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The endowment committee announced to the 250 attendees at the annual New York meeting of the Associate Alumnae of Vassar College that a longstanding goal, $50,000 for the Maria Mitchell chair in astronomy had been achieved.

Gertrude Buck, recently appointed in the English department, spoke to the Confraternity of the School of Pedagogy of New York University on “Culture Epics in Education.” Her remarks centered on the theories of education developed with Harriet M. Scott at the Detroit Normal School, where Buck taught before coming to Vassar.

Scott’s father, Fred Newton Scott, and John Dewey had been Buck’s mentors during her Ph.D. work in rhetoric and composition at the University of Michigan. Buck and Harriet Scott published Organic Education: A Manual for Teachers in Primary and Grammar Grades in 1897, and Buck’s dissertation (1898) appeared as The Metaphor: A Study in the Psychology of Rhetoric in 1899.

After several weeks of discussion among themselves and with the faculty, students were told that the “10 o’clock rule” for turning out all lights—in force since the College opened—was suspended indefinitely. Students had argued that the rule forced those behind in their work for whatever reason to fall further behind or to become, instead, lawbreakers.

Beyond Vassar

The U.S. Congress’s Joint Resolution for war with Spain over the independence of Cuba and other Spanish colonies launched the Spanish American War.

Beyond Vassar

The American fleet, under the command of Commodore George Dewey, destroyed the Spanish Pacific Squadron in Manila Bay, the Philippines.

British Fabian socialist leaders Sidney and Beatrice Webb visited the College and spoke informally on “The Scope of Democracy in England.” They were the guests of Professor Herbert E. Mills. Beatrice Webb and Harriot Stanton Blatch ’78, who lived in England during this period, were considered the two most effective women speakers on Fabianism.

President Taylor’s subject in his baccalaureate sermon to the Class of 1898 was America’s war with Spain. Acknowledging that war might bring out “the noble, heroic elements in the human character,” he declared that this does not mean that war is ever right. “An eminent jurist,” he added, “told me that this war was brought on by the press and the pulpit. I do not agree with him, but enough of his statement is true to make it proper to say that the pulpit should uphold the Gospel of Jesus, which is peace and not war.”

The New York Times

85 members of the Class of 1898 received their bachelor’s degrees at Commencement in the Chapel. Topics for the senior essays ranged from the broadly theoretical, such as “The Modern Idea of a Nation” and “The Place of Color in Modern Art,” by Laura Owen Rice ’98 and Eleanor Belknap’98, and the socially relevant, such as “The Problem of the Delinquent” and “State Control of Sanitation” by Amy Wentworth ’98 and Phebe Annette Hatfield ’98, to the closely analytical, as in “Matthew Arnold’s Heritage from Wordsworth,” by Alice Kauffman ’98.

The New York Times

Beyond Vassar

The Spanish-American War ended with the signing of a peace protocol in Washington DC.

President Taylor announced that the Phi Beta Kappa Society had granted a charter for Mu Chapter at Vassar, the first chapter at a college for women. Other institutions granted charters at this time included Boston University, the University of California, Princeton, Haverford, and the University of Wisconsin.

The chapter was instituted by the president of the society, the Honorable John A. DeRemer, on April 8, 1899.

Reubena Hyde Walworth, ’96, the first and only woman nurse in the Army Detention Hospital of Camp Wykoff, on Long Island, died of typhoid. A member of a prominent upstate New York family and the granddaughter of the last chancellor of New York State, the Red Cross nurse ministered to Spanish American War veterans returning from Cuba, of whom some 200 died of typhoid contracted there. Shortly after the last of her charges were released, she was found to have contracted the disease.

Buried with full military honors by some of the veterans she served, Walworth was memorialized on October 18, 1899, by a 41-foot granite monument erected by the Daughters of the American Revolution in Greenridge Cemetery in Saratoga Springs, NY. Governor Franklin Roosevelt, members of the Vassar faculty, President MacCracken and the philantropist and future mayor of New York City, Seth Low, were among the invited guests at the memorial’s dedication.

—The New York Times, Proceedings of the New York Historical Society (vol. 5, 1905)

An enthusiastic audience filled the Chapel for a concert by New York concert singers, a gift of trustee John D. Rockefeller. The group—American soprano Mrs. Seabury Ford, British tenor Mackenzie Gordon, Marguerite Hall, and American baritone David Bispham—reprised a concert they had given the previous April at the Mendelssohn Glee Club hall in New York. The highlight of the evening was the group’s performance of British composer Liza Lehmann’s “In a Persian Garden,” taken from The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám. The group’s accompanist was Victor Harris.

President Taylor, lecturing on “The Education of Women” at Cooper Union, looked back over the past 30 years and proclaimed the question of the practicability of Matthew Vassar’s project soundly and affirmatively answered. More recent concerns, such as the claims that their education might be leading women away from marriage, he said, were valid only insofar that it was true that education, whether for women or me, opened possibilities that remain largely closed to those who have no broad, liberal education. Taylor also dismissed notions that special and specific courses of study might be more appropriate for women. “Colleges,” he said, stood “for a liberal education, and young women as well as young men would be amply equipped for the ordinary demands of life if they secured a practical education of broad and liberal scope.”

The New York Times

The Years