In the first issue of The Vassar Miscellany, published by the Students’ Association and “Edited by Members of the Senior and Junior Classes,” the editors acknowledged “our exceeding newness frankly and fearlessly, without apology for the past or promise for the future.
“While we make no promises for the future, it may be well to look at what is lying before us…. It is no slight responsibility to meet the confidence reposed in us by the Faculty in consenting to give us what we have so long asked for, a college periodical under our control…. We have had, heretofore, no means of expressing our opinions, and much that we have often considered unfairness in our instructors has been, probably, ignorance of our real wants. Our columns will always be open to the Faculty, and we hope for their advice and opinion on matters of common interest.… [W]hile we intend always to advocate the cause of the students, we wish every question to be considered fairly, and we feel as jealous for the honor of our Alma Mater and our instructors, as for our own.”
In “Hints to Graduates,” Professor Maria Mitchell—writing as “M. M.”—used the new publication to urge her former students to heed the call of the Astronomer Royal of England for telescopic study of the fourth satellite of Jupiter, noting “it is on that satellite that observations must be made for determining the mass of Jupiter.”
“Would it not be well,” she asked, “for the graduates of Vassar College who are in possession of good telescopes, to combine in their work, and, connecting with the observatory at Vassar, keep up a series of observations?”
“The Vacancy in the Board of Trustees,” by “A Member of the Class of ’70,” declared it “eminently fit” that a woman be selected to fill the vacancy created by the death of founding trustee William Kelly. “When, in 1861, the corner-stone of Vassar College was laid,” the writer conceded, “giving prominence to women was looked upon in an entirely different light from that of today, and it might have been imprudent in Mr. Vassar to have added anything more than was necessary, to excite opposition to his infant enterprise.
“But, the aspect has entirely changed. Not only is Vassar College a success, but the serious consideration of the question, whether their doors shall not be opened to women, is agitating every college in the land…. We put it on the simple ground that no man can fully represent a woman, since she alone knows anything of the working of her own mind. If her intellectual processes are different from those of man, he surely needs her evidence to know that they are. If they are the same, why should any distinction be made, except to select the best person?”
At their meeting n June 25, the trustees elected the New York City Baptist minister, Edward Bright, Jr., to fill the Mr. Kelly’s seat on the board. The first women elected as trustees of Vassar, Helen Hiscock Backus ’73, Florence Cushing ’74 and Elizabeth Poppleton ’76, joined the board in 1887.