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June 21, 1881

Vassar’s Class Day exercises for the Class of 1881 began at 3 pm in the Chapel. Students and guests watched as the seniors and juniors entered to the music of an orchestra from New York’s Twelfth Regiment Band. Class president May Bryan ’81 called upon class orator Caroline White ’81, class historian Mary Stockwell ’81 and class prophet Alice Shove ’81. “The oration, history, and prophecy,” The New York Times reported, “were full of hits and sarcasm, and much applause followed each.”

Marching to the band’s music, the assembly moved to the class tree, where Caroline Augusta Lloyd ’81 bid “Friends and Fellow Students” welcome and said that the tree was planted “to sing the glory of her class in coming years, to whisper ‘”81’ in the idle breeze of Summer, and to shriek it through the naked boughs in the wild storms of Winter.” After the burial of the class records under the tree and the junior reply by Ella Varns ’82, the class song was sung, to the band’s accompaniment, and the afternoon’s exercises concluded.

During the afternoon, at the annual June board meeting, President Caldwell acknowledged that Vassar was experiencing a significant decline in students and resulting financial difficulties. He attributed these problems to the establishment of Wellesley, Smith and the Harvard Annex, and he called for an increase of $200,000 in the college’s endowment funds.

In the evening the college grounds were illuminated by calcium lights for an outdoor promenade concert.

The Years