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In a poll on woman’s suffrage, 57 percent of the seniors were in favor, 29 percent disapproved, 12 percent were undecided and one percent were “ignorant.” Of the freshmen only 27 percent were in favor, and 27 percent admitted to ignorance.

Having decided to meet every other year in New York City, the Associate Alumnae of Vassar College (AAVC) met in Chicago. President Taylor, who had expressed at Commencement his concern at the lack of gifts to the college, announced that gifts since then totaled $216,000. In addition to the $150,000 gift of Mrs. Russell Sage for a new residence hall, the alumnae gave $50,000—$1,000 for each year since the college was chartered in 1861—plus a $1,500 matching challenge for campus improvements and anonymous donors gave $10,000 for a scholarship and $5,000 for improving the college’s lighting system.

The New York Times

Vassar’s first junior prom, a Junior-Sophomore Dinner Dance, was held in “Room J,” the “Raymond Reading Room,” the “Students’ Room” and the north and south corridors of the second floor of Main Building. Informal dancing at 4 in the afternoon was followed by “regular” dancing at 5 and dinner in the Main Dining Room. A decorative scheme, in green and yellow, was provided by yellow lights shining through grouped smilax and yew trees. The format for a Junior Prom—although not yet the promenade or Grand March—came about in 1914 when the faculty refused to allow separate dances for the sophomore and junior classes, causing the sophomores to withdraw from the annual event. In time, the Junior Prom became the single most important social event in the college year.

The Miscellany News

Beyond Vassar

Fire broke out in the upper three floors of a ten-story factory building in New York City, and within half an hour 147 people—almost all of them immigrant women workers for the Triangle Waist Company—were incinerated.

Students assisted the New York State Factory Investigating Commission, established to conduct a broad inquiry into the tragedy. “Often Vassar and Radcliffe College girls volunteered for the work of inspection, and one Vassar girl turned in a report to the effect that when she asked a girl in a factory what kind of fire protection she enjoyed, the girl answered that she didn’t know and didn’t care, since the finest thing that could happen to her, she thought, was for some conflagration to come along and end her miserable, work-a-day existence.”

The New York Times

Former trustee Ellen Swallow Richards ’70, head of the Department of Social Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a pioneer in what she referred to as “sanitary chemistry,” died after a short illness.

Before firemen arrived, several students braved an early morning fire in the Raymond Avenue home of Professor Abby Leach ’85 to rescue valuable furniture and Leach’s library from the flames. A servant discovered the fire, which apparently started in faulty wiring, and awoke the professor and four student boarders. About $8,000 damage was done to the home.

The New York Times

The Sunday evening prayer meeting was devoted to the celebration of the Tercentenary Anniversary of the publication of the King James Bible. Speakers included William Bancroft Hill, professor of Biblical literature, President Taylor, Associate Professor Margaret Hudson of the English department and Dr. Jean C. Bracq, professor of french. A library exhibit focused on the development of the English Bible.

Founder’s Day was observed with a special celebration in honor of the 50th anniversary of the granting of Vassar’s charter, on January 18, 1861. The events of the first Founder’s Day were portrayed, and a pageant, “Women of Culture in Five Ages,” was presented.

Speakers representing the Students’ Association, the alumnae and the faculty joined President Taylor in remarks on “The Founder and the College.” Alumnae were the only outside guests.

At the annual Field Day Caroline Johnson ’13 set a new college record for the 100-yard hurdles, running the course in 16 1/5 seconds, and freshman Dorothy Smith ’14 set a new Vassar record in the running high jump. Smith also threw a baseball for a new women’s world record, 204 feet, 5 inches.

“Amazed” by the feat, a New York Herald reporter covering the event wrote, “Girls do not throw a baseball further than the average boy without some sort of training….” But Smith claimed no special training: “I have always played ball with boys ever since I can remember.” Noting that Smith was “tall and slim and lithe,” the reporter saw her as “the modern type of girl athlete…not marred by overdeveloped muscles, but so well trained that every bit of her strength counts.”

Jennifer Ring, Stolen Bases: Why American Girls Don’t Play Baseball

Smith’s record stood until August of 1915, when high school senior Ruth McCabe from Tacoma, WA, threw a baseball 209 feet, 5 inches.

President Taylor conferred the bachelor’s degree on 228 members of the Class of 1911 at Commencement ceremonies in the Chapel. Announcing gifts to the college totaling $220,429, he also reported the trustees’ decision that faculty members not having a previous year of absence would henceforth have each 15th year of absence at full pay.

The faculty appeared for the first time in academic dress.

Electric lighting was installed in the Main Building, replacing gaslights. A student wrote to her parents, “I am reading by the light of a goose-neck—a reading light that you can turn in almost any direction…. We feel real scrumptious. The college gives one to each room.”

MS letter

A large number of Vassar students and Poughkeepsie residents heard Inez Milholland ’09 declare two reasons for woman suffrage at an equal suffrage meeting in the Collingwood Opera House, Poughkeepsie. Milholland,who had carried a banner in the first suffrage procession in New York City in 1910, “devided her subject into two heads,” reported The Vassar Miscellany. “Women want the vote, first, to introduce their point of view into the government and, second, to protect the interests of women. That the government needs exactly the element that women will bring into it—the human point of view, the conservation of life—was one of the main features of Miss Milholland’s talk.” Milholland, the report added, declared also that “when the government of the state was purely protective, the efficient citizens were the fighters, and then it was only fair that the fighters should be the voters. Now that military defence as the basis of government is out of date, brains instead of brawn are coming to the valuable element in politics.”

Professor of English Laura J. Wylie ’77, president of the local Equal Suffrage League, was among several members of the Vassar faculty in attendance.

Lady Augusta Gregory, one of the founders of Dublin’s Abbey Theatre, spoke at length on “The Making of a Theatre.” Speaking about, as The Vassar Miscellany reported, “the Irish theatre which has recently commanded so much attention,” she claimed “to Mr. Yeats, her co-worker, belongs a large share of the idea of a national theatre, which should have as its purpose the production of poetic and romantic Irish plays played by Irish players.”

“To illustrate how the fable and the emotion are drawn from folk-lore,” said The Miscellany, “and also to show us what kind of play the company uses, Lady Gregory read parts of “McDaragh’s Wife,“ her yet unpublished play…. The principal figure…McDaragh, she had know personally as one of her father’s tenants—a red-haired genius of the bag-pipes who had become the ‘lightning rod’ which attracted many of the myths of the vicinity.” McDaragh’s Wife (later known as McDonough’s Wife) opened at the Abbey Theatre on January 11, 1912.

The Years