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An exhibition including photographs, building plans and description of the “curricula of study” represented the college at the Exposition Universelle in Paris.

The Vassar faculty announced the graduate scholarships in the Class of 1889 for the next academic year: in chemistry, Ruth Mears ’89; in economics, Bertha Richardson ’89; in Latin and French, Augusta Choate ’89; in mathematics and astronomy, Eda C. Bowman ’89 and Blanche Martin ’89; and in English, Mary L. Brinckerhoff ’89 and Jean Hamilton ’89.

The Class of 1889 revived May Day customs with a May-pole and groups of revelers paying homage to a May Queen. This gradually became a tradition for the seniors. Even classes gave a May-pole dance, odd classes a dance with flower-covered hoops.

The college announced that, since parts of the $92,000 raised to date towards the goal of $100,000 for general endowment were contingent upon reaching the goal by July 1, it was imperative for the additional monies to be pledged. It was suggested that residents of Poughkeepsie commit to raising $5,000, President Taylor being confident that the remainder could be raised elsewhere. The New York Times

Commencement activities began with a soirée musicale before a large and appreciative audience. Students and graduates of the School of Music presented organ fantasies, piano selections and vocal solos and duets.

The New York Times

Banked on the organ with “89” picked out in the center in buttercups, and woven into heavy chains to designate the seniors, the class flower, daisies, decorated the Chapel for the Class of ’89’s Class Day celebration. Scofield’s orchestra supplied the music as the seniors and juniors and their guests entered.

Caroline B. Weeks ’89 delivered the class oration, Annie Nettleton ’89 recalled the class history and Lucy Ferrell ’89 was the class prophet. At the dedication of the class tree, an elm, Hannah Mace ’90 gave the junior response to the senior charge, delivered by Minnie Morrow Chamberlain ’89. Miss Ferrell, the prophet, also composed the class song. The New York Times

Senior papers at Commencement ceremonies offered the usual diversity of topics, ranging from “The Independent in Politics” from Katherine Warren ’89 to “The New Astronomy” by Helen Tunnicliff ’89 and “Trial by Newspaper” by Christine Senger ’89. “The Rise of the Villain in Literature,” was explored by Lillian Lamonte ’89, and Helen Putnam ’89 and Mary Anderson ’89 gave the traditional opposed compositions, analyzing, respectively, the influence of France before the beginnings of the American republic and the influence of America upon the beginnings of the French republic.

President Taylor conferred the baccalaureate degree on 49 members of the Class of 1889, and Georgiana Lea Morrill ’82, Louise Russell Smith ’87, Ida Wood ’77 and Caroline Augusta Woodman ’74 were awarded the second degree in arts.

The new baccalaureate degree in music was conferred upon Helen Josephine Andrus ’89, who went on to a notable career as a composer for the organ.

The New York Times

Having retired the previous year owing to failing health, Maria Mitchell died in Lynn, Massachusetts. The trustees had granted emeritus status and urged Mitchell to stay in residence, but she demurred, preferring to be among her family.

In Maria Mitchell: Life, Letters, and Journals (1896), her sister, Phebe Mitchell Kendall, quoted a colleague and a student, anonymously:

January 10, 1888: “You will consent, you must consent to having your home here, and letting the work go. It is not astronomy that is wanted and needed, it is Maria Mitchell….The richest part of my life here is connected with you….I cannot picture Vassar without you. There’s nothing to point to!”

May 5, 1889: “In all the great wonder of life, you have given me more of what I have wanted than any other creature ever gave me. I hoped I should amount to something for your sake.”

Speaking at Maria Mitchell’s funeral, President James Monroe Taylor said:

“If I were to select for comment the one most striking trait of her character, I should name her genuineness. There was no false note in Maria Mitchell’s thinking or utterance….

“It was this combination of great strength and independence, of deep affection and tenderness, breathed through and through with the sentiment of a perfectly genuine life, which has made for us one of the pilgrim-shrines of life the study in the observatory of Vassar College where we have known her at home, surrounded by the evidences of her honorable career.”

Phebe Mitchell Kendall, Maria Mitchell: Life, Letters, and Journals

President Taylor told the trustees, “A college is strong in proportion to the strength of its Faculty, its Libraries and its Laboratories.”

At a special meeting on campus, alumnae gathered to discuss and endorse the founding of a Vassar Students’ Aid Society. By-laws were read and approved and officers for the society were elected. A luncheon address was given the Rev. Dr. Robert Court, pastor of the Appleton Street Presbyterian Church in Lowell, MA.

The T. and M. debating society, at the suggestion of President Taylor, discussed the question of self-government, the students having been granted by the faculty earlier in the year responsibility for administering the rules governing exercise, retiring, and chapel attendance. The next day, a nine-student committee was formed by the Student Association—four seniors, three juniors, a sophomore and a special student—to consider alleged breaches of the rules and to act as a “body of appeal.”

The faculty approved the plan for self-government put forth by the Student Association, on a trial basis. When it was readopted and approved in September, 1890, and again in 1891, the system became permanent.

The opening of the Alumnae Gymnasium, designed by William M. Tubby, was celebrated with a Philaletheis hall play—that is, a play open only to the college community—W. S. Gilbert’s Engaged. Attendees were presented with small souvenir photographs of the new building.

Built with funds collected from the alumnae and students under the leadership of Professor of Mathematics Achsah M. Ely ’68, the building and its equipment cost $25,000. Equipped with parallel bars, rowing machines and other apparatus, the gymnasium contained 87 dressing rooms and 20 showers. Given by trustee Frederick Ferris Thompson, the swimming tank, 29 feet wide and 8 feet deep and lined with marble, held 47,000 gallons of water, which was pumped from an artesian well 150 feet deep and was maintained at a temperature between 70 and 80 degrees.

The New York Times

In 1933 when a new gymnasium was built, the name of this building was changed to Ely Hall.

The department of physical education was the first regularly organized department of its kind in an American college.

The Boston alumnae association established a Vassar Students’ Aid Society, intended to develop funding for support of students in the college.

The Years