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February 24, 1961

Guest speakers, faculty and students joined In a centennial celebration, a “Festival of the Mid-Nineteenth Century.” Residence halls were decorated in 91th century styles, students supplied tableaux appropriate to the presentations and lectures and a Soiree de Gala in the Students’ Building—“free champagne in a ‘meadow of asphodel’”—celebrated the event. A special exhibition was mounted in the Library, and the Vassar Experimental Theater presented Ibsen’s A Doll’s House.

An exhibition in the art gallery, “Samuel F. B. Morse, Art and Science,” opened with the reading of a poem commissioned for the occasion, “S.F.B. Morse Sits for His Portrait at Locust Grove,” by poet Samuel French Morse, professor of English at Mount Holyoke College and a descendent Samuel F. B. Morse, a founding trustee of the college. Professor Morse’s talk was preceded by a student sketch about Morse under the chairmanship of Babs Currier ’63, entitled “Lightning in the Line.”

The author of The House of Intellect (1959), Jacques Barzun, dean of faculties and provost at Columbia University, claimed a “new conciousness” must arise from the current “deliberate meaninglessness of modern artists” in the Phi Beta Kappa Lecture, “The Cultural Revolution and Its Victims,” which was introduced by “The Magnificent Enterprise—A Colloquy.” Written by Esther Wolf ’62, Jane Wright ’62 and Professor John A. Christie from the English department, the sketch presented a dialogue between Matthew Vassar and Milo Jewett, the founding president of the college. The dialogue included five student tableaux presenting contemporary reactions to the founding of the college: John Ruskin and two students; Vanity Fair magazine and a young girl; Madame Sewell “of the reactionary school” and a gentleman; John Stuart Mill and his father, the Scottish philosopher and historian James Mill; Florence Nightingale, Voltaire, a Vassar girl and a French gentleman, portrayed by Professor of French Louis Pamplume.

A lecture, “Lamarck, Darwin and Butler: Three Approaches to Evolution in the Nineteenth Century,” by George Gaylord Simpson, professor of vertebrate paleontology at Harvard University and a leading scholar of evolution, was introduced by “Ape or Angel: A Presentation of the Huxley and Wilberforce Debate.” The student examination of the famous exchange on Darwinism at Oxford in 1880 between Thomas Henry Huxley and Bishop Samuel Wilberforce was chaired by llsa Roslow ’63.

In “A Time of Crisis” Civil War historian Bruce Catton, senior editor of American Heritage, analyzed both Abraham Lincoln’s pragmatism and his idealism in issuing the Emancipation Proclamation. And identifying the emancipation and the founding of women’s education with a contemporary liberalizing movement in American in the 1860s, he echoed his introduction, the student sketch “Songs of the Brothers’ War,” which included Civil War songs, sung by Jane Alexander ’61, “with intermittent narration about Poughkeepsie happenings at the time of the war.”

On Sunday, the Rev, H. Richard Niebuhr, Sterling Professor of Theology and Christian Ethics at the Yale Divinity School, addressed “The Radiance of the Infinite.”

The Miscellany News

The Years