Mary Caroline Crawford.

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

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nitely explained. The spirit which the college is
honestly trying to inculcate is, perhaps, best ex-
pressed in the closing lines of a hymn just written
for the undergraduates, by Miss Arnold :

" Make us, thy children, strong, pure and just.
Send us to labour, when leave thee we must
Ready for service and worthy of trusts"*

Of the Library School, which trains students to
serve as assistants in large libraries, or to assume
charge of small libraries; of the School of Science,
designed for those who wish to prepare themselves
for teaching science or for assisting in scientific

222 The College Girl of America

departments; of the School of Horticulture, which
will give theoretical training in Boston, with the
third or fourth years at the Massachusetts Agricul-
tural College in Amherst, I shall not speak at any
length. But of the School for Social Workers, I
wish to give some sketch, inasmuch as its scope and
organization is very far from clear to many in-
terested people.

The purpose of this school is to give opportunities
to men and women to study social problems by
practical methods, and it will bring together students
and workers who are considering, from various
points of view, the many problems which are of
concern to all. Its course begins in October, 1904,
and will cover one academic year. In the future,
however, the training will form the fourth year of
a regular Simmons College course, leading to grad-
uation, and ultimately, probably, to the degree B. S.
The organization of this school came about rather
curiously. To start such a department, was one of
Simmons's plans from the beginning, but when the
trustees got around to the matter, they found that
some of the charity organizations of Boston wanted
to have a stake in just such a school, and had al-
ready done something toward the project. These
organizations were anxious that men as well as
women should have opportunity to be trained in

Simmons College 223

this way, and Harvard was named as a possible aid.
President Eliot, when consulted on the subject,
expressed his willingness to cooperate with Sim-
mons in the matter of such a school, and the result
of it all was a plan by which men who desire to
study in the School for Social Workers register
at Harvard, and girls desirous of taking the same
course enrol themselves at Simmons.

One-third of the students at Simmons College are
in residence, their single dormitory house being
a very pleasant four-story brick building near the
Public Library and the Art Museum. Here, for
about two hundred and fifty dollars a year, a girl
lives in great comfort. Tuition at Simmons being
one hundred dollars a year, no girl need spend more
than three hundred and fifty dollars annually, ob-
taining an admirable education. Life in Simmons
Hall is in many ways delightful. Every evening
after dinner there is dancing for an hour in the
large assembly-room on the ground floor; from
half-past seven to half-past nine are study hours
(during which time the halls must be quiet) ; be-
tween half-past nine and ten there is always fun of
many sorts going on. At half-past ten lights are
out. Saturday evening is the off-night; it has no
study hours. Then there is almost always some
frolic to the fore. Sometimes this takes the form

224 The College Girl of America

of a shadow-party, at another time it will be " Alice
in Wonderland " illustrated. On Hallowe'en Sim-
mons girls had a sheet-and-pillow-case party, to
which everybody came masked. The room was
dark, Jack-o'-lanterns supplying the only illumina-
tion, while the refreshments served were of the real
up-country variety — apples, pop-corn, and dough-

Not without design was this house in the heart
of the city chosen. The close human contact such
a situation entails was felt to be most important,
inasmuch as many of the girls who come to Sim-
mons are from the country, and would have no
opportunity, did they not get it while in college,
to learn the best and wisest ways of conducting
themselves in a large city.

But it is in work rather than In play that Sim-
mons girls are chiefly interested. Unlike college
girls in general, they have, when they enter, a clear
conception of what they wish to do with their lives.


There is no more striking commentary on the
" new time " in the South than is suppHed by the
H. Sophie Newcomb Memorial College, — the
woman's department of Tulane University, Louisi-
ana. Before the war, the South kept pace with the
North in the matter of education; and it endorsed
" coeducation " quite as early as did any college in
the country. But schools went down in the general
crash of institutions, and a period of ignorance,
amounting — in the case of girls, at any rate — to
a sort of " dark age," ensued. The North, mean-
time, got about a quarter of a century's start. It
is hardly to be expected that the South can so soon
have made up that long time disadvantage; that it
has so nearly done so may fairly enough be called
a marvel.

In reconstruction times the public schools South
were open to whites and negroes alike. The radi-
cal government of carpet-baggers insisted on mix-
ing the races, and so repugnant was this to the preju-


226 The College Girl of America

diced Southerner, that all who could afford to pay
sent their boys and girls to private schools. Here
was a field for the reduced Southern gentlewoman,
and many a one overhauled her learning for the
benefit of a new generation, and set up an establish-
ment of little practical value, where accomplish-
ments were instilled in a refined but wholly super-
ficial way into the daughters of the Southern aris-
tocracy. In the absence of system and discipline,
it is little w'onder that education in these mistresses*
schools fell into a decline. 'Hot did the public
schools fare much better. Certainly they were not
able to give good training to refined young women.
Southern girls were quite unready, therefore, for
advanced education when, under the supervision of
President Brandt V. D. Dixon, the nucleus of the
Sophie Newcomb Memorial College was first estab-
lished. At that time Latin was not taught in the
public schools, and of the thirty applicants for ad-
mission to the new college, there were scarcely six
who could have passed a respectable high school
entrance examination. So it was with very scant
pupil material that the future great college of the
South opened its doors. Its aims were only vaguely
outlined at the beginning. But it had at its head
a master whose ideals were fixed high, and who
meant that this school should expand rapidly.

Newcomb and Other Colleges of the South 227

The young women of the South took readily to
the idea of higher education, and from the single
building given by Mrs. Josephine Louise Newcomb,
in memory of an only daughter, the college plant
rapidly expanded. President Dixon soon found
himself possessed of a pleasant charge. Daughters
of brilliant and famous leaders of the Confederacy
came to him, and proved their inheritance by a sur-
prising grasp and aptness in learning. Languages
and sciences were easy for them, for they were en-
dowed with many natural gifts. In a few years
the college buildings had spread over an entire
square, several acres in extent, on Washington
Avenue, Camp, Chestnut, and Sixth Streets, New
Orleans, and behind the whole movement stood the
gracious Mrs. N'ewcomb, meeting the financial de-
mands promptly, and cheerfully acquiescing, as the
president's ideas evolved, in the noble and far-
reaching plans his fertile brain created.

To-day Newcomb College is practically on a par
with Vassar and the great women's colleges of the
North. Its entrance examinations are nearly the
same. Four hundred young w'omen from the South-
ern States, as far north as Kentucky, come to this
Mecca of learning.

Geographically considered, no college in the South
can hope to rival Newcomb or even compete with it.

228 The College Girl of America

Its position ensures its future. For, situated as it
is, at the tip end of the continent, it cannot but
command the attention of the country south of it,
across the stretch of water which separates the
Americas. Already students have come here from
Cuba and Mexico, and it is safe to predict that Cen-
tral and South American republics will fall duly
into line. New Orleans is accessible from all parts
of the South, and the educational facilities to be
enjoyed in its libraries and museums have, no
doubt, contributed in considerable degree to the suc-
cess of Newcomb College.

President Dixon, too, has been a very important
factor in the institution's growth. He is preemi-
nently fitted for the position he occupies, for, besides
being a scholar and a philosopher, he has unusual
sympathy for the sex he has essayed to teach. The
discussion concerning the " new " woman he has
summed up thus sensibly : " The woman's college
is no longer to pose as an imitation. There is no
need of rivalry between the sexes. Up to a certain
point the same training answers for both; beyond
that their courses diverge, and this implies no less
science, nothing inferior, in the required education
for women. Men and women were intended to
play different roles in the world, and neither can
be too well fitted for the work. The home requires



Kewcomb and Other Colleges of the South 229

science as does the world outside of it. I have great
hopes of Newcomb. It is wonderful what gifts are
hidden in the Southern girl. As the finest product
of plantation days would grace the social world any-
where, her daughter promises even more, and is able
to take her place among the women of culture in
whatever section."

It is the aim of this educator nicely to combine
the theoretical and the practical, and so to fit his
girls for usefulness either in the home or in the
industrial world. He proposes to unite in Newcomb
the culture of Vassar and the practicality of Pratt
Institute. Not only is his college possessed of the
usual academic facilities, but it has, as well, in its
curriculum studies intended to prepare the student
for a workaday world. Chief among these latter
are the departments of pottery and of church em-
broidery. The former has made Newcomb famous
in the markets of Europe as well as of America.
The latter, though of more recent origin, is favour-
ably regarded wherever known.

Newcomb's pottery department is a natural out-
growth of the college's efforts to educate teachers
of the fine arts, and to become a centre of aesthetic
culture. When it was discovered that the work as
formerly conducted lacked practicality, it was de-
termined that a school in an industrial direction was


The College Girl of America

■what the South needed, in order that the prosperity
of the locahty should be increased, and the critical
power of the public developed. In 1896, accord-
ingly, a pottery was established as a dependency of
the Sophie Newcomb College, and an effort made
to create an artistic industry which should so util-
ize native raw material and develop native talent,
as effectively to symbolize the place of its activity,
and enlist the attention of the outside world. Thus
there grew up and was reflected in the Newcomb
products what has been called a " sectional patriot-
ism." None but Southern clays are used in the
pottery, and the rich and varied flora of the South
has supplied, almost exclusively, the designs for the
work. Two years ago there was provided by the
directors of Newcomb College a pottery building
which is likewise " sectionally patriotic." An excel-
lent representative of the Spanish-Colonial type of
architecture peculiar to New Orleans, yet a structure
which is none the less perfectly fitted to the needs
of the present, the home of this chaste and simple
Pottery School of Newcomb may be held one of the
choicest possessions of Tulane University. Before
leaving the very alluring subject of this pottery,
it should be said that every piece here turned out
is original, and never duplicated; that It bears the



Newcomb and Other Colleges of the South 231

monograms of the college, the designer, and the

In the needlework products, also, high ideals and
devotion to home materials prevail, native cotton
being generally used, and the work done on cloth
woven by the students themselves, and dyed in such
simple colourings as native vegetable matter affords.

It should not be supposed, however, that the in-
dustrial departments overbalance the academic ones.
In courses as well as in buildings, the equipment is
adequate. There is able instruction along all liberal
art lines ; there are chemical, physical, and biological
laboratories, a good library, a lecture-hall capable
of seating seven hundred persons, a gymnasium,
and a college chapel, this last a beautiful memorial
to the remarkable young girl whose death furnished
the college bequest to the women of the South.

Although young in years, the campus group has
taken on a grace which speaks well for its place in
the hearts of Southern women. Already, a million
dollars has been expended by Mrs. Newcomb (now
deceased) in buildings, grounds, and endowments.
Five residences for boarding students are provided
in the immediate vicinity of the college, perhaps
the most Imposing being the Josephine Louise
House, where every provision has been made for
the comfort and care of occupants. Visitors are

232 The College Girl of America

always immensely impressed by the elegance of this
magnificent old mansion-house, which seems, in very
truth, a proper product of the most glorious era
in New Orleans's history. Nor is Newcomb pro-
hibitive in its expense. A girl may live in the col-
lege and pay all her tuition fees for only a little
more than three hundred and twenty-five dollars a

Tulane is, however, not the only university of the
South which has made generous provision for
women. The manner of doing this dififers, of
course, in different colleges, and women avail them-
selves differently of their privileges. The Univer-
sity of Nashville, in Tennessee, has two hundred
and ninety-four women students in its collegiate
department, and the University of Texas, two hun-
dred and forty-eight. Stetson University, in Flor-
ida, on the other hand, has only twenty-seven

A very large and immensely successful women's
division is in the University of the State of Missouri.

Here every provision for the comfort, as well as
for the education, of wo "nen has been made. Not
only are all departments of learning open to women
students, but they have their own admirably pro-
tected student life besides. It is here recognized that
the home in which a girl shall live, while at a co-

Newcomb and Other Colleges of the South 233

educational college, is of immense importance.
When, therefore. Read Hall was erected for the
accommodation of the women students at Missouri,
the greatest pains were taken to have it the
best possible building of the kind. People who have
seen most of the university and college houses be-
tween the Atlantic and the Pacific unite in consider-
ing this hall one of the finest and best equipped in
the whole country. The furnishings are of the best
natural wood. Oriental rugs, hardwood floors, and
artistic burlap contributing to the beauty of the
house. Read Hall is the first dormitory here, and
it is expected that it will be the nucleus of a large
hall and cottage system. It is truly a social centre
for the women of the university, and, presided over
as it is by a woman graduated both from Wellesley
and from Chicago University, the life is at a high
standard of excellence. The cost of living in this
house is five dollars a week.

Provision is also made for the comfort of day-
students, as well as for that of girls boarding at the
University of Missouri. In the main building is a
very large room, beautifully furnished in shades of
rose, with Morris, rattan, and rocking-chairs, and
many couches, where the girls may rest or study if
they like. Here all day long is to be found a delight-
fully refined and cultivated gentlewoman of the old

234 The College Girl of America

Southern school, ready to be of any service what-
ever to students.

A distinctly unique feature of the women's life
at this university is the required golf. When the
present gymnasium director began her work with
the girls, her first decision was that, inasmuch as out-
door exercise is possible in this section for a longer
period than farther north, outdoor work should
receive greater attention than had ever been given
it. She argued, too, that if university funds may
legitimately be used to supply indoor apparatus
(available less than half the year), the same funds
might properly be employed for such outfits as are
necessary to golf and tennis. This argument seemed
plausible enough to the authorities, and money was
speedily forthcoming for the purchase of several
sets of golf-clubs and for tennis-rackets. Thereupon
the enterprising gymnasium director added golf to
the list of required gymnastics.

The golf links are used for the May Festival of
the women students, as well as for outside " gym "
work. This festival is something in the nature of
a picnic in its informality, its programme of vaude-
ville. May-pole dancing, and so on, being greatly
enjoyed by the participating girls. The life of
women students at this university seems, indeed, to
be particularly sane and wholesome.



Newcomb and Other Colleges of the South 235

Besides Read Hall, there are two homes for mem-
bers of fraternities, each of which is in the care
of a house chaperon who looks well to the comfort
of the ten girls under her charge, and, in Mt. Hol-
yoke House, girl students find a home similar to
that of Read Hall, at a somewhat cheaper rate.
For here, the dining-room being managed after
the manner of a club, the total expense of living
is only about three dollars and fifty cents a week.
It is certainly fine to realize that a Missouri girl
can get her college training (tuition being free) for
one hundred and fifty dollars a year.

One worthy type of college which has produced
some of the very best of modern Southern women
exists in the South, however, quite outside univer-
sity protection. A particularly reputable represent-
ative of this type is Hollins Institute, Hollins, Vir-
ginia. Founded in 1842, the Institute has now been
able to acquire noble traditions, as well as a very
adequate background. It owns five hundred acres,
seven miles from the city of Roanoke, and has six
large brick buildings, so located as to be quite ex-
cluded from the annoyances of close proximity to
public thoroughfares. Every Southern State is here
represented. And so successful is the institution,
that during recent years it has had to decline many
pupils. Its attitude is most engagingly naive.

236 The College Girl of America

" Young ladies who enter this institute," the cata-
logue explains, '^ are treated with the respect and
attention which their sex ever receive at the hands
of good society in Virginia." And in truth it ap-
pears to be a very " happifying " and healthy life
which girls lead here. For the whole term — ex-
cept perhaps six weeks, and then there is good
coasting and skating — the students enjoy outdoor
recreation !

Another justly famous Southern school is the
Mary Baldwin Seminary at Staunton, Virginia.
Here the aim is to give the school all that purity
and refinement that characterize a model Virginia
home, the very atmosphere of which is an incentive
to higher things, and an inspiration to lofty ideals.
With this in view, the seminary has a great many
buildings, so that the number of girls under any
one roof is small. The houses are dotted about
over a broad hillside which is one of the most beau-
tiful spots in the famed Shenandoah Valley, and are
of aesthetic beauty, as well as of notable comfort.
The school was established in 1842, as the Augusta
Female Seminary, but in the time of the Civil War
it fell into the hands of Agnes McClung and Mary
Baldwin, two consecrated women, who, regardless
of the terrible conditions all about, devoted their
lives to the sustaining and upbuilding of this work.



Newcomb and Other Colleges of the South 237

Fittingly, indeed, are the birthdays of these two
noble teachers of a past generation observed as
holidays by the school.

Lucy Cobb Institute, at Athens, Georgia, is an-
other good school which has successfully survived
the disturbances of the war and the unsettled con-
ditions which followed. Presided over at present
by a charming Southern woman, it is now in the
height of its usefulness. The faculty at this school
is composed entirely of ladies, although a number
of distinguished men are among the regular lec-
turers. A particular point is made here of the
study of Shakespeare and of the English Bible, as
well as of literature in its broadest and best sense.

Another Georgia institution of merit is Shorter
College in Rome, founded in 1877 by the Southern
philanthropist, Alfred Shorter. This college aimed
at its outset to make it possible for Southern girls
to secure in their own part of the country educa-
tional advantages equal to those enjoyed by their
Northern sisters, and to that end Colonel Shorter,
after the erection of magnificent buildings, gave the
new institution a large endowment. Thus students
may be educated here at much less expense than
would be possible in any college supported merely
by its tuition fees. The courses are more distinctly
academic, too, than in many of the Southern col-

238 The College Girl of America

leges for women; of so high a rank, indeed, that
Yale has formally agreed to accept Shorter gradu-
ates into its university departments without prelimi-
nary examinations, thus placing them on the same
footing with those who have taken degrees in liberal
Northern institutions.

Still another Georgia institute worthy of atten-
tion and respect is the Agnes Scott School, first
opened in September, 1889, " for the higher edu-
cation of young Southern women." The main build-
ing, together with its furnishing and equipment and
the lot upon which it stands, were the gift of Col.
George W. Scott, and the school has been named in
honour of his mother. This institution is distinctly
and positively Christian, the Bible being used as
a text-book. Christian ideals are dominant, and the
formation and development of character, a prime
end. Evidence of Agnes Scott's promptness to
meet needs as they arise may be found in the fact
that a very fine gymnasium building, equipped with
a swimming-pool and all modern appliances, has
just been erected.

At the Southern Female College, College Park,
Georgia, near Atlanta, five different kinds of degree
are conferred, considerable emphasis being also
placed upon music. The home life at this college
is given painstaking attention; etiquette and man-

Newcomb and Other Colleges of the South 239

ners are discussed, and aesthetic environment pro-
vided, " while habits of life, companionships, ac-
complishments, study-hours, reading, and religious
interests, are stressed most of all." It is rather curi-
ous to read in the catalogue of this degree-bestow-
ing institution, that silks are not allowed, and that
boarders are not permitted to leave the grounds,
except in the company of teachers.

Farther North, in Richmond, Virginia, is the
Woman's College, distinctly Southern and decidedly
interesting. The main building here was used as
a hospital during the war, '' and has always seemed
to me," comments one graduate of the school,
" haunted by memories of cots and surgeon's
knives." With a history covering fifty useful years,
with good buildings, and with six departments, this
Virginian institution may well hope to do much
good work in the future for the education of South-
em girls. The paternal spirit here regnant may be
gathered from the fact that in the catalogue it is
especially stipulated that " each pupil must have an
umbrella, overshoes, and waterproof."

Concerning other colleges and institutes and
seminaries of the South, one could easily write vol-
umes, for their name is legion. They are doing a

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Online LibraryMary Caroline CrawfordThe college girl of America and the institutions which make her what she is → online text (page 13 of 18)