Mary Caroline Crawford.

The college girl of America and the institutions which make her what she is online

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the benefit of the trustee service of broad-minded
men and women. The present board worthily rep-
resents a long line of illustrious predecessors. Rock-
ford has sent out hundreds of noble graduates
during its history, and has touched, for a longer
or shorter period, the lives of thousands of girls
who, as missionaries, as teachers, as wives and
mothers, have gone all over this land and to foreign
countries. To the presence of the college, more-
over, may be attributed the unusual number of
cultivated women in the city of Rockford, the
marked musical preeminence of the place, and its
general high tone. Under the present president,
Miss Julia H. Gulliver, Ph. D., — to whom I am

202 The College Girl of America

indebted for the material contained in this chapter,
— the inspiring influence of the institution is

As to the present ideals of the college — the end
and aim, for the students, of all the varied activities
of the place, is that they may have life, and that
they may have it more abundantly. The college is
characterized by a homelike atmosphere, and it is
the intent to keep the life ever normal, simple, and
free from worry and friction. " We believe first
of all in a glad heart and a quiet mind," the pres-
ident has said.

The system of self-government, which has been
in operation two years now, works increasingly
well. All matters pertaining to house discipline, to
chapel and church attendance, are in the hands of
the students, and the success of the entire experi-
ment — for it has been successful — is undoubtedly
due to the high honour and confidence accorded
by the girls to the faculty, who are regarded as
public servants ready to take upon themselves on-
erous duties for the sake of helping the student
body to preserve and maintain the freedom that
comes from self-control. The system of self-gov-
ernment has produced a truly delightful relationship
between the faculty and students. The individuality
of each student is carefully studied, and no effort

Rockford College 203

is spared on the teachers' part to develop the best
of which each girl is capable.

Gymnastic work is required, as is also out-of-door
exercise. Clubs for tennis, fencing, basket-ball, and
other games flourish, though the greatest care is
taken that no girl shall overtax her health. The
success of the College Glee Club, which includes
nearly the whole of the student body, has been
especially noteworthy during the past year, and the
Kappa Theta and Chi Theta Psi societies have
likewise done much to make life at the college

A highly characteristic annual event at Rockford
College is the Washington's Birthday party, for
which the Chi Theta Psi girls plan every detail, and
upon the unfailing success of which they are cer-
tainly greatly to be congratulated. Like the maiden
in the garden of the old song, the Rockford College
girl " in her petticoat of satin and her gaily flowered
gown " is a vision long to be remembered. Not less
stately and elegant is her sister, who impersonates
the fine gentleman of the long ago. Together they
bring back the spirit of Colonial days, and transform
the Western college, for a brief space, at least, into
a veritable old-time mansion. The festivities begin
with a six o'clock dinner. At its close there is a
programme of patriotic speeches, interspersed with

204 The College Girl of America

the drinking of toasts in sparkling (?) grape juice,
the president of the college acting as toastmistress.
Later comes a dancing programme in the gym-
nasium, which has been simply but beautifully
decorated with flags, and provides an appropriate
setting for the charming colour effects produced by
the girls' costumes. The " ball " is opened with the
grand march — a succession of intricate figures ex-
ecuted with much dignity and stateliness. At its
conclusion eight chosen couples dance the minuet.
Their grace of motion, their beauty of form, and
the charm of their old-fashioned garb make this
dance a real delight to the beholder, a picture to be
treasured in memory and recalled with keenest
pleasure whenever Rockford College is mentioned.

The life of the Rockford of to-day is connected
very closely and very normally with the life of
the town which made the college possible, and fes-
tivals on the campus are town celebrations —
almost. For the senior play everybody turns out.
Last year's offering was " The Tempest." This
charming comedy, presented in the sunset light of
a Commencement afternoon, could not have had a
more attractive stage-setting than was furnished by
the fine old trees and green shrubbery of the grounds
just north of the terrace. The class of 1903 had
put a great deal of time and painstaking effort into

Rockford College 205

their presentation, and that their endeavours were
appreciated was attested by the interested attention
of the large audience. From the moment that Pros-
pero and Miranda first came upon the stage, the
magic spell of the text seemed to cast itself upon
the onlookers, who followed as if they were in
veritable fairyland the speeches of the beautiful
Ariel, the dance of the fairies in the fourth act, the
stilling of the tempest, and the final opening of the
eyes of the spellbound and shipwrecked mariners.
When it was all over, Rockford had fairly to pinch
itself to get awake to real things. But we may be
sure that the worthy citizens were very happy as
they wended their way homeward, and very glad
that fifty-five years ago they established this girls'
college in their community.


What Wellesley and Smith, Vassar, Mt. Hol-
yoke, and Bryn Mawr have been to the States along
the Atlantic coast, Mills College in California
aspires to be to the Pacific States. Though its
authorities recognize fully the immense service
Stanford and the University of California are doing
in the education of young women, they apprehend
also that there is a big place in their part of the
country for a girls' college to fill. Coeducation,
with all its advantages, is not acceptable to all
parents desiring college training for their daughters,
nor does it supply the place of a distinctly woman's

Almost by the right of inheritance, it would ap-
pear, should Mills be given in the West a place
similar to that held by Mt. Holyoke in the East.
For the founder and president of this college was
herself one of the earliest graduates of Mt. Holyoke
Seminary. Susan Tolman Mills was born at Enos-
burg, Vermont, seventy-eight years ago, of parents

who were both of such loyal Massachusetts stock


Mills College 207

that they returned to their native State when their
child was ten years old, and settled in Ware, in
order that she might have the benefit of the good
schools of that place. Two years later Mrs. Tolman
died, leaving a dying request that her little girl
should be educated under Mary Lyon. This re-
quest was carefully regarded, and in 1845 Susan
finished her course at Mt. Holyoke. The following
year she returned to the seminary as a teacher. Very
soon, however, there came to her the call to be
the head of a home, and in September, 1848, she
was married to Rev. Cyrus T. Mills, a missionary
ordered to Ceylon. The young couple sailed at once
for their foreign post, compassing the journey, it is
interesting to note, only after a voyage which lasted
one hundred and forty-three days.

From the first Mrs. Mills's work abroad was of
an educational nature. She was associated with her
husband in the Batticotta College, Ceylon, — an
institution for the education of native teachers and
preachers, — and she also had charge of several day-
schools for girls. But, after six years of this, fail-
ing health obliged both her husband and herself
to return to America. And even at the conclusion
of the two years of rest which followed, physicians
forbade their going back to the foreign field. Ere
long another congenial door opened to Doctor Mills

2o8 The College Girl of America

in the form of a call to the presidency of Oahu
College in the Hawaiian Islands. This he gladly
accepted, and, in that institution, established espe-
cially for the education of the sons and daughters
of missionaries and other foreign residents, Mrs.
Mills filled for four years the position of professor
of natural science and English, and had also the
care of the boarding department of about fifty. But
here again failing health, impaired by life and
labours in India, compelled them to return to

Yet they were not discouraged. Indeed, one of
the first things that they did upon arriving in Cali-
fornia in 1865 was to purchase the Benecia Sem-
inary of Mary Atkins, and enter with great en-
thusiasm upon the work of there educating young
ladies after the highest Christian ideals. The spot
which they had chosen for their school was cer-
tainly a charming one, and the new buildings which
they erected were worthy of the task to which they
earnestly set themselves. A curious happening, we
are told, had strengthened their resolution to push
the thing forward at once. They had been trying
to decide whether they would follow up the new
educational opportunity or stop to take the rest both
sadly needed, when Mrs. Mills chanced upon these
lines of a poem called " Finish Thy Work " :

Mills College 209

" Finish thy work ; the time is short,
The sun is in the west ;
The night is coming down ; till then
Think not of rest.

" Yes, finish all thy work, then rest ;
Till then, rest never ;
The rest prepared for thee by God
Is rest forever.

" Finish thy work, then wipe thy brow,
Ungird thee from the toil ;
Take breath, and from each weary limb
Shake off the soil.

" Finish thy work, then sit thee down
On some celestial hill,
And of its strength-reviving air
Take thou thy fill.

" Finish thy work, then go in peace,
Life's battle fought and won ;
Hear from the throne the Master's voice,
« Well done ! well done ! ' "

Obediently Mrs. Mills and her husband went on
to " finish their work," devoting to the noble in-
stitution which is now Mills College their entire
fortune and the strength of their mature years.
And, when the place had risen to wide renown,
they deeded the property to a board of trustees
who should hold it forever for the highest Chris-
tian (but not sectarian) education of women.

210 The College Girl of America

In all his plans and efforts for the college Doctor
Mills was ably assisted by his wife. Thus, when
he died in 1884, she was found to be thoroughly
competent to direct successfully the affairs of the
institution they had built up together. Under her
efficient management the work has steadily ad-
vanced in every desirable direction, a college curric-
ulum being added in 1885, and a college charter,
with power to confer degrees, received from the
State. During Mrs. Mills's administration three
fine buildings and twenty-five acres of ground have
been acquired, making the entire campus now one
hundred and fifty acres, upon which flourish more
than seventy-five thousand trees, many of them of
that superb variety for which California is justly
noted. At the urgent request of the trustees, Mrs.
Mills still continues in the presidency of the college.
She is far more, too, than executive head of the
institution — though she is that, even to the extent
of attending to correspondence; she is its loving
mother and patron. More than four thousand young
women have found in her a true friend and coun-
sellor as well as an able teacher, and many of her
former pupils are now proving their loving appre-
ciation of her helpful kindness by placing their
daughters under her tender yet stimulating care.

If only for its healthful properties — out-of-door



Mills College 211

athletics are possible all the year round — Mills
College should strongly appeal to very many girls
who desire the higher education. In a recent number
of the United States Health Bulletin there was
printed, quite without solicitation on the part of
Mills, this splendid endorsement : *' The United
States Health Bulletin has had occasion to examine
quite extensively during the past few months into
the condition of schools and colleges, and, if some
of the facts that have come to our notice during
these investigations were generally known, we be-
lieve that prospective patrons would be shocked at
the unsanitary and disease-breeding conditions
existing at some schools. We have no hesitation,
however, in recommending to our readers Mills
College, Seminary Park, California. This met with
the warm approval of the experts investigating these
matters for us. If the same care is taken with the
mental welfare of the pupil as is shown, and plainly
shown, to be taken with the physical, we feel that it
deserves the support of parents and the encourage-
ment of the public."

Both these last valuable aids to growth are now
being given freely to Mills. Within the past two
months some forty thousand dollars has been sub-
scribed toward the one million dollars of endowment
to which the institution is bending all its energies.

212 The College Girl of America

The feeling is growing rapidly that a college de-
voted solely to the higher education of women is
an imperative necessity upon the Pacific coast. And
it is further felt that such an institution of learning
can best be built upon the noble beginning already
made at Mills. At present, unfortunately, the col-
lege — because of lack of income-bearing funds —
costs a good deal, it being next to impossible for a
girl to get through on less than four hundred dollars
a year. Moreover, the liberal arts department is
now rather overweighted with a preparatory school,
which always seems a pity for a degree-bestowing
institution. Mills fully realizes these defects, how-
ever, and is remedying them as fast as in it lies.

What a unique place it has to fill can be gathered
from this letter recently published in La Democracia,
a Manila newspaper, by a young Filipino now study-
ing at the University of Michigan. This young man
spent a short time on his way eastward at Mills
College, where his cousin and another of his coun-
trywomen — the only Filipino girls to come as yet
to America for their education — are students.
The letter was of course printed in Spanish. It

" As I chanced to come to the United States on
the same steamer which brought two Filipino young
women, I availed myself of the opportunity to

Mills College 213

become acquainted with this seat of learning for
women, which, as I learn from my American
friends, is the best on the Western coast. Even
before leaving the steamer we could perceive the
excellent working system of this college. The
young women of whom I speak came without other
care than that given by passengers to whom they
had been casually recommended, and they would,
doubtless, have felt quite deserted upon arriving
in San Francisco had they not seen upon the dock
a professor and two students from the college. The
friends took charge of the young women as soon
as they were fairly on land, telling them that they
were about an hour's ride from the college by ferry,
steam-cars, and electric tramway.

" When I went to call upon the young ladies
at the college I was presented to Mrs. Mills, who
inquires personally about all visitors to students,
keeping carefully in mind the wishes of the parents
and guardians. Mrs. Mills, who is seventy-eight
years of age, preserves sufficient vigour of mind
and body to direct all the affairs of this large
institution. As for the college buildings, they are
six in number, and are situated in a valley shut in
by lofty hills. The grounds cover one hundred
and fifty acres. The buildings consist of the main

214 The College Girl of America

dormitory, recitation building, a science-hall with
its museum, a music-hall, and so on.

" But it must not be thought that the main build-
ing is a mere dormitory ; the community life is not
exaggerated. Outside the hours for recitation and
study, the students are, within reasonable limits, their
own guardians, and may amuse themselves and take
exercise according to their tastes. The students have,
each two of them, a room with a dressing-room
which they keep in order themselves. This room
is sitting-room, bedroom (two beds), and study.
Of the girls now here, eighteen or nineteen are
from Honolulu, two are Parisians, a few are from
the Eastern States, and one is a South American.
All the rest, with the exception of my country-
women, are from neighbouring States and Terri-

" The college is non-sectarian, yet I noticed pic-
tures of Madonnas, which seemed, as it were, a
recognition of the source of all religions. The
Roman Catholic students have at their disposal a
carriage which takes them to a church of their
own faith in the nearest town. ... I feel that
matters at home are undergoing such changes, espe-
cially as regards education, that I believe what I
have here written may be of great interest to those
families who desire to send their daughters to this

Mills College 215

country to be educated. Moreover, the climate of
the college is milder even than in San Francisco."
The latest addition to the Mills College buildings
is the Campanile, just erected to contain a mag-
nificent chime of bells, presented by Hon. David
Hewes some time ago, but called " the silent ten "
because there was no place in which their music
could be heard. The tower is after the old mission
style, and its door with the quaint lock and nails
came from an old Spanish church in Mexico. On the
building (presented by Mr. and Mrs. F. M. Smith
of Oakland) is a tablet with this beautiful in-
scription :







Following the pretty custom of naming the bells,
their donor desired that they should be called after
the graces of the spirit as found in Galatians. Thus
the four that ring the chimes are Faith, Hope,
Peace, and Joy. The greatest of the bells is Love,
and the smallest Meekness. The others are Gentle-
ness, Goodness, Self-Control, and Long-Suffering.
At the close of the impressive exercises of dedica-

2i6 The College Girl of America

tion, it was fittingly pointed out that the music
of these bells, like that of the graduates of Mills
College, is heard alone in action, that the bells,
too, respond with sweet promptitude to each new
call of duty, and that their joy, like that of con-
secrated educated womanhood, is above all else the
joy of service.


Simmons College is the newest of the important
educational institutions provided for American girls.
In scope it is like nothing else, not even like the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, to which it
has been most often compared. In truth, Simmons
is a technical college, with the combination of edu-
cation and industry as its chief aim, and the desire
to produce women at once cultivated and able to
serve as its highest ambition. The college was
established in 1900 by the will of John Simmons
of Boston, who had died some thirty years before,
leaving the bulk of his fortune for an institution in
which should be given instruction in such branches
of art, science, and industry as would best enable
women to earn an independent livelihood.

The money left by Mr. Simmons was allowed to
accumulate during the years between his death and
the opening of the college for instruction in Octo-
ber, 1902. And not funds alone were piling up
all this time; there was being accumulated also

that wealth of experience and intelligent apprecia-


2i8 The College Girl of America

tion of modern needs, which has been freely drawn
upon to make Simmons what it is.

Generally speaking, this institution supplies train-
ing in lines along which women have heretofore
had little or no opportunity for study. Yet it is
because Simmons has so successfully coalesced the
academic and the technical (by cutting out the least
important subjects in each) as really to give a girl
in four years the essentials of a liberal education
as well as professional training, that the institu-
tion is uniquely appealing. The pupils here are
grouped in diverse schools, according to the pro-
fessional work which they are aiming to adopt.
Of these schools there are at present six : A, School
of Household Economics; B, Secretarial School;
C, Library School ; D, School of Science ; E, School
of Horticulture; F, School of Social Workers. In
each one of these schools the course is mainly pre-
scribed, technical work beginning, however, at the
outset, and gradually increasing with the pro-
gressive years. As, on the other hand, the girl
approaches the end of her course, her work becomes
all the time less and less academic.

That Simmons really meets a very great need
in the educational world is shown by the fact that,
although it has never yet graduated a class, and
although it has up to the present time been at a

Simmons College 219

great disadvantage in that it has lacked an adequate
plant (its fine new building opens next year), it
has already two hundred and fifty students. On
the day when it opened its doors, there were eighty-
five girls waiting to come in. No student, it should
be understood, is taken for technical work only
unless she has already had an academic training;
during the year just closing there were studying at
this college twenty-seven graduates of other insti-
tutions of the first rank.

President Thwing early said of the institution
that he thought college graduates would be the first
to appreciate it. And his prophecy has been proved
quite true. In the School of Household Economics,
especially, there has been a large registration of
women already possessed of a degree. The courses
here provide adequate preparation for directing the
home, administering an institution, or for teaching
the technical subjects included in household econ-
omics. The dean of the college, Miss Sarah Louise
Arnold, A. M., is the director of this department.
The trend of the work here accomplished may, per-
haps, best be suggested by saying that once a week
Miss Arnold talks to the students about whatever
is newest and most arresting in present-day thought
concerning the household. The apostles of the
" freedom " of women are then discussed, and the

220 The College Girl of America

girls are shown that to be free in the highest sense
means to be free to serve. The spiritual value
of household service is also considered; perhaps
Lowell's " She hath no scorn of common things "
is quoted to help make the point at issue. Simmons
finds it by no means impossible to unite the scientific
and the spiritual.

In the Secretarial School is taught all that goes
to produce a well-rounded, intelligent, and thor-
oughly-equipped secretary, who can be of real value
to persons engaged in scientific, literary or profes-
sional pursuit. Experience has shown that a gen-
erous academic training should accompany the tech-
nical work in preparation for secretarial duties, and
for this reason the regular programme provides in-
struction in branches that make for culture, as well
as in shorthand, typewriting, and business methods.
Moreover the two things in every case go together.
Simmons does not invite girls who wish to learn
merely the trade parts of a secretary's work. For
this reason shorthand and typewriting work by itself
is open only to college graduates.

One thing about this college which strikes the
girl from Smith or Vassar as exceedingly strange
at first, is that attendance is required at all college
exercises, the student being expected to render a
very adequate excuse to the Dean, whenever she has

Simmons College 221

been absent from class. Moreover, no student
whose attendance is especially irregular is allowed
to continue in a class. From the Simmons' point
of view, this rule is quite reasonable. The college
feels that it is its definite trust to prepare young
women for self-maintenance. Loyalty to this trust
demands that every girl the college turns out must
be equal to the responsibilities of service. Now this
can be true, it is argued, only when an employer
may be guaranteed that the girl recommended to
him has a true sense of her duty in the matter of
promptness and regularity. In order to fit a girl for
the work in which she is to enlist, every absence,
therefore, during her college course, must be defi-

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Online LibraryMary Caroline CrawfordThe college girl of America and the institutions which make her what she is → online text (page 12 of 18)