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Booker T. Washington, Principal of Tuskegee Institute, spoke about the origins and aims of the institute. “Mr. Washington,” reported The Vassar Miscellany, “announced his purpose in addressing the college as an appeal for his race and for Tuskegee, but primarily as an attempt to eliminate race hatred… The two great problems of the educated negro are to lift himself and his people and to keep peace between the two races. The first is being solved by the negro himself. The basis of the solution of the second lies in the individual relations of the negroes and the whites. This, too, is being worked out, for the negro is the most adaptable of races. The solution of his problem is a long and difficult one, but its cornerstone he has found in service.”

Edith Wynne Matthison, the English actress who had played “Everyman” in the Frohman production at Vassar in 1903, gave a reading of Gilbert Murray’s translation of the Electra of Euripides. A frequent visitor to the college, she taught with her husband, the Anglo-American playwright Charles Rann Kennedy, at Bennett Junior College in nearby Millbrook, NY. In preparation for her readiing on May 6, Professor of Latin Elizabeth Hazelton Haight ’94 lectured on May 2nd on “The Electra of Euripides.”

“Practically the entire college,” commented The Vassar Miscellany, “heard her read…and we will not soon forget it. Mrs. Kennedy’s faultless reading, in a remarkably sympathetic voice, carried her audience into the Greek spirit with a fineness that has given us a lastiing impression of the dignity and humanness of the tragedy.”

Highlights at the annual Field Day were the Vassar record-setting 0:09:4.5 time for the 75-yard dash of Stephanie English ’10, the new record in the running high jump, 4 feet, 4 ½ inches, set by Theodora Wheeler ’11, the 29 feet, 6 ½ inches that gave Charlotte Hand ’10 a new school record in the hop, step and jump and the new fence vault record, 5 feet, 3 ¼ inches, set by Almeda Barr ’11. Dorothy McKee ’12, from Brooklyn, threw a baseball 152 feet.

The New York Times

The first inter-class song contest was held.

“The songs written for it were to be given to the College, and the most successful to receive from the Students’ Association a rose and grey banner similar to those given for the athletic championship.”

Vassar Miscellany

The song contest, later held on Founder’s Day, was discontinued in 1929.

In his baccalaureate sermon, President Taylor spoke to the Class of 1910 of a sense of the ideal amidst all the realistic thinking and critical analysis in modern college life. For all they learn about short-comings in politics, business, domestic or social life, he said, the teachers and learners inspire each other to “preserve society and promise the future.”

“We fancy that in our colleges,” he told the class, “we have more of that spirit than exists elsewhere, that they beget loyalty, that their esprit de corps sustains enthusiasm, that the touch of their young and aspiring lives quickens in the elders the longing for the ideal. Few fail to find in college life a deeper vision. Many discover their souls in it. The touch of a colder, near-sighted world may dull them, and for a time depress them, but few leave college halls without seeing the beckoning vision of a higher life, and few have wholly escaped the rapture of communion with the ideal.”

The New York Times

Florence Taylor ’12, president of the sophomore class, led the Class of 1910 across the campus to the Chapel for Vassar’s 44th Commencement. 217 members of the class were awarded the bachelor’s degree, and six of the 26 honors graduates read essays. Class president Gertrude C. Lovell ‘10 spoke about “Main Street”; Mary Margaret Shelley ’10 investigated “The Problem of the Tongue’s End”; Sarah Dana Loomis ’10 spoke on “The Passing of the Frontier”; Ruth Evelyn Marceau ’10 described “Vergil the Magician”; Helen Weeks Landon’10 spoke on “A Modern Crusade” and Charlotte Moffatt Gailor ’10 offered “Maria Edgeworth, an Appreciation.” Master’s degrees were conferred on Psyche Rebecca Sutton ’09, an assistant in the Observatory, whose thesis was entitled “The Delta Cephei Type of Variables,” and on Fanny Rollison Sweeney ’07, who wrote “A Study of a Few Forms of Public and Private Relief in the City of Poughkeepsie.”

In his remarks, President Taylor confessed “amazement” at the lack of gifts to the college during the year. “Either,” he said, “the college has not as many friends as it should have or the spirit of giving is lacking.” Noting the need for more residential space and faculty, he announced that the trustees had reluctantly decided to extend the enrollment limit of 1,000 students for another year. President Taylor noted with gratitude and regret the retirement of college librarian Frances A. Wood, who had come to the college as a music teacher in 1866 and as librarian since 1880 had quadrupled Vassar’s collection. With the opening of the Frederick Ferris Thompson Memorial Library in 1905 she had established the modern Vassar Library. Miss Wood, who published Earliest Years at Vassar: Personal Recollections in 1909, died at her home in Poughkeepsie on June 17, 1914.

Before chapel services, President Taylor announced that Mrs. Russell Sage had given the college $150,000 for the construction of a new residence hall. The new building was named Olivia Josselyn Hall, after the mother of Mrs. Sage’s father.

In response to what Louis P. Gillespie, Vassar’s general manager and purchasing agent, called “a few small changes to bring about greater efficiency and economy in the kitchens,” four of Vassar’s six chefs abruptly quit. A writer in The New York Times imagined the scene: “When the strikers heard yesterday Supt. Gillespie’s dictum…they threw up their $45 a month jobs without a word. The time was between breakfast and dinner. In the ovens and on the ranges were juicy roasts, succulent stews, and fragrant puddings, but the chefs let them simmer while they hustled into their Sunday togs and whirled off in taxicabs.”

The account concluded with the general manager unruffled. “’I have no criticism to make,’ said Mr. Gillespie. ‘The men who left were old and faithful employees. I’m sorry they have gone and will miss them, but there are others who can do their work, and we will soon have them.’”

The Years