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Four houses for professors were built by the college, Cottages A, B, C and D, now 87, 85, 83 and 81 Raymond Avenue. Francis R. Allen was the architect. With the exception of Maria Mitchell’s apartment in the observatory, these were the first faculty residences outside of Main Building. 

Author, painter and engineer F. Hopkinson Smith spoke at a gathering sponsored by the New York Vassar Students Aid Society. It was announced that branches of the society now existed in New York, Boston, Brooklyn, Poughkeepsie, Orange, NJ, Louisville, KY, and St. Paul, MN.

Lucy Maynard Salmon wrote to friends: “The new associate professor goes on his way like an historical comet….”

Louis Fargo Brown, Apostle of Democracy

Joining the faculty in 1890 with an appointment to teach economics in the history department, Herbert E. Mills was a full professor by 1893 and first chair of the economics department. He “prodded, goaded and inspired his students to become leaders in the crusade for social betterment” for 41 years. Dorothy A. Plum, George B. Dowell & Constance Dimock Ellis, The Magnificent Enterprise

The John Guy Vassar Chair of Modern Languages and John Guy Vassar Chair of Natural History were established through the bequests of John Guy Vassar, nephew of the Founder and a charter trustee. These chairs were first held by Jean C. Bracq, Professor of French, 1891-1918, and William B. Dwight, Professor of Natural History and Curator of the Museum, 1878-1906.

John Guy Vassar’s will restricted the named chairs—as did that of his brother, Matthew Vassar, Jr.—to male occupants, a fact that had troubled Maria Mitchell.“ Poor Mr. Vassar!” she had written to a friend when she learned of Vassar, Jr.’s proviso, “I pity him that he could leave no more generous-spirited legacy; but he wasn’t born to be generous. We wonder if John [Guy] will do the same.”

MS letter
The John Guy Vassar Art Fund was also established at this time.

A founding trustee of the College and the first biographer of the Founder, historian and illustrator Benson J. Lossing died at the age of 78.

The Class of 1891’s Class Day was marked by perfect weather. The class orator, Julia Ober ’91 based her address on the class motto, Carpe Diem, and the class historian, Juliet Tompkins ’91 wove poetry into her essay on the class’s history. The prophecy was given by Dora Taylor ’91.

Proceeding to the Class of ’91’s tree, the assemblage applauded as Eleanor H. Haight ’91 gave the senior charge and passed Matthew Vassar’s spade to Sarah Tunicliffe ’92, who gave the junior reply. Singing of the senior class song ended the afternoon’s events.

In the evening, a reception and promenade concert was given.

Georgia Avery Kendrick, wife of J. Ryland Kendrick—a trustee from 1875 to 1889 and acting president after the resignation of Samuel Caldwell—became Lady Principal, succeeding Abby Goodsell ’69. She held this office until it was discontinued in 1913.

Professor of music and director of the music school Frederick L. Ritter died suddenly in Antwerp. “He was a thorough musician, and as a writer on musical topics took a high position. Indeed, his literary works have made a deep impression upon the musical growth of this country.

“Personally, he was singularly genial and cheerful, and none but pleasant memories of him are cherished by all with whom he came in contact.”

Vassar Miscellany

The new academic year saw the largest entering collegiate class, 119, and the largest number of entering students, 172, in the history of the College.

Planning was begun for the Frederic Ferris Thompson Annex, a new library with a space for 80,000 volumes to be added to the front of Main Building.

Professor Edward Morris Bowman, founder, in 1883, and president of the American College of Musicians, succeeded Frederick Ritter as professor of music and director of the school of music. An accomplished organist, pianist and theoretician of music, Bowman, who left Vassar in 1895, was later a teacher at Steinway Hall in New York and organist and musical director of the celebrated choir at the Baptist Tabernacle in Brooklyn.

240 students—over half of the student body—attended the concert by the New York Philharmonic, directed by Anton Seidl, in Poughkeepsie.

The New York Times

Frederick Ritter’s death forced attention to the lingering question of the viability of the schools of music and art. “In a special report, printed and sent to the trustees, the president urged that college professorships of the arts be at once established, abolishing the ‘schools;’ that instruction be offered in the theory of the arts as part of the College curriculum, and that practice be provided for, though not as belonging to the College course; that [music and art school] diplomas be no longer offered, and that the standards of admission required of all ‘specials’ be the same as those enforced for entrance to the freshman class…. The trustees adopted the recommendation at once, and a second great step was taken toward making Vassar a homogeneous college of liberal learning.”

James Monroe Taylor & Elizabeth Hazelton Haight, Vassar

Professor of Greek and Latin Abby Leach told the Young Women’s Christian Society that in its first two years the Vassar Students’ Aid Society had grown to over 500 members in 13 separate branches. The vice president of the society, she explained that scholarships were offered as loans that bore no interest but were expected to be repaid when the recipient was able to do so. In addition to scholarships offered by the several branches, the general society had offered duirng the year two $200 scholarships for competitive examinations. She said also that the society would be interested in erecting a building near the campus where scholarship students could live during term and, tending their room and performing like duties, could reduce the costs of their education.

The New York Times

The Years