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Raymond House, a residence hall, was completed, Francis R. Allen, architect. It was built with College funds and named in honor of Vassar’s second president,. John Howard Raymond.

Speaking at the first annual meeting of the Vassar Alumnae Historical Association, Professor of History Lucy Maynard Salmon reviewed the ten years’ history of Vassar’s history department and the aims of the association, founded on commencement morning, June 9, the previous year: “increasing the appliances for the historical department, the preservation of historical material and the introduction of more scientific methods into the work done by local societies.” “A chart had been prepared,” noted The Vassar Miscellany, “giving the number of historical societies in the various States and Territories, illustrating the amount of unoccupied territory, the development of whose historical material might furnish inspiration to the members of the Vassar Association.” The main feature of the meeting were the comprehensive reports from alumnae on “State and Local Historical Interests,” ranging from the Catholic historical societies, the City History Club of New York and “the account of the collection of Dutch documents made by the Troy Society” to state reports from Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island, more local reports of historical work in Dutchess County, Cayuga County, Kingston and Charleston and “the Southern States,” which offered “a rich field but little worked.”

Beginning almost a year earlier with 41 charater members, the association’s membership numbered 127, 39 of whom were able to attend the first annual meeting. The group had purchased for the College The Jesuit Relations, The Virginia Historical Society Collections, Brown’s Genesis of the United States and Force’s Tracts, expending $58.55 of its $199 in annual receipts.

In perhaps the first mass student protest in the history of the College, students challenged the faculty’s decision, taken two years earlier, that George Washington’s birthday would no longer be a holiday from classes at Vassar.

In contrast to their response in 1895, when the seniors came to dinner in mourning for the death of the faculty’s patriotism, this year’s protest was loud and long. Before breakfast, students swarmed the corridors of Main Building shouting “Rah! Rah! Rah! George! George! George! First in war, first in peace, first in the hearts of his countrymen!” Singing “America” and “Yankee Doodle,” the procession headed to the President’s House, where they “saluted President Taylor’s windows” with more singing and cheers for the “Red, White and Blue.” Returning to Main, the hundreds of students entered the dining room, quickly festooning the student tables with patriotic colors and drawing a white chalk line around the faculty tables. Many students came to breakfast in their finest clothes, as if dressed for a grand event.

Faculty entering their classrooms found appropriate posters behind their desks: “Qui entre ici laisse le patriotisme dehors” for the French teacher; in algebra, a formula computing the removal of patriotism from the faculty and adding it to the students; in Greek, a poster proclaiming the Greeks’ love of freedom and country; in psychology, a few lines about the mental strain of deprivation of celebration. In the morning mail faculty members received a notice of a production of “A Revised Edition of Shakespeare’s Tragedy, ‘George Washington.’” On the bulletin board in Main, notices were posted cancelling meetings of the Student Association, the Dickens Club, Federal Councils, and the Wake Robin Club. In contrast, another notice said “The Faculty will meet as usual to-day.”

In the evening, at a “Colonial Ball,” the seniors came dressed as George Washington.

The New York Times

Scientists from Columbia, Cornell, Yale, Harvard, Union, Vassar and the United States Geological Survey participated in the fourth annual exhibition of the New York Academy of Sciences, at the American Museum of Natural History. A highlight of the exhibit was the device perfected over many years by Professor of Geology William Buck Dwight for preparing transparently thin specimens of rocks and fossils. Using a series of tin discs edged with diamond dust, Dwight was able to prepare consecutive parallel slices of geological materials up to eight inches in diameter to a thickness of one fiftieth of an inch.

Speaking at Founder’s Day Columbia University professor Nicholas Murray Butler told his audience that the newspaper was losing its moral influence. “It comes out daily and appeals to the mind like a highly-seasoned dish to the human system. As 95 per cent of our reading is in the newspaper, it is easy to see what a tremendous influence the press would wield if its moral influence could be sustained.”

The New York Times

A sneak thief caused a stir at Vassar. Around 3 pm a well-dressed young woman entered Main Building and began asking students for directions to “Miss Nolan’s room.” One of the students became suspicious and, seeing the woman leave the college grounds, she notified College authorities. A search of the rooms she had visited revealed that an Elgin watch, numbered “126,553” and with the monogram “H. B. L.”, and a purse containing 50 cents had been taken.

“President Taylor rode into town on his wheel and notified police. Officer Leroy reported having seen a woman of the description given board a train for New York about 5 o’clock, and the police believe that she was the thief.”

The thief was apprehended in Kingston on October 7 and was identified as Ruby Livingston—also known as Cora or Catherine Simmonds—a former worker at the College. An official at the College had seen her in May as she left the College grounds and notified the police.

The watch was found in Livingston’s possession and was identified by its owner, Harriet Bickmore Long ‘00. The accused thief had left the College’s employ but had returned from time to time to visit acquaintances. In retrospect, it was recalled that items were found to be missing after these visits.

On December 14, Livingston, who pleaded guilty, was sentenced to three months in the county jail. The New York Times

President Taylor drew the theme of his baccalaureate sermon for the Class of 1897 from I Timothy, vi, 20, “Keep that which is committed to thy trust,” telling the class to go forth from the College simply and modestly, shunning sensationalism and the so-call new womanhood. “Our age,” he said, “radical in its tendencies, calls for restraint. The state, marriage, home, religion, have all been attacked during the past twenty years. ‘Away with the old’ has been the cry, but nothing new has been offered. It is the duty of educated men and women to work continually for a healthful conservatism.” Taylor condemned the pulpit and the press alike for catering to a rising taste for the sensational.

In concluding remarks to the class, he said, “You will find temptations to low ideals in social life and in personal life, tendencies to publicity and to notoriety, false ideas of a new womanhood. Keep the trust of high endeavor, of faith in human nature, of a noble purpose, of a simple, pure, and honorable life, and may God be with you.”

The New York Times

Class Day, held outdoors in the last two years, was forced back into the Chapel by heavy rains. Class President Mary Elizabeth Chambers ’97 welcomed the largest crowd ever for this event, and two class historians, Marie Reimer ’97 and Grace Margaret Gallaher ’97, thoroughly reviewed the 1897’s time at Vassar.

Although the tree ceremony and the burying of the class records were postponed because of the weather, the senior charge was given in the Chapel by Elizabeth Atkinson ’97, who passed Matthew Vassar’s spade to Mary MacColl ’98, who gave the junior response.

The New York Times

The rainy weather continued, but it failed to dampen the enthusiasm of nearly all of the 104 members of the Class of 1897, the largest class to graduate in the history of the College. The traditional senior essays were read, covering such topics as: “The Religious Melancholy of the Greeks and the Hebrews” by Marion Schibsby ’97; “The Sonata as an Art Form” by Grace Hannah Landfield ’97; “Practical Socialism” by Rachael Schauffler ’97 and “The Romanticism of Ruskin and Morris” by Nancy Vincent McClelland ’97. Helen Peters ’97 sang “Hymn to the Angels,” by Berthold Tours.

The New York Times

Among the graduates was Anita Florence Hemmings ’97, the College’s first alumna of African American heritage. Her racial background was unknown up until a few days before graduation when, under pressure from a classmate’s family’s investigation of her, she disclosed it to a professor. The College found no reason to interrupt her graduation, but the excellent student, active in many College groups, was reportedly under great stress in her last days at the College. Hemmings’s daughter, Ellen Parker Love, graduated from Vassar in the Class of 1927, also without acknowledging her racial origins. The first acknowledged African American graduates of Vassar were Drs. Beatrix McCleary Hamburg ’44 and June Jackson Christmas ’45/4.

Mary Secord Packard ’92 and her 14 male classmates were the recipients of the first M. D. degrees to be given by Johns Hopkins University.

“She bore her honors blushingly but proudly, and received the congratulations of all present with becoming modesty.”

The New York Times

In its annual fall commentary on the status of colleges and universities in the Northeast, The New York Times found that enrollments had generally increased from the previous year. Ella McCaleb, secretary of the College at Vassar, reported: “The total enrollment of students at Vassar College this fall is 600, an increase of 55 over the whole number enrolled during last year. Of the 600, 205 are freshmen.”

College physician Dr. Elizabeth Thelberg and her assistant, Dr. Grace Kimball, reported that the 60 students who had taken ill from eating improperly cooked veal were all out of danger.

Dr. G. Stanley Hall, founder of The American Journal of Psychology, first president of the American Psychological Association and President of Clark University, spoke on “A Few Tendencies in College and University Education” at the dedication of Rockefeller Hall, a much-needed recitation hall. York & Sawyer were the architects. The gift of John D. Rockefeller, a trustee from1888-1905, the building’s total cost was $99,998.75, thus falling within the $100,000 given by Mr. Rockefeller.

Vassar hosted the 11th annual convention of the Association of Colleges and Preparatory Schools of the Middle States and Maryland, welcoming over 400 educators from the region. Cornell president Jacob Gould Schurman presided over the two-day meeting.

Some representatives of smaller, liberal arts institutions, encouraged by Melvil Dewey, secretary of the University of the State of New York, discussed at this meeting forming a college league devoted to promoting, in the words of one of the organizers, “conference and cooperation among the distinctly literary colleges” and to keeping “before the public the proper function and the claim to popular support of the so-called small college.” Failing to satisfactorily define a “small college,” this effort failed.

The more general issues before the conference were “Problems of Preparatory and College Education” and “the Place of Science in the Preparatory School.” Both principal speakers on the latter topic, Ralph S. Tarr, professor of geology at Cornell, and C. C. Wilson, principal of Lincoln High School in Jersey City, NJ, “took the position that the teaching of science had been greatly improved and its claim to a definite place in the curriculum was established, but that there was no general consensus of opinion as to its exact place.”

The New York Times

The Years