic meaning. The winner must have the prize 
which all college girls were supposed to be seeking: she would be the first 
in the class to get her man. So she was presented with a wedding bouquet 
and sometimes wreathed with flowers. (Now winning became important 
and since a front position in the starting line was of prime advantage, 
sophomores camped out for long hours to hold strategic places for their 
particular "big sisters.") The facet of May Day which has always been 
of most interest to the press is the "legend" of the "first bride." And for 
many people the Wellesley image has long been a pretty girl in academic 
garb with wedding bouquet and triumphant smile framed in the circle 
of her hoop. If the winner is an engaged girl, her fiance may be on hand 
to be photographed with her in the magic circle. 

The Wellesley hoop race which received the widest publicity was that 
of 1939 when the winner in the act of being crowned with a wreath of 
blue and yellow flowers was revealed as the editor of the Harvard Lam- 
poon, wearing a red wig, white blouse, and blue skirt. Both Euripides 
and Aristophanes record the violent reaction of worshippers at ancient 
female rites in similar circumstances, and Wellesley women also showed 
proper outrage as they seized the interloper, dragged him to the shore 
of the lake, and threw him bodily into the water. At chapel President 
McAfee assured them, "You have made history this morning." The event 
was immortalized in the "Ballad of a Bold Bad Man," which appears in 
the Wellesley College Song Book. 

As more students began to marry during their college course, the prom- 
ised reward lost its meaning. Married seniors in 1950 had baby carriages 
instead of hoops, two of them with real babies, and for several years after 
this baby carriages appeared regularly in the race. In the 1960s hoop- 
rolling was briefly attached to Tree Day, then transferred to Sophomore 


Fathers' Day, a nostalgic entertainment for early rising dads. Although 
marriage no longer has an essential priority for today's students, the 
winner is still given the traditional bridal bouquet. The man-in-drag 
who is tossed into the lake is also a firm tradition; in 1973 he was a 
Wellesley "coed" from Williams. 

Beginning at least as early as 1906, sophomores after chapel on May 
Day formed the numerals of the senior class, their white dresses accented 
by splashes of the class color in the form of capes or caps, kerchiefs, bal- 
loons, or parasols. Beginning in 1928 "blotters" of different colors were 
added, which were manipulated above the heads to form a surprise pic- 
ture. At first these pictures were of simple design, a senior with a hoop, 
for example, or Green Hall Tower, but they became more elaborate and, 
to tell the truth, were not always easy to decipher. Blotters like hoops be- 
came part of Sophomore Fathers' Day, but were discontinued, apparently 
to everyone's satisfaction, after 1968. 

For some years after 1895, the afternoon of May Day continued to be 
a time for spontaneous fun and games. A maypole was added in 1901, 
and in 1902 the choosing of a May Queen (regularly the president of the 
freshman class crowned by the president of the senior class). Always there 
were, in addition, balloons, a hurdy-gurdy, special costumes (Buster 
Brown was everywhere in 1908), lemonade and striped ice cream, which 
gave way about 1910 to ice cream cones. In some years there was a funny 
baseball game between seniors and sophomores, in 1916 a game without 
balls or bats between the "Bugs of Nutville" and the "Nuts of Bugville." 
It was a time of merrymaking, and children from the Village came to 
watch and to join in the fun. The year 1918 was an exception: the frolic 
gave place to a full afternoon of making surgical dressings. 

In the 1920s the afternoon program became more elaborate. The 
crowning of the Queen and the maypole dance were made part of a 
masque with a story-line and pretty dancers. Only one basic plot really 
met all the requirements — the Cinderella theme. So in most of the pag- 
eants a young prince sought for a bride, and his choice fell on the fresh- 
man class president (in 1926 Virginia Onderdonk, photographed with 
long golden curls and jeweled crown, sitting with her hand on the knee 
of a velvet-jacketed Prince Charming). The pageant gradually became 
so elaborate and so time-consuming that it competed with Tree Day, 
and in 1929 a country fair, in 1930 an old English village festival was 
substituted for it. (Apparently nobody thought of going back to an un- 
structured play day.) For three years after this, the afternoon part of May 
Day was omitted. In 1934 an attempt was made to revive a "much la- 
mented custom" with a Never-Never Land which included pirates, In- 
dians, crocodiles, the maypole, and the crowning of the queen. It was a 
last gasp, and after this the afternoon program quietly expired. 


Recently, after many years, spring's liberating spirit has had a rebirth 
on the Wellesley campus in the form of a Spring Weekend. Similar 
events occur at other colleges, and indeed have occurred at Wellesley in 
the past, but according to one undergraduate, this weekend has a special 
"tenor." It is "just thoroughly relaxed and thoroughly informal and 
everything is free." There are movies, concerts, square dancing, and 
spontaneous fun on the green. The 1973 program included a Greek festi- 
val of spring (togas suggested), with beer, refreshments, and games, spon- 
sored by Cazenove Hall, MIT fraternities, and other Greek freaks. And 
Wellesley played host to the annual Jousting Tournament of the "Society 
for Creative Anachronism." One surprising anachronism was included 
in the program, a "Formal Dance," but "it drew kids in jeans and also 
in long dresses, so you had a surprising contrast." The 1974 Equinox 
Weekend was sponsored both by Vice President's Council and Ethos. Its 
special features were a jazz concert on Severance Green, a Saturday flea 
market, and all-night movies. This new Spring Weekend brings people to 
the campus from other colleges; it is not the all-girl, intimate, Wellesley 
affair that May Day once was, but it does seem to have the spirit of spon- 
taneity and fun that marked the earliest revels. 

In 1900, after the dedication of the Houghton Memorial Chapel, a 
new tradition was attached to May Day — all-college singing in the eve- 
ning on the chapel steps, with each class having its own special place. 
Seniors were symbolically at the top until 1922 when the juniors voted 
that they would keep as seniors the equally symbolic position of front and 
center. For some years there were only two step-singings, the one on May 
Day and another shortly before graduation. But in time they came to be 
scheduled once or twice a week on pleasant fall and spring evenings 
when students who were free after dinner would come together to sing 
class and college songs and give their class cheers. The freshman song and 
cheer were permitted only after Tree Day. Step-singing is obviously in- 
tended for the satisfaction of the participants, but there was always a 
group of faculty listeners, some of whom might be summoned to join one 
or other of the classes. ("We want Miss X on our steps!") Recent hap- 
penings were incorporated into a song, sending some prominent member 
of the community "up to Academic Council." "He went up on — " What 
followed was an incident or remark that the professor in question would 
probably prefer to forget. Step-singing still continues, scheduled now 
once in the fall and once in the spring. Class songs are a thing of the 
past, but class cheers continue, some of them reported to be getting a 
little "gross," with freshmen not allowed to give their cheer until the 
second step-singing. Songs are usually the hits of recent Junior Shows or 
very old college favorites. "It's fun," one student said, "to laugh at the 
really strange old songs, some of them out of the 1920s." At the final 


step-singing, seniors, as they always have, give up their steps to the juniors 
and walk slowly away while the others sing a valedictory. This is apt now 
to be "Evolu" instead of the poignant step-song (date 1905): 

Slowly now we go our way 
With eyes that dimly see 
And leave the steps alone at last 
To memory, to memory. 

Finally the seniors, disjoined now from the group, give the Wellesley 
musical cheer (date 1886), "Tra-la-la-la," ending with a "Wellesley" 
which, if atmospheric conditions are right, comes back in the form of a 
havinting echo. In more sentimental days this was a moment charged with 
deep feeling, and though there were always people who found it "corny," 
this very adjective suggested an emotional response. A present-day senior, 
when asked about Wellesley's traditions, put step-singing at the top of 
the list. "It happens," she explained, "at the beginning of the year just 
when you're beginning to think Tm a member of this class' and again at 
the end just when you're beginning to think Tm not a member of this 
class any more.' " 

Specific details of Tree Day, Float Night, May Day, are now affixed to 
a more recent and immensely popular tradition, Sophomore Parents' 
Weekend, which began in 1947 as Sophomore Fathers' Day. Its purpose, 
from the point of view of the administration, was to give fathers, who 
usually pay the bills but who tend to visit college less frequently than 
mothers do, an inside view of Wellesley. Sophomores' enthusiasm is sug- 
gested by titles given the event in various years: "My Pet Patriarch" 1962; 
"Wonderful Wizard of Ours" 1963; "Dads and Dolls" 1968; "Thank 
Heaven for Little Girls" 1971. And students put much time and ingenu- 
ity into its arrangements. The program included from the beginning the 
opportunity to attend classes (on Saturday morning while the College 
still had a six-day schedule, then on Friday for those dads who could 
arrive early), a luncheon presided over by the President with opportunity 
for questions and discussion, a chance for sports, including a Father- 
Daughter softball game, and in the evening the crowning event, a Father- 
Daughter dance. In the first year only male members of the faculty and 
administration were invited to be hosts at the luncheon and the "smoker" 
that followed, to meet the fathers, presumably man to man. In 1948 a 
few women were included, teachers of the "Sophomore Bible" course. 
From then on sex discrimination ceased. I, for one, always enjoyed the 
event when I was invited to it, although an occasional father did seem 
momentarily panicked to find himself sitting next to a teacher of Greek. 

While mothers were never positively excluded from the College on 
Sophomore Fathers' Day, they were not exactly urged to come, as witness 


a 1950 statement: "Any mothers coming with fathers may have lunch and 
dinner in the dormitories at the regular prices if there is enough space 
in the dining room." In 1972 Wellesley women suddenly realized that 
women (their own mothers) were being discriminated against, and the 
event was changed to a Sophomore Parents' Weekend. The program 
(whether for fathers or for parents) has varied through the years, includ- 
ing lectures and panel discussions, sports, concerts, dramatic events 
(Shakespeare, Greek and modern drama) and a coffee hour with the 
faculty. In 1974 the "Spirit of '76" offered an opportunity to attend Jew- 
ish Sabbath dinner and Newman Club Mass as well as the College 
Chapel Service. Three continuing ancient rituals gave parents a glimpse 
into college traditions: hoop rolling, dedication of the class tree (embel- 
lished by dancing and by Mrs. Lefkowitz's "Tree Day Lecture"), and 
crew races between fathers and daughters. A buffet for parents and sopho- 
mores on the President's lawn replaced the exclusive luncheon for fathers. 
And the traditional Father-Daughter dance on Saturday night became a 
Parent-Daughter dance, where today's sophomores generously shared 
their dates with their mothers. 

Since Wellesley spring weather is unpredictable, rain (or high wind) 
has sometimes altered slightly the planned activities of a Fathers' Day 
or proved totally destructive to a Float Night. Wellesley winter weather 
is even less reliable, and valiant attempts to establish a tradition of win- 
ter festivals have met with only intermittent success. Ice carnivals began 
as early as 1901, with bonfires, a band, a hurdy-gurdy, sometimes fire- 
works, always hot cocoa and coffee. They could be very gay, but there 
was always the possibility mentioned in the 1912 Legenda: 

It's "The Ice is fine," "I've asked six men," "I knew that it would freeze." 
But at half past seven promptly there is slush up to your knees. 

Beginning in 1921 Outing Club sponsored winter carnivals for which 
skating exhibitions, ski-joring, tobogganing, "yarting" were planned 
and frequently postponed. A history of carnivals in News 1949 noted in 
certain years "good time — all indoors," "ice — no snow," "snow, unusually 
cold," "difficult to get girls away from steam heat." In 1948, Winter Car- 
nival became Winter Carousel with elaborate plans for a whole weekend, 
including torchlight parades, winter sports, snow sculpture, square and 
formal dances, movies — "multiple events for all weathers." Gradually 
the outdoor activities were eliminated and the winter weekend disap- 
peared — until February 14-17, 1974, when it was reborn as a "Winter 
Whatchamacallit" with ski night, Vil Junior Mixer (live music, all beer 
and coke free), art show, food fest and Casino Royale (phoney money the 
only legal tender). A News editorial, applauding the new Wellesley week- 
end, quoted a comment made by a Harvard student to a "misplaced 


Wellesleyite in Cambridge": "What are you doing here? I heard that 
this is a big weekend on your campus." 

The traditions we have so far discussed are all social in origin, rooted 
in the wish to please one's self and others. The only anti-social element 
discernible is the prying by sophomores into freshman Tree Day secrets. 
But we must now admit that there were also certain early rites akin to 
black magic, which were aimed at nothing less than the death of an aca- 
demic course: Math Burial, Drowning of Philosophy Theses, and the 
one which endured the longest, Forensic Burning. This tradition re- 
quired the cremation by the junior class president or, in case of her en- 
forced absence, the vice president of her "forensic," the culminating 
piece of work in English 3, "Argumentative Composition: Forensics pre- 
ceded by briefs," required in junior year from 1883 to 1905. The act had 
to be performed on the Wellesley campus, in the presence of a stipulated 
number of the class (at one time twenty) out of hearing of the sophomore 
cheer. If the juniors succeeded (and it would seem that they always did), 
they held a funeral procession (ghost walk) in the evening — white-robed 
mourners with flickering candles wending their way across the campus 
chanting a Latin dirge. Even when the junior requirement was dropped, 
the tradition went happily on, substituting a "forensic" (or merely its 
title page) from a required sophomore course. What mattered was the 
battle of wits, the game of hare and hounds between juniors and sopho- 
mores. Some faculty members approved of Forensic Burning as inducive 
to a spirit of class unity, others felt it "lowered the college standard." The 
time allowed for it was gradually reduced until in 1913, after a threat to 
ban it completely, the time for action was limited to the hours between 
4: 15 and 9:30 on a day to be selected in the morning by a public challenge 
from the juniors. 

Many early letters show the intensity and ingenuity that were ex- 
pended on this ritual. A junior in 1907 described to her mother how the 
class president, beset by the enemy, escaped to Wellesley Hills to spend 
the night with friends who drove her back in a team at 2:30 in the morn- 
ing. Both classes roamed the campus from three o'clock on, setting and 
following false trails until "over a hundred of 1908 were enabled to get 
into the Barn without being seen, and in the Barn courtyard in a corner 
the fire was lighted." The writer cautioned her mother not to read these 
words aloud to anyone and gloated, "It was so easy; not a single fight." 
In 1909 the strategy was different. For twenty-five dollars the junior class 
chartered an engine and two cars from the Boston and Albany to convey 
them from Framingham to the Woods Paint Factory. Where the spur 
track crossed a part of the Wellesley campus, the forensic was burned at 
eleven o'clock in the morning, totally frustrating the sophomores who 
had had no inkling of the means or the place or the hour. 


From other letters and especially from talk with alumnae friends, I 
have a kaleidoscopic picture of later plotting and sleuthing: master 
strategists marking off maps of the campus in squares to make sure that 
every hour and every area would be covered by cheering sophomores, 
private eyes assigned to shadow junior officers day and night, a bicycle 
scout following a suspect laundry wagon, "cheering her young head off." 
For the junior president there was always the fear of kidnapping; one 
vice president missed the whole exciting day, isolated in a Needham 
garden from which she could, if necessary, be summoned as a stand-in. 
Masks were used, presidential doubles or even triples confused the pur- 
suers, clothes were quickly changed in society houses. It was a mad, mad 
scrimmage, but the end was near. The last class to have the sophomore 
English requirement was 1918; the last Forensic Burning took place in 
their junior year on November 8, 1916. Rumors were rife and cheering 
sophomores were deployed at all strategic points. But when a funeral 
procession passed by West Lodge the scouts in that area fell reverently 
silent. As all eyes followed the hearse, the junior president, who had 
been hidden in the cottage, emerged swiftly, setting fire to her forensic. 
Simultaneously the requisite number of 1918 witnesses leaned out of the 
funeral hacks and cheered loudly — the junior cheer. The ghost walk to 
commemorate this last death and burial of a forensic was appropriately 
"the most effective" Wellesley had ever seen. The processional of sheeted 
ghosts with candles sang the Latin dirge, formed a perfect W, then stick- 
ing lighted sparklers in the ground, they moved away to leave a W of 
light which burned brilliantly for several minutes. 

The class rivalry of Forensic Burning was similar in its battle of wits 
to the more recent Freshman Banner Hunt which for decades exercised 
the ingenuity of freshman and sophomore classes. Another class rivalry, 
more sporadic since it depended on brawn instead of brain, was a tug-of- 
war between juniors and sophomores, the sole purpose of which was to 
force the rival team into Longfellow Pond. But it is fair to say that there 
have always been courteous exchanges too between classes: parties, re- 
ceptions, song contests, and perhaps the most colorful of these friendly 
traditions, the sophomore and freshman serenades, held on two evenings 
in the early fall. For many years while freshmen lived in the Village, long 
lines of white-dressed sophomores with bobbing lanterns made their way 
to the Village to sing at all the freshman houses, and the following week 
the freshmen returned the compliment on the campus. There were years 
too when seniors regularly serenaded the rest of the College "with an 
appropriate song for every district," at the close of Tree Day. The News 
in 1913 said "It is always a sight which causes us a few pangs of regret, 
as we watch them pass in cap and gown, with lanterns held high." (I am 
reminded, parenthetically, of another serenade, when the college choir, 


after Christmas vespers, used to carol outside the faculty apartments, Hor- 
ton, Hallowell and Shepard. We always greeted them with candles in 
every window and usually with a Christmas tree in the snow-covered 
court. The choir still sings Christmas carols for the President, perhaps 
for the faculty too, but without, I am sure, the multitudinous flickering 

Besides Forensic Burning another quasi-academic event involved se- 
crecy since only three-fifths of the College was allowed to witness it. This 
was the senior version of Academic Council which, so far as I can find 
out (notices are scarce), began in 1920 and lasted into the late 1940s. Fac- 
ulty meetings were a matter of great mystery to the students, so they 
enacted the scene as they imagined it, with president, deans, and profes- 
sors engaged in formal, but very active debate. (Little did they know the 
proportion of time given to lengthy committee reports and the number 
of recommendations that were adopted without discussion.) The question 
raised was unimportant — a faculty prom with student chaperones, for 
example, or the adoption of knickers by the faculty. The object of the 
show was to reveal with wit and sometimes sympathetic humor, the man- 
nerisms and the quirks of mind of the people who were impersonated. 
Some faculty members were willing to lend characteristic pieces of cloth- 
ing, and laughed when they saw themselves being closely watched in 
class, but neither they nor freshmen were admitted to the program. Al- 
ways of course there were some gate-crashers. Twice in my early years at 
Wellesley senior students smuggled me in, disguised by means of a simple 
bandana, and I must confess I relished the mimicry of my older col- 
leagues. A writer in News once made a very interesting comment on this 
tradition: "As sport it is a bit cruel, as sport ought to be at best, and we 
like it." One reason for giving up Senior Academic Council was the pro- 
duction of the original faculty plays which began in 1944. The faculty 
were so ingenious in capitalizing on their own eccentricities that the stu- 
dents could never hope to rival these self-caricatures. Today student 
representatives attend Academic Council, the mystery is gone, so the 
tradition can never be revived. 

Of all the dramatic events that have taken place on the Wellesley cam- 
pus, three have a peculiarly Wellesley flavor that makes them "tradi- 
tions": Faculty Show, Junior Show, and Greek Play. By Faculty Show I 
mean the remarkable series of plays produced every fourth year (Leap 
Year) between 1944 and 1960. It is difficult to describe them; they had to 
be seen to be believed. Before 1944 there had been other faculty plays, 
very early ones in which Miss Bates, Miss Woolley, a member of the Bible 
Department who later became president of Mount Holyoke College, and 
Miss Pendleton played such roles as the Princesses Freshmania and Soph- 
omoria and Prince Harvardius, and there had been at times more con- 


ventional dramas, three of them given in connection with alumnae-spon- 
sored Tradition Nights, "The Man Who Married a Dumb Wife" in 
1928, "The Rose and the Ring" in 1931, and some of Maurice Baring's 
"Diminutive Dramas" in 1934. But the 1944-1960 plays were different. 
Written by Katharine Balderston and Katherine Lever of the English 
Department (with many collaborators), they featured the President, the 
Deans, and a high percentage of the faculty playing themselves, meeting 
fantastic situations in Academic Council, planning outrageous curricula, 
or being nastily competitive in try-outs for plays which might placate 
rebellious students. One unforgettable number was repeated in all five 
plays — a men's ballet in which the male members of the faculty, dressed 
as Ocean Nymphs (courtesy of the Greek Department) did extraordinary 
figures, counting conscientiously as they danced, the tallest of them able 
to cross the stage in three enormous leaps. And in all five plays Latin 
Professor Margaret Taylor did long scenes standing on her head. Perform- 
ances were crowded and it seemed as if the laughter might reach some 
decibel that would shatter Alumnae Hall. The 1944 Legenda said, "For 
three solid hours we laughed as we had never laughed before." And a 
1952 News editorial called the show "a morale booster and the high 
point in our collegiate life." One may wonder why so popular a tradition 
suddenly came to an end. In 1960 in the glow of the successful "Lunatik 
LX", it was assumed that in the next Leap Year the play would go on, but 
by 1964, although College Government petitioned the Academic Council 
for another Faculty Show, no individual or group came forward to take 
responsibility for such a production. There seemed to be a general feeling 
among the faculty that the time was no longer ripe for such diversions, 
that "concerned" students of the middle sixties would no longer want to 
laugh with quite such abandon at foibles of their own little community. 
Junior Show is probably the most popular event in Wellesley's present- 
day calendar. Its origin, according to News, was a "spontaneous combus- 
tion" in the spring of 1936. "Spang [Virginia Spangler] and Putzie [Hin- 
richs] and the Shafer crowd — it was their idea." The junior class would 
produce a "modern musical show with original music, dialogue and 
dances." It would be a first at Wellesley and — their prevision was clear — 
the beginning of a long tradition. The show "In One Ear and Gone To- 
morrow" played on November 6, 1936, to the "biggest crowd Alumnae 
Hall had ever seen." The plot was simple — the ingenious efforts of a 
heroine who sought to combine a whirling social life with high academic 
marks. Rehearsals had been limited to three. The orchestra, assembled 
for the occasion, had never before played jazz. But (I hope all later classes 
will forgive me) I remember it as the best Junior Show I ever saw — only 
an hour long, the dialogue cram-packed with Wellesley humor, the tunes 
gay and hummable. And the censors, viewing the dress rehearsal, could 


find only one point to criticize — Katharine Campbell's shorts had to be 
let down one inch. 

Since 1936 there have been nearly forty Junior Shows, many of them 
with fascinating titles: The Taming of the Few, Phoney Island, The 
Devil to Pay, Queendom Come, One Knight's Stand, Raisin Hell. Com- 
mittees each year meet on Cape Cod before college opens to hammer out 
a scenario, dialogue, lyrics, tunes. Some committees set the action in a 
locale vaguely resembling Wellesley; others deliberately eschew all college 
material. Some aim primarily at laughs; others seek social relevance. 
When college opens in the fall, many more juniors get into the act. Those 
who don't sing or dance or perform help with production, promotion, 
ushering. Whatever the script is, it changes as the group works on it to- 
gether, and suddenly there is a new enthusiastic feeling of being a junior 
class with a Junior Show which is always the best yet (except of course 
for the first one!). 

When I wrote about "Greek Plays at Wellesley" in 1962 for the Alum- 
nae Magazine, I confidently assigned their origin to 1934. I was familiar 
of course with the long tradition of Greek tragedies performed by the 
society Alpha Kappa Chi and knew of Greek plays presented by Barn- 
swallows and the Wellesley College Theatre. But these were in English 
and according to my definition, a Greek play is a play in Greek. Recently 
I have found that our productions were anticipated in 1908 and 1909 
when Iphigenia in Tauris and Iphigenia at Aulis were played in the 
original language by AKX in an amphitheatre-like hollow in the orchard, 
with a thick screen of fir trees as background. The choruses (always a 
problem in modern productions) were chanted in unison, unaccompa- 
nied, and were pronounced by the critics "altogether delightful." 

The series that started in 1934 arose from a spontaneous student de- 
mand. The first play was the Trojan Women, with original music com- 
posed by students, and masks created by Agnes Abbot's studio course in 
Art. President Pendleton, who showed a great interest in the project, had 
the ground below the south terrace of Alumnae Hall transformed into a 
playing area with a background screen of arborvitae. The audience sat 
on tarpaulins on the slope above. (This in rudimentary form was the 
Hay Outdoor Theatre, completed in 1936.) Reviews called the Trojan 
Women "one of the most unusual events of the college year" and pro- 
nounced it a work of art. Euripides' lyrical poetry and his picture of 
women whose city has been destroyed by war carried its message even to 
those in the audience who knew no Greek. Nature cooperated, drawing a 
cloud across the sun as the child victim was carried to burial on his 
father's shield. 

The Greek Play has never been established as a regular annual event. 
Every time that it happens is a new birth of tragedy (or comedy) engen- 


dered by the enthusiasm of the current Greek students. Notice that this 
enthusiasm has not slackened but has quickened in recent years. In the 
years from 1934 to 1974 there were twenty-six productions, six of them 
in the last seven years (with a symposium on Euripides in the off year). 
The themes of Greek drama strike today's students as important: war 
horrors, vengeance, ecstatic frenzy, civil disobedience, even "women's lib." 
And with their own creative music and dance, they give a contemporary 
ring to the ancient Greek verse. 

With one exception the plays are given in the Hay Outdoor Theatre, 
weather permitting, otherwise in Alumnae Hall or Jewett. The Frogs (of 
which there have been five productions) takes place naturally in the Rec- 
reation Building Swimming Pool, where Charon's ferry makes the jour- 
ney to the Lower World harassed by frogs swimming, diving, chanting 
bre-ke-ke-kex ko-ax ko-ax. In the 1954 Frogs Mrs. Lefkowitz as a freshman 
played the slave Xanthias, the first of her many stellar performances in 
Greek plays. And I had the bit part of an Underworld landlady which 
I "hammed" into a major role by wearing a red wig and green costume 
and reciting Greek with an Irish accent. Greek plays always attract an 
audience of classical scholars, eager to listen to the ancient language. At 
a performance of the Frogs it is especially gratifying to have some people 
actually laughing on lines, and not merely on "business." 

Through the years some performances have had special associations: 
Prometheus 1936, given as part of Guest Day in honor of Miss Pendleton's 
retirement, Agamemnon 1943, which raised fourteen hundred dollars for 
Greek War Relief, the Trojan Women 1960, presented before the Classical 
Association of New England, and the 1969 Bacchae which was later dis- 
cussed by members of the cast on a Channel 2 TV program. In recent 
years the Greek Play has been scheduled on Sophomore Fathers' Day 
(sometimes repeated too for alumnae reunion weekend). Interestingly, 
fathers at another college were shocked by the earthy language of the 
Lysistrata given in English, but Wellesley fathers concentrated with ap- 
proval on the colorful production and the modern themes — otherwise 
to most of them it was all Greek. 

Before I embarked on this chapter, Miss Glasscock and I had a long 
discussion with three undergraduates on their views of Wellesley tradi- 
tions. We talked of course of such events as step-singing and hoop-rolling 
and Junior Show. But for the sophomore her "favorite moment of the 
whole year" was the opening convocation with the faculty in their color- 
ful regalia, seniors making their first appearance in academic gowns, and 
the sense of a community meeting together. To the freshman the "excit- 
ing thing" had been Mrs. Newell's talk which gave, she felt, a sense of 
direction to the year ahead. Looking back, I realize that Opening Convo- 
cation has always been the President's moment, her opportunity to wel- 


come new faculty and students and to share with the College some of her 
ideas on Wellesley's immediate priorities. 

For a long time there was a second formal convocation with academic 
procession, held in the spring. This was Honors Chapel at which an- 
nouncements were made of Phi Beta Kappa and Sigma Xi elections and 
of Durant and Wellesley College Scholars. Indeed in 1927 these distin- 
guished students walked in the procession behind the faculty, a public 
honor protested on the ground that successful students "should find 
sufficient reward in the work they accomplish." Beginning in 1931 presi- 
dents of neighboring colleges and other outstanding scholars were in- 
vited to address Honors Chapel, and the occasion continued to be a pop- 
ular tradition until the late 1960s. At this time many students were 
questioning grades as a measure of college accomplishment, and with this 
feeling came protests against public honors for distinctions based on 
grades. In 1969 and 1970, the attendance at Honors Chapel was pitifully 
small, and the tradition came to an end. 

Early in the conversation on traditions with our three student inform- 
ants, the senior surprised me by announcing with great firmness, "One of 
my favorite things in the whole world is Christmas dinner." And the 
others agreed that it is "just terrific, having tablecloths on the table and 
candlelight and figgy pudding with holly." They went on to talk with 
enthusiasm of the Christmas traditions in the various dormitories: "Se- 
cret Santa" or "Spider and Fly" involving anonymous gifts and friendly 
tricks that go on for a week until identities are revealed at the Christmas 
party, lines of robed seniors with candles, special Christmas readings and 
"skits," exchange of gifts which in some houses are toys to be sent after- 
wards to children in hospitals. The dormitory to these students is a 
"close-knit community" with traditions that are in some ways more im- 
portant to them than the larger college rituals. They spoke for example 
of Tower Court's and Munger's birthday parties. But their greatest en- 
thusiasm was reserved for dormitory tea which occurs every Wednesday 
afternoon, and which "gets the kids together and gives everyone a chance 
to socialize informally." The senior remembered that in her sophomore 
year "which was not a big year for traditions" the institution of tea was 
threatened and that immediately in every dormitory petitions appeared 
spontaneously which everybody signed. Tea was saved, with one com- 
promise, that there would be homemade cookies only every other week. 
Alumnae will, I hope, be reassured by this final report that Wellesley 
students, with their cafeteria meals and their informal clothes, still 
have a latent concern for one of the College's oldest traditions, "gracious 

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Early Tree Day: Procession of the Classes led by the Tree Day mistress. 

Tree Day 1948: 

classes forming the traditional W. 

The Tree Day spade 
used since 1879. 

Maypole dance in front of College Hall, from the 1914 Legenda. 

May Day 1909: senior numerals formed on the east side of College Hall. 

Early May Day: rolling hoops around the "circle." 

^ \ As) «_l. 

5 n > 

Hoop rolling: from 1935 Legenda. 

Hoop rolling: the winner, 1937. 

Float Day 1897: boats forming the traditional star. 

May Day 1914: scrubbing the library steps. 

Float Night 1947, the last year of Float: 
Hansel and Gretel. 

Forensic Burning as depicted in the 1908 Legenda. 

Faculty Show 1948: singing group left to right, Margaret 
Torbert Duesenberry '46, Mildred McAfee Horton, Char- 
lotte Williams, Alice Birmingham Robinson '46, Mary E. 
Chase, Harriet R. Creighton '29. 

Freshman Serenade: from the 
1935 Legenda. 

Faculty Show 1948: Katharine Balderston laughs and Barbara McCarthy shows indif- 
ference to the handstand performed by Latin Professor Margaret Taylor. 

Junior Show 1975: "Out of the Closet and into My Life." 

Greek Play: Prometheus Bound in 1936, presented in honor of President Pendleton's retirement. 

The Hunnewell gondola, which, according to a student in 1898, lent "a 
special dignity to the scene of the Float." Bought in the 1860s, it was 
sometimes used to shoot off fireworks on Float Night. 

Float Night 

from the 1935 Legenda. 

Ice Carnival, from Wellesley Stories 1903 


Step singing on the chapel steps. 

"God is love," the theme of the first Sun- 
day chapel service (Flower Sunday). 

"Going through Harriet" (Harriet Mar 
tineau) from the 1913 Legenda. 


The Grounds 

In 1971 the College was awarded a "Large Gold Medal" that is given 
occasionally by the Massachusetts Horticultural Society. With it came the 
following citation: "For its four hundred and fifty acre campus planting 
which, started nearly a century ago, combines into a delightfully informal 
landscape. This includes the plantings of special courtyards, memorial 
class trees, and the Alexandra Botanic Garden." 

A short citation cannot mention all the facets of landscape plans of 
the campus. As we examine what has evolved since the 1860s we will see 
that there is more than the special courtyards in the Hazard Quadrangle 
and the Tower Court groups of dormitories. The Class Trees, very com- 
monly not native to the campus, are not the only exotic specimen trees. 
And in addition to the Alexandra Botanic Garden, the first endowed 
planting on the campus, reference could well have been made to the 
Hunnewell Arboretum, also endowed. It is clear, however, that whoever 
wrote the citation for the Committee on Gardens knew a great deal 
about the college grounds and appreciated the long-continued adherence 
to a plan of development based upon the inherent natural beauty of 
the land. 

The Beginnings 

Soon after Mr. and Mrs. Durant bought the Bullard farmhouse and the 
surrounding fields, meadows, and woodlands, they began to develop a 
country estate. The college grounds were once farmland and hunting 
grounds of the Natick Indians whose Chief Waban we memorialize in 
the name of the lake. These lands when taken over by the early settlers 
were farmed where possible, with much of the timber removed for build- 
ings and for firewood. Before long many fields, abandoned as the never 
very fertile soil was impoverished, became meadows. A second growth 



of trees, oaks and chestnuts, became established on the denuded hills. A 
few stands of white pines and Canada hemlocks either remained or be- 
came reestablished in places favorable to their growth. By the 1850s, 
much better agricultural and timber land having been found to the west, 
land like that of the campus was best fitted for country estates of winter 
city-dwellers like the Durants. A few cows could be grazed in the moist 
meadows. Orchards could be set out on some slopes. And vegetable gar- 
dens to supply amply the owner's family and the families of the farm 
laborers could be cultivated. Water was available from plentiful under- 
ground sources, and sewage disposal was no problem with slow seepage 
into the lake. 

The transformation of the sandy, gravelly, glacially-deposited land into 
a country estate was a formidable task. There had to be a plan carried 
out bit by bit as money was available. President Caroline Hazard in her 
Report for 1904 reminded the Trustees that "Anyone who is familiar 
with the conduct of a large country estate knows that there is an excel- 
lent opportunity of sinking any amount of money in it." And, as one 
very familiar with such matters, she noted that "Though many admire 
the moss in the lawns, these plants are a sign of the need for soil im- 
provement that must at some time be met." 

There is no doubt that Mr. and Mrs. Durant were designing an "in- 
formal landscape," which might seem to be a contradiction in terms 
unless one recalls that landscape gardening from the times of the Assyri- 
ans and the Babylonians had been what we now call "formal." The shift 
away from straight, level roads, walled or hedged enclosures, shaped trees, 
rectangular pools, and flower gardens was made by the English in the 
late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. 

It seems certain that the Durants were influenced by the thinking of 
Andrew Jackson Downing, this country's first landscape architect and 
the person who introduced here the new "English" style and described 
it in a book published in 1841. He pointed out that in the suburbs of 
Boston "a far greater number of elegant country seats are to be found 
than in any other small neighborhood of the Union." While in all like- 
lihood Mr. Durant would have been familiar with at least some of these 
estates, he very definitely would have observed the landscaping of "Welles- 
ley," the estate of his neighbor, Horatio Hollis Hunnewell, most of which 
was being developed in the English style. As early as 1854, the year the 
Durants first occupied their summer cottage, a part of the Hunnewell 
property had been terraced and planned as an Italian topiary garden, and 
a description and pictures of the estate were contained in the sixth edi- 
tion of Downing's book published in 1859. In explaining "the modern, 
natural, irregular" English style, Downing remarked on the dignity and 
majesty in an old oak, the gracefulness and luxuriance of a fine sweeping 


elm, a natural group of trees, an accidental pond, smooth lawns, firm 
gravel roads and walks, entrance lodges, hothouses and gardens, garden 
seats or benches where the view is fine — on a large body of water, if pos- 
sible. Anyone who has seen the Wellesley campus will recognize the 
vision which Mr. and Mrs. Durant must have had when they employed 
landscape gardeners to transform an abandoned farm into a country 
estate, an estate which within six years would be developed into the 
grounds of a college. 

The Roads 

The laying out of the roads was the first and most important step. The 
decision was to have the "principal" road come in from Washington 
Street through entrance gates in a stone wall with an adjacent Gothic 
gatehouse, East Lodge. The graveled road was planted with American 
elms and English purple beeches for shade and dignity. The beeches, 
which only now are reaching their mature beauty, were admired by all 
who came to Wellesley by the original main road and still are admired 
by those who walk the old road or who see them from Bates, Freeman, 
and McAfee. (As the result of careful siting, only two of the original 
beeches had to be felled to make room for those dormitories.) The elms, 
like most of the others originally planted along the roads, have nearly 
all succumbed to the fungal elm disease. Those that remain are zealously 
cared for. The sugar maples and thornless locusts that have replaced 
them are among the best possible substitutes, but no other tree can equal 
the American elm for gracefully over-arching a road. 

The main road passed along the southern slope of Bullard's Hill (later 
known as Water Tower Hill) through an old cleared field having the 
remnants of an apple orchard. A clump of Norway spruces was planted 
just before the place at which a passageway was cut through a grove of 
native Canada hemlocks. Enough of these hemlocks remain to justify still 
calling this part of the road "Christmas Tree Alley," as it was named by 
the early students. After passing through the hemlocks to the level of the 
meadow, the road encountered a cart road that came from the cow barn, 
sheep barn, and stable. The other end of this farm service road, as shown 
on the earliest map of the campus, went from the stables past the green- 
house to the farmhouse (Homestead) and out to Washington Street 
through a simple gate in the stone wall. Elms must have been planted 
along it at an early date because the ones remaining are as large as any on 
the campus. Straightened and widened after Mrs. Durant's greenhouses 
were removed in 1925, this road is now the southeastern end of the main 
road through the campus. (One part of a Wellesley road, like some of 
Boston's streets, follows old cow paths!) 


The plantings where the main road and this service road met may well 
date from the 1870s because the English hawthorns and Japanese flower- 
ing quinces which are still there were very popular at that time. The 
plantings that screened the barns from view are very old. The two large 
Japanese flowering cherry trees, set off by several varieties of Japanese 
Chamaecyparises, are of the same kinds that were planted on the Hun- 
newell estate. They may have been a gift from Mr. Hunnewell, for there 
were few places from which to buy these trees that had been imported 
only recently. He may also have given Mr. Durant some of the rhododen- 
drons and mountain laurels at the base of the hill on which Stone-Davis 
now stands; they are old enough to date from the early days, planted 
there as Downing recommended as "an enhancement of natural beauty." 
Doubtless Mr. Hunnewell presented Mr. Durant with many more trees 
and shrubs than the golden larches which provided the impetus for the 
first Tree Day. 

When the death of young Harry Durant led to planning for a college 
rather than an estate, Mr. and Mrs. Durant abandoned the plan to build 
a manor house for him on the hill where Stone and Davis Halls now 
stand and they selected as the site for the main college building the large 
hilltop farther around the lake. The principal road was therefore ex- 
tended west from the juncture of the farm road and the road from East 
Lodge. It followed the high ground below the north slope of what to us 
is Stone-Davis Hill. Below and across the road from it was the swampy 
meadow, edged with wild yellow cowslips, where the farm animals 
grazed, the area which the early students called "cowslip farm." Although 
as early as 1888 drains were installed, according to a map of that date, 
it continues to be the marshiest meadow on the campus. During the days 
of horse-drawn mowers many were stuck there when cutting and raking 
hay. Even today the groundsmen using tractor-drawn machines find it a 
quagmire. This section of the old road is now a level lawn between the 
original Norway spruces and the more recently planted Colorado blue 
spruces, some of them Class Trees. The new main road built in 1961 was 
swung out into the drier edge of the meadow, where it passes old Norway 
spruces and flowering cherry trees, one given to the students of Wellesley 
by the Japanese International Christian University Foundation in 1953 
in appreciation of gifts received from Wellesley's Service Organization. 
The Class of 1976 planted its cherry tree there, also. 

A section of the original main road is still in use in front of the Chapel. 
Farther along, below Founders Hall, the old road was removed and 
grassed over in 1961. On the lake side of it in a low-lying area Mr. Du- 
rant had planted a large group of rhododendrons. Later they served as 
the backdrop for the first outdoor theatre with the audience sitting on 
the grassy hillside below the present site of Founders Hall. 


As the first students, faculty, and visitors who came from the railroad 
station, through East Lodge Gate, and along the graveled road curving 
between the hills and skirting the meadow, arrived at Rhododendron 
Hollow, they suddenly caught sight of College Hall. One of Downing's 
admonitions for the proper landscape gardening of rural estates was that 
from the time the great house had been seen it should not be lost sight 
of until reached — and no flowers or architectural features should be 
permitted to distract the eye. This dictum was followed completely: 
between the viewer and the magnificent building on the hilltop, which 
was still clothed with giant oaks, was only a great rolling lawn, the only 
lawn on the original campus. Called first "College Hall Green," then 
"Tower Court Green," and now "Severance Green," it has been the 
scene of pageants, Tree Day ceremonies, reunion parades, and the inaugu- 
ration of President Adams. Only once was the view of Lake Waban from 
the road or the lawn impaired: in 1893 a boathouse was erected on the 
shore, but it was torn down in 1901, the second year of Miss Hazard's 
administration. She once remarked that "The lake shore is our most 
beautiful possession, and no building which would endanger its beauty 
can be placed upon it." 

Beyond a small tree-covered hillock, in a depression between the lawn 
and the lake, Mr. Durant built what Downing called "a piece of artifi- 
cial water." In it was installed a fountain that could not be seen from the 
road. The evening the fountain was first to be used, Henry Wadsworth 
Longfellow was invited to come from Cambridge for the ceremonies 
planned by the students. Although disappointed when at the last mo- 
ment he could not come for the occasion, they named the pond for him. 
A few years later it became a muddy, silted-in swale over which the fresh- 
man-sophomore tug-of-war was held, the losers being pulled through the 
slime. In the early 1930s the fountain was repaired and the pond ce- 
mented to hold the water level. When an addition to the library was 
made in the late 1950s, it was moved slightly westward, and with the 
completion in 1975 of the west addition to the Margaret Clapp Library, 
the building will be cantilevered over Longfellow Pond, which is being 
somewhat enlarged and formalized so that it will retain its importance 
in the landscape. With all of these modifications, it remains "a piece of 
artificial water" and bears the name of the poet who frequently visited 
the College in its early years. The final portion of the original principal 
road, still in use to Tower Court, followed the easiest grade for horse- 
drawn vehicles up the end of College Hall hill to a driveway circling 
through the porte cochere of the building. 

As the College has developed, roads have come and gone, gained and 
lost importance. The service road near the barns of the estate became a 
part of the main road of the College. Another, built to carry supplies for 


the construction of College Hall and abandoned when the building was 
completed, has been restored in part. This road started at Central Street 
near West Lodge; the person who lived in this gatehouse checked in the 
materials which were unloaded from a railway siding and were taken by 
wagon to the building site. After crossing an open field, now the archery 
range and hockey fields, the road went through the woods to the level 
of the lake at the place where the little brook runs into the Inlet Cove. 
From there it skirted the base of College Hall hill and joined the main 
road up to the building. The present road from the little brook to 
Shakespeare House follows closely the line of the last section of the old 
wagon road. 

Not much of the little tree-lined brook is visible today. It drained 
the meadow and the College Hall sewage beds until they were removed. 
Later it carried the effluent from the boilers of the Central Heating and 
Lighting Plant built in 1902. Finally in the 1950s it was encased in con- 
crete pipes and located beneath the parking lot for the Service Building. 
Until then, always enriched by mineral nutrients from the sewage or the 
boilers, it had been a favorite collecting place for botanists and zoologists. 
By the time its waters reached the lake, they were purified and added few, 
if any, stimulants to the growth of weeds in the cove. When encased so 
that no plants removed any chemicals, its outpouring fertilized water 
weeds, and their rank growth became hazardous to swimmers and a 
nuisance to the oarsmen. Unwittingly the College had brought upon 
itself one of the few ecological problems it has had to face. 

On the map of 1875 is shown a service road thought of as permanent 
that entered the grounds from Central Street nearer the Village than 
did the temporary road at West Lodge. Later officially called "North 
Road," it was early known as the "coal road" because over it were hauled 
wagon loads of coal for the College Hall boiler plant. Used not only for 
deliveries but for rapid access to the central campus, North Road was 
in service until 1961. Its gatehouse was erected in 1896 and was torn 
down in 1932 in preparation for the building of Munger Hall. The spur 
once planned from it to North Road was never constructed; Munger has 
always been the only dormitory not directly connected by motor road 
with the campus. One segment of the old road still exists and is a part 
of the main campus road: the section around the base of Norumbega 

Two other old service roads have had very different fates, although 
each of them at one time was elevated to the status of principal road. One 
went from the Power House to a hill on Central Street that was a source 
of sand and gravel and, when that was removed, became known as the 
"Gravel Pit" and is now the parking .lot for Alumnae Hall and the Haz- 
ard Quadrangle. With the building of those dormitories, the road was 



extended to provide an exit to Central Street, and there was only a spur 
into the "Gravel Pit." In 1961 the old cart path, moved a few feet to the 
west, became the only entrance from Central Street and a part of the 
main road through the campus. On the other hand, also in 1961, what 
had been the main road entering from Central Street — and, indeed, had 
been considered the principal entrance to the campus — became a foot 
path from Central Street to the spur leading to the Observatory and 
Sage Hall. Its origin was humble: it was initially a cart path from the 
barns to a small field that is now part of the Hunnewell Arboretum and 
the Alexandra Botanic Garden. Its rise to prominence began when the 
first Hunnewell School was moved to the campus and remodeled for use 
as a dormitory, Fiske House, and the road was extended to Central 
Street. When for that entrance to the campus (by then known as Fiske 
Road) the Class of 1916 presented impressive gates reminiscent of those 
used for English country estates, naturally enough it was regarded as 
the main approach to the College. With its importance, and traffic, fur- 
ther increased in the early 1930s by the closing of the earliest principal 
road through the gates by East Lodge, Fiske became one of the most 
dangerous roads on the campus and a major reason for revising the 
system of campus roads. The handsome gates remain, now opening onto 
a lovely footpath into the campus (provision was made for its use by 
firetrucks in an emergency), and the adjacent area has become the "bird 
refuge" that it was designated on the campus plans of the 1920s. One 
reminder of the farm path's origin remains: Gray House, labeled on old 
maps "laborers cottage." 

When the whole system of roads was revised in 1961, thanks to part 
of a matching grant from the Ford Foundation, a dream of many years 
was finally realized. As early as 1907 Miss Hazard had pointed out to the 
trustees that "The roads were laid out for carriages. Now that automo- 
biles come rushing over them, they demand attention, as in places they 
are dangerously narrow. Some of the angles at which roads cross each 
other ... do not allow enough space for the many carriages which 
have to go through the grounds." Over the years some improvements 
were made, but as additional parts of the campus were opened up and 
automobiles rushed over the roads in numbers and at speeds that would 
have been inconceivable in 1907, the situation became very serious. It 
was aggravated by the ever-increasing number of large trucks delivering 
supplies (and damaging the roads as well as causing traffic jams) and by 
motorists who found campus roads tempting shortcuts between Central 
and Washington Streets. A fortunate combination of circumstances en- 
abled the College to convert the Lake Waban Laundry building beyond 
the Central Street playing fields into a Distribution Center where ten- 
wheel trucks could unload bulk supplies. The college roads therefore 


did not have to be widened and straightened to handle this traffic and 
instead could be simplified and beautified. The work was carried out un- 
der the direction of Umberto Innocenti and Richard Webel, landscape 
architects well known in New York and Washington, although the plan 
was essentially the concept of President Clapp. Among the happiest ideas 
of the landscape architects were the widening and straightening of the 
road near the Quadrangle and the placing of sugar maples and flowering 
crabapples alongside it, and the large Katsura trees designed to make the 
end of Beebe look as if it were rooted on the hill. Of course, from the 
point of view of safety and security, the closing of all but two entrances 
to the central campus was of paramount importance. 

There is now, as there was in 1875, only one main road through the 
campus, although there are striking differences in the two roads, as the 
campus maps indicate. A hundred years ago the road wound its way 
from East Lodge on Washington Street to "the College," as College Hall 
was known, and the whole northern and western sections of the campus 
were woods and wetlands; now the main road, College Road, winds 
through the campus from Central Street near the Quadrangle to the 
entrance from Washington Street between Homestead and the Wellesley 
College Club. Off it branch side roads providing access to various build- 
ings. By eliminating some parts of the road existing before 1961 — notably 
those on Norumbega Hill, between Tower Court Hill and the Library, 
near Fiske, and below Stone Davis — , some of the original simplicity of 
the design has been restored and additional areas on the campus have 
again become the province of pedestrians. 

The Paths 

Most people know the campus as pedestrians, and since the fall of 1875 
the paths have had charm as well as usefulness. (Miss Pendleton often 
said that she didn't lay out walks — she observed where students made 
paths and she then provided appropriate surfaces.) It was not long before 
the early students wore paths through the woods, up to hilltops, skirting 
swampy meadows and along the lake shore. Some are still dirt paths; 
some have evolved from dirt to cinder, to plank, to asphalt or pebbled 
concrete; some became roads. Others are lost, probably because they 
were obliterated by a building or led to an area which is no longer at- 
tractive. It is hard to imagine that once there were so many wild flowers 
that students could pick all they wished and take them to their rooms. In 
fact, one reason that there is no more arbutus nor columbine nor lady- 
slipper orchid is that they picked too many. Where was "Lupine Path"? 
Where was the "Violet Lawn"? Where was "Tanglewood Path" which 
Katharine Lee Bates said led to a "perfect wilderness on the other hill"? 


One path which is still much as it must always have been is that to 
Tupelo Point, so named because of the tupelo, or pepperidge, trees grow- 
ing naturally at the end. To get to the point from College Hall the stu- 
dents went along the lakeshore as one still can in front of Acorns, then 
through the oak woods where the Society Houses were built. Another 
early path from College Hall branched off the lakeside path to Tupelo 
Point to go up to the hilltop where old Stone Hall was built. The part 
of this branch that then went between the greenhouses and stables of 
the Durants and continued through the old orchard to East Lodge was 
one of the paths which were first covered by cinders and later bricked 
for easier snow plowing. Although now asphalted, it is still called "The 
Brick Path." 

Another path below College Hall stayed close by the lake around to 
the Inlet Cove. Mr. Durant built rustic balconies overhanging the lake, 
just off the path below College Hall. For many years when these "spoon- 
holders" had to be repaired, gnarled and twisted branches like the origi- 
nals were used, retaining the style, but recently unromantic sawn boards 
have been substituted. The path continued across the bridge and through 
the west woods, passing a very fine bog, still there, that was called "Zool- 
ogy Pond" on early maps. Another favorite path of the early years no 
longer exists. It went from College Hall to "Chestnut Hill" (later "No- 
rumbega Hill," now "the Academic Quad"). 

The paths mentioned here assumed such importance in the lives of 
the students that after the commencement exercises on June 24, 1879, 
the first graduates sentimentally walked over them "for one last time." 
But they are by no means the only alumnae to have had such fondness 
(nostalgia, if you will) for Wellesley's paths. Even today more than a 
few walk around the lake path during reunion, and some make a point 
of returning in the fall or spring to do so and perhaps to rejoice espe- 
cially in the eighty acres of woodland between Pond Road and the west 
shore of Lake Waban which members of the Hunnewell family gave to 
the College in 1964. 

The Siting of the Buildings 

The Durants had no need for a landscape architect in placing the early 
buildings. For College Hall they wanted a view of the lake, and the size 
of the building virtually dictated the choice of the hill. When in 1880 
they selected the site for Stone Hall for the "Teacher Specials," they 
again chose a site with a lake view — and it seems likely that they took 
special pleasure in locating it on the hill where they had once planned 
to build the great mansion of the country estate for young Harry (or so 
some evidence, including the tombstone there of Harry's dog, "Jack, mon 


pauvre chien," seems to indicate). Also placed on a hill was Simpson, 
built in 1881 as a "cottage" for students. Music Hall, of which the cor- 
nerstone was laid in the same year, was built on solid ground, near the 
lake but not too far from College Hall and Stone Hall and not so near 
either of them that the cacophony from its open windows would prove 
disturbing. The location a few years later of Billings Hall, also a music 
building, was foreordained to adjoin Music Hall. 

Mr. Durant had talked with his old friend Professor Eben Horsford 
about building a "School of Art" on the hill which the students called 
"Chestnut Hill" because of the chestnuts they gathered there and roasted. 
Before the Farnsworth Art Building was erected there in 1889, it had been 
named "Norumbega Hill" in honor of Professor Horsford, who cham- 
pioned the theory that the Norsemen had established a settlement on the 
Charles River near the village of Norumbega, not far from Wellesley. 
When the first cottage dormitory was built on the hill in 1886 and Pro- 
fessor Horsford, who had contributed generously to it as to so many 
other projects, declined to have it bear his name, the students proposed 
"Norumbega." He happily accepted that suggestion, and by extension 
the whole hill was so designated. Three other dormitories — Freeman 
(1888), Wood (1889), and Wilder (1900)— and the much more imposing 
Farnsworth eventually stood on the hill, as is recounted in the chapter 
on buildings. All five of them were placed around the rim of the hill, 
leaving in the center an open, tree-covered area. Today, on a simple but 
formal terrace constructed on the site of Farnsworth, five stone medal- 
lions from that building have been laid. These medallions, inscribed 
with the names and dates, commemorate the buildings that once stood 
on Norumbega Hill. Stone benches given by the Class of 1879 have also 
been placed on the terrace, from which a view across the green to the 
lake opens up as it did many years ago. 

The first building on the campus whose siting was surrounded by 
controversy was the Houghton Memorial Chapel, which was dedicated 
in 1889. Initially the trustees had planned to build it across the main 
road toward the lake, almost opposite the Art Building and among the 
rhododendrons near Longfellow Pond. Then some of the faculty and the 
Alumnae Association, which by that time had an "Aesthetic Committee," 
swung into vigorous action. After lengthy conferences, the site was 
shifted to a location still on the main road but beyond Music Hall toward 
Stone Hall. 

Fairly reliable tradition has it that Mr. Durant envisioned a "School 
of Science" on the hill across the meadow beyond Simpson. The Whitin 
Observatory was built there in 1900, and a succession of President's Re- 
ports called for the erection on it of a "science center." Then, after Col- 
lege Hall fire, it was obvious that the needs of the various science depart- 


ments could not await the funds necessary for the construction of such a 
center. These needs were cared for, never wholly satisfactorily, over a 
period of years and in various locations, as the chapter on buildings 
details. The science center so long envisioned is finally taking form, 
and on the hill selected by Mr. Durant a hundred years ago. 

When Caroline Hazard assumed the presidency in 1899 Wellesley 
entered not only a new century but a new era of its own. Confronted by 
grave financial problems, Miss Hazard realized that the College must 
increase its income and that expanding the enrollment and the revenue 
from students' fees was one important way. This inevitably entailed ad- 
ditional dormitories and other facilities. She was also well aware of the 
necessity for an overall plan prepared by experts. Fortunately for Welles- 
ley, she was a woman of wealth and action. "At no expense to the Col- 
lege," as she noted, in 1901 she asked three well-known landscape archi- 
tects to study the situation and make their independent recommenda- 
tions. By November 1902 she had received sketches from C. Howard 
Walker and from the firm of Heins and La Farge of New York and a 
report from Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. of Boston. The Trustees liked 
the suggestions of Olmsted, and Wellesley College became "Project 
Number 250" in his firm. Either as the landscape architect or as a con- 
sulting landscape architect, he maintained his connection with the Col- 
lege for more than twenty years. 

His father, Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr., was one of the first, and cer- 
tainly the most influential, of the followers of Andrew Jackson Downing. 
Not only was he mainly responsible for urban parks such as Central 
Park in New York and the "green necklace" of parks in Boston, but he 
was involved in designing or re-designing fifteen or more college cam- 
puses. His son and his stepson, John Charles Olmsted, worked closely 
with him. The firm's offices were moved to Brookline when the plans 
for Boston parks were being developed, and a number of young, hopeful 
landscape architects worked there as "apprentices." One of them, who 
was to be helpful to Wellesley in the 1920s, was Arthur A. Shurtleff. 

The first building which the younger Olmsted was called upon to lo- 
cate was a new "Central Heating and Lighting Plant." It was obvious 
that the old College Hall boiler was taxed to the full extent of its capac- 
ity and that a new facility must precede the construction of any addi- 
tional dormitories. Miss Hazard and her brother Rowland, who became 
a trustee very soon after she assumed the presidency, prevailed upon 
John D. Rockefeller to provide the funds for it, and his engineer pro- 
vided the plans. Actually Olmsted had little choice concerning the lo- 
cation, which was determined by the practical consideration that the 
power plant be placed as close to as many buildings as possible. His repu- 
tation as a landscape architect, however, may have helped to make more 


acceptable the location in a charming wooded glade of a building hav- 
ing a very conspicuous smoke stack. And, as Miss Hazard explained in 
her Report for 1903, the chimney's height was necessary "for carrying 
the products of combustion well above any dormitories in the neigh- 
borhood, for the sake of the trees no less than for the sake of individuals." 
There were environmental concerns even then. 

Once the heating and lighting for new dormitories had been provided, 
their construction was imperative. But where were they to be built? The 
initial recommendation by Walker, by Heins, and by Olmsted as well, 
had been on Norumbega Hill, and a rather elaborate scheme had been 
drawn up to replace the old wooden dormitories in sequence. In March 
1903, however, the Trustees turned down all of the proposals, and by 
May of that year Olmsted had prepared a plan placing the buildings on 
what Miss Hazard called "the high plateau near the West Woods" — the 
site of the Hazard Quadrangle comprising Beebe, Cazenove, Pomeroy, 
and Shafer. One reason for the selection was that Mrs. John C. Whitin, 
the trustee who had given the Observatory and Observatory House, had 
interested her sister-in-law, Mrs. Martha S. Pomeroy, in providing a dor- 
mitory and, in particular, one to which students living there would not 
have a long walk home from the Observatory after an evening of viewing 
the heavens through the telescope. The nearest appropriate place was 
"the high plateau near the West Woods." 

In addition to the four quadrangle dormitories constructed in 1904, 
1905, 1906, and 1909, two other major buildings were built during Miss 
Hazard's administration: the gymnasium, Mary Hemenway Hall, and the 
library, dedicated in 1909 and made possible by a matching gift from 
Andrew Carnegie. 

It had long been apparent that the gymnasium in College Hall was 
not adequate. As early as November 1893 President Shafer read to the 
Board of Trustees a report containing this "urgent recommendation": 
"In consideration of the smallness of the gymnasium, and the successful 
steps already taken to make the out-door sports of the students a part of 
their systematic physical culture, an athletic field be prepared in that 
portion of the ground lying between Music Hall and the Lake. The esti- 
mated expense is $1,250." Miss Lucille Eaton Hill, the very able and 
imaginative Director of Physical Training, must have felt very strongly 
about the matter; she offered to be "responsible for the whole expense," 
and, according to the Trustee Minutes, Mrs. Durant "presented from 
Miss Hill a paper holding herself and her estate bound for such portion 
as was not otherwise secured of the expense of an athletic field at a cost 
not to exceed $1,250." On that condition the trustees voted to "consent 
to the appropriation of the parcel of ground as an athletic field." About 
a decade later Billings Hall was erected in that area, and a hockey field 


was constructed in the vicinity of the present one. By the time that very 
lengthy negotiations had been completed in 1908 with the executors of 
the estate of Mrs. Mary Hemenway and with the Boston Normal School 
of Gymnastics, the site for the new gymnasium was arrived at without 
difficulty. "A site has been selected," the Trustees Minutes stated, "not 
far from the present hockey field, and beyond the new group of dormi- 
tories" — that is, those now known as the Hazard Quadrangle. 

The location of the library building was by no means so clear-cut. Miss 
Hazard pointed out in her Report for 1906: "It has been assumed by 
common consent that the site for the library is on the College Hall Hill, 
west of that building and at right angles to it." She stated, however, that 
"Various friends of the College who have seen the Bryn Mawr Library 
are urging upon us a building of that character," and that she "cannot 
believe it would be proper to put a building of stone, however beautiful 
in itself, in close connection with the large and dominating mass of 
College Hall." It seemed to her that "we are pledged to brick if the 
building is to stand in such close connection to College Hall, and we 
have the style of architecture prescribed for us." She therefore urged that 
the Trustees "also take a look into the future and decide where other 
buildings which we shall need in the course of time ought to be placed." 

Accordingly, a trustee committee, with Miss Hazard as chairman, was 
appointed to report on possible sites for a library building, and that com- 
mittee invited Charles A. Piatt of New York to consider sites "and make 
suggestions for the general placing of the building from an architectural 
point of view." He and the committee had "a long session," after which 
he presented "a most comprehensive report. A careful survey of the 
grounds has been made, placing every tree in position, giving us all of 
the levels, and making a report on the eligibility of various sites dis- 
cussed for the library in a very clear manner." The Trustees then voted 
in February 1908 to approve the site near Longfellow Pond and to em- 
ploy as architects the firm of Shepley, Rutan, and Coolidge, described 
by Miss Hazard as "perhaps the most distinguished architects of aca- 
demic buildings in the country." 

Miss Hazard continued to call to the attention of the Trustees the 
need for dormitories and a science building. She "recalled to them" a 
plan which she had "warmly advocated" of a large additional dormitory 
(for as many as 200 students) on Norumbega Hill. As she envisioned it, 
"This dormitory would be built on an angle, with a stairway leading up 
the hill between its two wings, and a clock tower crowning the whole. 
Norumbega is such a beautiful little hill that we could have a cluster of 
buildings there which would have the effect of an Italian citadel, with 
the advantage that our buildings would be open to light and air on both 
sides." A site for still another large dormitory group began to be talked 


about, and by November 1911 the Trustees authorized its executive 
committee "to secure plans for a new dormitory ... to be one of a new 
group in the orchard, so called." (The orchard was in the general area 
where Bates, Freeman, and McAfee were built in the 1950s.) Also in 1911 
the Shepley firm was asked to make a plan for the future development of 
the College "including the proposed Student-Alumnae Building" as well 
as for the new residence group. 

These, then, were the general directions in which the College expected 
to move when funds became available for new buildings. Suddenly the 
entire situation was changed, literally overnight, when College Hall was 
destroyed by fire on March 17, 1914. No longer was it the academic cen- 
ter around which everything else pivoted. And no longer was it the 
largest residence hall on campus. Simultaneously immediate action and 
drastically revised long-range planning became imperative. 

President Pendleton and the Board of Trustees moved very rapidly on 
all fronts. On March 18, the day after the fire, a special meeting of its 
executive committee was held at which "Mr. Shattuck of the firm of Shep- 
ley, Rutan, and Coolidge was also present." "No immediate decision" 
was made about "the needs of the College for its administration and the 
problem of the future housing of the students," but the matters "were 
referred to Messrs. Shepley, Rutan, and Coolidge for further considera- 
tion." On March 24 "Mr. Shattuck submitted a sketch of a proposed 
temporary structure to be used as an administration building, the cost 
not to exceed $32,800. It was voted unanimously to authorize proceeding 
with the erection." And so it was that the Hen Coop, completed in fif- 
teen working days (and lasting for seventeen years!) was built near the 
Houghton Memorial Chapel to serve as a classroom and administration 

Although emergency measures were taken to provide truly temporary 
housing for displaced students and faculty, it was clearer than ever be- 
fore that dormitories must be fireproof and that residential equivalents 
of the Hen Coop would not suffice. Louise McCoy North '79, who had 
been deeply involved throughout the College's history as student, faculty 
member, president of the Alumnae Association, and trustee, was a central 
figure. With amazing celerity, she arranged for the gift from an anony- 
mous donor (later revealed as Ellen Stebbins Curtiss James) of the "Cen- 
tral Dormitory" (Tower Court) on College Hall Hill. By mid-June an- 
nouncement of the gift was made, and by mid-August the plans had 
been completed by Coolidge and Carlson, the architects proposed by the 
donor and accepted by the Trustees, and the plans were in the architects' 
Boston office available "for criticism and suggestion by the trustees be- 
tween the hours of ten and twelve" for one week. Moreover, on September 
21, 1914, the Trustees "voted to accept the terms of Coolidge and Carlson 


to draw plans for the 'west dormitory,' " which, in due course, was named 
Claflin Hall. 

Also, by May 9, 1914, Olmsted was being consulted. During the sum- 
mer and fall Shurtleff also provided revisions of Olmsted's plans placing 
new academic and residential buildings in the meadow north of the 
Chapel and toward Observatory Hill. This "Meadow Plan" was continu- 
ally revised through the spring of 1915, even to the point of working out 
a sequence for the erection of buildings. Had this plan been accepted, the 
Wellesley campus would have an appearance very different from the 
one we know. The open meadow would have been filled and leveled. 
Instead of being placed on hills, many buildings would have been on 
swampland, the old "cowslip farm," the place which "only booted bot- 
anists and zoologists" crossed. And the buildings would have been placed 
in rectangular units, with formal, straight walks, around rectangular 
pools with fountains. It would have been a return to what Andrew Jack- 
son Downing called "the ancient, geometric style." 

With the funds assured for "the central dormitory," Tower Court, and 
with the architects selected by its donor also working on plans for the 
adjacent dormitory, the Trustees must have been well satisfied with the 
progress being made. Then they discovered that some of the faculty and 
alumnae did not share their satisfaction with the proposed uses of College 
Hall Hill and the "Great Meadow." Apparently there was some senti- 
ment against having the site of "the College," as College Hall was thought 
of and spoken of for a good many years, become exclusively a residential 
center. Perhaps, some thought, at least the western part, where Claflin 
Hall now stands, might be the location of the proposed student-alumnae 
building. There were also many misgivings about the meadow as an 
academic center, and strong feelings about the need for a supervising 

As early as October 28, 1914, Miss Pendleton read to the Executive 
Committee a long letter from five redoubtable members of the Art De- 
partment: Alice Van Vechten Brown, Edith R. Abbot, Alice Walton, 
Eliza J. Newkirk '00, an architect herself, and Myrtilla Avery '91. This 
letter emphasized the need for the selection of a supervising architect and 
analyzed the problems of the Great Meadow in designing and grouping 
academic buildings. It also advocated, as far as woodlands were con- 
cerned, that certain parts be set apart as permanent wildwoods, certain 
parts as "cultivate wooded areas," and certain parts "as in time to be 
cut down and built upon." Mr. Shurtleff then gave to the Executive Com- 
mittee and to the full Board on November 13 "an explanation of the 
preliminary plan of the Advisory Committee of Architects." Three days 
later the Executive Committee met with Art Department members and 
then "voted to postpone work on the plans for the west dormitory." 


At a meeting of the Executive Committee held on New Year's Day 1915 
(as Mr. Quarles points out in his chapter on the role of the trustees, the 
Board was an extraordinarily hardworking group after the fire!), it was 
decided to have a conference with faculty and alumnae on January 29 in 
the conference room of the library. (We must remember that, among 
other facilities, the room in College Hall where the campus meetings of 
the trustees had been held had been destroyed. Until Green Hall was 
built, they met in a variety of places including the Library, the Art Build- 
ing, and the parlor of Stone Hall.) 

For once the Alumnae Conference Committee moved slightly faster 
than the faculty committee — perhaps because the alumnae committee 
had only three members: Mary Rockwell Hook '00, an architect, the 
chairman; Dora Emerson Wheeler '92, the vice president of the Alumnae 
Association; Lucy J. Freeman '96, who had studied at the Boston Museum 
of Fine Arts, the American School of Archaeology in Rome, and at mu- 
seums abroad. That committee by February 6 proposed for supervising 
architect two names: Ralph Adams Cram of Boston and Frank Miles 
Day, of Day and Klauder of Philadelphia. To the Executive Committee 
two days later Miss Pendleton read the report of the Conference Commit- 
tee of the Faculty, which was composed of Miss Brown and Miss New- 
kirk (later Mrs. Rogers) of the Art Department, Elizabeth K. Fisher, Pro- 
fessor of Geology, Eliza H. Kendrick, Professor of Biblical History, Mar- 
garet P. Sherwood, Professor of English Literature, and Alice V. Waite, 
Dean and Professor of English Literature. To call it a "strong, able com- 
mittee" would be an understatement. It made the points that "A man 
satisfactory along artistic lines, but without the practical side may (1) 
be supplemented by a practical architect and (2) checked up by a careful 
building committee, but a man uninterested in the artistic side cannot 
be made satisfactory," and that "A great design may be cut down and 
altered to meet the limitations of price and so forth, and may still remain 
great, but a petty design can never afterwards be enlarged." The report 
then mentioned architects, "each of rare capacity," who "have been con- 
sidered by the Committee with something like the necessary thorough- 
ness," and it looked most approvingly on Cram and Day. 

Obviously convinced, the Executive Committee on that very day dis- 
cussed the method of choosing a supervising architect, and the full Board 
on March 12 voted to create the office, to appoint Day to hold it, and to 
empower the Executive Committee to formulate his duties. Those duties 
as authorized on March 22, 1915, were so important for so many critical 
years in the development of the campus that they warrant quotation in 

1. The architect for any new building must be approved by the super- 
vising architect. 


2. Plans for new buildings must be subject to criticism and revision 
of the supervising architect. 

3. Architectural plans in any old building must be approved by him. 

4. All walks, grading, and new planting schemes are to be carried out 
under his direction. 

5. All memorials in the shape of statues, bas-reliefs, medallion etc. 
must be approved by him before being accepted from donors. 

In 1933 the duties were redefined, with the supervising architect retain- 
ing the first three and a consulting landscape architect exercising the 
fourth and, in addition, being "consulted in regard to the placement of 
all new buildings." These procedures remained in effect until 1940, when 
the Trustees voted to handle matters in the future "as the occasion may 

For a good many years in actual practice the firms of Day and Klauder 
and of Cram and Ferguson worked together closely, with the first firm 
becoming the executive architects on a good many buildings (Founders, 
Severance, Sage, Stone-Davis, and Green) and Cram the supervising archi- 
tect. The landscape architects, Olmsted and Shurtleff, were consulted and 
received copies of all plans. It was a distinguished and apparently unusu- 
ally amicable team during a period of extraordinarily extensive planning 
and construction at Wellesley. 

Even after the appointment in March 1915 of a supervising architect 
to the liking of the Alumnae and Faculty Conference Committees, there 
ensued a period — fortunately brief and happily concluded — which must 
have been difficult and somewhat frustrating for the Trustees, although 
their official records are exceedingly restrained. Doubtless it was also a 
troubling experience for the faculty and alumnae. In the middle of May 
Miss Pendleton called the attention of the Executive Committee to the 
fact that it had not acted on requests from the alumnae and faculty com- 
mittees asking for representation on the Building Committee, and she 
reported that she had received "two other communications from them in 
regard to College Hall Hill." The Trustee Minutes then state that 
"Before considering these, the Committee felt it necessary to determine 
the obligation of the Trustees to the donor of the new dormitory" — a 
delicate matter indeed. At the next meeting of the Committee that 
month, several definitive actions were taken: plans for the west dormi- 
tory on College Hall Hill developed by Coolidge and Carlson in accord- 
ance with suggestions by Day and Klauder were approved and authoriza- 
tion was granted to proceed; the decision of the supervising architect 
that it was impossible architecturally to place the Student-Alumnae 
Building on the southwest corner of College Hall Hill was regarded as 
final; the Committee decided that "It is not possible legally to add to its 


membership from outside the Board of Trustees, but it takes pleasure in 
inviting the Chairmen of the Alumnae and the Faculty Conference Com- 
mittees to consult with them when they meet as a Building Committee 
while the general plan for the development of the College is under con- 

The faculty and alumnae representatives apparently accepted these 
decisions as fair and reasonable and there were no further protests about 
the proposed buildings on College Hall Hill. They, doubtless, were de- 
lighted, too, that Day and Klauder rejected the "Great Meadow" con- 
cept and in October presented to the Executive Committee and the Com- 
mittees of the Faculty and Alumnae a plan for Norumbega Hill to be 
the site of the academic center. 

This plan, however, as Miss Pendleton wrote in her Report for 1915-16, 
"was such a far-reaching one that the Executive Committee, after con- 
sultation with the supervising architects, voted to secure expert criticism 
and to ask Mr. Ralph Adams Cram of Boston and Mr. Milton B. Me- 
dary, Jr. of Philadelphia to report on the plan. They warmly commended 
the selection of Norumbega Hill as the site of the academic center and 
the orchard as the site for a future group of residence halls. . . . The 
report suggested changes, which were cordially adopted by Day and 
Klauder, and involved the moving of buildings for Botany and Zoology 
to Observatory Hill." Cram and Medary were enthusiastic to the point 
of lyricism about the treatment of Norumbega Hill, speaking of it as "a 
most brilliant and constructive example of architectural design and 
composition, and an almost miraculous solution of an extremely difficult 
situation." They concluded their report by stating: "We congratulate 
Wellesley College on arriving at a basis for a solution of the problem of 
future architectural development which, when realized, will not only 
accent but glory in a remarkable topography, culminating on Norumbega 
Hill in the same spirit which has made Mont St. Michel an architectural 
monument of all time." 

We can almost hear Miss Pendleton's sigh of relief and picture her 
quiet satisfaction when we read the final words of her Report for the 
year: "Throughout the discussion of plans there have been conferences 
with faculty and alumnae, and it is believed that the ultimate result 
will secure a plan for the development of the College commending itself 
for beauty and efficiency." So much attention has been devoted here to 
this period of planning for the future because there were, as Miss Pen- 
dleton pointed out, such far-reaching results, and also because it demon- 
strated so clearly the devotion to the College of its trustees, faculty, and 
alumnae, all working for the same ultimate goal and appreciating the 
goodwill of others even when views on achieving them differed sharply 
from time to time. 


Once the major decisions on architectural development and landscape 
planning had been reached in 1916, there were many refinements and 
revisions of plans (as well as long delays while funds were raised), but 
problems of siting buildings were relatively slight thereafter for some 
forty years. "The liberal arts building" (named Founders Hall when it 
was opened in 1919), "the administration building" (Hetty H. R. Green 
Hall by the time it was completed in 1931), and "the physics building" 
(Pendleton Hall, containing also facilities for chemistry and psychology 
when it was built in 1935) were located in accordance with Day and 
Klauder's plans for Norumbega Hill which Cram had acclaimed. Sever- 
ance Hall, dedicated in 1927, became the "east" and third dormitory 
on the hill where College Hall had once stood. The proposal of Cram 
and Medary to place the buildings for botany and zoology on Observa- 
tory Hill resulted in the construction there of the two wings of Sage 
Hall in 1927 and 1931. Alumnae Hall, as the "student-alumnae build- 
ing" was called when it was completed in 1925, was a part of the plan 
for development adopted ten years earlier. Although it appears that a 
dormitory was not specified then for the site of Munger Hall, that build- 
ing may well have been thought of as an extension of the Hazard Quad- 
rangle; certainly there was no controversy about its location, and when 
it was opened in 1933 Miss Pendleton wrote, "Rarely has a building been 
erected on the campus which has met with such universal satisfaction." 
The location of the Recreation Building had been taken for granted and 
funds been raised for it almost since the moment Mary Hemenway Hall 
was built thirty years before. Wholly logical, too, was the location of 
Stone and Davis Halls on the site of old Stone Hall after it was destroyed 
by fire in 1927. Even Bates, Freeman, and McAfee, the dormitories built 
in the 1950s, were in the general area of the site selected for "the orchard 
group of dormitories" which had been envisioned for so many years. 

There was, however, in the 1950s substantial revision in the thinking 
about the plans for certain new or extensively remodeled academic build- 
ings. As early as 1923 Cram had been asked to make a plan for "a fire- 
proof addition to the Art Building," and as late as the 75th Anniversary 
Fund Campaign it was assumed that somehow satisfactory quarters for 
the Art Department and its museum could be achieved by an addition 
to the old building. In the 1940s the generally accepted view was that the 
Library, to which an addition on the south had been made in 1916, could 
not be further enlarged and that a totally new library building was nec- 
essary. Therefore the arrangement proposed during the fund-raising 
campaign from 1947 to 1950 was that the library building should be 
transformed into quarters for music, and a Library constructed on Nor- 
umbega Hill close to Farnsworth about where the Jewett Arts Center 
is now. 


Then President Clapp reported: "In September 1953 the new Librar- 
ian, Miss Helen Brown, and the Superintendent of Buildings and 
Grounds, Mr. John Kreinheder, were asked to study freshly the desira- 
bility and practicability of an addition to the library building. . . . De- 
tailed studies of cost proved that at least $750,000 would be saved if, 
instead of constructing a new building, an addition were to be made to 
the old library in such a way that every need would be met as fully as in 
a new building." Thereupon the faculty and the Trustees supported 
the plan for an addition and, as will be recounted elsewhere, funds be- 
came available so that the cornerstone could be laid in 1956 and the 
completely remodeled building and addition doubling its size could be 
dedicated in 1958. The firm of Shepley, Bulfinch, Richardson, and Abbott, 
architect for the original building, drew the plans — as it did for the 
additions on the east and west which will be completed in 1975. 

Thanks to a gift from the George Frederick Jewett family — the largest 
gift for a building since Mr. and Mrs. Durant provided the funds for 
College Hall — the Jewett Arts Center for art, music, and theatre was 
dedicated in 1958. A trustee-faculty committee recommended as architect 
Paul Rudolph, as associate architect Lawrence Anderson, and, as Miss 
Clapp stated, "studied the entire campus for possible locations, rejected 
a remote site and the dichotomous concept of an 'old' and 'new' campus, 
and finally chose Norumbega Hill as central. Centrality was important in 
practical, daily terms and as symbol of the role of the arts, equally with 
the humanities and the sciences, in civilization." 

One other major building on the campus was built during Miss Clapp's 
administration: the Wellesley College Club, opened in 1963 as a faculty- 
alumnae center with dining and conference rooms, living rooms, and 
guest bedrooms. Located on the main campus road at the Washington 
Street entrance on a site overlooking Lake Waban, it has, in addition to 
superb views, the advantage of being one of the few places on the campus 
to which strangers can easily be directed. 

The Development of the Grounds 

The natural beauty of the campus ("the park," as it was called in the 
early days) and its importance have been recognized throughout Welles- 
ley's history. Perhaps one of the clearest, most direct statements was that 
of Miss Clapp in the President's Report for 1956-58: "Second only to 
the quality of the education which it offers, Wellesley deserves renown 
for the natural beauty of its campus. This heritage should be held intact 
for future generations. To ensure this, study of soil conditions, and if 
necessary, appropriations for soil enrichment seem desirable now. There- 
after, improved landscaping of various sections of the campus, which 


interests many of us, would seem a very proper step to take whenever 
funds can be made available without cost to educational programs." 

As we have observed, Mr. and Mrs. Durant appreciated the beauty of 
natural meadows, woods, and lake. They respected the majesty of old 
trees and planted new ones which in years long after they died would 
add to the "grace and beauty" of the grounds, as Downing suggested, 
through the "unshorn luxuriance of trees." They followed his admoni- 
tion and "polished the scenery a little." For example, as Dr. Lyman 
Abbott wrote in the June 9, 1880, issue of the Christian Union: "The old 
forest trees, the natural grasses, the wildflowers, have not been spoiled 
by the marauding hand of cultivation, and lawns, grasses, gardens have 
been added. Last year a thousand rhododendrons and azaleas were im- 
ported for the park and seven thousand crocus and snowdrops were 
placed in the lawns." 

Doubtless the Durants knew precisely where the shrubs and bulbs 
should be planted to carry out their desire for an English informal land- 
scape. It was not until 1904, however, as Miss Hazard remarked in the 
President's Report for that year, that there was "the first systematic plant- 
ing ever done on the college grounds under the direction of a landscape 
architect." At that time, Henry Saxton Adams, a Harvard-trained land- 
scape architect who the preceding year had been appointed to teach the 
course in horticulture which the Botany Department introduced, super- 
vised the planting by his students of bulbs around the Chapel and in 
front of Music Hall. That area, not yet a manicured lawn, was never 
mowed except in late summer, when a hay crop to feed the Grounds 
Department horses was removed and stored in the haymow of the large 
farm barn. 

Adams also planned and supervised the first gardens in the Hazard 
Quadrangle. It is significant that the Trustees had rejected in 1905 the 
plan of J. A. Schweinfurth, the architect who won the competition for 
the design of the dormitories, to lay out formal gardens with a fountain 
in the center of the Elizabethan buildings. Later, too, the Trustees re- 
fused to accept ShurtlefFs grandiose plan for the steep slope from the 
quadrangle to the road near the present power house — a plan calling for 
balustraded steps from terrace to terrace, with fountained pools and 
beds of flowers. The Trustees, however, heartily approved Adams's plan 
for the relatively simple landscaping which was made possible by the 
first gift the College ever received to beautify any part of the campus. 
Wishing to make the students in Pomeroy and Cazenove, the first two 
of the quadrangle dormitories, feel at home and less far away from 
College Hall and the Norumbega Hill dormitories, Mary Harriman Sev- 
erance '85 initially provided a few hundred dollars in memory of her 
little daughter Alexandra for beds of flowers that would bloom in the 


spring or fall. In 1906 she and her husband, Cordenio A. Severance, de- 
cided to expand the planting within the quadrangle and gave $10,000 
to endow it. 

Working with Frederick D. Woods, the Superintendent of Grounds, 
Adams also selected ornamental shrubs he wanted his students to learn 
about and had them placed around several of the buildings. By the time 
he left in 1910 he had established the pattern of introducing to the cam- 
pus plantings interesting old and new varieties of shrubs he wished to 
use in teaching. This pattern has been continued ever since — first by his 
student, Helen I. Davis '12, and then by me, one of her students. 

Miss Davis taught not only the course in horticulture but, after pro- 
fessional training, introduced a course in landscape architecture. She 
remained on the faculty until 1947 and planned the plantings in and 
around the new buildings: Founders, Green, Pendleton, Stone-Davis, 
Severance, and Munger. It was she who planned the "special courtyards" 
mentioned in the Horticultural Society's award. Between Tower Court 
and Severance she designed a shade garden; at the original entrances to 
Stone and Davis she used the small spaces for spring bulbs and flowering 
shrubs, and, on the terrace of Munger, dwarf Japanese flowering cherries 
with beds of pansies. Planned to require minimal maintenance, these 
little gardens add a homelike quality to the dormitories when Heads of 
Houses or students give them a little attention. 

Any knowledgeable observer will notice Miss Davis's use of interest- 
ing, uncommon shrubs and vines and may notice that two plants of the 
same kind are often placed in different parts of the campus. One speci- 
men was located where she taught the students the characteristics of the 
plant and its name, and the other was where she gave them the field 
identification quiz. Hundreds of students taught by Miss Davis and by 
me have tramped the campus learning in this fashion native and intro- 
duced species of ornamental plants. 

The full scope of Miss Davis's talent as a landscape architect is best 
seen in the Alexandra Botanic Garden. When some of the space for the 
small garden in memory of little Alexandra Severance was lost by the 
building of a link between Pomeroy and Cazenove in 1920, Margaret C. 
Ferguson, the chairman of the Botany Department, which supervised the 
Alexandra Garden, persuaded Mrs. Severance to double the endowment 
and to allow the garden to become a part of the botanic gardens which 
Miss Ferguson had long envisioned. After the site on Observatory Hill 
had been selected for the botanical laboratories, Miss Ferguson prevailed 
upon the Trustees to set aside some twenty acres around the hill and as 
far west as North Road as an area to be developed in a way that would 
be aesthetically pleasing and scientifically useful. 

Miss Davis laid out an artificial brook which started from a hillock 


near Fiske, in order to obtain water there, and cascaded down a little 
series of falls and pools to the meadow level. Then, meandering along 
under and around trees, with occasional reflecting pools, it finally 
reached a swamp at the west end. So sandy was the soil that the brook's 
sides had to be lined with cemented stones. Yet within a few years the 
scars of construction had healed, and so "natural" is its course that many 
people have not guessed that it was carefully laid out. Along it and on 
the hills, the plantings were by families, some specimens gifts from the 
Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University, others from the Hunnewells. 
White pines and shrubs were planted to form a background and to screen 
the gardens from the noise of Central Street. Despite many attempts to 
increase the water-holding capacity of the soil and its fertility, many 
kinds of plants did not thrive. They were removed so that, in a sense, 
the Alexandra Botanic Garden is an exhibit of what will survive with 
minimal care in an old glacial lake bottom, and it carries out Miss Fer- 
guson's purpose "to combine beauty with scientific interest." 

At the end of the artificial brook the swamp was dredged to make a 
pool, originally known as Lotus Pond because of the hardy lotuses 
planted in it. As it silted over and became too shallow for lotuses, which 
the muskrats ate with regularity, the water lilies took over. Their decay- 
ing leaves and other detritus helped to increase the population of micro- 
organisms, especially the kind that any botany, zoology, or microbiology 
student could identify. The students then named it Paramecium Pond, 
probably at least in part in recognition of the research on the Para- 
mecium being done by Mary Austin '20, a member of the Zoology De- 
partment. In 1971, when cattails and pickerelweed were growing far out 
from the shore, indicating increasing shallowness, and the water lily 
pads were so numerous that the student-fed resident duck family could 
not swim, the pond was dredged and restored to its original depth and 
size. The banks were then planted with azaleas, selected as much for fall 
foliage color as for spring bloom, and with other shrubs naturally found 
near water. The excavated rich muck was spread out over the adjacent 
meadow so that the soil would support the growth of flowering crab- 
apples and a few evergreen trees to provide a background for them. 
Borne in mind was Mrs. Severance's wish that the income from the Alex- 
andra Botanic Garden Fund should be used to provide spring and fall 
beauty for the enjoyment of students. The plantings were also scaled to 
be appreciated by visitors driving by on the main campus road. And safe 
ice, earlier in the winter on the pond than on the lake, has made this 
little body of water, so near many dormitories, a favorite skating place. 

Adjoining the Alexandra Garden in the part of the campus set aside 
by the Trustees in 1923 for botanic gardens is the Hunnewell Arboretum. 
Isabella Hunnewell Shaw, a daughter of Horatio Hollis Hunnewell, pro- 


vided the endowment supporting the development of the area, and she 
also gave the money to deepen and seal a small wet depression which 
forms the Arboretum Pool and to pipe water to it so that even in dry 
summers it would continue to be a haven for wild life. In establishing 
the H. H. Hunnewell Fund for Botanic Gardens, she wrote, "It is my 
desire to keep for Wellesley College a portion of its grounds in its nat- 
ural beauty, a home for trees, flowers, and birds." The whole area has 
been a refuge for students and faculty as well as birds and it has been 
treasured since the early days of the College. When the Whitin Observa- 
tory was dedicated, Ellen Hayes, Professor of Applied Mathematics and 
Astronomy, wrote with evident pleasure that in building it the pitch 
pines had not been removed, only the most superficial grading had been 
necessary, and "the graceful curved surfaces and contours of the bluffs 
of the north meadow have been preserved to the delight of geologist and 
astronomer alike." Poets seem to have taken special pleasure in the 
wooded area behind the observatory: Katharine Lee Bates enjoyed it so 
much that when "Sigurd, Our Golden Collie" died he was buried there 
beneath a marble slab incised with his name and the date; Jorge Guillen, 
a member of the faculty and renowned Spanish poet, spent many hours 
there in quiet solitude, but he also liked to observe dormitory and de- 
partment picnics held in the open areas, and he was enchanted by the 
weddings performed there. 

A very special area of the campus is the Hay Outdoor Theatre with 
its screen planting of columnar evergreen trees. Given in 1936 by Alma 
Seipp Hay '99, it adjoins Alumnae Hall and is the scene of a variety of 
performances, some of which are described by Miss McCarthy in her 
chapter on traditions. Another charming special planting is the Japanese 
garden in the sculpture court of the Jewett Arts Center. It was given by 
Mildred Marcus Levin '24 in 1965. 

The Exedra below the courtyard of Tower Court was the gift of Ellen 
R. Kellogg '93 and was built about the time in the mid-1930s that Can- 
dace Stimson '92 provided for the restoration of the eroding lake shore 
in that area and the construction of steps from Tower Court down to 
the path to the library. At the edge of the Exedra now stand five of the 
columns from College Hall. Eleanor Blair '17 came upon them reposing 
in the Grounds Department service yard, and in 1972 the Class of 1917 
gave the funds to erect them and to provide landscaping around them, so 
that they again frame the view of the lake much as they did when they 
supported a porch of Wellesley's first building. 

Despite the concern for the maintenance of the original Alexandra 
Garden in the Quadrangle, aging and neglect took their toll. In 1968-70 
it was replanted in memory of Molly Geismer Mendelson '36 through the 
generosity of her alumna mother, alumna sister, her husband, and the 


Cleveland Wellesley Club. Frank A. Sellner, who was then the college 
landscape architect and was mindful that the College cannot afford to 
provide the kind of care that Miss Davis's courtyard garden required, 
designed the plantings close to all four buildings for effectiveness with 
minimal maintenance. 

An ephemeral formal garden that deserves mention (in part because 
of the moral it points) is the Shakespeare Garden. Professor Katharine 
Lee bates '80 and some of her colleagues and friends aroused student 
and alumnae interest in celebrating in 1916 the 300th anniversary of the 
Bard's death by creating a garden in which all of the plants he had men- 
tioned could be seen and enjoyed. Finally, after much spirited corre- 
spondence between the English Department and the Botany Department 
(which expressed sympathy for the idea but no enthusiasm for the re- 
sponsibility of executing it), the presentation of a Shakespearean sundial 
by Helen J. Sanborn '84, a trustee, and gifts by her and others of small 
amounts of money, Miss Davis planned the garden. She placed it below 
Oakwoods where the ground could be leveled quickly and easily and, 
she hoped, the plants would survive. By dint of having many of them 
grown in Mrs. Durant's greenhouses nearby, and with great effort, she 
had an English spring garden set out by May 12, 1916, when Miss Bates 
and her colleagues dedicated it. The garden was beautiful and the poets 
and botanists rejoiced together. For about ten years Miss Davis ministered 
to the not winter-hardy plants before she gave up the struggle, the sun- 
dial was moved to Shakespeare House, and the beds were seeded to grass. 
All that remains are the leveled areas and a few English hawthorn trees — 
and the lesson that formal plantings require expensive care. When money 
is needed for educational development, it is wise for a plan of the 
grounds to be such that the results of neglect can be described as "natural 

It would be wrong, as should be obvious, to conclude that the present 
natural beauty of the campus is the result of neglect. Many more ex- 
amples could have been mentioned of times and places where the interest 
and concern of individuals have preserved or enhanced the woods, the 
swampy meadows, and the lake. From the time of the Durants on, presi- 
dents, trustees, faculty members, students, and those in charge of the 
grounds have cared. Since the turn of the century, ecology, the study of 
the interrelationships of animals, plants, and microorganisms in the en- 
vironment, has been taught in numerous courses in the biological sci- 
ences. Any proposals for changes that might damage any part of the 
campus have elicited strong protests from those who recognize that it is 
an outdoor laboratory as well as a place of beauty. The nationwide con- 
cern for the environment that developed in the 1960s was not a new 
interest on the campus. But, as is well known, the rapid succession of 


student generations makes it difficult for any one group of students to 
believe that before their time anyone had ever been concerned about 
campus ecology. To provide an official and continuing body, President 
Newell in 1972 established the Commission on Environmental Concerns 
on which all groups in the college community are represented. To it can 
go all questions and criticisms, and not only do its members pursue the 
facts and publicize their findings but they may also recommend action. 
Thus the Commission has launched the most far-reaching and coordi- 
nated effort of the community to ensure the continuance of the long 
tradition of caring for our natural heritage. 

They have for guidance an article "Architecture at Wellesley" in the 
Wellesley Alumnae Quarterly for October 1916, by Ralph Adams Cram, 
who wrote: "The possibilities at Wellesley are almost unique because of 
the singular and individual beauty of the terrain. The landscape, with 
its diversified contours, its lake and its very wonderful foresting, is so 
individual in quality that it must control the architectural development, 
or at least, subject to considerations of administration, act as the domi- 
nating influence. In other words, it is as impossible as it is undesirable 
that the problem should be approached primarily from an academic 
architectural standpoint. Whatever is done must recognize scrupulously 
the landscape, and the architecture that is placed therein must grow out 
of these conditions rather than dominate them through preconceived 
architectural ideas. There can, therefore, be no cutting down of hills 
and filling in of valleys in order that flat areas may be obtained for build- 
ing. Instead, every advantage must be taken of natural conditions, so 
that all future buildings may grow out of them intimately and consist- 
ently." If there is "scrupulous regard for natural conditions as they now 
exist," he predicted "a steady and unbroken development, until at last 
Wellesley College stands, as it may, as the most beautiful collegiate in- 
stitution in the United States." 

If it is true that Wellesley is today "the most beautiful collegiate insti- 
tution in the United States" — and a substantial number of people less 
prejudiced than alumnae believe that it is — it is true because of the skill 
and dedication of a good many individuals and groups. A few have been 
mentioned, beginning of course with Mr. and Mrs. Durant and their con- 
cept of an informal landscape. There is not space here to cite the entire 
complement. So significant and unusual, however, have been the contri- 
butions of three sets of fathers and sons as members of the Grounds Com- 
mittee of the Board of Trustees that special recognition must be given to 
them. Both F. Murray Forbes and his son Alexander C. Forbes served 
as chairmen during their terms on the Board, continuing as trustees in 
an unbroken succession from 1932 to 1968; Walter Hunnewell, Sr. was 
a member of the Grounds Committee and Chairman of the Building 


Committee from 1927 to 1947, and Walter Hunnewell, Jr. is a present 
member of the Buildings and Grounds Committee; Galen L. Stone, a 
trustee from 1915 to 1925, and his son, Robert G. Stone, a trustee from 
1954 to 1972, were members of the Grounds Committee and also took 
great interest in the greenhouses. And, given a rather prevalent feeling 
in the earlier years of the century that men had superior, if not neces- 
sarily exclusive, knowledge about such matters as the care of the grounds, 
it is perhaps noteworthy that Belle Sherwin '90 was the chairman of the 
Grounds Committee from 1922 until 1940. 

The devotion of one whole group of people must also be acknowl- 
edged. A landscape architect can plan, a landscape gardener can plant, 
but only if the supervisor of the grounds and the individual grounds- 
men care for the plantings will the original conception take form. Welles- 
ley has been extraordinarily fortunate in the employees who over the 
years have watched over the growth of its plants and shrubs and lawns. 
The years of skilled, loving care of one of them, Frank J. Scheufele, Su- 
perintendent of Grounds from 1937 until 1959, led his friends in 
1959-60 to memorialize him by adding plantings around McAfee Hall to 
the flowering shrubs which he had grown in the abandoned college 
nursery and placed there. 

That the grounds were found worthy of the award by the Massachu- 
setts Horticultural Society is a tribute to a century of devotion by the 
Board of Trustees and by many individuals who have been involved in 
their various capacities with the development of the campus. But the 
award also focuses attention on the need to continue to maintain and 
to improve the successful planting. Now that metropolitan Boston has 
moved far beyond Wellesley, these acres become more than the College's 
preserve; they are also an invaluable human environment and refuge for 
plants, animals, and birds. May the College warrant a prestigious award 
for what it does in this area in its second century! 

The tombstone of "Jack, mon pauvre chien." lit 
tie Harry Durant's dog, on the hill near Oak- fa' 
woods where the mansion of his country estate vJf, 
was to have been built. 





coMMfM'oXAtfetHi. ■:: 


ORMim sto6d : "m 
MRvmiGK: tun I 

The medallions on Farnsworth Terrace 
commemorate the buildings which once 
stood on Norumbega Hill (now known 
as the Academic Quad): Norumbega, Free- 
man, Wilder, and Wood Halls and the 
Farnsworth Art Building. 

The automobile on the original main road 
through the campus by East Lodge doubt- 
less respected the sign "Narrow roads. 
Automobiles must go slowly." 




kil 19 1775 










The monument near East Lodge maiks 
the site of Bullard Tavern, from which 
the Wellesley Minutemen marched to the 
battle of Lexington and Concord. 

DAVID T9"".'. 

5?TH-BBfl»r- • 

FELT •• 


.'---•'.'IAK:"CA V 


davi" «'jn-t:nc 3f 


;osErh haws :? 


joknjtullep • 


■»SS3 BJ.C0N 




Mrs. Durant's residence" in the 1900s 

Old Stone Hall, built in 1880 to house the 
"teacher specials." 

Music and Billings Halls not long after Billings was built in 1904. 

' 1UJ 

Fiske Road was entered through 
the impressive gates given by the 
Class of 1916. 

The Houghton Memorial Chapel, built in 
1899 after controversy about its location. 

This map of the campus shows the road 
system existing before the major revision 
in 1961. The end paper in the front of the 
book is a map of the campus in 1875; the 
end paper in the back is a map of the 
campus in 1975. 


The Buildings 

As the Centennial has approached and interest in Wellesley's past has 
been heightened and deepened, many present and former members of the 
college community have asked about the buildings they have known per- 
sonally or have heard about. This chapter is designed to answer some of 
their questions; those concerning the reasons for the locations of various 
buildings are answered in the chapter on the grounds. 

In this, as in all else, we must begin with Mr. and Mrs. Durant. It is 
appropriate that the first building we see on the right as we enter the 
campus through the present gates on Washington Street is the first 
Wellesley home of the Durants. The opening chapter tells the story of 
Henry and Pauline Durant, who beginning in 1854 spent their summers 
in "the cool countryside of Wellesley," occupying a small farmhouse 
which we now call "Homestead." After Mrs. Durant's death in 1917 it 
became the property of the College. Used as a dormitory — and for a 
larger number of freshmen after an addition in 1923 — until the opening 
of McAfee Hall in 1961, it was then converted into faculty apartments 
and more recently also into rooms for service employees. 

After the death of little Harry Durant in 1863, Mr. and Mrs. Durant 
moved farther up Washington Street towards South Natick to the house 
built for the family of Aaron Webber in 1854. Upon Mrs. Durant's death 
this house, too, came to the College in accordance with the deed of gift 
Mr. Durant had made in 1873. By vote of the Trustees it was used as a 
guest house during the Semi-Centennial Fund Campaign, and "Durant 
House" provided delightful hospitality for many distinguished visitors 
and potential donors. But, President Pendleton wrote, "After the cele- 
bration of the Semi-Centennial in 1925 the trustees did not feel justified 
in continuing the expense, and in January, 1926, it became the Presi- 
dent's House. The former President's House was named 'Oakwoods' in 
recognition of the Peace Dale, Rhode Island, home of its donor, former 



President Hazard, and is now the charming home of the Dean of the 

While Mr. and Mrs. Durant lived in what to us is the "President's 
House," they made their plans for the College which they would estab- 
lish and for College Hall, the magnificent building across the lake on 
the hill where Tower Court, Claflin, and Severance now stand. The 
most compelling account I have ever read of that first building and its 
significance is contained in Miss Balderston's chapter on its destruction 
in the great fire of March 17, 1914. The impression College Hall made 
even on casual visitors is extraordinary. 

Early newspaper and magazine articles tell with evident awe of "the 
palace" or "the castle" which was reached after driving a mile through 
"the park," as the campus was then known. Although some of the articles 
attempted to describe its beauty, many of them resorted to the still-famil- 
iar device of giving statistics and details about equipment: "Ten miles 
or more of steam, water, and gas pipes furnish it with heat, water, and 
light. Nearly a mile of halls and corridors give opportunity for exercise 
under cover in stormy weather. . . . There are 60 microscopes and 20 
pianos. German student lamps (which give the best light known for those 
who use their eyes constantly) are placed in every study parlor." The 
Syracuse, New York Journal of September 20, 1875, concluded a fulsome 
report by saying, "The college building is said to be a marvel of elegance 
and comfort, and if favorable surroundings shall prevent homesickness 
and induce girls to study, then here will be found a rarely industrious 
class of students." 

Mr. Durant also gave Music Hall, which was "built in the form of a 
great organ" and contained "thirty-eight rooms for practice, equipped 
with deadened walls and double doors." The cornerstone was laid on 
June 10, 1880. A prayer of dedication was given by the pastor of the 
Wellesley church, but, according to the Trustee Minutes, "There was no 
public ceremony, only the family, five or six friends, and the workmen 
present. A copy of the Bible with inscription was placed in the stone by 
Mrs. Durant, and a Bible was given by Mrs. Durant to each of the work- 
men employed upon the building, as at the time of laying the corner- 
stone of Wellesley College" — that is, of College Hall. (Presumably Mrs. 
Durant again took care to give copies of the King James version to the 
Protestant workmen and of the Douay to the Catholics.) 

Because Music Hall still exists, although it has no connection with 
the Music Department and bears another name, some confusion may be 
cleared away if we depart from chronology and explain the genesis of 
the student center complex of which this building is now a part. 

The will of Robert Charles Billings, a Boston merchant who died not 
long after the turn of the century, empowered his executors "to distrib- 


ute the residue of his estate to such institutions as they should select." 
From it Wellesley initially received funds for the Botany Department 
and for a professorial chair in music. Later the surviving executor, 
Thomas Minns, presented the College with an additional amount which 
endowed the Billings Prize in Music and provided "a hall which shall be 
for the encouragement of the study of music." (The person who was in- 
strumental in securing all of these gifts for Wellesley was Susan Minns, 
the sister of the executor, one of the first women to study at the Massa- 
chusetts Institute of Technology, a botanist and biologist of considerable 
note, and herself a generous donor to the College and especially to the 
Botany Department.) In 1904 Billings Hall, containing an auditorium 
seating 400, four offices and classrooms, and a beautiful small library, 
was built adjoining Music Hall. 

Then after the Music Department in 1959 occupied its new quarters 
in the Jewett Arts Center, Music Hall was converted into the Student 
Organization Center, thanks to gifts from parents, the James Foundation, 
and the Kresge Foundation. And, Miss Clapp commented in the Presi- 
dent's Report, "The dilapidated, uneconomic, and inconveniently lo- 
cated old kitchen of College Hall, which the students had been using as 
their Center, was razed." When Music Hall became the Student Center, 
it was renamed Billings Hall to ensure the retention of an honored name 
in Wellesley's history. (Throughout Wellesley's history care has always 
been taken to perpetuate in some fashion the names of buildings, even if 
their uses changed or the original building disappeared with the passage 
of time.) For several years old Billings was used as an interim storehouse, 
and then in 1969 it was imaginatively remodeled and expanded and 
named the Schneider College Center in memory of Robert J. Schneider, 
the vice-president and business manager who labored long on the conver- 
sion and died suddenly shortly before its completion. A special area, the 
former music library and now the Davis Lounge, was made possible by 
a gift from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations in memory of Mr. 
Davis's sister, Florence Davis '94. 

Another building that bears a name harking back to 1880 (and, like 
Billings Hall, has no resemblance to the original edifice) is Stone Hall. 
As Lyman Abbott wrote soon after he attended the cornerstone laying on 
May 27, 1880, "Stone Hall is the first considerable gift to Wellesley Col- 
lege by any other than its founder." Valerie G. Stone, the widow of 
Daniel P. Stone of Maiden, inherited from her husband a large estate 
which he suggested should be distributed at her discretion "among char- 
itable institutions." Mrs. Stone conscientiously carried out his wishes, 
and through the Rev. Dr. William H. Willcox, a member of Wellesley's 
Board of Trustees who became her financial as well as her spiritual ad- 
viser and was married to her niece, she became interested in Wellesley. 


She made a gift of $100,000 for the dormitory which in its early years 
housed the "Teacher Specials," and a few years later she established what 
was for the time a large scholarship fund. 

"Old" Stone Hall was an imposing building which served the College 
well, but by 1927 it required thorough renovation. While the work was 
in progress only the laboratories for botany and the kitchen and dining 
room for students living in Dower and Homestead were in use. In March 
of that year a fire broke out. (Susan Shepherd Sweezy '29 and Dr. Harriet 
Hardy '28 always considered one of their finest moments rushing to a 
near-by fire box and sounding the alarm by smashing the glass with a 
Bible, which the sophomore taking the required course in Biblical His- 
tory of course was carrying.) So much damage was caused by fire and 
water that the Trustees decided to tear down what was left and to start 
anew. And so it was that "New" Stone Hall and its mirror-image, Olive 
Davis Hall, were built on the hill which "Old" Stone Hall had occupied. 
The cornerstone of "Old" Stone Hall was used, and the "western house" 
perpetuated that name; "the easterly half of the structure" was named 
for Olive Davis '86. A head of house and the Director of Residence from 
1900 until 1917, when she resigned and during World War I organized 
the hotels in Washington, D.C. for women government workers, she made 
Wellesley her residuary legatee. That bequest and a gift of $350,000 from 
John D. Rockefeller, Jr. defrayed the cost of Davis Hall. 

The ground and main floors of the two dormitories were extensively 
redesigned in 1964-65, providing a new shared main entrance and bell 
desk, penthouse studies, some additional dormitory rooms, and much 
larger living rooms. Two new dining rooms connected by a cafeteria 
counter also helped to make Stone-Davis, as Miss Clapp noted, "as ade- 
quate for contemporary student life as any hall at Wellesley, and in some 
respects superior." 

On the day of the cornerstone laying of Old Stone Hall announcement 
was made of a gift for a cottage "to be used as a hospital in case of illness, 
and when not so required to be occupied by about 20 students." The 
suggestion was made that it might be well suited "for such pupils as, by 
reason of character, constitution, and temperament, could better pursue 
their studies in a quiet home of their own, dissociated from the three 
hundred pupils who constitute the Wellesley household" — that is, who 
lived in College Hall. Michael H. Simpson of Saxonville, Massachusetts, 
described as "a manufacturer, inventor, and philanthropist," and his 
wife were one of the four husband-wife combinations who jointly served 
as trustees in the early years of the College. (The others, besides Mr. and 
Mrs. Durant, were Governor and Mrs. William Claflin and Mr. and Mrs. 
William S. Houghton, whose names are also still remembered at Welles- 
ley.) Mr. Simpson gave $15,000 to provide this small dormitory in memory 


of Mrs. Simpson, who had died in 1878. 

Apparently there were fewer students than expected who preferred to 
"pursue their studies in a quiet home of their own," and for several years 
freshmen were assigned to it. Recently Eva Terry '01 recalled that in her 
junior year, when she and her friends drew such high numbers that they 
could, not have rooms on the same College Hall corridor, they received 
permission to "take over Simpson." She remembers fireplaces in the 
rooms which inspired them "to toast chestnuts and pop corn and roast 
apples," and she found that the damper in her fireplace had been blocked 
by a Wedgwood saucer of the kind used in College Hall. She cleaned the 
sooty saucer and treasured it until 1971, when she gave it to be raffled 
for the benefit of the College at a meeting of Wellesley on Long Island. 

In 1908 Simpson Cottage "was remodeled and equipped as the college 
hospital, with nine large attractive, sunny rooms for patients, including 
a convalescing room on the first floor and in a part of the third floor an 
emergency ward isolated to make absolute quarantine possible." As time 
passed and enrollment increased, only the dedicated efforts of two resi- 
dent physicians, Dr. Katherine P. Raymond, who came when the infir- 
mary was established and remained until her death in 1925, and Dr. 
Elizabeth L. Broyles, her successor, who served until 1963, made the old 
infirmary function satisfactorily. The Trustees decided in 1941 that an 
efficient modern clinic and infirmary were essential. It was built with an 
appropriation of $175,000 from the Reserve Fund for the Depreciation 
of Buildings supplemented by special gifts from alumnae and friends. 
The new unit — a well-equipped 30-bed hospital and clinic — is connected 
with the original building, which now contains the reception rooms and 
living quarters for the nurses. 

The first dormitory to be erected on Norumbega Hill (now "the Aca- 
demic Quad") was, in good Biblical fashion, the last to be removed. 
Because the cornerstone was laid in 1885, ten years after the opening of 
the College, it was originally called "Decennial Cottage," but on June 
3, 1886, the Trustees voted "that the name Norumbega, suggested by 
the students, be adopted." This was a kind of tribute to Eben N. Hors- 
ford, Rumford Professor of Science Applied to the Arts at Harvard. A 
very close friend of Mr. Durant's and a major benefactor of the College, 
he was the honorary member of the Class of 1886 and in the name of the 
Class gave about a fourth of the cost of the dormitory. In turn, the Class 
as seniors proposed the name "Norumbega" in recognition of his belief 
that the Norsemen had founded a settlement near the village of Norum- 
bega a half dozen miles or so from Wellesley. 

Norumbega had an illustrious history. It had a small suite in which 
President Alice Freeman and her successors lived until Caroline Hazard 
at her own expense built a President's House, the present "Oakwoods." 


On one of his visits to the College John Greenleaf Whittier brought 
and read a poem "Norumbega" written in honor of the "cottage." And 
(a mundane note) paying off the debt on it was the first sizable fund- 
raising project of the alumnae. At various periods it was slightly en- 
larged, and for a time it served as a "self-help" dormitory. When Bates 
and Freeman Halls were completed in 1952 and accommodated twenty- 
four more students than had been housed in the village dormitories, it 
was possible to discontinue Norumbega's use as a residence hall and to 
assign it to the students as a central headquarters for their organizations, 
thereby freeing space in Green Hall for faculty and administrative pur- 
poses. Finally in 1956 there was a large musical chairs operation: the 
Geology and Geography Departments moved to a remodeled Sage Hall, 
vacating what had been the kitchen wing of College Hall (the one part 
of the building not destroyed by fire in 1914); student organizations 
moved to that slightly superior space and called it CH II; Norumbega was 
razed so that the Jewett Arts Center could be built on its site. In recog- 
nition of the roles Norumbega had played for seventy years, a few mem- 
bers of the faculty and staff took pleasure that summer in making seventy 
letter openers from some of the wood in the old building, lettering 
"Norumbega 1886-1956" on them, and giving them to the first seventy 
alumnae who wrote expressing interest in having a souvenir of the dor- 
mitory which they remembered fondly. 

The Trustee Minutes of June 21, 1887, state: "The Secretary [Mrs. 
Durant] reported that in consequence of the want of space to receive 
the desirable number of freshmen, a friend proposed to erect a wooden 
cottage on the hill near Norumbega," and the Trustees "voted to accept 
the proposition." The identity of the "friend" was revealed in the min- 
utes of November 1, 1888: "Hearty thanks are tendered to Mrs. Durant, 
our treasurer, for the very substantial, commodious and admirably fur- 
nished cottage called Freeman Cottage after our beloved President which 
she has caused to be built and furnished for the benefit of the College 
during the past year." That building was torn down in 1934 to permit 
the construction of Pendleton Hall, but when the group of dormitories 
in "the old orchard" was built in the early 1950s, the Trustees voted that 
the name of Wellesley's second president should again be commemorated 
by a residence hall. 

In 1889 a third cottage was built on Norumbega Hill, this with the 
bequest of Mrs. Caroline A. Wood of Cambridgeport, a friend of the 
Durants', a trustee from 1878 until her death, and the donor the first 
year of her trusteeship of the first permanent fund (a scholarship fund) 
ever received by the College. Wood Cottage, too, was razed to make way 
for Green and Pendleton Halls. 

The last of the dormitories on the hill to be built (1890) and the first 



to be razed (1930) was Wilder Hall, the only brick building of the four. 
Charles Wilder's letter announcing his gift is well worth noting: "My 
long residence in the Town of Wellesley, carrying with it so many pleas- 
ant and sacred associations, inclines me to leave some token of my life 
here as a citizen, and no more fitting way occurs to me than in connec- 
tion with the institution of the town devoted to the higher education of 
women." Noteworthy also is an aspect for which the Trustees expressed 
appreciation: "Another gratifying feature of Mr. Wilder's liberality 
toward the College is the fact that no burdensome restrictions accompany 
the gift." 

The first academic building on Norumbega Hill — and for many years 
the only one — was the Farnsworth Art Building. An impressive sandstone 
structure of classical design, it was described by President Shafer as 
"elegant and commodious" when it was opened in 1889. Far from com- 
modious for the much larger number of art students and faculty when it 
was razed in 1957, it still retained an imposing quality. Alexander C. 
Forbes, then the Chairman of the Trustee Buildings and Grounds Com- 
mittee, marveled that, though it appeared to be built like a fortress, it 
proved remarkably susceptible to the wrecker's ball. 

A delightful account of the decision of Isaac Danforth Farnsworth to 
give the art building was provided by Sarah Frances Whiting, one of the 
faculty members appointed by Mr. Durant. She had many informal con- 
versations with him during the early years when, as she said, with the 
joy and excitement of children they together unpacked the wonderful 
new apparatus he had authorized her to purchase for the physics labora- 
tory. One of those conversations may have been the source for the personal 
letter she wrote in 1884: "As young men he [Mr. Farnsworth] and Mr. 
Durant boarded together; and when Mr. Durant married (Mr. F. never 
married) Mr. and Mrs. Durant always made him welcome in their home. 
He gave all the plastic statuary which adorns the halls [of College Hall], 
and said he intended to do something better. One day the two friends 
attended an art auction in Boston. Mr. Farnsworth was obliged to leave 
after a little time, but directed the auctioneer to bid a hundred dollars on 
some bronzes he especially wanted. The bid proved quite inadequate, 
and Mr. Durant bid the things in for a much larger sum, and directed 
them to be sent to Mr. Farnsworth. Mr. Farnsworth was delighted, and 
went to the auction-rooms with his check, to find what had happened. 
He said he would be even with Durant, and the next day put a hundred 
thousand in his will for Wellesley!" 

Mr. Farnsworth, a successful Boston merchant engaged largely in the 
East India trade, died in 1886 and Wellesley did indeed receive the be- 
quest for the art building. It and the four dormitories which once stood 
on the hill are now commemorated by medallions from Farnsworth 


which have been placed on the terrace overlooking the lake on the site of 
the old art building. 

Another (though anything but elegant) before-the-turn-of-the-century 
academic building was the box-like, plain wooden Chemistry Building 
which served for forty years (1895 to 1935). Helen T. Jones, now an 
emeritus professor of chemistry, knew the old building from the time she 
first came in 1925 until its days were ended ten years later when Pendle- 
ton was built and students helped in the moving "by carrying apparatus 
in desk drawers like a water line to a fire" up the hill to the new quar- 
ters. In reminiscing about the old building recently, Miss Jones also 
said, "If you came in the front door and stood a minute you could know 
who was in the building — you just had to listen to the voices here and 
there." But the chemists felt very fortunate to have their own building — 
an added boon when the College Hall fire destroyed the laboratories for 
geology, physics, psychology, and zoology. 

Especially when financing the new Science Center is a matter of great 
concern, there is a certain wry interest in the problem the College faced 
in the 1890s in obtaining what seems today the ludicrously small amount 
of money required for the old Chemistry Building — and also in the way 
in which the cost exceeded the estimate! The Trustees in June 1894 in- 
structed the Executive Committee "to proceed at once to provide a build- 
ing for chemistry and physiology, and if necessary to borrow funds not 
exceeding $7,000." A special meeting of the Board was held a month 
later "because the Executive Committee found it impossible to erect a 
laboratory for even the one department of Chemistry within the amount 
the Trustees had authorized them to spend for that and physiology com- 
bined. President Irvine showed the need of immediate action on account 
of the requirement of larger recitation rooms for the large class to be 
instructed in the autumn." The Executive Committee was then author- 
ized "to anticipate, if no other way appears, the current income and to 
pledge the same in payment for such a building." In November Gov- 
ernor Claflin, the chairman of the Trustee Committee on the Chemistry 
Building, reported that it was "progressing favorably, but in order prop- 
erly to build and equip it, the cost would be between $13,000 and $14,- 
000." And when the Treasurer in June 1895 announced its completion, 
the cost was "nearly $20,000," and, as a result, "it had become necessary 
to borrow money with which to pay the salaries and other expenses." 
Those were indeed parlous years for the young College! 

It is small wonder that Mrs. Irvine was so obviously elated to report 
that "The college year 1895-96 closed amid general rejoicing over the 
gift of $100,000 for building a new chapel, to be called the William S. 
Houghton Memorial Chapel. By this act of filial devotion and personal 
generosity, the donors, Miss Elizabeth G. Houghton and Mr. Clement S. 


Houghton, erect a fitting monument to an able and loyal Trustee, while 
the College gains space for assembling all students for stated religious 
services, an auditorium of sufficient capacity for Commencement exercises 
and other academic occasions, and the possibility of a future extension 
of quarters now occupied by the library" in College Hall. 

The need for a chapel larger than the one in College Hall had long 
been felt. Not only was it impossible to assemble there for any purpose the 
whole college community (Geraldine Gordon '00 recalled only a few years 
ago the way in which students were packed in and the fact that the ones 
living in Stone Hall had to have separate services there) but the size of 
the room also prevented an increase in enrollment, desirable as that was 
for educational and financial reasons. The students adopted a new chapel 
as their cause. The Congregationalist reported at the time the building 
was dedicated on June 1, 1899, "Ten years ago a Wellesley College un- 
dergraduate association was formed in order to raise funds for a new 
chapel, which should accommodate the increasing number of students. A 
considerable sum had been raised when the generous gift of the Hough- 
ton Memorial Chapel happily thwarted the purpose of the undergradu- 

When the students had presented their plans to the Trustees, William 
S. Houghton had been impressed by their earnestness and wished to 
help them as on many other occasions he had quietly supported the Col- 
lege. In the letter in which Clement S. Houghton offered on behalf of 
his sister and himself $100,000 to erect a chapel in their father's memory, 
he explained that Mr. Houghton had had this in his will and later, "be- 
ing disturbed by business troubles he changed his will, leaving out this 
provision; but at the same time he made known to my sister and me his 
wishes in the matter so that we might, if circumstances should permit, 
fulfill his desire to benefit Wellesley." 

After what Mrs. Irvine with restraint termed "a vigorous protest" about 
the site of the building, it was designed by Heins and La Farge, the 
architects of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City. "Its 
simplicity, combined with the richness of building material, makes it 
. . . one of the finest chapels possessed by a New England college," ac- 
cording to a magazine article published at the time it was dedicated. "Its 
form is that of a Greek cross with a slightly lengthened nave. The main 
walls are of buff Amherst stone, with cut moldings of Milford granite. 
All the gable copings are terra cotta, light buff in tone. The molded 
gutters and cornices, the tracery work, sills, mullions, cuspings and mold- 
ings and cornices of the central lantern tower are of copper, and an 
elaborately wrought iron finial crowns the apex of the lantern roof." A 
rather fascinating detail was that "The floors of North Carolina pine are 
made fireproof by under-masonry of cement and ashes." Everyone re- 


joiced in the building and in its completion in time for the Class of 
1899's commencement in June and Miss Hazard's inauguration — the first 
ever held at Wellesley — the following fall. 

The most famous memorial in the Chapel — that to Alice Freeman 
Palmer — is the marble bas-relief executed by Daniel Chester French, the 
sculptor of the Minute Man in Concord and the Lincoln Memorial in 
Washington. It was given by Edwin Hale Abbot, a trustee of Wellesley 
from 1892 until 1921, who also gave the rose window in the Chapel. Be- 
cause there have been some differences over the years in interpretation of 
the symbolism, the statement made at the dedication on June 7, 1909, may 
be worth quoting: "In the design of the artist is, on one side, an altar 
with its flame. At the other side is a benign feminine figure pointing with 
outstretched right hand and arm to the world without, and with the other 
hand resting on the shoulder of the young girl who has lighted her lamp 
at the altar flame and is going forth. On the pedestal of this memorial 
is a medallion likeness of Mrs. Palmer, and beneath, a simple inscription 
which reads: Here rest the ashes of Alice Freeman Palmer in the heart 
of the college she loved." Later the ashes of her husband (and biographer), 
George Herbert Palmer, a Harvard philosophy professor and the donor 
to the library of his superb English poetry collections, were also placed 
in the memorial. 

The memorial windows warrant at least brief mention. The principal 
ones in the transepts were executed by Tiffany, the one in the east tran- 
sept being given by Clement and Elizabeth Houghton in memory of 
their mother, and that in the west transept by Governor Claflin in 
memory of his wife, also one of the very first trustees. Tiffany also de- 
signed the window given in memory of Cornelia Elizabeth Green '92 by 
her sister Eleanor, a member of the same Class, and the window given 
by the Class of 1889 in memory of its honorary member, Phillips Brooks, 
Episcopal Bishop of Massachusetts and a favorite preacher as well as a 
trustee. The John La Farge Studios designed the window which the Class 
of 1891 gave in memory of President Helen Shafer, its honorary member, 
and that which the Class of 1890 gave in memory of its classmate Angie L. 
Peck. The window with a good deal of medieval symbolism commemo- 
rates Sophie Jewett, a poet and member of the English Department. It 
was given by her colleagues in the Department (in particular Katharine 
Lee Bates, Vida Dutton Scudder, Margaret Sherwood, and Martha Hale 
Shackford) joined by some alumnae. Miss Jewett's sister Louise, a pro- 
fessor of Art at Mount Holyoke, made the preliminary sketches and the 
H. E. Goodhue Company of Boston developed the design. 

The other memorial windows were made in the Boston studios of 
Reynolds, Francis and Rohnstock. The Durant Memorial windows 
(whose design was approved by Ralph Adams Cram, the College's super- 


vising architect) are in the apse and were presented by the Alumnae 
Association in 1925 as a part of the Semi-Centennial Celebration. The 
theme of the whole group is Love and Service. The central windows por- 
tray "The Love of God in Christ," the window to the left "The Call to 
Service," and the one to the right "The Life of Service." Two alumnae 
who were long associated with the College and were still in its active 
service when they by chance died in the same year, 1933, are memorialized 
in adjoining windows in the west transept. That for Mary Frazer Smith 
'96, the College Recorder (whose feats of memory became legendary at 
the time of College Hall fire), was given by her brother, Persifor F. Smith, 
and the one for Eleanor Acheson McCulloch Gamble '89, Professor of 
Psychology, by her classmates. The details of the Gamble window give 
unusual pleasure to her students and friends because of the way in 
which the artist incorporated references to Miss Gamble's many interests, 
including cocker spaniels. The central conception of the window in 
memory of Margaret Sherwood, long-time Professor of English Literature, 
derives from a poem, "The Pilgrim," addressed to her in 1895 by her 
friend and colleague Sophie Jewett. The iconographical scheme of sub- 
jects is based upon suggestions made by another friend and colleague, 
Martha Hale Shackford '96, who was the prime mover in the gift of the 
window by Miss Sherwood's friends and former students. 

The whole story of Mrs. John C. Whitin's gift of the Whitin Observa- 
tory, an addition to it, and Observatory House as a residence for the 
astronomers is delightful, and, thanks to the accounts which Sarah Fran- 
ces Whiting, the first Professor of Physics and of Astronomy, wrote and 
to the correspondence which she carefully preserved, can be completely 
reconstructed, although only a few of its highlight are given here. 

Miss Whiting wrote: "By Mr. Durant's initiative, in 1880 a semester's 
worth in Astronomy especially emphasizing Astrophysics, a department of 
the subject then very new, was offered very properly as Applied Physics. 
... A 4" telescope, which could be placed on the roof of the north or 
south porch of College Hall, the spectrum appliances of the Department 
of Physics, a constantly growing library, and collections of lantern slides 
were the only equipment. Not until 1896 was the present unsurpassed 
students' observatory begun. By an unpremeditated combination of 
events, which we are wrongly apt to call chance, Mrs. J. C. Whitin, a 
recently elected trustee of the College, became interested to purchase a 
telescope which had, by courtesy, been used by the writer when teaching 
Olmstead's Astronomy in Brooklyn, and which was offered for sale. As 
she learned what was the ideal observatory for a college, this generous 
donor enlarged her plans to build the east-west part of the observatory. 
This, with its equipment, was opened in 1900 with appropriate exercises 
in the Chapel, addresses by distinguished astronomers and congratulatory 


letters from famous women astronomers in Europe. 

"When the space proved inadequate for the laboratory work of the 
large classes, Mrs. Whitin doubled the Observatory in 1909, provided 
added equipment, and built a house for the residence of the staff. This 
work was done in the spirit of the founder of the College, who believed 
that beauty is essential to the highest development of the student. When 
someone said to Mr. Durant, 'Why have you put those beautiful paint- 
ings into the hall and decorated the Browning Room when you say the 
College needs money?' 'I must do this,' was the reply, 'for I see the neces- 
sity of it; others can see and will meet the more obvious needs.' Mrs. 
Whitin expressed the same idea when she said in answer to a remark that 
a rug would not be necessary in a laboratory: 'You and Miss Hayes can 
attend to the science; it will be good for the girls to put their feet on 
an India rug.' " 

At Float Night in 1896, only a few months after Mrs. Whitin of Whit- 
insville had become a trustee, Miss Whiting mentioned to her a 12" tele- 
scope (still in use in the Observatory) which had suddenly become avail- 
able at a bargain price. Mrs. Whitin wrote to Miss Whiting on July 20, 
1899, "I had very little idea when it was first talked of except that Mr. 
S. V. White's telescope and dome could be set up at Wellesley for the 
girls' use. It is a kind of evolution. Once interested in it, my desires 
grew by the information they fed on, and I desired to do what I did do 
correctly, and I always liked the correct thing to look well!" On another 
occasion she wrote, "You need not feel that you have made extravagant 
suggestions. It is only the carrying out of my own ideas as they become 
broader. . . . My ideas are now way ahead of the little observatory or 
of my bank account, else it would be far better than it will be!" 

In the fall of 1898 she proposed to give, and the Trustees "voted to 
accept with gratitude," "a 12" telescope and a simple building to house 
the instrument." Then at a Trustees meeting the following May, "Mrs. 
Whitin stated that she now proposes to construct the Observatory of 
white marble in place of brick." When it was formally opened on October 
8, 1900, Miss Hazard could report that it housed "a 12" refractor with 
micrometer, polarizing photometer, and star and sun spectroscopes. A 
Rowland concave grating spectroscope, of 6' focus, with its accompanying 
heliostat, is set up in a room capable of being darkened completely. The 
library is a beautiful room, and the dome by Warner and Swasey is all 
that it should be." 

Never has a donor taken greater interest in every detail of a building — 
and rarely has one lived near enough to make such frequent visits. Some- 
times Mrs. Whitin arrived with a hamper of delicacies for lunch for 
herself and the two Whiting sisters. In her eagerness to have landscaping 
done she sent her gardener with bulbs, which died and she concluded 


she had been premature in having planted in November. When the house 
was nearing completion Mrs. Whitin wrote Miss Whiting "to have the 
architect order two oxidized iron ash barrels in cans for the cellar. Have 
them with ribs down the sides to protect them thusly," and she drew a 
picture so there could be no mistake about the matter. Sometimes in 
her early morning notes, "usually written before the breakfast bell," she 
vented her irritations (for example, "I do not want that common brass 
faucet. It is a poor thing."). More often, however, she expressed her view 
of life (" 'Better to be wise in the light of today than consistent with the 
errors of yesterday,' that's my motto, and good sense and allows me to 
change my mind as often as I please."), or showed her warm regard and 
respect for "dear Professor Whiting." When Miss Whiting broke her 
arm, Mrs. Whitin sent her a note scrawled with her left hand, comment- 
ing, "How do you do it? I can't seem to make it go! I might break my 
right arm, so I must practice!" 

A later generous donor to the Observatory, also a widow living nearby, 
is Mrs. Margaret C. Sawyer, of Wellesley, who took some courses in the 
Astronomy Department, became interested in it, and in 1965 gave the 
College a 24" telescope. This, with the classroom added in 1962, again 
make the Department's facilities as outstanding in an undergraduate 
college as they were considered when Mrs. Whitin made her original gifts. 

Miss Whiting also visited and carried on a voluminous correspondence 
with Lady Huggins, a noted British astronomer in her own right whose 
husband, Sir William Huggins, was a president of the Royal Society. In 
an article "Priceless Accessions to Whitin Observatory" in the October 
1914 issue of Popular Astronomy, Miss Whiting wrote: "Lady Huggins 
has been pleased to deposit in Whitin Observatory of Wellesley College 
— a Woman's College, in a new world — certain of her more personal 
astronomical possessions." Much of this fascinating material is in the 
"Huggins Case" in the Observatory; Lady Huggins's jewelry and some 
other items are in the Rare Book Room of the Library. 

Miss Whiting is the source of the information that "Mrs. Whitin's 
interest in Wellesley College inspired a like interest in her sister-in-law, 
Mrs. Martha S. Pomeroy, whose will contained the provision of which 
this building [Pomeroy Hall] is the outcome. Pomeroy Hall was to be 
built for the convenience of astronomy students, but as there is no suit- 
able place in the immediate vicinity of the observatory for erecting such 
a building, the west plateau was chosen as the nearest location." Mrs. 
Pomeroy's will requested the trustees to erect the dormitory "in the 
Elizabethan Gothic style of architecture." And so, with the construction 
of Pomeroy Hall in 1904, was established the style of architecture for the 
dormitories built during Miss Hazard's administration and in 1927 desig- 
nated as the Hazard Quadrangle and marked by a bronze tablet and by 


a scallop shell, the symbol that she placed on all of the buildings erected 
during her administration. 

The second in the group was "called Cazenove," Miss Hazard ex- 
plained, "in honor of one who will not permit her name to be more 
definitely used." This of course was Mrs. Durant. It will be remembered 
that Mr. Durant once said with some asperity to a man who had in- 
quired why the College did not bear his name, "Sir, I am not in the 
monument business." He was insistent that Wellesley be "God's College, 
not man's," and Mrs. Durant shared his view in this, as on so many 
other subjects. Mrs. Durant did, however, permit the use of her mother's 
family name on this building. 

A few improvements over Pomeroy were made in Cazenove. Miss Haz- 
ard commented when it was opened in 1905: "We have omitted thres- 
holds entirely so that the floors can be very easily cleaned. The system of 
ventilation has been slightly improved from that in Pomeroy, making it 
very perfect. The spacious parlors in these halls are proving delightful 
and attractive rooms, with their 19-foot ceilings and large floor space." 
Then she added a provocative statement that slightly boggles the imagi- 
nation: "Neither of these parlors is furnished as yet; but even as they 
are, with their fine windows and beautiful proportions, they make pleas- 
ant gathering places for the students." 

Acting on Miss Hazard's suggestion, the trustees had planned that 
when funds became available to build the other two dormitories they 
would be named Shafer Hall, in memory of Wellesley's third president, 
and Claflin Hall, in memory of Governor and Mrs. Claflin, who had 
been among the original trustees. Then unexpectedly Captain John A. 
Beebe's bequest of $80,000 enabled Wellesley to build in 1908 one of 
the dormitories and, naturally enough, it bore his name. The ships in 
the window glass of the small reception room on the first floor represent 
his seafaring career. 

The story of the Nantucket sea captain's life is one of the most excit- 
ing — and that of his bequest one of the most poignant — chapters in 
Wellesley's history. He wrote in the December 1891 issue of Century 
Magazine an account of the perilous voyage of the "Brewster," probably 
the most famous sailing ship of its day, of which he was the young cap- 
tain. Mutiny, narrowly averted shipwrecks, disasters of every kind known 
to whaling vessels were overcome, and he sailed safely into port after a 
two-year voyage. He made a substantial amount of money, retired from 
the sea at an early age, took an active part in Nantucket affairs for sev- 
eral years, and then when their daughter Alice entered Wellesley in 
1892, he and his wife, who had accompanied him on several voyages, 
moved to Wellesley. By the time he died, however, his fortune had shrunk 
and payment of the bequest to the College would leave very little in his 


estate. The College offered to reduce its share, but Alice G. Beebe '96 
refused, became a nun in an Episcopal teaching order, and apparently 
joyously devoted herself to the service of others. 

On the motion of Mrs. Durant, the Trustees voted that the fourth 
dormitory be named Shafer Hall. It was built in 1909, with the mathe- 
matical symbols in decorative windows bearing witness to Miss Shafer's 
career as a mathematics professor as well as a president at Wellesley. 
Miss Olive Davis, the Director of Residence, pointed out certain dif- 
ferences between the first two and the last two dormitories: the height 
of the dining rooms in Beebe and Shafer was increased eighteen inches, 
passenger elevators were installed, and "the location of the drawing 
room on the first floor, instead of the second, is an advantage at once 
apparent to anyone who has administered the social life of a college 

But before these dormitories or any other buildings could have been 
constructed, a power plant had become essential at the turn of the cen- 
tury. On Miss Hazard's urging, John D. Rockefeller had come to the 
rescue by offering in June 1902 to install and fully equip a heating and 
electric plant on condition that the College "use all diligence to secure 
the sum of $150,000 for an addition to the Endowment Fund." The 
Trustees voted "to accept with sincere gratitude the splendid gift which 
will mean so much to the best interests of the College. It is an especial 
satisfaction to us at this time following Mr. Rockefeller's large gift of 
two years ago to have this new proffer of continued interest in the Col- 
lege. This thoughtfulness not only provides for the future enlargement 
of the institution but the scientific way in which the plant is to be op- 
erated will make a saving every year of a sum equal to the income of 
endowment of two to three hundred thousand dollars." A service build- 
ing bringing together the carpenters, painters, steamfitters, plumbers, etc. 
was built nearby in 1924. 

Among the many building needs confronting Miss Hazard when she 
took office in 1899 was that for a gymnasium. In her first annual Report 
she stated: "There are no baths and no water in connection with the 
gymnasium. The hall is a sufficiently good one to use for a class of 30 
or 40, but students have to come to it in their gymnasium suits and after 
vigorous exercises there throw golf capes about them and return to their 
rooms. The director of physical training has introduced the use of rub- 
ber folding tubs among the students, so that many of them possess 
these useful articles and are able to take a sponge bath in their rooms 
after exercise." 

Finally a possible means of obtaining a gymnasium came into view 
with a proposal that the Boston Normal School of Gymnastics move to 
the Wellesley campus. Amy Morris Homans, the director, had carried on 


the School since Mrs. Mary Hemenway, a Boston philanthropist who had 
largely supported it, had died in 1894. The trust for it was to expire on 
March 5, 1909, and the trustees under Mrs. Hemenway's will wanted to 
fulfill her wishes "by putting the School on a permanent basis." In 1907 
they proposed giving Wellesley College $100,000 as a trust fund, with 
various terms and conditions, including a provision that by the end of 
the year Miss Homans "directly or indirectly raise the additional sum of 
$200,000 to be given to the College to carry on the work of the School, 
including the erection of a gymnasium suitable and adequate for such 

Then followed a long period of fund raising, with "unremitting exer- 
tions" on the part of Miss Homans, according to Miss Hazard, and also 
by Miss Hazard herself, when, as she reported to Wellesley's Trustees, 
"Miss Homans had found it impossible to raise the whole $200,000." It 
was a period of lengthy negotiations, too, with the Hemenway trustees. 
At last, despite the fact that not enough money had been obtained to 
provide all of the facilities which Miss Homans, and also Miss Hazard, 
desired, Mary Hemenway Hall became a reality and was formally opened 
on December 7, 1909. The Trustee Minutes for November 11, 1910, state 
that disclosure was finally being made that "When it became evident 
that Miss Homans would not be able to raise the necessary sums, Miss 
Hazard made a personal guarantee for half of the remaining sum, $32,500, 
which she subsequently paid, having pledged to secrecy the three mem- 
bers of the Board who knew of her gift. Thanks were voted to her. Miss 
Hazard [who had resigned as president by this time] was immediately 
elected a member of the Board, waiving all rules of waiting till the next 
meeting." And so it was that Mary Hemenway Hall was built — and that 
graduates of the Boston Normal School of Gymnastics, some of whom 
had never as undergraduates set foot on the Wellesley campus, became 
alumnae of Wellesley College. 

Long and arduous as the efforts to obtain a gymnasium had been, 
those for a new library building were even greater. The library in Col- 
lege Hall was in the eyes of many of its beholders the most beautiful and 
happily used room in the building. It was adjudged "the gem of the 
building" by Edward Abbott, whose article in the August 1876 issue of 
Harper's Magazine gave a clear picture of it, although the "young ladies" 
then as now may have resented his somewhat sentimental tone: "It is 
arranged in alcoves and superbly finished throughout in solid black wal- 
nut. It is the very ideal of a library for young ladies, with cozy nooks and 
corners where a book is twice a book; with sunny windows, some of them 
thrown out in deep bays; with galleries reached by winding stairs where 
the girls seem to have a real delight in coiling themselves away in such 
mysterious fashion that you can only see above the balustrade a curly 


head bending over some book, doubtless found more fascinating than it 
could be if simply spread out on the table below. Opposite the library is 
the reading room, a sunny room as it should be, well supplied with the 
periodical literature of the day. Besides the most valuable of European 
and American literature, scientific journals and magazines which come 
regularly to the tables of the library, the reading room is provided with 
the leading papers, daily and weekly, secular and religious." 

Charming as its appearance was, its collections were, for the time, even 
more remarkable. Mr. Durant's own extraordinary library of some 10,000 
volumes — including some books and manuscripts which are still among 
the greatest treasures possessed by the Library — was the nucleus. As has 
been pointed out in the opening chapter, one of his most consuming 
interests was the library, an interest shared especially by his friend Pro- 
fessor Horsford. In March 1880 an article in the American Journal of 
Education stated: "As yet there are only about 20,000 [volumes] but 
numbers will not represent their rare quality and value. ... It has been 
the intention to put within the reach of teachers and students everything 
that can be desired for their studies. The collection of literary, historical 
and scientific journals and magazines is superior to any college collection 
we know of. . . . It is remarkably rich in grammar, dictionaries and en- 
cyclopedias of different languages, as well as in works illustrative of the 
geography and history of every country." 

By 1897 parts of the collection had spilled over into every halfway 
reasonable place in all five floors of College Hall. A Trustee Committee 
appointed that year "to visit the library to consider various plans for 
relieving the overcrowding" concluded that no more temporary expedi- 
ents were possible and that "A new library building is what the Com- 
mittee would present as the sole subject of its report." Regularly there- 
after the importance of a new library was stressed. Miss Hazard's state- 
ment of 1904 was unusually eloquent. "The need for a library," she 
wrote, "I consider the most important need of the College at present. We 
have an endowment for the purchase of books; we have a large number 
of books, over 56,000 volumes, far larger than many a college of our size; 
we have the readers, but we should have the quiet place for study and 
a dignified housing for our library, which should give the studious at- 
mosphere which every college so much needs. The development of a 
great community such as ours tends more and more to emphasize the 
value of the external things. With a company of young people they make 
the immediate appeal; it takes knowledge and time for the deeper things 
of life to gain their hold. We have seen the great influence of a beautiful 
building like the Chapel, an influence as unconscious as it is real; and 
if we can have a library as fine and dignified in its way as is our Chapel, 
more would be done for the studious life of the College than by any num- 


ber of added lectures or offered courses of study." 

At a special meeting of the Board of Trustees in March of 1905, Miss 
Hazard "presented the correspondence with Mr. Carnegie which finally 
culminated in the offer from Mr. Carnegie of $125,000 for a library, con- 
ditioned upon the raising of a like amount for endowment." As Miss 
Hazard wrote later, "The sum which was offered was considered by many 
experts to be inadequate for a building of our requirements, and the 
condition imposed is certainly a very onerous one, considering that . . . 
about $850,000 have been given to the College since 1900, and to endeavor 
to secure additional endowment at the same time that Harvard and Rad- 
cliffe are before the public seemed to the Trustees a matter of doubtful 
wisdom." In fact, at the special meeting of the Board the only action 
taken was to vote that "the President and such others as she may join 
with her be a committee to continue negotiations with Mr. Carnegie." 
Shortly thereafter Mr. Carnegie's private secretary wrote that "Mr. Carne- 
gie finds that this condition meets with favor from most college presi- 
dents," and in May Miss Hazard reported that she had had an interview 
but "had been unable to change the terms of the offer." 

Whether to accept the offer was indeed a serious and moot question. 
Finally at a Trustees meeting late in June 1905, Rowland Hazard pro- 
posed two resolutions: that "the President be authorized to accept it," 
but that "in so doing the Trustees expressly do not imply any duty on 
the part of the President to raise the sum required, or express an ap- 
proval of the conditional mode of giving." Typically, however, Miss Haz- 
ard set to work. "The students were appealed to, and the alumnae have 
also taken the matter up," she wrote that fall — and she obviously was 
doing everything in her power. 

Her President's Report for 1907 is an extrordinary personal document. 
She had returned in May from the first sabbatical leave a Wellesley presi- 
dent had ever taken (this to Egypt and the Holy Land). "While I was 
away I must confess to have given some anxious thoughts to the prog- 
ress of the endowment which should offset Mr. Carnegie's promise of a 
library; and I wrote one or two letters which I hope may bear fruit: but, 
naturally, I was not able to do much about it myself, and when on my 
return I found that there had been small advance, though I cannot say I 
was discouraged, yet the prospect of having another Commencement pass 
by without the completion of the endowment was certainly somewhat 
disheartening. I immediately turned my attention to trying to interest 
friends of the College in this fund, and saw various people about it, 
besides writing numerous letters. These efforts resulted in the receipt 
of $1,000! As we needed something like $75,000, that was not especially 
encouraging. When, therefore, just before Commencement time, it was 
announced by the Treasurer that the College was to receive a sum of 



about $80,000 from the estate of the late Captain John A. Beebe — a sum 
which would more than complete the amount which we needed — the re- 
lief was proportionately great. As our Quaker ancestors used to say, 'Way 
had opened,' and in a way in a most unexpected quarter." 

Thereafter progress was rapid. George A. Plimpton had given in mem- 
ory of his wife, Frances Taylor Pearsons Plimpton '84, her magnificent col- 
lection of Italian books and manuscripts, chiefly of the fourteenth and 
fifteenth centuries. This collection had temporarily been housed in the 
Billings Hall library; now he provided a room for them in the new li- 
brary and continued to add to the collection. Andrew Carnegie increased 
his original gift by $7,000. The Class of 1886 gave in memory of Professor 
Horsford, its honorary member, bronze doors, the work of Evelyn 
Longman, with figures representing Wisdom and Charity. The Class of 
1887 began to make plans to give a bronze statue of the Lemnian Athena 
in the niche west of the entrance, and the Class of 1888 a statue of the 
Hestia Giustiniani in the niche to the east, so that, as Ethel Dane Rob- 
erts, a former librarian, wrote in 1936 in her excellent Brief History of 
the Wellesley College Library, the Goddess of Wisdom was balanced by 
the Goddess of the Hearth. The cornerstone of the building was laid by 
Mrs. Durant on June 5, 1909, following preliminary exercises in Billings 
Hall, at which a song written for the occasion by Katharine Lee Bates 
was sung and Miss Hazard and Andrew Fiske, a trustee who was a son- 
in-law of Professor Horsford, spoke. At the dedication the following 
June there were speeches by Mrs. Durant, Miss Hazard, Mr. Fiske, Mr. 
Plimpton, Professor George Herbert Palmer, and Henrietta St. Barbe 
Brooks '91, the librarian. The exercises were concluded by the lighting of 
a fire in the fireplace in the Reading Room by Mrs. Durant from a candle 
held by the freshman class president and the singing by the guests of 
the hymn "How Firm a Foundation." 

But, as Miss Hazard had noted earlier, the building really was not 
large enough from the outset, and the science departments preferred to 
have their libraries near their laboratories in any case. Consequently a 
good many valuable books and periodicals were lost in the College Hall 
fire, although the entire Browning Collection and parts of some other 
special collections were saved. The need for an addition to the Library 
soon became imperative, work on it was begun in 1915 thanks to a gift 
from Andrew Carnegie to the Restoration and Endowment Fund, and 
it was opened in the fall of 1916. 

Over the years not only the regular collections but also the special 
collections have expanded greatly. There were many additions to existing 
collections. Among those to the Browning Collection were, from Miss 
Hazard, the love letters of Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, still 
in the caskets in which the recipients had preserved them. Professor 


Palmer had a lovely custom of making special presents on Alice Freeman 
Palmer's birthday from the English poetry collection which they had 
begun together, and on his own eighty-second birthday in 1924 he 
formally presented his entire collection of first and rare editions of Eng- 
lish poets from Chaucer to Masefield. Charles Eliot Goodspeed, a well- 
known Boston book dealer and the father of two alumnae, gave the 
Ruskin Collection, which represented many years of his expert and pains- 
taking acquisition. Helen J. Sanborn '84, a trustee, bequeathed more 
than 500 volumes, pamphlets, and manuscripts from her Spanish library. 
The Elbert Collection on the Negro in Slavery, the gift of Ella Smith 
Elbert '88, one of Wellesley's early black students, has long been recog- 
nized as of unusual value and importance; in recent years, however, its 
unique character has received even wider acclaim. Katharine Lee Bates 
'80 and Elizabeth W. Manwaring '02 are among the faculty members who 
made notable gifts to the English Poetry Collection; Laura Hibbard 
Loomis '05, also a former Professor of English, gave her superb collection 
of medieval literature. All in all, thanks to many gifts and bequests, the 
library possesses manuscripts and rare books and first editions which 
range in time from a copy of the Ratdell Euclid printed in 1482 to the 
books issued by the Grabhorn Press and given by Annis VanNuys 
Schweppe '03. 

Once again, the necessity to enlarge the library building was felt long 
before the means were found to do so. The chapter on the grounds re- 
counts some of the story — in particular the decision not to erect a whole 
new building but to add a wing doubling the size and to remodel com- 
pletely the original building and to install a language laboratory. The 
impetus to proceed with the plans came in the spring of 1954 when 
David M. Mahood and his sister, Mrs. Helen M. Petit, offered to give in 
memory of Mrs. Petit's daughter, Helen Ritchie Petit '28, $500,000 toward 
the addition if the rest of the funds could be obtained. As Miss Hazard 
and the Quakers might have said, "Way had opened," and as unexpect- 
edly as it had in 1907. 

In going through the papers of his niece, Mr. Mahood had found a 
booklet published in 1947 setting forth the goals of the 75th Anniversary 
Fund Campaign. Knowing Helen Petit's love of books and her interest 
in Wellesley, on a Saturday morning he telephoned the President's Office 
to say that if Wellesley still needed a library he and his sister would be 
glad to make a substantial gift toward it. The young secretary who took 
the call trembled with excitement for days! So, too, but for different 
reasons did President Clapp and the members of the Development Fund 
Committee and the Trustee Committee on Endowment, who were well 
aware of the constant push for funds during recent years and of the 
continuing urgent needs for faculty salaries, scholarships, and unre- 



stricted gifts. They decided to rrjove ahead, however, and under Margery 
Borg Loengard '20, vice-chairman of the Development Fund Committee, 
and Louise Saunders France '19, a former member of the Committee, 
serving as chairman and vice-chairman of the Library Special Gifts Com- 
mittee, "alumnae and friends were invited to help, without resorting to 
an every-member drive. Clubs held special benefits, hundreds of indi- 
viduals made special gifts, and by the spring of 1956 the necessary funds 
were in hand. Once again the alumnae and Wellesley's friends met 
Wellesley's need," Miss Clapp was able to report. 

The library building which was expanded and remodeled in 1958 per- 
mitted "housing 400,000 volumes within easy access of 850 readers." By 

1973, however, there were more than 525,000 volumes in the main and 
departmental libraries, and meeting the needs of the library was given 
the highest priority among the buildings. Construction scheduled for 
completion in the spring of 1975 provides two additions, one on the 
east and one on the west. Space for an additional 325,000 volumes, in- 
stallation of air conditioning, improved and enlarged areas for readers 
and staff and for housing the special collections and the recently-estab- 
lished college archives, a doubling of the number of faculty studies, an 
entrance adjacent to Schneider Center and leading directly to the Reserve 
Book Room, the language laboratory, and a student lounge — these are 
among the features of the new additions which will help to make the 
library in 1975 as exceptional for its time as the one in College Hall was 
for its period a hundred years ago. 

Announcement was made at the commencement exercises on June 1, 

1974, that the Trustees had voted to name the Library in memory of 
Wellesley's eighth president, who had died on May 3. Nelson J. Darling, 
Jr., Chairman on the Board, stated: "Trustees, present and past, faculty 
members active and emeriti, administrators, alumnae and students, have 
been thinking separately and together of ways of honoring Margaret 
Clapp for her devotion and her remarkable service to this College. A 
marvelous unanimity of view has been evident. Over 300 members of the 
community have written requesting the Trustees to consider naming the 
Wellesley College Library the Margaret Clapp Library. The Trustees 
heartily agree that in view of Miss Clapp's own contributions to scholar- 
ship and her encouragement of the scholarship of Wellesley's faculty 
and students, it is especially appropriate to recognize her distinguished 
service to her country and her College by naming the Library in her 
memory. A resolution to this effect was unanimously approved at the 
Trustees meeting this morning." The expectation is that the Margaret 
Clapp Library with its two large additions will be dedicated on Novem- 
ber 19, 1975, the hundredth anniversary of the opening of the original 
library in College Hall. 


After the fire destroyed College Hall on March 17, 1914, some tempo- 
rary academic buildings, hallowed in memory and patiently endured in 
reality, were constructed. The most extensive and most famous was the 
Hen Coop, built on the lawn of the Chapel in fifteen working days be- 
fore college opened on the previously-scheduled date after spring vacation. 
It housed all of the administrative offices and most of the classrooms — 
and, according to Miss Gamble, Professor of Psychology, had the advan- 
tage that if you were bored with the class you were in, you could listen 
to the classes on either side of yours. By the time that the College was 
prepared to build the first permanent classroom building (the "liberal 
arts building," named Founders Hall in memory of Mr. and Mrs. Du- 
rant), the United States had entered World War I and a special building 
permit was required. Students who in later years sat at the table in 
Tower Court presided over by Mary Frazer Smith, the Recorder, remem- 
ber vividly her tale of meeting an official, sent out from Boston to investi- 
gate the urgency, at the juncture of two right-angled halls of the Hen 
Coop when the bell rang for the 10:30 class break. Visibly shaken by the 
bedlam and crowding, the inspector granted the permit on the spot, 
ground was broken in March 1918, and Founders Hall was dedicated 
after chapel on Saturday morning, September 20, 1919. The academic 
procession marched from the Chapel to a court outside the new building, 
and Miss Pendleton spoke of the share more than 12,000 alumnae, 
friends, and members of the college community had had in the gift of 
the building, which contained seventy-four rooms including classrooms 
and department offices. (It is interesting to note that Day and Klauder, 
the architects, had presented drawings for the proposed academic group 
on Norumbega Hill in "Renaissance and Free Classic style" as well as the 
Collegiate Gothic design originally suggested, but the Trustees voted in 
favor of the Gothic.) 

The Hen Coop continued to serve as the administration building and 
for some classes until March 17, 1931. At 7:45 that morning Miss Pendle- 
ton herself led the attack on the old building, blowing a trumpet and 
waving a hammer. The students and faculty had a glorious bash of au- 
thorized vandalism for thirty minutes. They left it empty and gutted to 
attend chapel at 8:15 and to sing the same hymns and have the same 
readings that Miss Pendleton had selected for the historic service seven- 
teen years before. Then she asked those who had been in the Chapel on 
that occasion to lead the procession to the Green Hall courtyard, where 
"America the Beautiful" was sung triumphantly. An open house that 
afternoon and a bonfire that night concluded the celebration. The new 
administration building bore the name of Hetty H. R. Green, who, as 
Miss Pendleton remarked, "held a unique place in the business world 
of her day." Her son, Colonel Edward H. R. Green of New York and 


Texas, and her daughter, Mrs. Matthew A. Wilks of New York, gave 
$500,000 toward its cost in memory of their mother. The tower which 
rises above it was given by Galen L. Stone, a Boston banker who was a 
trustee from 1915 until 1925; the carillon in the tower was the gift of 
Charlotte Nichols Greene, honorary member of the Class of 1916, whose 
husband had been a trustee from 1912 until 1927. 

Another temporary academic building erected rapidly — this in the 
summer of 1914 — was the Ark, which was also demolished, but with less 
fanfare than attended the Hen Coop, in 1939, when the zoology wing of 
Sage Hall was built. The Ark served as the headquarters for zoology and 
in the course of its existence had two small additions, the first in 1920 
and the second in 1928 when the College thriftily used for it boards sal- 
vaged from old Stone Hall. Matthison House, the third of the temporary 
buildings built after College Hall fire, adjoined the Hen Coop and was 
occupied by the Reading and Speaking Department from 1920 until it 
was removed in 1931. That department had been "accommodated" after 
the fire in Billings and Music Halls. The building was "named in honor 
of Edith Wynne Matthison, who has entertained the College so frequently 
by her readings." 

In addition to Founders and Green Halls, two other academic build- 
ings, Sage and Pendleton Halls, were eventually built, chiefly to replace 
classrooms and laboratories destroyed in the College Hall fire. Because 
the Botany Department's need was the most urgent of any of the science 
departments', the botany wing of Sage Hall was built first (in 1927), and 
the zoology wing followed in 1931. And so pressing was the need that the 
Trustees voted to use toward the cost of the building a bequest which 
Miss Pendleton described as "totally unrestricted" when notice of it was 
received in 1919. Russell Sage, who died in 1906, left his great fortune 
for distribution by his widow, Margaret Olivia Sage. In her will Welles- 
ley was listed as one of fifty-two "religious, educational, or charitable 
corporations" to share equally in the residue of her estate, and from it 
the College obtained $622,683. Mrs. Sage's will mentioned her wish that 
each of the fifty-two should use the whole or a part of the legacy for 
some purpose which would commemorate the name of her husband, but 
she very thoughtfully added, "I simply express this as a desire and do not 
impose it as a condition of my gift." The College did comply with her 
desire, however. 

In 1955-56 Sage Hall was slightly remodeled to provide space for ge- 
ography and geology, and a combined library for those departments and 
the biological sciences was added. Finally — not long after Wellesley en- 
ters its second century — all of the science departments will unite in a Sci- 
ence Center, as had been envisioned since the very early years of the 
College. Ground was broken for it in the spring of 1974. The superb 


greenhouses, named for Margaret C. Ferguson, a distinguished member 
of the Botany Department from 1893 until 1930, will remain as they were 
laid out in 1923 — and careful studies have been made to assure their con- 
tinuing to have proper sunlight. The renovated Sage Hall will provide 
chiefly for classrooms and offices, and a new building of approximately 
the same size as Sage extending down the hill toward the meadow will 
house the laboratories, a central library, stockrooms and shops, and will 
have what is termed "an administrative focus." Tremendous advantages 
of the new Science Center will be the opportunities it will afford for 
interdisciplinary activity among all of the sciences — including mathemat- 
ics, psychology, and computer science — and what is called, with great 
understatement in some instances, "updating of the facilities." 

Physics was one of the science departments made homeless by College 
Hall fire. After temporarily occupying very inadequate space in the base- 
ment of Wilder Hall, a dormitory on Norumbega Hill, it shared with 
Geology what had been the kitchen wing of College Hall, the only part 
of that building not demolished in the fire. (It continued to be used as 
a kitchen and dining room for displaced, non-resident faculty and for 
students and faculty in Lake House until Tower Court was completed.) 
Lucy Wilson '09, a member of the faculty from 1917 until she retired in 
1954 as Dean of Students and Sarah Frances Whiting Professor of Phys- 
ics, recently recalled in an oral history interview some of her memories 
of teaching in the old building. "It was difficult. All of the apparatus 
had been destroyed in the fire, and that which was in use had been sent 
in by other institutions. We had a dumb-waiter to get our apparatus 
from one level to another. In the basement there was an old car which 
we called 'King Tut' that I used in teaching the automobile course, and 
ultimately the Ford Company gave us a chassis. The thresholds of that 
old building were worn and the doors didn't fit very well. But," she 
added in a typical fashion, "it was a beautiful location." 

The last academic building built as a part of the Semi-Centennial Fund 
was what had originally been conceived of as "the physics building," as is 
told in the chapter on the grounds. Then, when it was finally constructed 
and was opened in 1935, it served as the quarters for chemistry and psy- 
chology as well as for physics, and, at the request of the students, was 
named in honor of President Pendleton. The cornerstone contained a 
remarkable collection of objects. Among them were a Bible which had be- 
longed to Eleanor Gamble '89, a beloved Professor of Psychology who 
had died not long before, and in which had been inscribed on the fly- 
leaf the same passage from the Bible (I Chronicles, XXIX, 11-16) Mrs. 
Durant had written in the Bible in the cornerstone of College Hall; a 
brick from College Hall which Mary Whiton Calkins, one of Wellesley's 
great teachers from 1887 until 1929, had picked up; Miss Calkins' First 


Book in Psychology and two of her articles published in professional 
journals; the pioneering book on stereo-chemistry written by Charlotte 
Roberts '80, Professor of Chemistry until her death in 1917; a copy of 
Seven Psychologies, a book then recently published and now a classic, by 
Edna F. Heidbreder, Professor of Psychology from 1934 until 1955. In 
many respects Pendleton Hall was a remarkably well-equipped building 
for its day, but the separateness instead of interrelationship of depart- 
ments at that time is perhaps most clearly evidenced by the fact that it 
has been completely impossible to transport equipment between the 
chemistry and physics wings without carrying it up and down flights of 
stairs. With the completion of the Science Center, Pendleton Hall can 
be remodeled to serve as the headquarters of the social sciences or the 
humanities, which have become much overcrowded in Founders Hall. 

Providing classrooms and laboratories was a major problem after the 
great fire of 1914; housing the students, faculty, and officers who had 
lived in College Hall was equally important, and in some respects was 
of even greater complexity. For both educational and financial reasons 
the College had been striving to reduce the number of houses it had 
been renting in the village. Suddenly it also had to provide accommoda- 
tions for the refugees from the fire. Immediately following it, offers were 
accepted from students in other campus dormitories to share their rooms. 
As Olive Davis '86, the Director of the Halls of Residence, pointed out, 
however, "These crowded conditions would have been intolerable if it 
had not been the spring term, when windows were open and the students 
out of doors a large part of the time," and for the following fall "The 
expedient . . . could not be continued. All proposed cases of two in 
the space of one were submitted for consideration to the Board of Health, 
made up of the President of the College, the Dean, the Director of the 
Department of Hygiene, the Resident Physician, and the Director of 
Halls of Residence, and the position was unanimously taken that not 
more than twenty-five rooms on the campus could be reasonably used 
for two instead of one student. This left miracles to be wrought both on 
the campus and in the village." 

The miracles were wrought but the ingenuity and imagination of Miss 
Davis and the cooperation of the students and faculty deserve a good 
deal of the credit. On the srte of the old boiler plant for College Hall, a 
brick residence hall had been built in 1913 for the College Hall em- 
ployees. "After the fire," Miss Davis reported realistically and somewhat 
dryly, "it was no longer needed for that purpose. Accordingly it was re- 
furbished and refurnished and equipped as a Hall of Residence, under 
the charming name of Lake House." (It has again been converted into very 
pleasant quarters for college employees.) Three professors, forty-three stu- 
dents, and Miss Davis herself as the Head of House lived in it and had 


their meals in what had been the old College Hall kitchen. She noted with 
appreciation that the President of Student Government Association "left 
her group of friends and joined me in Lake House" to help its popular- 
ity. All halfway likely houses were leased in the village (including the 
Elms, the Birches, and the Maples, which Miss Davis said comprised 
"quite a forest"), and other students had rooms in private homes. When 
college opened in the fall of 1914, there were 1,452 students, of whom 53 
lived with their parents in Wellesley or adjoining towns, 773 were housed 
on the campus, and 626 in the village. Miss Davis reported in summary: 
"Of the 626 resident off campus, 159 were boarded in the same college 
houses in which they had rooms; 100 were in college houses and took 
their meals in near-by college dining halls; 250 were lodged in private 
houses but assigned to college dining rooms, . . . leaving 117 for whose 
board the College was not directly responsible." The situation was ex- 
ceedingly complicated and unsatisfactory in every respect; only the serv- 
ices of a large number of Heads of House, much time on the part of 
Village Seniors and other Student Government officers, and forbearance 
on the part of everyone made it at all tolerable. 

We can easily comprehend the jubilation when the cornerstone of 
Tower Court, the first permanent building erected after the fire, was 
laid on January 15, 1915, and the dormitory was occupied on September 
25 of that year by 194 students and twelve faculty members. Miss Pen- 
dleton wrote with moving simplicity: "When the lights actually shone 
out from Tower Court into the autumn evening, one realized how much 
the darkness on College Hall Hill had meant to the college life." 

Part of the story of Tower Court (in particular the controversy con- 
cerning the siting of the building) is told in the chapter on the grounds. 
Let us focus here on the building itself and its donor. The construction 
of a large building with elegant, elaborate details in a period of little 
more than eight months is almost incredible. So, too, is the fact that the 
funds had been given for it and public announcement of the gift made 
only three months after the fire. Louise McCoy North '79, the trustee 
who had arranged for the gift and who made the announcement of it, de- 
clared, "It is an imperative condition of this gift that the donor's name 
be unknown." The stipulation was observed so scrupulously that even 
in the Minutes of the Board of Trustees the donor was referred to as 
"Mr. Smith" — always in quotation marks. Although anonymous, "Mr. 
Smith" had definite views, among them: "I would suggest that this 
group be built of fire-proof material and be Gothic in style of architec- 
ture and built so as to form an interior court or quadrangle opening on 
the lake, through the construction of one large dormitory, with an ap- 
proximate capacity of 200, slightly to the north of the site of the old 
building, with a smaller dormitory, having a capacity of about 100, flank- 


ing it or at right angles on either side and running down to the lake. In 
this group might be incorporated rooms for distinguished guests and 
visiting or exchange professors, as well as suitable space for the more 
formal and dignified social events and celebrations connected with the 
College, in a measure restoring a little of the old 'Centre' idea so dear 
to the hearts of the alumnae. Messrs. Coolidge and Carlson have made 
a few drawings along the lines indicated above, and I commend both 
the plans and the architects to your favorable consideration." The donor 
was extremely generous, approximately doubling the amount initially 
proposed for the construction and giving an additional sum, lavish in 
terms of pre-World War I prices, "toward furnishing the main rooms 
of the central hall" — and so it is that the Great Hall and other reception 
areas of Tower Court have hand-carved woodwork of fumed oak and 
various seals in stained glass set in some of the windows. 

Two of the carved figures always especially delighted Dorothy Dennis 
'14, who for many years was Professor of French and Director of the 
French Center in Tower Court. The one of a woman holding a lamb 
she said represented the B.A. degree; the other, of a woman holding a 
child, the M.A. degree. A kind of academic genealogy is traced in the 
seals in the north windows of the Great Hall: Emmanuel and Christ 
Colleges, Cambridge; Harvard, founded by a graduate of Christ College 
and attended by the founder of Wellesley; Wellesley, with the first seal, 
that with Chi Rho in the center, which became the seal of the Alumnae 
Association when the College adopted the present seal and coat-of-arms 
in 1917. In the windows on the lake side of the Great Hall are the seals 
of the colleges in the Seven College Conference (Barnard, Bryn Mawr, 
Mount Holyoke, Radcliffe, Smith, Vassar, and Wellesley). In the win- 
dows of the living room of the East Suite (which, when a college guest- 
room, was occupied by many dignitaries, including Mme. Chiang Kai- 
shek at the time of her famous visit during World War II when, accord- 
ing to legend, the secret service mounted machine guns on the adjoining 
roof of Severance Hall) are the seals of the institutions from which 
Wellesley's presidents had received degrees other than from the Seven 
Colleges. The University of Michigan is there in recognition of Alice 
Freeman Palmer, Oberlin of Helen A. Shafer, Cornell of Julia J. Irvine, 
and Brown of Caroline Hazard and Mrs. Irvine. The living room in the 
west suite and in the two small reception rooms have in the windows the 
seals of the six societies (Agora, AKX, Phi Sigma, Shakespeare, TZE, and 
ZA) which were in existence when Tower Court was built. 

The statue under the porte cochere of Tower Court by Charles Grafly 
was the central figure for "The Fountain of Man" which he executed for 
the Pan American Exposition. According to his daughter, Dorothy Grafly 
Drummond '18, as he conceived it "the fountain was crested with an" 


enigmatic double-faced figure of man. Below, with intervening architec- 
ture, was a circular group representing the five senses, and still nearer 
the base . . . were crouching caryatid groups symbolizing the struggling 
virtues and vices." 

At Commencement time in 1917 the memorial tablet over the fireplace 
in the Great Hall was unveiled and the identity of the donor was re- 
vealed. Ellen Stebbins Curtiss James, the widow of D. Willis James, busi- 
nessman and philanthropist, died in April 1916 at her New York City 
home, 40 East 39th Street. (I might add that when I visited it many years 
later when it was the headquarters of the James Foundation, which was 
established by her son, Arthur Curtiss James, I felt as if — except for 
the coats of armor in almost every corner — I might have been in the 
Great Hall of Tower Court. I suddenly realized then how much of Mrs. 
James' personal taste was reflected in the decoration of the magnificent 
dormitory she gave to Wellesley.) In newspaper obituaries at the time of 
her death she was described as "the most beloved and public-spirited 
resident of Madison, New Jersey." By proclamation of the mayor, all 
business was suspended in that city for five minutes during her funeral 
service, and "From every pulpit in the borough reference was made on 
Sunday to her." Certainly Wellesley has good reason for gratitude to her 
— and to the James Foundation, which in the 1950s and 1960s made sev- 
eral grants to Wellesley, including one for the refurbishing of the public 
rooms of Tower Court. 

The "western dormitory," as it was known in relation to Tower Court, 
was designed by the architects of that building. It, too, had hand-carved 
woodwork and was built in the style of "the central dormitory," although 
it was financed by gifts to the Restoration Fund and not by an individual 
donor. The Trustees voted to name it Claflin Hall to commemorate 
Governor and Mrs. William Claflin, two of the very earliest trustees, 
whom the College had long wished to honor. As governor he had signed 
the charter granted to Wellesley in 1870; Mrs. Claflin was the first woman 
elected to the Board of Trustees after Mrs. Durant. Mary Claflin was an 
author as well as an active volunteer in many charitable and educational 
causes. Personal Recollections of John Greenleaf Whittier, Old Time 
New England Life, and Under the Old Elms were among her publica- 
tions in the early 1890s. An account written at the time of Governor 
Claflin's death stated that "He was the first governor of Massachusetts 
to believe in the legal right of female suffrage. . . . When he was gov- 
ernor, legislative bills were enacted extending the rights of women, 
bettering the condition of criminals, establishing a bureau of statistics 
for labor, protecting destitute children, and regulating divorce." He 
was especially interested in education (as his father, a founder of Boston 
University and the person for whom a school for Negroes in Orange- 


burg, South Carolina, was named, had been before him). In addition to 
being a faithful trustee of Wellesley from 1873 until his death in 1905, he 
was a trustee of Mount Holyoke, Wesleyan, and the New England Con- 

One special "tradition" of Claflin Hall is worthy of noting. On the 
long wall of the dining room with its long refectory tables, students in 
one of the studio art courses taught by Agnes Abbot painted murals ap- 
propriately medieval in style. Shortly before their commencement seniors 
for many years incorporated into the murals a small, appropriate detail 
— which students the following fall gleefully discovered. 

Severance Hall, "the eastern dormitory," was opened in January 1927, 
ten years after Claflin Hall. Edward S. Harkness, a businessman whose 
philanthropies extended to many colleges, in the fall of 1924 had offered 
$100,000 toward its cost, on condition that $300,000 more be raised by 
April 1. The undergraduates in 1924-25 raised $160,000, Elizabeth Sev- 
erance Prentiss of Cleveland, who had been a student from 1883 to 1886, 
gave $150,000, and, when the building was constructed and costs had 
risen, some undesignated gifts to the Semi-Centennial Fund supplemented 
the funds given specifically for it. Named in honor of the largest indi- 
vidual donor, it was designed to house 126 students. 

Stone and Davis Halls were completed in 1929, as has been noted 
earlier. Then in January 1933, Munger Hall, the gift of Jessie D. Munger 
'86 in memory of her mother, was opened. Of Georgian architecture, it 
was the first Wellesley dormitory designed to be a cooperative house and 
therefore the first to have, among other means of simplifying housekeep- 
ing chores, an inter-communication system. Miss Munger, who lived in 
Plainfield, New Jersey, for many years frequently and unobtrusively 
visited her dormitory, delighting in presenting "extras" which she or the 
students or the head of house realized would be pleasant. 

Although these dormitories, beginning with Tower Court and ending 
with Munger nearly twenty years later, had been built after the fire, it 
was not until Bates, Freeman, and McAfee Halls were constructed 
(Bates and Freeman in 1953 and McAfee in 1961) that all students could 
finally be housed on the campus — something that had not been true since 
the very early days of the College. Bates Hall commemorated Katharine 
Lee Bates '80, poet and teacher of English Literature at Wellesley 
throughout her long career, and Freeman Hall was named for the second 
president of Wellesley, in whose honor Mrs. Durant had given a dormi- 
tory on Norumbega Hill which was razed to make way for Pendleton 
Hall. At the time they were built, so was the dining room which would 
serve for the third dormitory in the group when it could be financed 
and in the meanwhile for the students in Navy, Homestead, and Dower, 
all of which, like the village dormitories, were uneconomical to operate 


and unsatisfactory to live in by the mid-1950s. This dining room was 
named for Sophie Chantal Hart, who taught English Composition from 
1892 until 1937 and whose bequest made it possible. The third dormitory 
was named in honor of Wellesley's seventh president, Mildred McAfee 
Horton. (There was already a Horton House, a faculty residence, and 
so it was a foregone conclusion that the dormitory would bear the name 
which was hers during nine of the fourteen years of her administration.) 

All three of the dormitories were carefully planned, with much student 
consultation, to be "functional," and they incorporated various new 
features, including student common rooms on every floor, study and semi- 
nar rooms, etc. The living room of McAfee was very special, however, 
chiefly through the good offices of the architect, Joseph Richardson of 
the firm of Shepley, Coolidge, Bulfinch, and Richardson. He obtained 
as gifts from the Hearst Foundation the fifteenth century French Gothic 
stone fireplace enriched with fleurs-de-lis and coat-of-arms, and the 
Gothic ceiling taken from a patrician house in Wels, Austria, an old town 
situated in the Danube valley which was a trade center in the fifteenth 
and sixteenth centuries. The Flemish tapestry, woven in Oudenaarde in 
the late seventeenth or early eighteenth century and presented by Louis 
XIV to an Austrian general, was given by Mr. and Mrs. William D. Vogel 
in honor of their daughters Grace Vogel Finnell '54 and Virginia Vogel 
Mattern '55. 

A building need, long felt and often postponed, was finally realized 
when Alumnae Hall was opened in 1923. As early as 1908 the students, 
who had for several years written and spoken about the matter, formally 
presented to the Board of Trustees a request to be allowed "to raise 
funds toward a students' building." The only recreation hall was the old 
Barn, which had housed the College's Jersey cows until in February 
1896 the Trustees voted "an appropriation of $75 with the proceeds of 
the extra hay in the barn to arrange the large cow-barn as an exercise 
and recreation room." That June Governor Claflin proposed that the 
old building be plastered and heated, and when at the time of the No- 
vember Trustees meeting he had ascertained that the cost would be about 
$2,000, of which he pledged $500 and Mrs. Whitin $100, the Trustees 
"voted to consent to the proposed plan, provided that the necessary funds 
be obtained from friends." The students had used the Barn with grace 
and imagination for plays, receptions, and other social events. But when 
in 1908 the Trustees gave them permission to raise funds for a new 
building they set to work in earnest, by Commencement in 1909 had 
$5,000 on deposit in the bank and $2,700 in pledges, and persuaded the 
Class of 1906 returning for reunion to give $800. Succeeding generations 
of students had accummulated about $45,000 by the time College Hall 
was destroyed. Although as a result of the fire the need for the building 


increased, it could not be given as high priority as the academic build- 
ings and dormitories. The Trustees were well aware of the situation, and 
in March 1916, with the urging of Professor George Herbert Palmer, 
voted to establish the Student-Alumnae Building Fund with gifts which 
the Classes of 1916, 1917, and 1918 had made to the Restoration and En- 
dowment Fund. 

Finally the funds were in hand, and the cornerstone was laid at com- 
mencement in 1922. A severe winter delayed construction, however, so 
that the building could not be opened until December 5, 1923. It was 
a great occasion for the alumnae, who celebrated "Wellesley Day" 
throughout the country. On the campus, Florence Besse Brewster '05, the 
chairman of the Alumnae Building Committee, gave a history of the 
work of the committee and turned over the keys to the building to the 
President of the Alumnae Association, Louise Pope Johnson '91, who 
in turn presented the keys to President Pendleton as the gift of the alum- 
nae. Ralph Adams Cram, the architect selected by the committee and 
approved by the Trustees, "interpreted the thought of the architects." 
And that evening the Boston Symphony Orchestra performed the dedica- 
tory concert. 

Another building which was a long time materializing was the Recre- 
ation Building. Less than four years after the completion of Mary Hem- 
enway Hall, Amy Morris Homans, the Director of the Physical Education 
Department, had requested and received the Trustees' permission to 
raise money for an addition to the gymnasium and, in particular, for a 
swimming pool. Many alumnae who were students in the 1920s and 
1930s have vivid recollections of raising money for it, dime by dime, at 
carnivals on the green and through countless other projects. Plans were 
drawn in the early 1930s by William T. Aldrich, the architect and 
Wellesley trustee who had designed Munger Hall. Early in 1937 the 
Trustees approved the leaflet which the Undergraduate Swimming Pool 
Committee wished to send to parents, and on behalf of the Trustees 
Miss McAfee also prepared an article for the Alumnae Magazine esti- 
mating the cost of the recreation center at $500,000, of which something 
more than $200,000 would build and equip the swimming pool and 
locker rooms, and stating that "At least $50,000 more is needed to justify 
breaking ground." Enough was obtained so that the Trustees decided to 
build the entire building exclusive of the dance studio and the bowling 
alleys (which, incidentally, are still on the list of unfulfilled needs). The 
cornerstone was laid during Commencement weekend in 1938. George 
Howe Davenport, a trustee from 1905 until his death in 1932, had given 
$50,000 for the pool, and his widow gave an additional $30,000 for it; 
the pool therefore was named in his memory. (The whole building was 
simply known as the "Rec Building," although several wistful statements 


indicated that if a large donor came along, the Trustees would be happy 
to attach his name to it.) In any event, all of the years of planning re- 
sulted in one of the best-designed pools in the country, with an under- 
water observation window which not only aided instructors in their 
teaching but also was the delight of photographers. The building was 
dedicated during a three-day conference of the Eastern Society of Direc- 
tors of Physical Education for College Women which was held in March 
1939 on the fiftieth anniversary of the establishment of the Boston Nor- 
mal School of Gymnastics and the thirtieth anniversary of its merger 
with Wellesley's Hygiene and Physical Education Department. 

In contrast to the long period of fund raising for Alumnae Hall and 
the Recreation Building, the interval between the conception and com- 
pletion of the Jewett Arts Center was amazingly brief — thanks to the 
generosity and constant cooperation of the George Frederick Jewett 
family. As Miss Clapp pointed out in her Report for 1953-56, "Rarely 
does an institution have benefactors who can do so much and give of 
themselves with their money, with modesty, and without dictation." 

Mary Cooper Jewett Gaiser '23 in an oral history interview gave an in- 
formal account of the way in which the Jewett Arts Center came into 
being: "It was a fortunate chain of events. When I returned to Spokane 
from a meeting of the Board of Trustees, I explained to my husband that 
the College had a serious problem. The popular Art Department had 
grown so rapidly that Farnsworth, the existing art building, was no 
longer acceptable. The financial situation at the College made it impos- 
sible to contemplate a new, efficient building. The Trustees had been 
forced to agree to build a 'wart' on Farnsworth. I made a sad picture of 
an inadequate addition spoiling the present building. To my great sur- 
prise, he said, 'I have been considering making a substantial gift to 
Wellesley someday. Perhaps this is the day.' He believed that an act 
properly timed was many times more valuable than an act poorly 
timed. We discussed the great value of such a gift to Wellesley and 
Wellesley's influence in women's education. I knew Margaret Clapp's 
deep concern over the problem and decided to call her immediately. 
When we put in a call for President Clapp, the night operator informed 
us that the President could not receive a call after 9 p.m. Early the next 
morning, we called Miss Clapp, who was delighted with our news. She 
immediately revised the rules of her office so that the President could 
receive emergency calls from trustees at any hour. 

"The Art Department, administrators, and Trustees decided to select 
the architect from a long list of names submitted by many interested 
people. Paul Rudolph was selected. He was an ambitious young architect 
whose talent had already been demonstrated. The splendid building up- 
held their judgment. 


"While we were in the process of selecting an architect, we were spend- 
ing a good deal of time attempting to develop a mental picture of our 
ideal building. We gradually realized that we did not want to isolate 
the Art Department. If we could have the Music Department in the same 
building complex, the two departments could cooperate on programs and 
exhibits. It was easy to go one step farther and plan a drama department 
which could relate to the first two. The only thing that the donor in- 
sisted upon was that the corridor leading from the front door to the 
Music Department be wide enough for exhibition space. He did not 
want it possible for a music student to reach her class without being ex- 
posed to art. These superb corridor exhibits have probably had more 
influence on the artistic interest of music students than any other device 
could have had." 

And so it was that the Mary Cooper Jewett Art Building and the Mar- 
garet Weyerhauser Jewett Music and Drama Building, named in memory 
of Mr. Jewett's mother, who was a student of music at Wellesley in the 
1880s, comprise the handsome Jewett Arts Center and provide excep- 
tional facilities for students of art, music, and theatre. "One lasting 
sorrow came in November, 1956, in the death of Mr. George Frederick 
Jewett, Sr.," Miss Clapp wrote in her Report for 1956-1958. He had, 
however, taken part in the symbolic ground breaking on June 9, 1956, 
and, as Miss Clapp noted, the College "had the wise supporting counsel of 
Mrs. Jewett throughout the project, and the united family backing of 
Mr. George Frederick Jewett, Jr., and Mrs. William H. Greer, Jr. (Mar- 
garet Jewett 1951)." 

The Jewett Arts Center was formally opened on October 18, 1958. A 
unique cornerstone was laid for a unique building, and then the Arts 
Center was dedicated at a ceremony in the auditorium. Other events of 
the day included an exhibition in the main gallery of painting and 
sculpture from the permanent collection of the museum, a formal dinner 
in the still-unoccupied rooms of the music wing, and a concert by the 
Budapest String Quartet which demonstrated not only the expertise of 
the musicians but the perfection of the acoustics. The following day 
alumnae and townspeople attended open houses at Jewett and at the 
Library to celebrate the simultaneous completion for the first time in 
Wellesley's history of two academic buildings. 

Special note should be made of the museum collection, which covers 
the full range of art historical periods and, in its high quality, attests to 
the strong and imaginative leadership of its directors. The first was Alice 
Van Vechten Brown, the director from 1897 to 1930, who, when the 
museum was housed in the Farnsworth Art Building, arranged for sev- 
eral important purchases, including a Roman mosaic, "Nereid Riding a 
Marine Horse," the marble "Athlete" or "Discophoros" after Polykleitos, 


and the late thirteenth century Italian double-scene panel, "Descent 
from the Cross and the Burial of S. Clara," which was obtained on the 
advice of Bernard Berenson. Mosaics from the excavations at Antioch- 
on-the-Orontes, of which W. A. Campbell of the Art Department was 
field director; Baroque paintings from Italy and Northern Europe; a fine 
collection of early twentieth century paintings and drawings by artists 
such as Leger, Kokoscha, Moholy-Nagy, Picasso, Lipchitz, and Kandinsky; 
paintings of the 1960s by Olitski, Noland, and Bush; Futurist drawings 
by Balla and Severini; contemporary acrylic canvases and medieval sculp- 
ture — these are among the museum's prized possessions, most of them 
gifts from alumnae and friends of the College and the Art Department. 
A fitting tribute to John McAndrew, who was the knowledgeable and 
persuasive director of the Museum in the 1950s, was the gift of "The 
Triumph of David," a splendid oil by Luca Giordano. The works of art 
displayed in the main gallery, the broad corridors, the sculpture court, 
and even outside the building, where Rodin's sculpture blends with 
that of the 1970s by Michael Steiner, exert the great influence Mr. Jewett 
wished on the artistic development of all members of the college com- 

The last major building on the campus constructed during Miss 
Clapp's administration was the Wellesley College Club, built in 1963 by 
vote of the Trustees as a center for faculty and alumnae and a place where 
guests of the College and of members of the Club could be entertained 
overnight and at lunch, dinner, and special functions. Although it was to 
a large extent built with funds which the Trustees had been setting aside 
for several years for these purposes, two rooms for which special gifts were 
made should be mentioned. On the second floor is a large lounge, the 
Wall Room, made possible by a bequest from Juliette Wall Pope '91, 
who had previously given the Pope Room to the remodeled library. Miss 
Clapp, in an oral history interview in 1972, was reminded of a very 
pleasant visit she had in Washington, D.C., with Mrs. Pope who, prob- 
ably because of sentiment for Wellesley and in deference to its President, 
wore as a dressing robe the B.A. gown that she had preserved for some 
seventy years. The lounge on the first floor, the Wayne Room, bears the 
name of Gladys Dowling Wayne '13. In addition to giving the funds for 
this room, she and her husband, who lived near Los Angeles, for many 
years had the custom of making gifts at Christmas and on birthdays and 
other special occasions to a scholarship fund which they established in 
memory of their daughter who had died shortly before she was to have 
entered her freshman year at Wellesley. 

The newest Wellesley building to be used for educational purposes is 
one of the oldest: Cheever House, acquired from the Hunnewell Trust, is 
a wood frame mansion of thirty-seven rooms on four floors which was 



built about 1894. It is located on twenty-one acres of woodland, open 
field, and swamp land extending from Washington Street to the Charles 
River and lying between Waban House, which has long belonged to 
the College, and the home of a member of the Hunnewell family. Plans 
for its use include offices in which Wellesley's faculty members on leave 
and retired professors can carry on their research. It will also be a Center 
for the Study of Women in Higher Education and the Professions, an 
independent institute devoted to women's education and professional 
opportunities which is jointly sponsored by the College and the Federa- 
tion of Organizations for Professional Women and established with a 
grant of $195,000 from the Carnegie Corporation. According to President 
Barbara W. Newell and the president of the Federation, the Center will 
conduct research aimed specifically toward application in women's edu- 
cation and employment, sponsor symposia and training conferences, 
provide a central location for the collection of research findings and be 
responsive to the needs of women's organizations across the country, 
and be host to "visiting scholars whose intellectual interests are consonant 
with those of the Center." 

The first "faculty club house," Horton House, was entirely different 
in function and atmosphere from the present Wellesley College Club, but 
it, too, met a need in its day when the faculty members who were not 
housed in student dormitories had to find rooms and lodging for them- 
selves in a town which, then as now, was expensive to live in. There 
was little rental property of any kind and almost nothing that Wellesley 
faculty members could afford. The single rooms in Horton, which also 
had a dining room, were considered highly desirable, and the apartments 
in the adjoining Hallowell House were deemed positively luxurious 
when they were opened in 1922-23. (Edith S. Tufts '84, the Dean of Resi- 
dence, reported of them: "They were promised for September 1, but the 
summer was a trying season for buildings because of labor conditions 
and September found both buildings full of workmen, and Horton in 
particular far from completion. The delay was most trying to college 
folk who needed their books and workrooms, but all things come to an 
end, even the excuses of the contractors. The rooms and apartments were 
finished one by one and the workmen pushed out.") They were built 
on Washington Street opposite East Lodge on the site of the old home 
of Mary E. Horton, one of the very early Wellesley teachers. The old 
Horton homestead had been used as a convalescent home for students 
and faculty during the influenza epidemic in 1918; the apple trees in 
the courtyard, which were the inspiration for an annual apple blossom 
and strawberry shortcake festival during the years Horton House was the 
faculty club before it was remodeled in the late 1950s for faculty apart- 
ments, must have helped restore the morale of the flu victims. Hallowell 


was named for another of the original faculty members, Susan M. Hal- 
lowell, who made her home with Miss Horton. At the rear of the prop- 
erty another apartment house, Shepard House, was built in 1930 with a 
bequest from Julia Bone Shepard, who was enrolled at Wellesley in 1877- 
78. The architect for all three buildings was Eliza Newkirk Rogers '00, 
who taught the courses in the history of architecture in the Art Depart- 
ment much of the time from 1906 until 1936. 

Some of the other buildings which provide housing for members of the 
faculty and their families warrant at least brief mention. East Lodge 
and West Lodge now are quaint, rather charming small houses for fac- 
ulty members. Ridgeway, on Norfolk Terrace, built in 1907, has had a 
long history as a dining room for students living in the village and as a 
faculty apartment house. Crawford House, named for the first Superin- 
tendent of Grounds, whose house it was originally, became a dormitory 
in 1923 and was "Maison Crawford," the French house, from 1931 until 
1937. Since that time it has been assigned to a dean. During Miss Clapp's 
administration thirty-one houses and thirty-one apartments were made 
available on and off the campus for faculty members. In many respects 
the loveliest on the campus is "Acorns," the one-story brick house near 
Lake Waban and the Margaret Clapp Library. Its first occupant, in 1956, 
was Teresa G. Frisch, Professor of Art and Dean of Students. The houses 
on Service Drive beside the golf course were built beginning in 1949 and 
continuing until the early 1970s, the duplex apartments on Weston Ter- 
race in 1959. Since 1953, when it was substantially remodeled, Fiske 
House has provided apartments for faculty members and administrative 
officers, but it has had perhaps the most varied history, as well as one 
of the longest, of all the campus buildings. Initially the public school in 
the village, it was moved onto the campus in 1894 through gifts from 
two trustees, William S. Houghton and Elisha S. Converse, and was 
enlarged and equipped as a dormitory through a gift from Mrs. Joseph N. 
Fiske of Boston. It was a "self-help" house until 1939, when it became a 
dormitory for graduate students, chiefly those in Hygiene and Physical 

Three of the Society Houses are also serving functions far different 
from those for which they were designed. Alpha Kappa Chi, the society 
devoted to the Classics, had the most diverse history: the house built in 
1903-04 on the hillside opposite old Stone Hall was temporary headquar- 
ters for the Philosophy and Psychology Department after College Hall 
fire and was torn down in 1935-36; the second house, which was occupied 
in 1924, served during World War II as the snack bar when the Well in 
Alumnae Hall was the Navy's mess hall, and it became Harambee House, 
a black cultural and social center, in 1970. Also during Miss Adams' ad- 
ministration, Phi Sigma, built in 1900, and Agora, built in 1901, were 


given to the College by their members. Phi Sigma is now the center for 
continuing education and for personal counseling services, and thanks to 
a gift in memory of Priscilla Allen Slater '16 from her husband, Ellis D. 
Slater, Agora has been converted into the Slater International Center. 
Shakespeare (1898), Zeta Alpha (1901), and Tau Zeta Epsilon (the first 
house was built in 1900, the present one in 1929) continue to exist as 
Societies with special interests in, respectively, Shakespearean drama, 
modern drama, and art and music. 

Two other buildings seen on the present map of the campus also 
have changed roles over the years. Gray House, the home of a college 
employee when it was built in 1914, was used by the infirmary as an 
annex for contagious diseases from 1921 until the new clinic and hospital 
were built in 1942. Thereafter it was a dormitory for members of the 
domestic staff until the last few years, when it became a residence for 
men guests of students during term time and a vacation house for for- 
eign students during Christmas and spring recesses. 

Although the College rented most of the village houses which fresh- 
men, and sometimes seniors, too, lived in for so many, many years, it 
owned a few which will long remain in the memories of alumnae. The 
Eliot, located on the southeast corner of Washington and Cottage Streets, 
where the parking lot for St. Andrew's Episcopal Church now is, was 
originally a dormitory for some of the young women employed in an ad- 
joining shoe factory. Named for John Eliot, "the apostle to the Indians" in 
South Natick, it was purchased in 1886 by Horatio Hollis Hunnewell 
and Mrs. Durant, who subsequently gave their interests in it to the Col- 
lege. It was substantially enlarged in 1911 and eventually had sixty stu- 
dents in residence and a dining room for about 130. This large, white 
rambling structure was sold after the opening of Bates and Freeman 
Halls enabled all students to live on the campus. Noanett, the other rela- 
tively large village dormitory, stood on the corner of Washington Street 
and Weston Road. The romantic, and possibly true, story goes that it 
was named for an English Royalist who for many years masqueraded in 
the area as an Indian chieftain. Miss Hazard reported in 1903 that "A 
company of gentlemen in the village approached the college authorities 
with a proposition to build a dormitory in the village which the College 
shall rent. This has been done and the College has leased the building, 
which gives a home to 60 students and table board for 25 more." About 
two decades later, when the owners proposed a large increase in the rent, 
the College bought the old brown-shingled house. 

And finally among the departed — and apparently unlamented — build- 
ings was the piggery. I became mildly fascinated to notice that it was 
listed in every Treasurer's Report from 1887 until 1936-37, when the 
item showing a $1,500 piggery disappeared. Realizing that was the first 



year of Mildred McAfee Horton's presidency, I could imagine her com- 
ing upon the probably unlovely anachronism and requesting its removal, 
and so in the course of an oral history interview I asked her about it. She 
disclaimed any knowledge of its existence or its destruction, although 
she did remember "the automotive equipment and a new grounds service 
building near 'the Pit' " on the golf course which, the Treasurer's Report 
for 1937-38 commented, allowed "the disappearance of the old barn 
and the slow-paced horses plodding over the campus." The piggery and 
the $1,315.35 blacksmith shop, one of the last to operate in this area, 
quietly disappeared from view and the Treasurer's Report. And I learned 
again the danger of uninformed interpretation of written records! 

May Day in 1926: the Hen Coop; the 
Chapel and Old Stone Hall in the back- 
ground; Dean Edith S. Tufts and President 
Ellen Fitz Pendleton watching from the 
steps of Founders Hall. 

Miss Pendleton, known as "The Builder" 
because of her achievements in rebuilding 
the College after College Hall fire, and 
'Ariel," the electric car presented to her by 
the alumnae. 





92^^* '0% Wij00^h^^ 


The Academic Quad: Green Hall, Founders Hall, 
the Jewett Arts Center, and Pendleton Hall occupy 
what was formerly known as Norumbega Hill. 

The Chapel, Music Hall, and Lake Waban. 

An aerial view of the campus from Home- 
stead and the Wellesley College Club on 
the left to Alumnae Hall in the distance. 

Galen Stone Tower and the steeple of the 
Chapel seen across the lake. 



■**^*aGcr s«. 


The Hazard Quadrangle (Beebe, Cazenove, Pomeroy, and Shafer Halls). 

Founders and Green Halls viewed from 
across the meadow. 

Mary Hemenway Hall and the Recreation Building. 


'llli Ulii 'IQ ; iB 


The courtyard of Tower Court, where a sundial marks the site of College Hall Center. Claflin Hall 
is seen on the left, Severance Hall is glimpsed on the right. 

The main entrance of the Margaret Clapp Library. 

The bust of Elizabeth Barrett Browning 
and volumes from the Plimpton Collec- 
tion pictured here are among the treasures 
in the Rare Book Room. 

Alumnae Hall, opened in 1923, was the fulfillment of efforts begun in 1908 for "a students' building." 

The completion of the Science Center will 
be the realization of a dream cherished 
since the very early years of the College. 

Five of the columns of College Hall stand 
now as they did in 1875 when the College 
was opened. 

President Margaret Clapp, the Rev. Dr. 
Palfrey Perkins, Chairman of the Board of 
Trustees, and Dean of Students Lucy Wil- 
son at the dedication of Bates and Free- 
man Halls. 

Miss Pendleton, trowel in hand, at the 

cornerstone laying of Green Hall. On her 

left is Grace Crocker, who raised the 
funds for it. 

President Mildred McAfee laying the cor- 
nerstone of the Recreation Building. 

George F. Jewett, Sr., speaking at the ground breaking for the Jewett Arts Center. Left to right: 
Paul R. Barstow, theatre; Hubert W. Lamb, music; Agnes Abbot, art; Alexander C. Forbes, Chair- 
man of the Trustee Buildings and Grounds Committee; Miss Clapp; Dr. Perkins. 

Laying the cornerstone of the Arts Center: Margaret Jew- 
ett Greer, Mrs. G. F. Jewett, Jr., Mr. Jewett, William Greer. 
Mary Cooper Jewett Gaiser. 

The Mary Cooper Jewett Art Build- 
ing, which has what its architect 
called "man-made ivy." 

George F. Jewett Sr.'s desire to have all music students "ex- 
posed to art" is a reality — and all visitors enjoy exhibitions 
in the corridor leading from the entrance of the Arts Cen- 
ter to the Music Building. 


At the dedication of the 14-inch tele- 
scope in 1966: Sarah J. Hill, Chairman 
of the Astronomy Department; Presi- 
dent Ruth M. Adams; Mrs. Margaret 
Sawyer, the donor; John R. Quarles, 
Chairman of the Board of Trustees. 

rCV- ^i— "'- 

Ground breaking in 1973 for additions to the Li- 
brary: Trustee Harriet Segal Cohn, President 
Newell, Librarian Helen Brown, Alumnae Associa- 
tion President Dorothy Dann Collins. 

Galen Stone Tower, visible from all parts of the 
campus, is seen here from the terrace of Munger 
Hall. The coat-of-arms is in wrought iron. 


The Great Fire 

The fire which destroyed College Hall in the early hours of March 17, 
1914, was a decisive event in Wellesley history. It was so catastrophic 
that the young college, only thirty-nine years old, with slender financial 
backing, and already launching a million-dollar endowment fund for 
much-needed salary increases, might well have given up in despair. 
But Wellesley chose to live on. Although no undergraduate could 
even faintly realize the extent of the catastrophe, those of us who lived 
through it — the "fire generation" of 1914, '15, '16, and '17 — knew that 
we were living through history, and having participated in it seemed 
a privilege. Many accounts of the event have, of course, appeared, begin- 
ning with Martha Hale Shackford's vivid and reliable account in the 
April 2 issue of the Wellesley College News (the first issue after the fire), 
and including the chapters in Florence Converse's and Alice Payne Hack- 
ett's histories of the College. The fact remains, however, that few recent 
graduates, or present-day undergraduates, have heard the tale, and a 
goodly number have not been aware that the GREAT FIRE ever took 
place. It seems appropriate, therefore, to include an account in this cen- 
tennial volume of Wellesley history. The author has tried to authenticate 
the narrative by appealing directly to living memories, where this has 
been possible. If it succeeds in adding any facts, correcting any errors, or 
introducing for the first time any Wellesley women who never heard of 
the fire to a vital chapter of Wellesley history, the narrative will have 
served its purpose. 



I must begin with the founder, who created College Hall according to 
his dream. Wellesley was blest both in the character and the gifts of 
Henry Fowle Durant. His combination of moral idealism, intellectual 
acumen, shrewd practicality, aesthetic sensitivity, and personal charm 
was, to put it mildly, remarkable. His unflagging care in supervising the 
builders' work during the four years of construction almost persuades 
one that not a brick took its place in the rising walls without Mr. Du- 
rant's eagle eye upon it. There were, we are told, seven million of them. 
The planning began with the choice of site on the elevated north shore 
of Lake Waban — now occupied by Tower Court, Claflin, and Severance. 
The view from this bank was as breathtaking then as it is today, a view 
which Matthew Arnold labeled "Extraordinary", and which lured him 
away from his proper place indoors in a reception line. 

The ground plan of the building was in the shape of a papal cross — a 
central east-west axis broken by three intersecting wings. The central 
axis was four hundred and eighty feet long (also given by differing writ- 
ers as four hundred and seventy-five and five hundred and seventy-five 
feet). Where the three shorter north-south wings crossed the central one 
there were spacious stairwells. The most important intersection was the 
central one — unforgettable College Hall Center. Here on the ground 
floor were the two major doorways of the building, one on the north 
side under an imposing columned porte cochere, the other on the south 
side opening on a pillared porch, from which a series of steps led down 
to lake-level. Stepping through either of these doorways, into the Center 
itself, was stepping into a fairy-tale — at least so it seemed to an unso- 
phisticated freshman from the far west, accustomed to severely utilitarian 
school buildings. One found oneself in a lofty court, five stories high, 
glazed to let in sunlight. Each floor skirted this court with a wide bal- 
cony, protected by a hand-carved balustrade, each one of a distinctive 
design. On the ground floor itself, at the exact heart of the building, a 
large, beautifully designed marble basin held a tropical garden of palms 
and other exotic plants. The arcade which supported the second floor 
was formed of graceful, highly polished granite columns. This Center 
was the pride and joy of Mr. Durant's beauty-loving heart. In it he suc- 
ceeded in his aim to reproduce the character and beauty of a Roman 
palazzo of the Renaissance. But it was characteristic of his shrewd prac- 
ticality that at the same time he created the best possible place for infor- 
mal assembly. Beginning with the seniors on ground level, each class had 
its separate floor. Here, packed in like sardines, one could see all of one's 
classmates. Here was the place for cheers and jubilation, or for important 
announcements such as election results. Among all the buildings since 


created on campus, none has been able to rival the togetherness of Col- 
lege Hall Center. 

The Durants were sure that beauty of surroundings was of paramount 
importance in the shaping of character, and they went to infinite pains 
to create it, both outdoors and indoors. A story is told of Mr. Durant that, 
when. a complaint was made of the too heavy load of religious and do- 
mestic duties added to the students' serious academic work, he replied 
by saying, "I hope to make [College Hall] so beautiful that the girls 
will forgive it the work and the prayer." 

No one today would wax enthusiastic over Mr. Durant's choice of 
paintings, etchings, and casts of classic statuary with which to adorn the 
corridors and public rooms of College Hall. I doubt if Mr. Durant had 
ever heard of French Impressionism, which made its European debut in 
the 1870s. But the pictures he chose were in the best tradition of the 
Academic School then in vogue in America, and Elihu Vedder's Cumean 
Sybil made a lifelong impression on many an undergraduate. We may all 
live to see these pictures come back into favor again, if not as master- 
pieces, yet as delightful period pieces. 

The architectural style of the building itself, like the works of art it 
housed, has long gone out of style, but it was a perfect example of its 
type, the French Second Empire, developed in France in the reign of 
Napoleon III, introduced in New York by William Morris Hunt and 
John McArthur, Jr., and adopted in Boston by the architect Hammatt 
Billings. Mr. Durant admired his work and chose him to design College 
Hall. They worked so closely together that it is impossible to know how 
much of the design was Billings' and how much Mr. Durant's. Billings 
died a year before the building was completed, but not before he had 
looked upon his handiwork and found it good. He labeled it his master- 
piece. Mr. and Mrs. Durant seem to have been equally satisfied.* 

The chief characteristics of Second Empire style were all abundantly 
present — the exterior features of mansard roof and a multiplicity of non- 
functional towers, spires, and pavilions, and the interior use of ceiling- 
high windows, stained glass, and black-walnut paneling. The Browning 
Room was a concentrated example of the interior style at its most elabo- 
rate — carved teak furniture, flower-painted panels, stained-glass windows. 
Curiously enough the building, in spite of its over-ornamentation, 
achieved a quiet dignity and serenity. Its grand scale and commanding 

* A carefully-made plaster model of the building may be seen in the Wellesley archives 
of the Margaret Clapp Library, made after the fire by Edwin P. Monagham, the official 
in charge of the building at the time of the fire. He worked from photographs and 
from memory. 


site contributed to this effect. Even the statues which adorned the halls 
and public parlors were of heroic size, drawn to scale — Niobe, Diana, 
Polyhymnia, classic figures all. The only statue of a modern woman al- 
lowed to compete in size was that of Harriet Martineau, carved in granite 
by Anne Whitney, the American sculptress. Miss Martineau was the 
most celebrated "emancipated woman" of the Victorian period, the cham- 
pion of all far-out causes from the abolition of slavery to the adoption of 
Comte's Positivism. Although she was not enthroned on the west side of 
the palms until June of 1886, after Mr. Durant's death, she surely would 
have found favor in his eyes as an inspiring exemplar for his girls. She 
became the focus of a favorite undergraduate rite — putting the freshmen 
"through Harriet", which meant dragging them face down between the 
pedestal and rungs of Harriet's granite chair. (Wellesley girls then as 
now took their shining models with a grain of salt.) 

Originally this great, benign building was like a medieval nunnery in 
its self-sufficiency. By 1914, of course, many other buildings had relieved 
the pressure, but it still contained living quarters for two hundred and 
sixteen people, with dining and social rooms for both students and fac- 
ulty, twenty-eight classrooms, an assembly hall (the old chapel) large 
enough to seat nearly the whole student body, a large study-hall (the old 
library), laboratories for the departments of geology, physics, psychology, 
and zoology, all the administrative offices, and all departmental offices 
except art, astronomy, chemistry, hygiene, and music. It was still the 
nerve-center without which one could not imagine Wellesley to exist. 

On March 16, 1914, College Hall wore its familiar aspect. A brief jubi- 
lation occurred in Center after chapel to cheer the Wellesley debating 
team, which had just returned from defeating Mount Holyoke at South 
Hadley. The corridors, between classes, buzzed with girls' voices. By the 
west-end elevator door the El Table functioned briskly. Mr. Tailby, the 
village florist, displayed his rosebuds at Center to tempt all passers-by. 
That evening a violin concert by a child prodigy, Nidelka Simenova, took 
place in the assembly hall, the proceeds from which (which turned out 
to be $179.76) were to aid the Bulgarian orphans of the Balkan War. 
(Little did we dream that we would have destitute ones of our own on 
our own doorstep before daylight came again.) The weather on that fate- 
ful night was normal for the date, ranging from a low of 43° to a high of 
49°. The winter snow was withering away, but holding in low spots and 
shady places. As darkness fell a snow-fog formed, which became denser 
as the night progressed. There was no wind. 

Then came the terrible event. At 4:30 A.M., the very nadir of human 
vitality, two seniors, Virginia Moffat and Miriam Grover, who shared a 
suite on the fourth floor across the corridor from the zoology laboratory, 
were aroused (I quote Miriam Grover's own words) "by a strange sound 


of crackling and falling embers, and an eerie orange light through the 
transom of our door. As I went to the door Jinny followed me and said, 
'Go tell Miss Davis' [Olive Davis, Head of Residence], which I did in my 
nightie, barefooted. I raced to the other end of College Hall and banged 
on Miss Davis' door. She did not come to the door but told me to let Miss 
Tufts [Edith Souther Tufts, College Registrar] know, on the floor below, 
and by the time I had told her the alarm had been given [by the sounding 
of the great Japanese bell-gong on the third floor center balcony] and we 
were all gathering in Center. I never went back to my room." Virginia 
Moffat, meanwhile, had raced to alert the night watchman at the front 
(north) door, who told her that the other watchman was on his rounds. 
The only help he gave her, as far as she remembers, was the offer of a 

While these two were rousing the authorities, two other undergraduates 
on the fourth floor seem to have realized almost simultaneously the need 
for a general alarm, and both thought of the great bronze bell-gong on 
third-floor-center, normally used as a dinner gong. The two were Char- 
lotte Donnell, a senior, and Tracy L'Engle, a junior, living near each 
other on the fourth floor. Together they ran to the gong, on the floor 
below. It is difficult to tell which girl struck first, as they remember it 
differently. But the most likely reconstruction is that Tracy struck first, 
giving the gong two resounding blows before handing the mallet over to 
Charlotte and racing off to find Miss Tufts. Charlotte continued to beat 
the gong until the electric corridor bells (at Miss Tufts' order) began 
their clamor. Charlotte Donnell writes: "I was the last to make the gong 
sound, which I have more personal feeling about than whether I was the 
first to ring it." Actually, the gong sounded once more, though not 
through the agency of human hands. Mr. Monaghan, the building super- 
intendent, salvaging with his men at the east end of the doomed building, 
heard one deep sonorous note as the gong fell through to the fiery fur- 
nace beneath, and was forever silenced. 

These undergraduates, however, who have been enshrined as the hero- 
ines of the fire, refuse to accept that role, protesting that those who had 
set up and enforced the strict fire-drill rules were the true heroines and 
deserve the principal credit for the remarkable fact that no lives were lost 
nor any serious bodily injury sustained. These rules had been drawn up 
by Olive Davis in 1902 when she was appointed as Director of the Halls of 
Residence by President Hazard. Then, when the Student Government 
Association was founded in 1906, fire drills were placed under its jurisdic- 
tion. Under its direction a fire chief was elected by the senior class, who 
was responsible to Miss Davis. Each dormitory then elected its own fire 
chief, who in turn appointed lieutenants, each of whom headed a squad 
of twenty or twenty-five girls. On hearing the fire-alarm, each girl was 


to close her windows and transom, turn on her electric lights, leave the 
room, closing the door behind her, and march with her squad in single 
file to an appointed place in first-floor center. The squad lieutenant had 
to see that all regulations had been carried out before joining her charges. 
The fire-chief of 1913 had insisted, against the judgment of Dr. Katharine 
Raymond, the college physician, on permission for an unannounced night 
drill, which had in fact taken place before the fire. Virginia Moffat and 
Miriam Grover are sure that this night drill was a major factor in prevent- 
ing panic when the ordeal by fire actually took place, many girls assum- 
ing that this was simply another practice night drill. 

Surely this mistaken assumption must have contributed at the outset 
to the remarkable behavior of the students. But by the time that the 
group were assembled at Center nobody could have been ignorant of 
the reality of the fire. Firebrands were already falling on them from 
above, yet all of them quietly awaited the signal for going. The unani- 
mous testimony of all that went through the experience was that no one 
spoke the word "fire," no one panicked, no one broke ranks to rush back 
for some cherished possession.* Courage and self-control, it seems, are 
as contagious as panic. Even when eight people were found to be missing 
and Miss Davis had to postpone dismissal until they could be found or 
accounted for, there was no outcry. The palms were beginning to shrivel 
when the final dismissal took place. Most of the students left by the great 
north door, or by the flanking windows, a smaller number by the south 
door. Incredible as it may seem, the time-lapse from the first discovery 
of the fire at 4:30 A.M. to the final exit of the last student was only ten 

In those ten minutes many crises threatened, many small dramas were 
acted out. It was the faculty, sixteen of whom lived in the doomed build- 
ing, who caused the greatest anxiety. Mrs. Julia J. Irvine, former Presi- 
dent of the College and serving that year as a temporary member of the 
French Department, had gone to Cambridge for the night without in- 
forming anyone, and her locked door had to be broken open to ascer- 
tain her absence. Miss Elizabeth Fisher of the Geology Department had 
been ill and did not respond to the alarm, which made it necessary for 
Muriel Arthur '15, fire-captain of College Hall, to return to the fourth 
floor to rout her out, while the fire was already blocking the stairway by 

* One must except the many short dashes back before the squads were in marching 
order. One especially cherished tale is of Gladys Gorman, a junior who happened to be 
treasurer both of her class and of her society, who remembered the dues money locked 
in her desk drawer above, flew back three steps at a time, found her keys in her cher- 
ished Princeton blazer pocket, extracted her money, carefully relocked the drawer, re- 
placed the key in the blazer pocket and fled, leaving the blazer to burn up. Some un- 
known Santa Claus later sent her a replacement. 


which she had ascended. (She should surely be numbered among the 
heroines of the fire.) Miss Mary Whiton Calkins, the distinguished head 
of the Philosophy Department, was spending the night in her office on 
the isolated fifth-floor center, unbeknownst to anyone, but was mercifully 
aroused in time to escape from that isolated and vulnerable spot. Her 
first thought was for Miss Mary S. Case, her colleague in the department, 
who was a wheel-chair invalid. When she reached her on the third floor 
she found her already alerting others by wheeling herself from door to 
door. Accounts differ as to how she finally reached ground-floor. Did she 
slide down, as one account has it? Did two doughty students carry her 
down, wheel-chair and all? Somehow, under Miss Calkins' watchful eye, 
she reached safety. 

There were, of course, moments of comedy in the tense drama. One 
which the students found irresistibly comic involved two of the most 
dignified and formidable of the resident faculty members — Miss Ellen 
Burrell of the Mathematics Department and Miss Sophie Hart of the 
English Composition Department. Miss Burrell was so convinced that 
this too was "only a drill" that she refused to rouse herself until Miss 
Hart across the hall, after two unsuccessful attempts to convince the 
skeptic, slammed the door with the parting shot, "Well, burn then!" 
This tale may be apochryphal. The occasion spawned legends. The skep- 
tic in question at any rate did rouse herself and escape. 

As soon as the students were released and could tear themselves away 
from the awesome spectacle before them they began forming lines to 
aid in the work of salvage. Many treasures could still be saved, including 
all the contents of the Browning Room with its precious first editions 
and the two portait busts of Robert and Elizabeth. Books, pictures, rec- 
ords, passed in bucket-brigade style down College Hall hill and across 
the green to the basement of the library. Everybody worked at salvage 
as if her life depended on it — and all done, for the most part, in bath- 
robes and bedroom slippers, in a temperature close to 40°. One ob- 
server of the spectacle likened the girls' organized behavior to that of 
honey-bees instinctively repairing their hive. 

The senior officials in charge, Miss Tufts, Miss Davis, and Miss Mary 
Frazer Smith, Secretary to the Dean, set memorable examples. No account 
of the fire can omit the feats of Miss Smith. After failing to save her own 
desk and files, she calmly took charge of the key to the Dean's office, 
which she found on the rescued keyboard outside the north door, and 
with Mr. Monaghan's aid rescued the academic records of all the Welles- 
ley students from 1875 to the current year. It then occurred to her that the 
recently completed schedule for the June final exams had burned up (a 
very complicated schedule indeed), so she simply said, "I will write it 
out while I still remember it," and proceeded to do so. 


In spite of all the salvage there were, of course, enormous losses of 
books. All of the Physics Library of 2,500 volumes and all of the Zoology 
Library of 1,440 volumes burned up, as did all but 125 volumes of Welles- 
ley's unique Library of North American Languages. This latter included 
the invaluable collection made by John Wesley Powell of Grand Canyon 
fame. The total loss in books was 5,661 volumes. The saving of paintings 
and engravings was more successful, as these were hung largely on the 
walls of the lower floors. 

By six o'clock when those of us living in other dormitories were al- 
lowed to get out and join the throng on the green we viewed a scene of 
terrifying splendor. The flames by that time had swept all the way to the 
east end. The mansard roof had collapsed, dumping its heavy load of 
slates into the inferno below. The great towers flanking the north en- 
trance had fallen. It was a windless morning as well as a foggy one, but 
the fire created its own wind. Live embers were found as far away as Phi 
Sigma's front walk. It was a small miracle that no other building was 
ignited. The flames illuminated the swirling fog-banks till they resembled 
a Gustave Dore illustration of hell. 

Not so awe-inspiring but every bit as engrossing to the undergraduates 
was the spectacle of our revered elders charging about in bathrobes and 
bedroom slippers. Miss Pendleton was there, patrolling the bucket-bri- 
gades to make sure that no girl needed more clothing. Olive Davis 
swooped about like a Valkyrie, her long plait of gray hair flying out 

Incredible as it may seem, the entire building was gutted by 8:15. The 
structure that had been four years abuilding was destroyed in less than 
four hours. 

All students were ordered back to their dormitory breakfasts and told 
to attend chapel service at 8:30. (College Hall waifs were somehow par- 
celed out.) Like every other event of that momentous morning, the chapel 
service was something never to be forgotten. President Pendleton assumed 
there the stature of leadership she was never afterward to lose. After 
giving thanks to God for the all-but-miraculous safety of all College Hall 
inmates, she read the 91st Psalm and St. Paul's declaration of trust in 
the love of God, from Romans 8, which rang with new meaning for all 
of us. She then calmly announced that the College was dismissed for its 
normal spring vacation, one week earlier than planned, and would re- 
assemble in three weeks on April 7. The choir then marched out (without 
organ accompaniment, as the electric power was out of order) triumphantly 
singing, "Who trusts in God a strong abode. . . ." Before nightfall most 
of the students had gone home or to the home of friends, in borrowed 
clothing and on borrowed money (most generously loaned by the village 
bank), leaving the college authorities to cope with what seemed an im- 
possible situation. 


The way they coped is graphically illustrated by the fact that when 
the College reassembled, three weeks later, that useful and much-maligned 
wooden building which the students christened the Hen-Coop had sprung 
up on the lawn between the Chapel and the Library and was ready for 
use, with all necessary plumbing, wiring, and heating installed. It housed 
all the necessary administrative offices and classrooms, the college post- 
office, and the psychology laboratory. It remained in partial use until 
March 17, 1931, when the college community joined in a glorious bash 
of demolition. 

It is not within the assigned scope of this narrative to tell the remark- 
able story of Wellesley's phoenix-like rise from the ashes, or of how the 
alumnae and friends of the College rallied to raise the necessary millions. 
The very extremity of Wellesley's need loosened purse-strings, as did 
the nation-wide admiration for the disciplined courage with which stu- 
dents and staff met their ordeal by fire, and for the cheerful resourceful- 
ness with which they plunged into raising money for the rebuilding. All 
of this would need a book in the telling. 

To return to the immediate scene of the fire on that fateful morning 
of March 17, 1914 — what was left? There loomed the great ruin, its brick 
walls still standing, but all the wooden parts gone and the roof fallen in, 
leaving dizzying vistas down precipitous narrow canyons of brick. The 
wood, all hard seasoned western ash, resistant to fire, when it once ignited 
burned like a charcoal furnace in the basement, with such intense heat 
that two weeks later workmen were unable to touch without gloves a 
marble statue lying there. The fire smoldered until late April. 

The only parts of the original structure which escaped relatively un- 
harmed were the dining-service (north) end of the west wing and the 
three colonnaded entrances, the south porch, the north porte cochere, 
and the small east porch. The saving of the kitchen-dining end was iron- 
ically due to the iron fire-wall Mr. Durant had decreed in order to save 
the main building in case of a fire in the kitchen end. This fragment, 
after serving many useful purposes, was finally torn down in 1962. An- 
other fragment, the north-west cornerstone laid by Mrs. Durant on Sep- 
tember 14, 1871, was discovered and saved by the demolition crew, and 
was used as the north-west cornerstone of Tower Court — seldom noted 
by the passerby. The three colonnaded entrances have received a kind- 
lier fate. Many of the columns themselves were broken in the demolition 
of the ruin, but were piled no farther away than the parking lot of the 
power plant. Later, when the parking space was enlarged and the history 
of the columns all but forgotten, they were unceremoniously dumped in 
the margin of the Service Center on the golf course. Here quite recently 
they were discovered by Eleanor Blair, alumnae president of the Class 
of 1917, who had the imagination to see the value those broken pillars 


might have for all lovers of Wellesley if they could be reassembled and 
erected in an appropriate spot on the campus. With financial support 
from the Class of 1917, they have been so assembled and erected in a 
spot not far from the tablet marking the center of old College Hall, in a 
graceful crescent at the foot of the steps leading up the Tower Court 
hill from the Margaret Clapp Library. A bronze plaque close by tells 
their story. Future generations of Wellesley girls may pause, read, and 
seek further knowledge of that long-since-vanished center of the old 

The chronicler looks in vain for an answer to the inevitable query: how 
did the fire originate? As far as I can discover, neither President Pendle- 
ton herself nor any person in authority ever made a public statement on 
this moot topic. Many hypothetical explanations were made — spontane- 
ous combustion of chemicals in the zoological laboratory, damage to the 
electrical wiring caused by mice, and faulty electrical apparatus were the 
favored theories. Since none of these could be proved, college historians, 
beginning with Martha Hale Shackford '96, Professor of English Litera- 
ture, who wrote the superb (anonymous) account of the fire in the April 
2, 1914, issue of the Wellesley College News, have simply stated that the 
origin of the fire is unknown. A document which has come to my atten- 
tion seems, however, to throw the weight of probability on "faulty elec- 
trical apparatus." The document is a manuscript booklet of Wellesley 
memories, now in our Wellesley archives, composed by Edwin P. Mona- 
ghan, who was then assistant to the Superintendent of Buildings and 
Grounds, and was himself directly in charge of College Hall. In it he 
briefly but positively laid the blame for the fire on an electrical incubator 
for the propagation of beetles in the zoology laboratory, housed in a 
wooden frame which he considered easily inflammable and highly dan- 
gerous, and about which he had warned his employers. No hint of this 
has ever been made public. Could the motive have been a humane desire 
to spare the feelings of the beetle-propagator? The professor in question 
lost her life's work in the holocaust and that was grief enough for one 
human being to bear. 

Another question arises to plague the historian. Why did the fire, once 
started, make such lightning progress that it could not be controlled, 
even though fire assistance came from every surrounding town? The an- 
swer seems to be that Mr. Durant, with all his practical good sense and 
foresight, had not taken a realistic view of fire danger. The earliest fire 
precautions had been ludicrously inadequate, consisting of twenty hand 
pumps, each flanked by six pails of water and manned by a fire brigade 
of six girls and a captain. (This might have worked effectively for a fire 
in a waste basket.) As we have seen, the later fire-drill rules worked su- 
perbly, but they were all designed for the safety of human beings and 



ignored the building. The very design of that building made it into a 
fire trap, as several contemporary accounts point out. There were only 
two fireproof walls in the entire structure, the one already alluded to by 
which the kitchen-dining wing could be sealed off, and one separating 
the trunk room on the fifth-floor center from the main building. We are 
told also in Miss Shackford's memorial brochure that the floor of the 
chapel had been made fireproof in order to protect the library below it. 
What the fireproofing consisted of is not disclosed. The architectural 
design of the building as a whole, with its unbroken corridors stretching 
the entire length of the building, and the three great stairwells, especially 
the five-story-high updraft of Center, were all ready-made flues for the 
giant bonfire. 

The main cause for the failure of all attempts to quench the fire was, of 
course, the inadequacy of the water pressure. The fire hoses could not 
reach above the third floor. Why the college authorities had not discov- 
ered this before is a mystery. Perhaps they had, but had not envisioned 
the possibility of a fire starting on the fourth floor. 

The College Hall fire meant many things to many people. Everyone 
had her own store of memories, often conflicting with those of others. But 
on one effect of the fire I think all would agree: we were all shaken into a 
fresh awareness of the value of life and out of our particular selfish 
shells. And we learned that we could survive disaster. Miss Case, the 
philosopher who escaped in her wheel-chair, expressed her own sense of 
the fire's value for all of us when she said, "I have spent all my life teach- 
ing people that things that are seen are temporal, and now we have the 
chance of our lives to prove that the things that are unseen are eternal." 

Despite assistance from the fire departments of all of the surrounding towns as well as that of 
Wellesley, College Hall was gutted in less than four hours. This was the scene on the morning of 
March 17, 1914. 


I 111 II 

I i i 

« I I 

* I I ?' 

M*!:U x :«x 

3fc ■ - 

The shell of the building as it stood on 
the hill on May Day 1914, when sopho- 
mores formed the seniors' numerals. 


Anniversary Celebrations 

The Twenty-Fifth 

When Caroline Hazard was inaugurated with due ceremony as the 
fifth president of Wellesley on October 3, 1899, (the eighteenth anni- 
versary of Mr. Durant's death), very little was made of the fact that the 
College that fall was starting its quarter-centennial year. Of the dis- 
tinguished guests who spoke at the chapel exercises and the inaugural 
luncheon (five college presidents and George Herbert Palmer) only Presi- 
dent Eliot of Harvard made any reference to the anniversary. "To be 
sure," he said, "Wellesley College has twenty-four good years behind it." 
To President Eliot, President of Harvard since 1869, six years before 
Wellesley opened its doors, those "twenty-four good years" were still 
part of a dubious experiment. With what The Churchman on October 14, 
1899, termed "somewhat unchivalrous brusquerie," he proceeded to in- 
struct the new President of Wellesley on the uncertainties still involved 
in higher education for women: "It remains to show how an elaborate in- 
tellectual training may be given women without affecting injuriously any 
of their bodily powers and functions" and "It would be a wonder indeed 
if the intellectual capacities of women were not at least as unlike those 
of men as their bodily capacities are." 

But pace Mr. Eliot, women in 1900 were firmly taking their place in 
the academic world. A year to the day after Miss Hazard's inauguration, 
on October 3, 1900, Smith College welcomed a large assembly of educa- 
tional leaders to celebrate its quarter-centennial. Among its alumnae 
speakers on that occasion were two Wellesley professors, Vida Dutton 
Scudder, speaking for philanthropy and Mary Whiton Calkins, speaking 
for scholarship. The new President of Wellesley was also on the pro- 
gram, reminding the Smith assembly that she brought congratulations 

35 1 


from "I might almost say a twin sister college, since Wellesley and Smith 
have the same year of birth." 

The only official celebration of Wellesley's twenty-fifth anniversary 
took place on Alumnae Day, June 27, 1900. It was a family party which 
included the surviving founder, Mrs. Durant, and others who had known 
the College from its beginning. (Strange now to think of a Wellesley 
reunion in which the oldest alumnae were women in their middle forties.) 
The main event on the program was an "historical address" by Louise 
McCoy North 79, trustee and former member of the faculty, in which she 
paid tribute to Wellesley's Founders, its Builders, its Benefactors, and 
its Daughters. The "Wellesley type," she stated, was "not yet fully fixed" 
but "we who belong to her brief past and those who shall immediately 
follow us are forming it. To us is given the moulding of a Wellesley yet 
to be." Following Mrs. North's talk came a dinner, "the largest in the 
history of the College, over five hundred sitting down." According to 
Miss Hazard in her President's Report for 1900, "the speeches on that 
occasion were both brilliant and touching." Of Mrs. Durant's words she 
wrote, "No one who was there would ever forget that speech and the 
hush which fell at the end of it." Sad that so memorable a text was not 

The Fiftieth 

By 1925 the higher education for women was well past the experimental 
stage. In fact, in a talk at Wellesley's Semi-Centennial, President Lowell 
of Harvard, President Eliot's successor, went so far as to call the College 
a Pallas Athena sprung fifty years before, "fully armed and endowed with 
all the wisdom of the time," from the head of Zeus (Zeus of course being 
colleges for men). And in the same speech, with a slight change of meta- 
phor, he conveyed congratulations from the men's colleges, "marveling 
like other elder brothers that their sister had grown so tall and fair." A 
feminist of 1975 might suspect some degree of condescension in these 
compliments, but there is no doubt that they were sincerely intended. 
Under Caroline Hazard and Ellen Fitz Pendleton the College had ac- 
quired a solid national and international reputation. Alumnae and 
friends everywhere were proud of its achievements and eager to do it 

Plans for the fiftieth birthday were discussed as early as the fall of 
1920, and separate committees set up to raise a Semi-Centennial Fund 
(the achievements of the Fund Committee are reported in the chapter on 
the College's financial resources) and to organize an appropriate anni- 
versary celebration. The Celebration Committee from the beginning of its 
deliberations visualized a solemn convocation, a sort of Te Deum in 


the spring of 1925, with guests from other colleges and universities. But 
the fiftieth birthday seemed to them to call also for something special, a 
gala extravaganza that would be peculiarly Wellesley's. For two years, 
according to Katharine Lee Bates, chairman of the committee, they dis- 
cussed and rejected suggestion after suggestion until Marie Warren Pot- 
ter '07 "came up with a veritable inspiration born from memories of 
Miss Hart's classroom." "Mrs. Potter," Miss Bates wrote in the Alumnae 
Magazine, "sped down to my study and we turned to the golden pages" 
— of Plato's Phaedrus and the myth of recollection. Between them they 
envisioned a great pageant which should represent landmarks in art, 
literature, and science (the material of a liberal curriculum) in terms of 
the soul's recollection of "Absolute Beauty." The committee with unani- 
mous relief approved the idea and Mrs. Potter set out to create the script. 

In the meantime other distinguished events were scheduled to mark 
the year 1924-25, notably a concert by the Boston Symphony Orchestra 
October 30, 1924, the first appearance of Serge Koussevitzky at Wellesley. 
The Trustees sponsored three Semi-Centennial faculty publications: 
Laura E. Hibbard, Medieval Romance in England; Elizabeth Manwaring, 
Italian Landscape in 18th Century England; and Flora MacKinnon, 
Philosophy of Henry Moore. (Later a fourth volume was added to the 
series, Latin Themes by Adeline B. Hawes, who retired in 1925.) In addi- 
tion to this official series, there was a book of Wellesley Verse 1875-1925 
edited by Miss Shackford, 200 poems by 100 authors bound in Wellesley 
blue. Mr. Macdougall prepared a Semi-Centennial edition of the Wellesley 
Songbook and Adonais of the News contributed a volume of crossword 
puzzles. The pages of the Wellesley College News attest to a flurry of 
campus activities in 1924-25 — concerts, plays, dramatic readings, sales of 
merchandise and personal services — aimed at aiding the Semi-Centennial 

But the event which dominated the College, beginning in the middle of 
April, was the pageant of The Winged Soul, headlined in the News of 
April 16 as the "Most Spectacular Project Ever Launched at Wellesley — 
Embodies Plato's Doctrine of the Soul in a Presentation of Remarkable 
Imaginative Beauty." Professional designer and illustrator Dugald 
Stuart Walker, Director of the Studio Theater in New York, was engaged 
to design the pageant and to direct it along with the author, Mrs. Potter. 
The combination of these two, the News said, would make possible to 
Wellesley the "expression of the transcendental," and indeed Fannie 
Lester Hengst '26 still remembers how Mr. Walker strove to weld the 
cast of over 200 into some sort of "mystical whole." After each inspira- 
tional talk "he raised a vial that he said contained a drop of water from 
all the bodies of water in the world and he took a sip of it." Mrs. Potter 
meanwhile was concerned with the problem of how to make 180 indi- 


vidual characters and five groups numbering from twenty to fifty "move 
smoothly and exquisitely across the stage of Alumnae Hall" — this when 
members of the cast were frequently absent from rehearsal for a "multi- 
plicity of extra-academic engagements." In a letter to the News Mrs. Pot- 
ter pleaded, "Success or shameful failure is literally in your hands." While 
the huge cast rehearsed or cut rehearsals or cut classes to attend rehear- 
sals, hundreds of other students were busy creating sets (twenty-three) and 
costumes (189 individual designs) combining, as the publicity insisted, 
"utmost economy with an unstinted outlay of artistic talent." All this 
activity was to climax with the first performance of The Winged Soul 
on Saturday evening, May 23, following a very simplified Tree Day pro- 
gram that same afternoon. The following week would not only include 
three more performances of the pageant, but also Float Night, and the 
great academic convocation, the one day on which classes would be 
omitted. During this week of celebrations students were asked to double 
up, to sleep on army cots, in order to leave room for outside guests and 
alumnae. All this ominously close to final examinations. No wonder an 
occasional note of panic crept into editorials and free press in the College 
News. Will the faculty "make allowances?" As Katharine Lee Bates was 
to acknowledge later, "Both fatigue and strain there have been to a de- 
gree far beyond what was anticipated," but, she went on, "Success is a 
strong tonic." 

And Wellesley's Semi-Centennial was a triumphant success beginning 
with the transcendental pageant, unified by the continuous presence of 
the Winged Soul, "a sophomore tall and slender in pure white" (Ellen 
Bartlett Ballou '27). Intellectual history was unrolled through proces- 
sions, dances, music, dramatic scenes, and "living pictures." All the critics 
appeared to have had some favorite moment — the love scene from Romeo 
and Juliet, for example, or the procession of artisans, or the death of 
Brunhilde. The "living pictures" imitated life so perfectly in the TZE 
technique developed by Hetty Wheeler '02 that many of the guests could 
not believe they were posed. "Dante's Dream of Beatrice" by Rosetti, 
according to Katharine Lee Bates, "deceived even so acute an observer as 
the President of our twin college" (President Neilson of Smith). One of 
the most successful pictures came at the climax of the pageant. It was 
a stained glass window of the risen Christ in opalescent white, flanked 
by two narrower windows depicting works of mercy, with the legend, 
"Non ministrari sed ministrare." The composition must have been sug- 
gested by the Durant memorial windows in the chancel of the chapel 
(Christ in Glory, with smaller windows representing Call to Service and 
Life of Service) which the alumnae were about to present to the College 
as an anniversary gift. At the first performance, the pageant had an 
epilogue representing the memorial in the chapel to Alice Freeman Pal- 


mer with the "daughters of the day taking up the quest." But this per- 
sonal application of the play's message must have proved anticlimactic for 
it was cut in later performances. The News Hound lamented this omis- 
sion in a limping limerick: 

There was a young lady of pageant 
Who flew in a terrible tangent 
When the one scene in which she was seen 
Was cut by an unfeeling agent. 

Katharine Lee Bates prophesied that after the fatigue and strain were 
gone, "through many years to come the memory of those long strange 
weary vigils at Alumnae Hall will shine with an ever softer and more 
bewitching light." In this softer light Fannie Lester Hengst recently 
mused on "poor Lilith" (Lilith Lidsen, President of Barnswallows and 
much involved in the whole pageant), "who had to climb a very very 
high ladder to stand in a picture portraying Christ, and who with 
examinations and the pageant and everything looked more and more 
tired every rehearsal, so that we were always afraid she was going to fall 
off the ladder before she reached the fresco, mural — whatever you called 
it — that was up there high on the stage." 

The great convocation was Friday, May 29, with sunny skies in the 
morning and cooling rain in the late afternoon "when it would not spoil 
anything." According to the Boston Globe the academic procession took 
two hours to form. Delegates (including forty-three college presidents) 
from 153 institutions were ranged in order of the date of founding, from 
Oxford University and the University of Paris in the twelfth century to 
Russell Sage in 1916. In line also were the trustees and faculty of Welles- 
ley, important dignitaries of town and state led by Lieutenant Governor 
Allen, whose daughter Mary was Marshal of this division, candidates 
for honorary degrees, delegates from alumnae classes and clubs, repre- 
sentative Wellesley students, and, showing that Wellesley does not forget 
her friends, student delegates from those sister colleges which had sent 
contributions to the restoration fund after the College Hall fire (Barnard, 
Bryn Mawr, Mount Holyoke, Simmons, Smith, Sweet Briar, and Vassar). 
Much thought obviously went into the program, which was keyed to 
thanksgiving and joy from the organ prelude to the postlude. Singing 
included the processional hymn, "Love divine, all love excelling," ar- 
ranged by Professor Macdougall, an anniversary hymn composed for the 
occasion by Caroline Hazard, sung midway through the service, and for 
recessional Katharine Lee Bates's "America, the Beautiful." Two local 
ministers pronounced the invocation and benediction. 

The first half of the exercises included a greeting from the President 
of the Board of Trustees, Edwin Farnham Greene, greetings on behalf 


of the men's colleges and universities of New England from Abbott Law- 
rence Lowell, President of Harvard, greetings on behalf of the women's 
colleges from Mary Emma Woolley, President of Mount Holyoke and 
former member of Wellesley's Biblical History Department, who wished 
Wellesley "Godspeed for the next fifty years." Following the singing of 
the anniversary hymn, the main address was given by James Rowland 
Angell, President of Yale. In a serious indictment of current education 
he questioned the intellectual commitment of most college students. Some 
extracurricular activities he recognized as legitimate, but he urged that 
many of the "sideshows" be eliminated. 

The formal exercises culminated in the conferring of honorary degrees, 
a momentous event since the College had previously given only one such 
degree, Doctor of Science to Madame Curie in 1921. Now to mark Welles- 
ley's first half century the degree of LL.D. was conferred on the two 
preceding presidents of Wellesley and on three alumnae. The citations 
read by President Pendleton were brief, but they convey admirably the 
essence of these five Wellesley women: 

Julia Josephine Irvine — "Fourth president of Wellesley College, 
Greek scholar, inspiring teacher, who at the call of duty left the 
classroom to carry the tasks of the president's office with rare insight 
and gallant and courageous spirit." 

Caroline Hazard — "Whose administration as fifth president of 
Wellesley College was marked by high endeavor and visible achieve- 
ment, a stranger in 1899, today a member of the Board of Trustees, a 
generous friend, honored and acclaimed by faculty, alumnae, and her 
fellow trustees." 

Helen Barrett Montgomery — "Who adds to a wise and brilliant 
Christian leadership the achievement of a scholar in the Centenary 
Translation of the New Testament from the Greek text." 

Annie Jump Cannon — "Author of the Henry Draper Catalogue and 
responsible for the Harvard classification of the stellar spectra which 
is accepted by astronomers of all countries, the foremost woman 
astronomer in the United States, known and honored in other 

Katharine Lee Bates — "For forty years the moving force in one of 
the strongest departments in the college, cherished in the hearts of 
all alumnae, scholar, poet, and author of the greatest of our national 

The press recorded the degree-giving with appropriate solemnity, but in 
a letter from Miss Hazard to a friend we learn of one less dignified mo- 
ment. "Did anyone tell you," Miss Hazard wrote, "about getting the 


hood over my head after my degree? Miss Waite is not very tall and she 
stood on the step below me and some way or other my cap got knocked 
off, but I caught and jammed it on again." Miss Hazard evidently recov- 
ered her composure in time to make a graceful speech responding for all 
the recipients of honorary degrees. In Miss Pendleton, she suggested, Mrs. 
Irvine had a "living memorial," for, she recalled, when she became presi- 
dent twenty-six years before, her predecessor had advised her, "There is a 
young woman in the Mathematics Department who will bear watching. 
Keep your eyes on Ellen Fitz Pendleton." 

For these memorable ceremonies the chapel, of course, could hold only 
a few invited guests in addition to the academic procession. According to 
the 1926 Legenda, most of the undergraduates and visiting alumnae had 
to be content to watch the procession outside, marveling at the "gorgeous 
array of academic robes and so many distinguished people." Then they 
assembled in Billings Hall to hear the exercises over a loud speaker. For 
distant hearers the whole program was broadcast over WBZ, the first 
time a radio program had ever originated at Wellesley College. 

Early plans had called for luncheons in various dormitories, but in- 
stead a tent was erected on Tower Court Hill where all could eat to- 
gether and hear more congratulatory speeches, this time by President 
Neilson of Smith, Dean Gildersleeve of Barnard, and Professor Alfred 
North Whitehead representing Victoria University in Manchester, Eng- 
land. Professor Whitehead caught the imagination of all the reporters 
with an account of a "true symbolic pageant," which he had witnessed 
the day before as he sat "by the banks of the lake in the golden sunlight." 
A young student had suddenly appeared, walked backward to the spring- 
board and dived backward into the lake — "Young America walking back- 
ward and diving into the enchanted lake of the unknown, and there is 
nothing sinister about it." Of those cautious men who in the past had 
opposed women's education he had this to say, "If we had taken the ad- 
vice of that kind of man, we would still be eating acorns." At the lunch- 
eon Miss Pendleton read congratulatory cables from Yenching University, 
from institutions in the United States and England, and from alumnae 
in California, Peking, India, Japan, and Paris. Indeed Wellesley alumnae 
in Paris on the same day, May 29, were holding their own Semi-Centennial 
dinner in the University Women's Club at 4 Rue de Chevreuse. ("Price 
10 francs. Husbands welcome.") Parisian pride in their alma mater was 
intensified by an anniversary gift to Wellesley College from the French 
Government: two large Sevres vases and busts by Hudon of Washington 
and Franklin, which had been presented on April 17 in a ceremony at 
the Elysee Palace. 

The rest of the day included open house with special exhibits of the 
various departments, a Phi Beta Kappa dinner, addressed by Professor 


Chauncey Tinker of Yale and President McCracken of Vassar, and, of 
course, in the evening another performance of The Winged Soul, part of 
which, like the events of the morning, was broadcast by radio. During 
rehearsals of The Winged Soul the cast had been frequently reminded 
that the pageant would "represent Wellesley to the world." From notices 
in newspapers and journals it is clear that not only in the pageant, but 
in the whole Semi-Centennial celebration, Wellesley projected a very 
attractive public image. The Boston Post, for example, termed the events 
a "tribute to educated, emancipated womanhood and to this women's 
college which in its brief fifty years has done so much to make this eman- 
cipation possible." To judge from editorials in the News, students of 
Wellesley too were suddenly aware of the larger meaning of the College, 
that "it is infinitely more and infinitely greater than the present student 
body." Reviewing the past and proud of the present, they were also think- 
ing ahead to the future, wondering "What will it be like when I come 
back for the centennial?" A reporter in the Boston Globe caught this 
Semi-Centennial mood in a snatch of conversation late in the day between 
a father and his daughter, one of the energetic "undergraduates with 
their short skirts and bobbed hair" (the flappers of 1925), who had earlier 
been starting taxis and directing traffic. "I wonder," the girl said, "what 
it will be like fifty years from now." The father replied that he couldn't 
imagine, but went on to point out that he and his wife in their college 
days never could have guessed that their daughter would be as she was, 
"easy-mannered, frank, unafraid of any situation, conducting herself for 
all the world like any man at college." 

The Seventy-Fifth 

In the Alumnae Magazine for February 1950 Helen Willis Knight '25, 
writing of "the middle twenties" (the era of "flappers" and of "flaming 
youth") showed that after twenty-five years the Semi-Centennial was still 
vivid in her mind. "All the world," she wrote, "was celebrating Wellesley. 
Her alumnae from the wide wide world and 150 other colleges and uni- 
versities had come to honor her. There were bands playing, marquees on 
Tower Court Green, honorary degrees for three of Wellesley's daughters, 
Chauncey Tinker speaking in the chapel, the Phi Beta Kappas banquet- 
ing together, and the Winged Spirit over all. To be a senior then was very 
heaven." There is an exuberance even about this nostalgic memory which 
is strikingly different from the sober mood in which Wellesley approached 
its three-quarter mark. "No pageants please! No Winged Souls!" This 
was the plea of those faculty members who had lived through the Semi- 
Centennial. Extravaganzas may have been delightful in the middle twen- 
ties when the world had been made safe for Democracy and for Ivory 
Towers, but the middle forties living in the shadow of the atomic bomb 


had serious questions about the future. Any appropriate observance of 
the 75th would have to consider some of the problems that were troubling 
educated women, including even questions about the value of a Wellesley 
education. Beginning in 1947, the Wellesley Magazine tried to answer 
some of these questions in articles that were variously entitled "The Pur- 
pose of a Liberal Education," "Quality vs Quantity in Higher Educa- 
tion," "Higher Education — to What End?" and "Why Support a 
Woman's College?" A symposium of faculty and students explored the 
specific question "Why Wellesley?", a query which the Magazine later 
attempted to answer by specific accounts of the work of individual depart- 
ments and of interdepartmental activities. At the same time through the 
Magazine, the chairman of the 75th Fund Campaign, Marie Rahr Haffen- 
reffer '11, was informing alumnae that only one thing could insure 
Wellesley the essentials of good education (i.e., stimulating teachers, able 
students, excellent facilities) and that one thing was money. 

Fund raising started before program planning with the formal cam- 
paign being launched at dinners, in Boston at the Statler Hotel October 
1, 1947, and in New York at the Waldorf-Astoria October 15. At both of 
these functions, Wellesley education was visibly symbolized by Nancy 
Bartram '48, President of College Government, Look Magazine's choice 
of the year for the typical American college girl. As serious fund raising 
got underway among alumnae and friends of the College, the campus too 
became involved; witness faculty jelly-making, white elephant sales, stu- 
dent offers to serve breakfast in bed — for a price. In fact the pressure 
became so intense that the night before Commencement in 1948, a senior 
dreamed she had failed her 75th Anniversary Fund examination. This 
even before the official observance, which was scheduled for two years, 
1948-49 and 1949-50. 

The observance opened auspiciously when on October 5, 1948, the 
Wellesley Concert Series presented the Boston Symphony Orchestra with 
Dr. Serge Koussevitzky, then in his twenty-fifth and final year as its con- 
ductor. To mark Dr. Koussevitzky's own anniversary the College tendered 
him a reception at which many of the guests recalled with pleasure his 
first concert at Wellesley when early in his Boston Symphony career he 
had similarly opened the celebration of the College's Fiftieth. Two other 
anniversary events perhaps deserve special mention: a Wellesley Theater 
production of The Two Orphans as originally performed in 1875, and a 
mammoth exhibition in Farnsworth of faculty and staff baby pictures, 
with prizes for correct identification. My picture, I recall, was identified 
both as Miss Manwaring and Miss Moses. 

It was agreed early in the planning of the 75th that the principal com- 
memoration of Wellesley's founding should take the form of two major 
conferences, one in the field of science in the spring of 1949, the other in 


social sciences and humanities the following fall. A planning committee, 
headed by Philosophy Professor Mary Coolidge, had made this recom- 
mendation after considering various ways in which the community might 
be stimulated to intellectual debate. Distinguished authorities, it was 
decided, should be invited to the College for several days to discuss im- 
portant issues, and regular classes would be dismissed. The conferences 
would be sponsored by the Mary Whiton Calkins Fund, established in 
memory of a great Wellesley teacher who had been the first woman presi- 
dent both of the American Psychological Association and of the Ameri- 
can Philosophical Association. It was left to two new committees, headed 
by Professors Mary Griggs and Louise Overacker, to arrange the pro- 

The Science group chose "Energy" as the general theme of the first 
conference, which was scheduled for March 16, 17, 18 to coincide with the 
date of the signing of the college charter in 1870 and of the College Hall 
fire in 1914. On the first evening Harvard President James B. Conant, 
participating in the Wellesley anniversary as his predecessors had done 
twenty-five and fifty years before, gave the keynote address on "Science 
and Common Sense." His speech was broadcast in the ballroom to an 
overflow audience. Talks the following two days focused on different 
aspects of energy: "Utilization of Atomic Energy" by Robert T. Bacher, 
of the Atomic Energy Commission; "Energy of the Stars" by Cecilia 
Payne Gaposchkin, Astronomer at Harvard College Observatory; "Psy- 
chology and Physics" by Wolfgang Kohler, Research Professor at Swarth- 
more; "Some Aspects of Biological Energy" by Gerty T. Cori, recipient 
(with her husband) of a Nobel prize; and "Man and Energy in the Mod- 
ern World," by Edward W. Sinnott, Director of Sheffield Scientific School. 
Dr. Sinnott's speech was delivered on the final day at an Honors Convo- 
cation where the academic procession included delegates from forty-three 
New England colleges and universities and from women's colleges in 
other sections of the United States. Each delegate walked in the proces- 
sion with the Wellesley faculty member who had been assigned as his 
host for the conference. My partner was a Jesuit physicist from Boston 
College from whom I learned a great deal of science during the course 
of the three days. As his hostess I was invited to a Physics party at Pendle- 
ton where we admired the equipment and drank tea from laboratory 
beakers. But I think what pleased my guest most about the conference 
was the postcard which arrived in his monastic mail, naming a lady part- 
ner for him at Wellesley. 

In connection with the Science Conference the Department of Physical 
Education staged a lively demonstration of human energy in such activi- 
ties as dance, swimming, and badminton; and the library contributed two 
memorable exhibits prepared by Research Librarian Hannah French: 


"Rare Books in the Sciences," over fifty incunabula and first editions 
dealing with discoveries from 300 B.C. to 1934 A.D., and "Atomic Energy 
for the Citizen of the World," a collection of books, pamphlets and 
articles on the use of atomic energy in war and peace. The Science Con- 
ference was a new all-college experience and a happy one. Typical of 
student reaction was the comment of an editorial writer in the News, 
who admitted that she had reacted against all science in "the feeling that 
with the atomic bomb it had overstepped its moral bounds," and who 
was grateful now for a new perspective. The speakers, she said, "made 
us realize that science is after all a liberal art." Mrs. Horton in her last 
President's Report expressed satisfaction that the conference had excited 
the undergraduates to "real intellectual curiosity and enthusiasm," and 
had "demonstrated the creative possibilities of inter-departmental activi- 
ties." The importance of the conference was also recognized outside the 
College, as witness an editorial "Wellesley Celebrates" in the New York 
Times, March 21, 1949. After listing some of the "celebrities" who par- 
ticipated, the writer linked Mr. Durant's vision of the part that women 
could play in science with the demonstrated success in scientific fields of 
so many Wellesley alumnae. "Science has reason to thank Wellesley for 
preparing some of its more important recruits in accordance with the 
highest academic standards." 

The second anniversary conference held October 16, 17, 18, also proved 
to be a genuine all-college experience. Its topic, "Constructive Forces in 
Education," was explored and virtually exemplified by the participants — 
creative artists, scholars, administrators, experts in journalism and in 
politics. They came not only from the United States, but from Great 
Britain, Sweden and India. Of the sixteen, ten were women. Some arrived 
in time for participation in classroom discussions. Almost all stayed at 
Wellesley for the entire conference so that sharing of ideas went on be- 
yond the formal session. There was this time no academic procession, no 
invitations extended to sister colleges. Wellesley would be inaugurating 
its new president, Margaret Clapp, in March, and as Miss Overacker 
explained to Academic Council, "to ask the same college to send delegates 
to three occasions within so short a time might be considered an imposi- 
tion rather than an honor." Instead the College chose to honor some of 
its own graduates who had distinguished themselves in the field of edu- 

Eighty-two Wellesley educators returned to the campus to participate 
in the conference and to meet the current undergraduates. Every alumna 
guest as well as every speaker was assigned a student hostess who took 
responsibility for the comfort and happiness of her special guest. This 
succeeded so well that when one of the speakers was asked recently for 
her long-range impression of the conference, her first thought was of the 


student escorts. "Mine," she said, "was wonderful!" Students escorted 
their guests to various extra-curricular activities, including an eighteenth 
century concert in Billings Hall on Sunday afternoon, and tea on Tues- 
day at the Farnsworth Art Building, which was observing the 75th with 
an important loan exhibit of American water colors. The library had 
many of Wellesley's rare editions on display as well as an impressive ex- 
hibit of publications by speakers at the conference. In Alumnae Hall one 
could study the history of textbooks as illustrated by the Norton collec- 
tion of the Education Department, or note trends in the employment of 
Wellesley graduates 1890 to 1949, through charts and graphs made by 
the Placement Office. The Page School offered an exhibition of the teach- 
ing of reading and a chance to observe the school in session through 
one-way screens. 

The formal program opened on Sunday with the college chapel service 
where the Reverend John C. Schroeder preached on "Christianity and 
Our Education." In the evening, with Margaret Clapp presiding, a panel 
of three (Sirarpie Der Nersessian, Professor of Byzantine Art at Harvard's 
Dumbarton Oaks research center and a former Wellesley art professor; 
Marjorie Hope Nicolson, Professor of English at Columbia graduate 
school and former Dean of Smith College; Millicent Carey Mcintosh, 
Dean of Barnard College) tried to predict "The Next Seventy-Five Years 
in the Education of Women." On Monday afternoon there were two pan- 
els, "The Role of the Creative Artist in Education" (artist Patrick Mor- 
gan, writer Katherine Anne Porter, musician Aaron Copland), and "The 
Financial Future of the Privately Endowed College" (Agnes E. Meyer, 
journalist; Seymour Edward Harris, Professor of Economics at Harvard; 
Mabel Newcomer, Professor of Economics at Vassar). Monday evening 
Senator Frank Graham, former President of the University of North 
Carolina, spoke on "Constructive Forces in Higher Education in Amer- 
ica." The final day, Tuesday, was international in scope, including two 
panels: "Contributions of the East to the West" (Wing-Tsit Chan, Pro- 
fessor of Chinese Culture at Dartmouth, and Lakshmi N. Menon, chief of 
the section on the Status of Women at the United Nations) and "Con- 
structive Forces in Education in Europe" (Karin Kock, first woman ap- 
pointed to the Swedish cabinet, and Vera Micheles Dean, research di- 
rector of the Foreign Policy Association). The climax of the conference 
was a talk that same evening by Barbara Ward, foreign editor of the 
London Economist, on "Education in the Free World." Miss Clapp intro- 
duced Miss Ward. By chance both had chosen to wear basic black and 

The Wellesley College News enterprisingly recorded all the talks and 
question periods by means of audograph, described as "a new invention 
which records on plastic records that can be played back by earphones 


while the transcriber types." The device may not yet have been fully 
perfected, for history (via the News) records that one technician (Mari- 
anne Snedeker '50), while she was preparing to record the final lecture, 
plugged in the cord and immediately rose three feet from the floor back- 
stage, thus nearly spoiling Barbara Ward's lecture. The verbatim tran- 
script of the conference, with biographies of the speakers, was published 
by News in April 1950. The talks are too diverse and too individual to 
admit of any quick summary. Reading them again, some points impress 
me, I think, because they were made a quarter of a century ago, e.g., 
Wing-Tsit Chan's conviction that the two parties in the Chinese civil war 
would eventually arbitrate and compromise ("War in China is a terrible 
thing, not only because of its destruction. It is terrible because it is so 
un-Chinese.") and Barbara Ward's warning that in education "technology 
begins to take the place of the old facts of good and evil." Miss Der Ner- 
sessian referred to the masculine mistrust that hindered women scholars — 
today we would call it male chauvinism. The panel on the Education 
of Women seemed to accept as a fact of life that married women, i.e. 
most women, would continue for the next seventy-five years to play the 
single role of wife-and-mother. And Seymour Harris brought bad news 
in a fund-raising year — wealthy people in 1949 were contributing a much 
smaller percentage to educational institutions than they had in 1929 or 
even 1939. 

When the conference with all its stimulating contacts was over an edi- 
torial writer in the News asked, "What do we do next? Return to steno- 
graphic duty in the classrooms?" Some students probably did just that, 
but it is my memory that classes in the ensuing weeks kept coming back 
to questions that sprang directly from the conference. Classical students, 
for example, were much interested in Barbara Ward's analysis of our 
heritage from Greece and Rome. They had heard the idea before but it 
seemed to mean more to them when presented in company with other 
constructive forces in education. 

In the original plans for the conference India's ambassador, Vijaya 
Lakshmi Pandit, had been scheduled to speak on the East-West panel, 
but had been forced to cancel the engagement when Prime Minister 
Nehru, her brother, announced an official October visit to the United 
States. As it happened, Mrs. Pandit was on campus on October 21, three 
days after the conference ended, when Mr. Nehru made a visit to Welles- 
ley, the only women's college on his itinerary. Since the hour of his ar- 
rival was uncertain the College observed business-as-usual, with the un- 
derstanding that the carillon would summon everyone in time for a mass 
assembly. The party, which included Mrs. Indira Gandhi, Nehru's 
daughter, arrived at the President's House escorted by three policemen 
on motorcycles with sirens screaming. There they met with members of 


the faculty who had taught Mrs. Pandit's daughters, Chandralekha '45 
and Nayantara '47. Afterwards, as Mr. Nehru stood on the balcony of the 
President's House looking out over the beauty of the lake and the autumn 
foliage, the carillon rang out and the tune it played was the Indian na- 
tional anthem. The Prime Minister was taken by surprise and there were 
tears in his eyes. When he and his party reached the green beside the 
chapel, the whole college was moving out to greet them. Some of the 
students were already perched on branches of the trees for a better look 
at Wellesley's distinguished guests. It was an exciting close to a mem- 
orable week. 

In 1950 Wellesley's famous date March 17 saw the inauguration of 
Margaret Clapp as eighth president of Wellesley. To mark the occasion 
the College, which in seventy-five years had given only ten honorary de- 
grees, outdid itself in generosity and voted to confer this distinction on 
eleven women. The recipients included former Wellesley President Mil- 
dred McAfee Horton, and three alumnae: Belle Sherwin '90, pioneer in 
the League of Women Voters, Dr. Connie Guion '06, Chief of the Gen- 
eral Medical Clinic of the New York Hospital-Cornell University Med- 
ical Center, and Caroline Taylor White '15, President of the New York 
Y.W.C.A. and President of the Wellesley Alumnae Association, "a most 
fitting representative of the large majority of Wellesley alumnae who as 
wives and mothers and volunteer workers are steadily and capably foster- 
ing the ideals of our free society." Delegates from eighty-six colleges and 
universities joined in the academic procession to the auditorium of 
Alumnae Hall, where the exercises included addresses by Miss Clapp and 
by Archibald MacLeish. Following the inaugural, there was a luncheon 
in the ballroom of Alumnae Hall at which Edward Weeks, Wellesley 
trustee and editor of the Atlantic Monthly, acted as master of ceremonies. 
Speakers were three of the women who had just received honorary de- 
grees: Mrs. Horton, Dr. Guion, and Indian Ambassador Mrs. Pandit. 

Recalling the high moments of 1949-50's 75th, the Wellesley News 
listed one other event which was a little like a reprise of the Nehru visit. 
On May 25, Begum Liaquat Ali Khan, wife of the Prime Minister of 
Pakistan, a state which was not yet three years old, visited Wellesley, the 
only women's college included in the United States tour which she was 
making with her husband. The carillon this time played the Pakistan 
national anthem as a signal for the students to assemble in the Hay Out- 
door Theater where the distinguished visitor, wearing native dress, spoke 
on Pakistan women in the modern world. 

The concluding rites in the observance of Wellesley's 75th belonged 
largely to the alumnae. Over 2,500 of them came back to the campus, 
many arriving at least a day before commencement, June 12. Plans for 
their return had been long in the making, under the general chairman- 


ship of Cynthia Dudley Post '34. Arrangements had been made to house 
them, not only in college dormitories, but also in Dana Hall and Pine 
Manor, and in the homes of local alumnae. And on the athletic field a 
tremendous celebration canopy, "the largest in New England," had been 
set up for their meetings. The alumnae program began on Sunday after- 
noon with a chapel service conducted by the Rev. Dr. Palfrey Perkins, 
Chairman of the Board of Trustees. That evening at ten o'clock, after 
baccalaureate vespers, a mammoth step-singing took place on and around 
the chapel steps. On Commencement Day alumnae attended an afternoon 
reception at which Miss Clapp and Mrs. Horton paid honor to Marie 
Rahr Haffenreffer '11, Chairman of the 75th Anniversary Fund. In the 
evening after class suppers came a program of light entertainment in 
Alumnae Hall: an old-fashioned glee club directed by Hetty Wheeler 
'02, followed by a fashion-show drama, with scenes from 1875, 1890, 
1900, and costumes of the flapper 20s, the depression 30s, the blue-jeaned 
40s. The final diversion of the evening was a faculty quiz show in which 
(I speak as the M. C. on that occasion) a panel of six professors proved 
to be "well rounded" exhibitionists, but the difficult questions were an- 
swered from the front rows by the oldest reunioning classes. 

The returning alumnae had their traditional fun as "old grads" on 
Monday night. On Tuesday as educated women seeking answers to the 
problems of 1950 they gathered for a day-long conference on "Significant 
Sources of Security." It was a well-planned program, a fitting climax to 
the college conferences on "Science" and on "Constructive Forces in 
Education." The first speaker, Harry A. Overstreet, author of The Ma- 
ture Mind, talking on "The Individual in a World Afraid," analyzed 
the pervading sense of insecurity (the word for it in the 1970s is anxiety). 
Dr. Frances L. Ug '25, Research Associate in Child Development at Yale, 
suggested the basis for secure adult attitudes, "Foundations of Security 
in Childhood." The next two speakers looked to art and religion as 
sources of stability and strength: Francis Henry Taylor, Director of the 
Metropolitan Museum of Art, speaking on "The Arts and Individual 
Security" and the Reverend James A. Pike, Chaplain and Chairman of 
the Department of Religion at Columbia, on "Inner Security through Re- 
ligion." Finally Paul G. Hoffman, Administrator of the Economic Coop- 
eration Administration, broadened the theme to "Search for the Road to 
World Security." During the speeches the sides of the celebration canopy 
were rolled up so that the listeners enjoyed a delightful breeze. It was 
probably the most attentive and surely the largest class ever assembled 
at Wellesley College. 

If anyone would like to stage a pageant for the Centennial, he might 
want to consider a masque which was published but never performed. 
The main setting is Mount Olympus. Characters include you-naughty- 

3 66 


girl, you-dirty-boy, Mr. Durant (who removes his frock coat to stand re- 
vealed as the spirit of Wellesley with golden hair and Wellesley-blue 
eyes), Spirit of College Hall Fire, Spirit of the Fund, and Divine Idea of 
New England Conscience, attended by Chaperone Rules dressed as vestal 
virgins. In one scene anti-masquers busy themselves with drinking, smok- 
ing, petting, murder and arson, while a banner in the sky reads, "It does 
not shock us, but it offends our taste." This pageant to end all pageants 
appeared in the 1925 Legenda with the suggestion that "possibly it may 
grace our centenary fiesta." Sorry, editors, masques and anti-masques lose 
flavor with the years more than do ritual convocations and learned lec- 
tures. Your libretto is vintage 1925! 

Wellesley's first academic procession at the inauguration of 
President Hazard in 1899. 

President Hazard on the steps of the chapel 

The twenty-fifth anniversary celebration 
in 1900. President Hazard wearing a bro- 
caded dress is seated in the front row. 

Scene from "The Winged Soul," the Semi-Centennial pageant in 1925. 

The Semi-Centennial academic procession, led by Miss 
Pendleton, Miss Hazard, and visiting college presidents. 

i rr r* 

The director of "The Winged Soul." 

Delegates from foreign universities to the Semi-Centennial 
celebration included, on the left, Alfred North Whitehead. 

'Wellesley's most beautiful girls" usher at a benefit performance for the Semi-Centennial Fund. 

Margaret Clapp with recipients of honorary degrees at her inauguration in 1950. Standing: Anne 
O'Hare McCormick, Mabel Newcomer, Ruth Baker Pratt, Miss Clapp, Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit, 
Mildred McAfee Horton. Seated: Caroline Taylor White, Esther Forbes, Tilly Edinger, Dr. 
Connie M. Guion, Dorothy Fosdick. Belle Sherwin's LL.D. was awarded in absentia. 

Alumnae conference marking the Seventy-fifth Anniversary, when the largest class ever assembled 
at Wellesley met in the largest tent in New England. 






The Development of 
Wellesley's Financial 

At Wellesley a century ago Henry and Pauline Durant provided the 
buildings and the difference between the fee the students paid and the 
cost of their education. Now every year more than 15,000 individuals, 
foundations, and corporations through their gifts and bequests — plus the 
interest on funds received in the intervening years — do what Mr. and 
Mrs. Durant originally managed to do. But the operating budget in 
1895-96, the first year for which a Treasurer's Report was published, 
was $224,002; the operating budget for 1974-75 was $17,197,260! The 
growth and development of the College have been as striking as these 
figures indicate. 

Mr. Durant served as the treasurer until his death in 1881, when at 
his request Mrs. Durant succeeded him. She handled the affairs of the 
College in much the same private way he had, frequently paying expenses 
from her own pocket. Their friends, too, continued to help, the trustees 
in particular meeting needs as they arose. For example, the Trustee Min- 
utes of November 3, 1887, recorded that "Mr. Stetson, Chairman of the 
Finance Committee, loaned the College during the vacation, without 
interest, $4,311.65 to pay for the purchase of coal. Mr. Frost of the Farm 
Committee had loaned the College for about eight months a full-blooded 
Holstein stock. Mr. Claflin had presented two full-blooded Jersey calves. 
Mrs. Durant gave a new first class piggery, with a two tenement house 
near for the residence of workmen, and also hydrants and standpipes con- 
nected with Town water." 

Eben N. Horsford, a Harvard professor and great friend of the Durants 
and the College, the Chairman of the Board of Visitors, made gifts that 
were extraordinary in their variety and thoughtfulness: in 1885 a large 
amount "for the library, scientific apparatus, rest and recreation [i.e., 
sabbatical leaves] of the Professors specified, and for the pensioning of 
those who shall have given their best years to the College"; in 1887 he 



paid "the expense of laying the new floor in the attic" of College Hall, in 
1888-89 the rental of "a house in the village held ready for cases of con- 
tagious diseases" — for which President Shafer was grateful, as she was for 
the fact that "we have not had occasion to use it"; in 1891 he gave "an 
ozone generator for the chapel and a small steam engine and dynamo for 
the physics department." And of course near the end of the century two 
major buildings, the Houghton Memorial Chapel and the Whitin Ob- 
servatory, came through the trustees whose names they bear. 

One of the remarkable aspects of fund raising — and of college life in 
general — in the early days was the joining of the college community in 
seeing a need and setting about to meet it. In 1882-83 the students gave 
$800 to complete the $5,000 Durant Memorial Scholarship. On occasion 
faculty members initiated campaigns for funds, as a story in the Decem- 
ber 1, 1887, issue of The Courant bears witness: "For several years Miss 
Currier, Professor of Elocution at the College, has been working to raise 
a fund of $5,000 which should be known as the Lewis Monroe fund and 
the interest of which should furnish reading and lectures in connection 
with the department of elocution. A sale for the benefit of the fund took 
place at Norumbega cottage on November 19. The interest of present and 
former students in the department of elocution and other friends had 
filled three tables with beautiful articles which sold rapidly. The one 
which brought the greatest price was a painting of crysanthemums con- 
tributed by Miss Bothe, Director of the Art Department. In the dining 
room fruit and flowers, ice cream and cake, were dispensed, and at eve- 
ning the residents of the cottage gave a tableaux entertainment on the 
second floor of scenes from Shakespeare's dramas, and Professor George 
Herbert Palmer read entertaining selections in the Dorsetshire dialect. 
All friends of the fund will be glad to hear that $350 was cleared." The 
students raised the money for a boat-house below College Hall and for- 
mally presented it to the College in 1894. The Class of 1894 wanted a 
Students' Parlor in College Hall (nothing as elegant as the Faculty Parlor 
which Professor Horsford had given, but a place students could consider 
their own), and they raised $700 to convert a room for the purpose, and, 
according to the Trustee Minutes for June 1896, "The Class of 1896 of- 
fered to be responsible for $500 with which to furnish the room. The 
offers were accepted with thanks. Voted the work to be under the direc- 
tion of the Executive Committee." Mrs. Irvine commented in the Presi- 
dent's Report for 1897 that "In making its parting gift of $325 the nucleus 
of a fund which is to be called 'The Class of 97 Endowment Fund,' and 
the income of which is to be used for current expenses, this class has taken 
a lead worthy of a strong following." 

Certainly the most ambitious fund-raising project of the students of 
the 1880s was for a new chapel. Realizing that the College could not ex- 


pand the enrollment or even "invite friends to a public exercise without 
depriving students of the possibility of attending," the students held a 
mass meeting on October 11, 1887, to discuss the problem. They con- 
cluded that the cost would be about $100,000 and that "an audience room 
for 1,500 people would not be too large to serve the needs of the College 
for the coming years." The Wellesley College Chapel Fund Association 
was formed and Sophonisba Breckenridge '88 (who was to become one of 
the most distinguished pioneers at the University of Chicago) was elected 
president. "It was resolved that first each would give what she could indi- 
vidually as a small nucleus for the great sum needed, and an appeal be 
made to the friends of Wellesley and the college education of girls for 
help to raise the needed fund at once." The student officers met wit