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October 1, 1950

In “It Happened at Vassar,” a review of former president Henry Noble MacCracken’s The Hickory Limb (1950), Mildred McAfee Horton ’20, the recently retired president of Wellesley College and wartime head of the Waves, praised McCracken’s transformation of “the docile ‘darling daughters’ of the traditional higher education for women into mature young citizens of a large world. Thus, he writes,

‘For fifty years students went to Vassar and hung their clothes on a hickory limb, but didn’t go near the water…. But by 1915 we were ready to go swimming, leaving our clothes on the old hickory limb, and finding in the adventure either confirmation by the test of experience of the validity of old authority or the way to a more self-reliant view of life.’”

“It is good to see in words,” Horton said in conclusion, “the testimony of faith in students which President MacCracken expressed in works for all the years of his presidency…. The story is one which needs telling if women’s colleges (and especially Vassar) are to be credited accurately with their share of influence on higher education in America.”

The New York Times

The Years