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June 10, 1885

Commencement for the Class of 1885 was held in the Chapel. A program of essays, with musical interludes, followed the traditional organ voluntary. Senior essays included “The Society of Friends—Its Spirit and Form,” by Lucy Davis ’85, “The Intellectual Element in Testimony,” by Sarah Hening ’85 and “The Scholar in Practical Life,” by Mary Ellen Ewing ‘85. Once again, two pairs of seniors took opposing positions on two issues of the day. Mary Smiley ’85 held that “The President of the United States Should be Elected by the Congress,” while Ella Heyer ’85 advanced the idea that “The President of the United States Should by Elected by the People.” Mabel Ruth Loomis ’85, arguing for “The State as Against the Individual,” was countered by Bertrice Shattuck ’85, who made a claim for “The Individual as Against the State.”

34 members of the Class of 1885 received the bachelor’s degree, and the second degree in arts, the master’s, was awarded to Mary Anna Mineah ’70, Harriet D. Drury ’81 and Abby Leach, who also received the bachelor’s degree.

The New York Times

Abigail Leach had studied Greek and Latin independently and at the Society for the Collegiate Instruction of Women—an early adaptation at Harvard for the education of women, known as the Harvard Annex—and, probably at the urging of Florence Cushing ’74, she had come to Vassar in 1883 as instructor in Latin and Greek. Her Vassar degrees were based on the Harvard Annex record and Vassar examinations.

The New York Times

The Years