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Tokyo College was adopted as part of a “Vassar-in-Japan” program supported by the Christian Association. 

Mary Morris Pratt ’80 gave the art gallery a notable collection of oriental jades.

The director of the New York Philharmonic Society, Josef Stránsky, gave three boxes at four Saturday evening Philharmonic concerts in New York City for the use of Vassar students. 

An anonymous donor gave a Metropolitan Opera box to students and faculty. It was available annually until the 1940s.

The invitation to Vassar from the student debating committee at Princeton to join in a debate was roundly condemned by The Daily Princetonian in a series of rhetorical questions:

“Why not a knitting or sewing tilt with Bryn Mawr? Why not a pingpong match with Barnard, or a spelling-bee with Wellesley, or a tea-pouring contest with Miss So-and-So’s finishing school? Or, even better, why not take on the International Correspondence School for a heated skirmish in penmanship?” The New York Times

Five years later, in its first coeducational debate, Princeton lost to Vassar on April 25, 1924.

At the opening of a new theater in the Assembly Hall, British poet Alfred Noyes lectured on “England and America,” with readings from his own work. The event had been scheduled for February 5, but Noyes was seriously ill with influenza at Princeton, where he taught between 1914 and 1923.

The Students’ Association voted: “No Vassar student shall smoke while under the jurisdiction of the college, this rule to be enforced under the honor system.” The rule was modified in 1925 “to lay responsibility on the individual, permitting her to smoke inconspicuously” but not in dormitories or other college buildings.

The Vassar Relief Unit established “La Goutte de Lait,” a milk station and dispensary providing for babies, the sick, the old and the indigent at Verdun. Financed by the unit through September 1920, the project continued with support from the municipality of Verdun and with the help of Luxembourg and the Netherlands until the invasion of France in World War II.

Elsa Butler Grove ’05 was vice director, succeeding Margaret Lambie ’07.

The New York Philharmonic Society and its director, the Czech conductor and composer Josef Stránsky, gave the first of a series of concerts presented to the college by Edgar L. Marston, a trustee from 1905 until 1923. Maestro Stránsky’s program began with Brahm’s Symphony No.2 in D major, Op. 73, and continued with the symphonic poem, “The Sorcerer’s Apprentics,” by Paul Dukas, a “quaint tale” that, said a reviewer in The Vassar Miscellany News, “was funny, in a farcial way—we couldn’t refrain from humming “Humpty-umpty diddle dee” to its perpetual, lilting rhythm, and the same rhythm has not ceased ti pursue its jovial ride through our minds, on the backs of those patient bassoons and mammoth double-basses…. There is much disagreement as to whether or not this sort of pictorial fun in music is legitimate. However on may feel about that mooted question there was certainly a charming humor in the Dukas which no even the most conservative of critics could fail to enjoy.”

A tone poem,“The Swan of Tuonela,” from the Lemminkäinen, Op.22, of Jean Sibelius, supplied “dramatic contrast” to the sorcerer’s tale. “There was plenty of rich color, very dark, for the most part, touched with rhythmic swirls and covered with majestic, swaying melody. The theme and variations, the fourth movement of Tchaikovsky’s Orchestral Suite No. 3 in G, Op. 55, concluded the regular program with “an exquisite finish. The variations are splendidly contrasted…. The violin solo which is part of the eleventh variation was played with splendid abandon, clear-cut vigor and a clear tone.” The orchestra kept to Tchaikovsky with its encore, offering his “Marche Slave.”

“It was over so soon,” the reviewer said, “but through this magnificent opportunity we have begun on the road to better understanding of what is before us next year and all orchestral music will mean vastly more to us because of the electric effect of this tremendous concert.”

In all, the Philharmonic Orchestra of New York City gave seven Marston Concerts at Vassar through 1921.

A meeting, convened at the request of C. Mildred Thompson ‘03, professor of history and chairman of the committee on admission, discussed the college’s policy, if any, about “the acceptance of Negro students.” Two prospective students whom Thompson believed were daughters of Anita Hemmings Love ’97, a graduate of African American lineage who had passed for white while a student, had sent in preliminary “cards of application.” “To my assistant,” Thompson recalled in a note to the file, “I remarked that, knowing what I had heard, I had no right to accept the applications without authorization from the Committee.”

Also present at the meeting were President MacCracken, Dean Ella McCaleb ’78, Warden Jean Palmer ’93, Associate Professor of English Margaret Judson, Associate Professor of Chemistry Annie MacLeod and the committee’s secretary, Vera B. Thompson. “My recollection,” Professor Thompson wrote, “is that in reporting the specific applications I asked if Vassar had any policy in regard to the acceptance of Negro students. According to my memory there was no difference of opinion expressed among the members. All agreed that Vassar had no specific policy as to Negroes, who would be expected to meet the requirements which pertained to all.” The minutes of the meeting conclude: “Secretary was instructed to accept application.”

Ellen Love graduated from Vassar in 1927.

Social worker Ruth Crawford Mitchell ’12, national YWCA secretary for international institutes, and two classmates, Mary Hurlbutt ‘12 and Elinor Prudden ‘12, embarked for Prague, at the request of Alice Masaryk, daughter of the president of Czechoslovakia, to conduct a social survey of the city. While subsequently helping Dr. Masaryk establish Czechoslovakia’s first school of social work, the three friends proposed to her and to the college that Czech women entering the field would benefit greatly from study at Vassar.

President MacCracken agreed, funding was found and in 1920 the first five Czech exchange students began their two-year programs at Vassar. The college continued to supply at least one annual scholarship to a Czech student until 1948.

A special Founder’s Day program celebrated the centenary of Walt Whitman’s birth with an address in Students’ Building by American poet Edgar Lee Masters. At the close of Masters’s remarks, Whitman’s friend, the 82 year-old naturalist John Burroughs—introduced by President MacCracken as “the youngest man in the room”—gave an impromptu appreciation of his friend and told of bringing Whitman to the college in the summer of 1878 to call on Professor Frederick Ritter. A Walt Whitman exhibition was mounted in the Library.

Founder’s Day also included a song contest, a faculty-student baseball game, a pageant and two operas given by the Society of American Singers, an organization of “professional singers of standing and American citizenship” formed in 1915.

The president, followed by the choir, the faculty and students, led a college procession from the Chapel to Vassar Lake. Five trees were planted by the president of the Students’ Association and the presidents of the four classes in memory of Alvin Treadwell, son of Professor of Geology Aaron L. Treadwell, and of Ruth Cutler ’12, Dorothea Gay ’11, Amabel S. Roberts ‘13 and Gertrude Crissey Valentine ’12, all of whom died while serving their country in World War I.

The New York Times, in a survey of trends and developments in U.S. higher education, noted Vassar’s “placing of Italian and Spanish on an equality with French and German, thus giving the student more latitude of choice in modern languages.” The article also noted the college’s granting of credit toward the bachelor’s degree “for work in English speech and in the practice of art and music, provided the time given to practice in these arts is combined with hours spent in study of their theory.”

The Associate Alumnae of Vassar College (AAVC) held a memorial service for Dorothea Gay ’11, Ruth Cutler ’12, Amabel Scharff Roberts ’13 and Gertrude Crissey Valentine ’12, all of whom died in France during World War I. The Rev. Henry Stimson of New York spoke at the service, and a tablet was placed in the Chapel in their honor. Gay and Valentine served as canteen workers in the Vassar YMCA unit; Cutler was a social worker in the Vassar Red Cross unit; Roberts was a trained nurse at U.S. Base Hospital No. 2, attached to General Hospital No.1, American Expeditionary Forces.

Beyond Vassar

“Germans Reach Versailles, Treaty to be Signed Today.”

The New York Times

Mount Holyoke, Smith, Vassar and Wellesley adopted a new plan of admission, with competitive examinations superseding admission by certificate.

Vassar announced that a larger than expected number of students in the upper classes might require a reduction in the number of freshmen when the college opened on September 20. Enrollment in the previous year had been 1,014, with 317 freshmen.

Fall Convocation inaugurated the academic year. 1,117 students were enrolled, about 300 of them freshmen. “We know this year,” Professor of Psychology Margaret Floy Washburn ’91 told the freshmen in the Class of 1923, “that there is nothing which society so needs in its bewilderment and its disillusionment—nothing which it so needs as accurate, impartial thought, based upon a full and critical weighing of the facts.”

A gift to the college was announced: $100,000 from Blanch Ferry Hooker ‘94 and Queene Ferry Coonley ’96 for the erection of an Alumnae House.

John Livingston Lowes, Lowell lecturer at Harvard University, spoke on “‘The Fine Frenzy’ and ‘The Quiet Eye’: A Study in Poetic Inspiration.” In his book about Vassar, The Hickory Limb, President MacCracken recalled Lowes’s visit and his participation as judge in a campus competition: “The ‘doorblocks,’ pads suspended on bedroom doors to receive messages when the occupant was absent or oak-bound, invited scribbles in rhyme, and for a time doorblocks flourished as a type of occasional verse. Some of them were so witty that they were preserved in student albums and memory books. I once offered a prize for the best doorblock, and John Livingston Lowes of Harvard not only was good enough to act as judge, but came to college and delivered his famous essay ‘The Fine Frenzy and the Quiet Eye.’ Much of it later appeared in his great book The Road to Xanadu.”

Professor Lowes lectured at the college in March 1922 on “Convention and Revolt in Poetry” and again in 1932 at the commemoration of the centennial of the death of Goethe.

The Years