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Professor of Italian Bruno Roselli announced he had solved the mystery of a marble head of Augustus Caesar recently sucked up from the bed of the Hudson River by the War Department dredger Raritan. Viewed by many experts and dignitaries, including Episcopal Bishop William Manning, the battered head was proclaimed original and its provenance baffling.

Dismissing the theory that the head—and perhaps an entire statue—had been used as ballast in a sailing vessel, Professor Roselli cited an essay written in 1836 by the French consul in Tripoli describing a collecting trip he had made in an American sloop in 1809 to the old Roman city of Leptis Magna with the American consul and a Captain Porter. Roselli posited that Porter had brought home some of the antiquities the party gathered as souvenirs of Stephen Decatur’s triumph over the Barbary pirates in 1804 and that this piece had accidently fallen into the Hudson.

A few days later, Mrs. John King Van Rensselaer, president of the Patriotic New Yorkers, recalled a nursery rhyme from her childhood about “Julius Caesar at the bottom of the Hudson” which referred to a family story about a ferry-boat fire around 1830 that had sent a buggy, laden with four ancient sculptures en route from Manhattan to the New Jersey collection of her grandfather, John C. King, to the bottom of the river. The New York Times

French composer, conductor and teacher of music Nadia Boulanger gave a lecture recital on “The Development of Modern Music” in the Assembly Hall. Visiting the United State as a guest of a committee of composers and conductors, Mlle. Boulanger made her American début on January 11, with the New York Symphony Orchestra, as the soloist in the prèmiere of the Symphony for Organ and Orchestra by her former student Aaron Copland.

She told her Vassar audience, according to The Miscellany News, that it was necessary to be “familiar with the vocabulary of modern music in order to understand its message since the change on the technical side, no less than in the spirit of music, has been extraordinarily rapid in recent years. Everywhere the tendency is the same, a reaction against established laws.” Exemplary, she said, of such iconoclasm was Stravinsky, “the most representative man today muscially speaking,” as The Misc. reported. “Instead of using the measure as a unit and dividing it always into the same number of beats, he uses a smaller unit and shifts the accent with extraordinary freedom…. The physical shock of unexpectedly recurring accents causes pain at first hearing.” Mlle. Boulanger illustrated her remarks by playing Dreams by the French composer Florent Schmitt and excerpts from Stravinsky’s Sacre du Printemps and singing melodies by her mentor Gabriel Fauré and by the Spanish composer Manuel de Falla.

Mlle. Boulanger visited Vassar again in 1937 and 1962.

Seven observatories in its line of totality—at Toronto, Buffalo, Cornell, Vassar, Wesleyan, Yale and Nantucket—collaborated to record the first total eclipse of the sun since 1823 visible in New York and New England—the last until 2144. Vassar’s observatory was near the central line of the 100-mile wide shadow that swept from Minnesota to Rhode Island between 9:02 and 9:15 in the morning.

Extensive preparations for the event began a year earlier when the annual meeting of the American Astronomical Association, at Vassar, was devoted almost entirely to the eclipse. In preparation for the event, “four students in the mathematical class” at Vassar prepared “improved” tables of the moon, critical data for timing and tracking the eclipse. Telescopes at Vassar and Yale were fitted with special color screens and cameras, and dedicated long distance telephone lines and telephone and telegraph operators contributed by AT&T connected five of the participating observatories.

Scheduled for the morning of the event, the first round of final examinations was rescheduled, and, with Alumnae House filled nearly to capacity, the alumnae association announced that the “portion of the hill north of the house now used for parking space will be reserved for the use of the guests of the House, and special arrangements are beng made…to facilitate the viewing of the phenomenon. A charge of $1.00 per person will be asked for the use of this section. All other space surrounding the House is at the service of the college without charge.” The executive committee of the board of trustees authorized a work stoppage on campus—“except that necessary for safety”—to be announced by “three blasts…by the fire whistle…in order to allow the employees time to see the total eclipse.”

On campus, loud speakers from Bell Telephone provided information from observers in the Observatory. Designated clocks were synchronized by a special radio operator from the Variable Star Association and an array of smaller telescopes with particular responsibilities were deployed at campus sites. Observations were made from the Observatory, Richmond Hill, Sunrise Hill and the top of the library tower.

Among the distinguished visitors who came to Vassar to view the eclipse was Japanese Prince Oyama, the son of Stematz Yamakawa ’82. Others included the reknowned Harvard stellar classifier Annie Jump Cannon and atomic theorist Dr. Irving Langumuir, who was among a group of distinguished scientists that, The Miscellany News reported, “viewed the eclipse from the dahlia farm and reported that this was a remarkably good place from which to see it.”

In The Miscellany News for February 7 Caroline Furness ’91, professor of astronomy and director of the Observatory, wrote “an account of what went on in the Observatory, where lay the real heart of the scientific work of the event…. The signal for totality was to be given by Mrs. Harriet Parsons Hall, A. B. Vassar, Ph. D. Chicago, who was seated at a low table at the south window of the Observatory office, where she could easily look out and watch the progress of the eclipse with her field glasses. On the table in front of her was placed the telephone mouthpiece which carried her words all along the line of observatories and the microphone which was connected with the loud speakers placed at various spots on the campus. The signal for the totality was the word ‘dash’…. At a quarter before eight the principal actors of this part of the eclipse pageant were already in the office of the Observatory, the telephone and telegraph operators, Mrs. Hall and myself.

“At 8, three of us went on the roof with smoked glass to see if the eclipse was really coming off. Yes, there it was, almost on time the little black dent on th edge of the sun, showing plainly. All was going on according to predicition. Into the house again…. It gradually grew darker, the unnecessary people left the room, from the last window I could see groups of people walking toward the east field where many of our students were stationed. The two operators moved their tables so that they, too, could look out the window…. Finally at 8:50 the wires were cleared and there was silence, only the ticking of the sidereal clock and the whirring of the chronograph could be heard.”

After the Harvard director, Dr. Harlow Shapely, had signed off in Buffalo and Professor S. L. Boothroyd announced “Ithaca says goodbye,” Furness reported, “our operator began his clicks, while it grew quiet and dark. Mrs. Hall called out ‘It is coming soon.’ The fascination of the scene had held me up to this time…but when she called ‘Stop’ I came to myself, sprang from my station, seized a pair of field glasses, dashed to the southeast window in time to see the wavering shadow bands, heard the word ‘Stop.’ Then silence came, then ‘Dash’ and ‘Poughkeepsie says goodbye,’ and the corona was there. It was a wonderful moment, worth all the work put into it, and all the years of waiting to see it.” The duration of totality of the eclipse in Poughkeepsie was 1 minute and 57.5 seconds. Eight photographs were taken during the eclipse and its immediate aftermath. “Those of the cornoa,” she wrote, “show it to be very beautiful.”

Concluding her account, Professor Furness paid tribute to her predecessor as professor of astronomy and director of the Observatory, the late Mary Watson Whitney ’68, “whose bequest left to the College for research work at the Observatory made it possible for us to provide the apparatus and the help necessary to carry out our rather ambitious plans. This is Vassar’s third eclipse campaign. The first was led by Professor Mitchell in 1869 who went to Burlington, Iowa, with a party of eight Vassar graduates, one of whom was Mary Whitney. Two of our small telescopes now at the Observatory were made for that expedition. In 1900 Professor Whitney took a small party consisting of herself and myself to Wadesboro, N. C., and her telescope again made the trip. In 1925 the eclipse came to Vassar, and our party consisted of the whole College. I wonder when the next Vassar eclipse party will come off, and in what part of the world it will be stationed. Who can tell?”

The Miscellany News

“College Hears First of Series of Radio Concerts,” announced The Miscellany News, as music from the Victor Concert Orchestra and two noted Italian singers on New York radio station WEAF was heard in Vassar Brothers’ Laboratory. The program featured performances by two noted Italian singers, operatic soprano Mme. Toti Dal Monte (Antonietta Meneghel), on the crest of her triumphant American debut in late 1924, and the leading baritone of the Metropolitan Opera, Giuseppe De Luca.

New York City’s first radio station, in 1922, WEAF was owned by Western Electric AT&T. At the time of this series of broadcasts, the station announced a “super radio” arrangement, sending its programs between 8 and 10 each night over underused telephone lines to stations in 18 cities as far west as Minneapolis and Davenport, IA, for simultaneous broadcast and reaching some 12,500,000 listeners—the first network. The station was also interested in transmitting more “good” music and in stemming the tide of jazz.

Polish pianist Wanda Landowska gave a piano and harpsichord recital, including in her programme works by Scarlatti, Daquin, Handel, Bach and Mozart. “Mme. Landowska’s art,” a writer in The Miscellany News said, “has reached that stage of perfection where comment ceases to be applicable, and the highest praise one can bestow is that she has so freed herself through a flawless technigque and sympathetic understanding of the period she interprest, that the music seems to flow of itself and as it would from the minds of its composers.”

A primary force in the revival of the harpsichord, Landowska established the École de Musique Ancienne in Paris in 1925, having made her American debut in 1923 with Leopold Stokowski and the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra.

The eminent and prolific American etcher, illustrator and author Joseph Pennell gave a demonstration of etching in connection with the Taylor Hall exhibition of etchings. With his wife Elizabeth Robins Pennell, the authorized biographer of their friend James McNeill Whistler, The Life of James McNeill Whistler (1909), Pennell published dozens of books illustrating cities—London, New York, San Francisco, Philadelphia—and regions—France, Italy, England’s Lake District—as well as studies of the building of the Panama Canal, of “the wonder of work,” of “war work in England and in America” and of The Jew at Home: Impressions of a Summer and Autumn Spent with Him in Russia and Austria (1892).

At the time of his death in 1926, The New York Times quoted the appreciation of Pennell’s studies of English munitions factories during World War I by English author and man of letters H. G. Wells: “He sees these forges, workshops, cranes and the like as inhuman and as wonderful as cliffs or great caves or icebergs, or the stars. They are a new aspect of the logic of physical necessity that made all these older things, and he seizes upon the majesty and beauty of their dimensions with an entire impartiality.”

The executive committee of the board of trustees voted to bring all off-campus students not residents of Poughkeepsie on campus. Off-campus housing had been in use since 1893.

The Students’ Association, “recognizing that smoking among women is not established as a social convention acceptable to all groups throughout the country, hereby affirms that smoking is not approved at Vassar and requests the members, in a spirit of courtesy and loyalty to the best interests of the college, to use their own sense of personal obligation in complying with public opinion as herein expressed. Because of the danger of fire, smoking in any college building is forbidden to faculty, students, employees and guests by order of the administration.”

The Vassar Miscellany News

Irish novelist and poet James Stephens read from his work and spoke about the several “speeds” in verse—those of mountains, birds, boys, girls, anger, joy and the sea. “Then,” commented The Miscellany News, “there is the speed of the boy of eighteen who is constantly falling in and out of love. And his speed is shown in a little conversation with a bee. It was a short poem and Mr. Stephens remarked that ‘if a poem may be said more briefly in prose, it is a bad poem.’…. It was with difficulty that he managed to escape from the crowd of those seeking autographs.”

The author of The Crock of Gold (1912), The Demi-Gods (1914) and Deirdre (1923), Stephens published In the Land of Youth in 1924. He visited Vassar again in October 1933.

Professor of History Violet Barbour was among 15 recipients of the first fellowships granted by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. The only woman fellow, Professor Barbour received the $2,500 grant for “the study of Anglo-Dutch relations during the period of the Protectorate and Restoration.” Also on the list was the young Aaron Copland, “composer of music—New York City—for creative work in musical composition.”

The New York Times

The trustees accepted the largest gift to be given to the college since the Founder’s original $408,000 in 1861, $500,000 from Mr. and Mrs. John Wood Blodgett (Minnie Cumnock ’84) for a euthenics building and an additional $50,000 as an endowment for its maintenance.

Mrs. Blodgett wrote to the board, “I have come increasingly to feel that women’s education must be thought through in modern terms if it is to affect deeply the oncoming generations. This means a re-routing of its course, accenting women’s need spiritually, intellectually, and politically, and a correlation in the curriculum of scientific knowledge and its practical application.”

Trustee Minutes

“The daisy chain,” The New York Times reported, “was still the feature of Vassar’s Class Day, when it was carried today across the stage of the outdoor theatre by twenty-four of the best-looking sophomores. In the procession there was one brunette, a few well-defined blonds and a number of ash blonds, who seemed to be the most popular…. Even the white shoulder-pads provided to lessen the burden did not prevent some of the chain-bearers from looking distressed beneath their load of flowers.”

Earlier in the day, “the fathers of forty-four seniors played a baseball team composed of their daughters and defeated them by a score of 21 to 17…. The fathers were divided into four nines, each of which played one inning and for the final inning, eight extra parents were placed in the field and the daughters had six outs.” After luncheon “the scene shifted to the outdoor theatre,” where the seniors in Czechoslovakian folk-costumes “executed a variety of steps to Czechoslovakian folk-melodies.”

The New York Times

“…the sophomores continue to get thinner and thinner, and the Daisy Chain heavier and heavier.”

The Miscellany News

Two hundred seventy-four graduates received their diplomas at commencement exercises in the Chapel, where, in his commencement address, President MacCracken urged them to recognize the importance of “leisure.” “The word is, of course, Latin and means ‘It is permitted.’ It implies a positive, constructive, free life. It is the response to the free spirit. And, strange as it may seem, to the college graduate, at least, the answer to the quest for leisure is study.”

Dr. MacCracken also announced gifts to the college totaling $677,629.50, including the previously announced Blodgett gift.

A few hours after her graduation, Margaret Parker Neilley ’25 married Dr. A. Wilbur Duryee in the Chapel.

The New York Times

The annual fee for tuition and residence was raised to $1,000. Eighty-two percent of Vassar students came from private schools, and 9 percent received financial aid.

Mary McLeod Bethune, founder in 1904 of the Daytona [FL] Normal and Industrial Institute for Negro Girls, spoke about her work and her school in the Assembly Hall in the former Calisthenium. In what “J. B.” [Josephine Barclay] referred to in The Miscellany News as “one of the few lectures given at Vassar by a colored woman,” Mrs. Bethune found the facilities and opportunities at Vassar “a great contrast to those of her own people, who, she said, had scarcely gained any ground since the Civil War…. She said the negro simply wants the chance of an ordinary citizen to educate and develop himself, to live on terms of equal opportunity and respect with whites…. The negro feels that he has great possibilities and he believes in them.

“After the lecture, Mrs. Bethune answered questions about her work, and showed that the Daytona school is now a flourishing institution. It has 346 members, a faculty of 32, and takes its students through two years of college…. An institute of this kind is especially necessary in Florida because the laws do not allow negros to be taught by whites, and there is no standard high school for negros in the state.”

American socialist Norman Thomas, director of the League for Industrial Democracy, spoke on “What Is Industrial Democracy” under the auspices of the Vassar branch of the League for Industrial Democracy.

This was the first of a number of visits to the college by Thomas, whose daughter Rebekah matriculated as a freshman in 1936.

An archeological institute was held with lectures by Professor Rhys Carpenter of Bryn Mawr, Gisela Richter of the Metropolitan Museum, Professor David M. Robinson of Johns Hopkins University, Edward T. Newell of the American Numismatic Society, Professor Tenney Frank of Johns Hopkins University and members of the Vassar College faculty. Similar institutes were held for modern languages in April 1927, art and music in November 1927 and history and political science in February 1928.

Fresh from defeating the 1923 All-American field hockey team 5-0 in Philadelphia, the all-Irish hockey team defeated the Vassar varsity team, 2-1. Called in The Miscellany News “Perhaps the best team which has come to this country since the undefeated visit of the All-England in the Fall of 1921,” the Irish team was “faster,” but Vassar “made up for their lack of speed by quick interchange and good stick-work.”

Chosen by the Irish Ladies Hockey Union, the world’s oldest women’s hockey associationd, the irish team was scheduled for matches in New York, Bryn Mawr, Wellesley, Boston, Chicago, Madison and Richmond.

“The father of modern anthropology,” German-American anthropologist Franz Boas, spoke on “The Aims and Methods of Anthropology.” The founder, at Columbia University, of the country’s first integrated department of anthropology and the first doctoral program in the field, Boas was instrumental defining the methodology of anthropological presentation at Harvard’s Peabody Musem, the Field Museum in Chicago and the American Museum of Natural History in New York. A key organizer of the American Anthrolpological Association, he also defined “four fields” approach of the nascent social science, consisting of physical anthropology, linguistics, archaeology and cultural anthropology.

The Years