Mary Caroline Crawford.

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

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The first lantern, pointed out to the visitor of to-day
with impressive reverence by the undergraduate,
was a plain little candlestick. From then up to the
present time, every sort of lantern has been used.
All the residence halls — except the newest one —
bear the names of Welsh counties, a thing which

124 "^^^ College Girl of America

of itself gives charm and atmosphere to Bryn Mawr.
The views from these halls are in every case fine and
inspiring. The students' rooms in the halls are
many of them arranged in double suites, two bed-
rooms and a common study. In Pembroke the
suites are particularly attractive, as are also the par-
lour and the reception-room. The dining-room at
Pembroke is over the imposing central arch, and,
finished as it is with dark wood and equipped with
handsome high-backed chairs and dainty table fit-
tings, it forcefully impresses one as quite all that such
a room in a girls' college should be. At the end of
the room are two fireplaces, one on each side. Over
these are carved respectively the legends Ung ie
Seruiray and Veritatem Dilexi. The table at Bryn
Mawr is uniformly good, dinner being, of course,
the meal of the day. This is a social occasion, and all
the girls dress for it as carefully as if they were in
their own homes. The college gown, which is the
regular academic garb, is never worn then.

This year, for the first time, the tuition fee is $200
for undergraduate students. Other expenses bring
the price of a year at Bryn Mawr up to not less than
$500 for undergraduates and $400 for graduate
students. Here, however, as in many other of the
leading educational institutions for women, there
are ways of helping girls to help themselves. Some

Bryn Mawr College 125

of these ways are exceedingly interesting. A lunch
room in the gymnasium is conducted by students;
there are electrical lieutenants in every building,
whose duty it is to regulate the matter of lights;
a college book-shop has students for clerks, and a
captain of the fire-brigade directs drills for each
residence hall. When old Denbigh was burned a
few years ago, the girls had been so carefully
trained in fire fighting that they manned the hose
very effectively. This came as a result of con-
stant drill, for at Bryn Mawr whenever the fire-
bell rings, the girls must run to the room in
danger, wearing on their faces towels which have
been dipped into a basin of water. They then pass
buckets and see to the hose in a thoroughly profes-
sional fashion.

As would be expected of a sane, broad college
like Bryn Mawr, hampering boarding-school regula-
tions are absent. The train service between the
town and Philadelphia is excellent, and whenever an
opera or a good play is to be seen, the girls are en-
couraged to go in town for that purpose. If they are
away for overnight, they register their address ; and,
naturally, they do not go in town in the evening
without a chaperon. But for the most, the girls are
self-governing, and do the right and the proper
thing because they wish to. Chapel, held every day at

126 The College Girl of America

a quarter before nine, is voluntary, but the students
go in large numbers. On Sundays the girls attend
such churches in the neighbourhood as they may
elect, and every other Wednesday evening there is
a sermon at college by some distinguished clergy-
man, the alternate Wednesdays being given over
to a Christian Union service, conducted by the
students themselves.

Gymnasium attendance is required at Bryn Mawr,
as are also four periods of exercise each week. One
hour only of this is class drill, hov^ever, the rest of
the time being divided between golf, riding, swim-
ming, hockey, or basket-ball, all of which count as
exercise. Interest in this last-named sport is very
keen. A silver lantern was proudly pointed out to
me as the trophy for which the basket-ball teams are
now eagerly contending. I saw, too, a very pretty
basket-ball game that same afternoon, — 1905, the
devotees of the red, contesting with 1907, gay in
green ribbons, for the honours. And a very charm-
ing picture the girls made in their corduroy sailor
suits with white collars and white belts, as they
scrambled for the elusive ball! Their coach was
a tall, and very pretty, girl, whose red coat stood
out brilliantly against the vivid green of the spring
verdure. Grouped around on the edge of the field
wer^ dozens of enthusiastic maidens gowned all in

Bryn Mawr College 127

white duck, lustily cheering when the 1907's made
a goal, and becoming very excited when the other
side scored. It had never occurred to me before that
basket-ball was a picturesque game.

Undergraduate work at Bryn Mawr is all over
by four in the afternoon, so that there is a very fair
margin of leisure for the girls to enjoy. This they
do in fine weather by means of teas on the lawn,
the wardens of the various halls being " at home "
on different days to the student body. Singing on
the steps of Taylor Hall (which belong to the
seniors) is another favourite diversion, a thing not
only delightful in itself, but useful, too, as practice
for the garden-party occasion, which crowns the
senior year, and for the farewell to the halls and
the faculty which comes after the seniors' last lecture.

Into the last week of the college year are crowded
many gaieties. The first of these is the senior class
supper, a distinctly impressive occasion when every-
thing that has marked the career of the outgoing
class is brought up and enjoyed, old jokes repeated,
old stories retold, and every endeavour made to
mitigate the sadness which must otherwise attend
a farewell. At the end, the class, standing, sings
its own song and gives its cheer. When the feast
is all over, some of the fragments that remain are
sent to the honorary members of the class, — those

128 The College Girl of America

of the faculty who first came to Bryn Mawr the
year that class entered college. At high noon, on
the day before Commencement, a breakfast is given
to the seniors by the other students. This is held
in the gymnasium, decorated with daisies and boughs
set off by the yellow and white of the class banners.
The toasts are followed by chorus singing of college
songs. Then, before college breaks up, the seniors
hand over to the lower classes their duties and
responsibilities, and make a tour of the buildings,
which they serenade in turn. And on Commence-
ment morning, as a last loving attention, the fresh-
men make for their departing big sisters countless
daisy chains, which are used to decorate the chapel
and the hallways.

For the Garden Party of Commencement Week,
the most ornate festivity of the college year, the
girls all have beautiful new gowns. Their friends
from outside are invited out in large numbers, the
buildings are illuminated, the trees hung with
Japanese lanterns, and Bryn Mawr is for the nonce
transformed into the gayest of fairy-lands. The
evening always ends by singing on Taylor House
steps, and the song which forms the last number on
the programme is that called " Our Gracious Inspira-
tion," written by Caroline Foulke, of the class of


Bryn Mawr College 129

" Our gracious inspiration,
Our guiding star,
Mistress and mother,
All hail, Bryn Mawr !

" Goddess of wisdom,
Thy torch divine
Doth beacon thy votaries
To thy shrine.

" And we, thy daughters,
Would thy vestals be,
Thy torch to consecrate


Commanding a glorious view of the Hudson,
just across the street from the beautiful campus of
Columbia College, and only a stone's throw from
the stately white marble sarcophagus where the
greatest general of our Civil War lies entombed,
Barnard College may be held to have a truly splendid
site, even if it does lie within the bounds of New
York City. Not a few other advantages belong
uniquely to this college. For, though it is in pos-
session of a charter and of an administrative auton-
omy of its own, from the beginning Barnard has
had the advantage of a singularly close academic
connection with Columbia. Its experience in rela-
tion to the university has differed so widely from
that of any other affiliated college, that to understand
it one needs to trace somewhat at length the his-
tory of the institution's rise.

Fourteen years after the opening of Vassar, and
six years after Girton began its life, the late Presi-
dent Barnard of Columbia set forth in his annual
report (1879) some reasons in favour of admitting


Barnard College 131

young women to the institution of which he was
head. In his next report he remarked sadly that
these reasons had " failed to attract the serious at-
tention of the trustees." None the less, each year
he followed up his first attack with fresh arguments,
and, as women's education in other communities
advanced by strides, he proceeded to challenge
objectors to show cause why Columbia should not
make her resources available to all the youth in her

What President Barnard wanted was uncompro-
mising coeducation. He objected to isolated colleges
for women because " they cannot, or at least in gen-
eral will not, give instruction of equal value, though
it may be the same in name, with that furnished to
young men in the long-established and well-endowed "*tt
colleges of highest repute in the country." And the
affiliated college, of which Girton was at that time
the best-known example, seemed to him " a cum-
brous method of conveying by conduit a stream
whose fountainhead should be free to all." Every
year until 1883 he continued to represent to the
trustees and to the public that Columbia was des-
tined to become a university, and that a university
merits its name, not merely by providing training
for all human faculties, but by putting its resources
as well at the disposal of all qualified persons.

132 The College Girl of America

Yet not improbably even these strenuous efforts
in behalf of women's education would have failed
to bear fruit, had not several hundred citizens of
New York and vicinity supported President Barnard
by handing to the Columbia trustees — in 1883 — a
memorial asking that women be admitted to Colum-
bia College on the same terms as men. The result of
this action was that, though the education side of
the petition was refused, the board did so far unbend
as to promise " suitable academic honours and dis-
tinctions to any women who should prove that they
were entitled to the same." Doubtless this result
was highly unsatisfactory to those presenting the
memorial; nor can it have been encouraging to the
president. His ardent wish was to give young
women an education ; " suitable academic honours "
was quite another thing. What the trustees had said
was in effect: We are not prepared to educate
girls; if, however, they can contrive to educate
themselves, we will certify to the fact.

The president's next report contained no allusion
to the question, and that for 1884 dealt with it
only in a brief paragraph, stating that six women
had availed themselves of the privilege offered in the
" Collegiate Course for Women." The system thus
inaugurated pleased no one, for the women found
it extremely difficult to obtain, outside the college,

Barnard College 133

such training as would enable them to pass the
college examinations; and the college authorities
became reluctant to confer, on the strength of ex-
aminations only, degrees which commonly implied
daily class-room training as well. So after these
half a dozen women had succeeded in getting de-
grees, the system was superseded. It then became
plain to all interested that, unless they would drop
below their ideals, it was necessary to provide for
women an education identical with, or equivalent to,
that provided by Columbia for men. With this pur-
pose in view, Barnard College was organized in

It is to be noticed that Barnard's relation to Co-
lumbia has developed in opposite order to that cus-
tomary in such cases. Girton and the other English
colleges for women began by securing the benefit
of instruction by members of the universities with
which they were affiliated. The Harvard Annex in
this country pursued the same policy. But while all
these colleges are apparently as far as ever from
obtaining the degrees of their universities, Barnard
girls get Columbia recognition and reward. Co-
lumbia had at the start gotten at the root of the
whole matter by conceding the degrees to women
who could earn them. And having once done this
it naturally felt obliged to see to it that the value

134 The College Girl of America

of its degrees should not be impaired. This feeling
has been constantly operative in the college, to the
end that women at Barnard are now receiving the
liberal education for which the broad-minded Co-
lumbia president, whose name the women's college
bears, had long striven with so much persistence,
chivalry, and logic.

The first chairman of Barnard's trustees, and the
man who, from the beginning until his death in
1895, was the chief spokesman for the college to
the community, was the Rev. Dr. Arthur Brooks,
whose talents and weight with people of many
different ways of thinking gave at once a certain
prestige to this work. He used to say at public meet-
ings in Barnard's interest that in New York a
woman could obtain the satisfaction of every want,
wish, or whim, save one — she could not get an
education if she wanted it. This was so true and
so effective that funds for his project were soon

To meet the first expenses of the college, a number
of persons pledged themselves to the payment of
small annual sums for four years, and with this very
modest guarantee a house was rented, in 1889, at
343 Madison Avenue, seven instructors were selected
from the Columbia faculty, and fourteen regular
and twelve special students enrolled. The second

Barnard College 135

year nine additional instructors were appointed, and
the classes began to increase in numbers. At the
end of the four years of experiment, the college
found itself free from debt, with a graduating class
of eight, with seven juniors, ten sophomores, twenty-
seven freshmen, and thirty-three special students.

By this time, however, one hundred thousand
dollars had been received from Mrs. Van Wyck
Brinckerhoff for a building fund, and the present site
purchased. Before the autumn of 1897, two build-
ings were completed, namely, Milbank Hall, the gift
of Mrs. A. A. Anderson, and Brinckerhoff Hall,
paid for chiefly with the fund already mentioned.
In the following year Fiske Hall was added by the
generosity of Mrs. Josiah M. Fiske. In October,
1898, the sum of one hundred thousand dollars was
given to the college by an anonymous friend, and
invested as an endowment fund. From time to time,
too, scholarships have been founded, so that now
some forty thousand dollars are available for this

Numerically, Barnard's growth has quite kept pace
with its financial prosperity; it has now five hun-
dred students on its lists. Thus the Barnard contin-
gent forms a very considerable fraction of the total
number of undergraduates under the care of the
Columbia instructors, — so large a number, indeed,

136 The College Girl of America

that beginning with the fall of 1904 all the instruc-
tion for women leading to the degree of Bachelor
of Arts is to be given separately in Barnard College.
Women who have taken their first degree will, how-
ever, be accepted by Columbia on the same terms as
men, as candidates for the degrees of Master of Arts,
and Doctor of Philosophy, and the library of the
university will continue to be open to all women
students upon the same terms as men.

For the rather complicated scheme of instruction
which has worked so well at Barnard, Mrs. George
Haven Putnam is very largely responsible. Mrs.
Putnam, when Emily Jane Smith, was first dean of
Barnard, and the system was planned out by her and
by President Seth Low, Columbia's head at the time.
The close and amicable relationship thus established
between the President of Columbia and the Dean
of Barnard still obtains. The present incumbent of
this important place at the women's college Is Laura
Drake Gill, A. M., whose academic training was
received at Smith College and at foreign universities,
and who has had since her student days a large and
varied experience in executive work. Possessed of
charming manners as well as of deep culture. Miss
Gill is exceptionally well fitted to perform the deli-
cate and difficult duties of dean in an " affiliated "

Barnard College 137

The social life of the two colleges as such is dis-
tinctly separate. There are the men's clubs, and
the women's clubs, each with their own officers
and their own meetings. Barnard, like Columbia,
has class organizations, literary bodies, fraterni-
ties, and Greek letter societies. It gives, too, its
plays, — to which no men are admitted, — and
it has its own delightful college functions. Often,
however, there are undergraduate teas with music
and dancing until seven, to which the girls of
the college invite the men as individuals, and every
year the Barnard Junior Ball is given in Columbia's
gymnasium, — with twenty-four numbers on the
programme, fine music, an elaborate supper, and
a wealth of blue and white decorations. For the
most, however, the social life of the two colleges
is admirably individual.

Just at the present time, as Fiske Hall has been
outgrown, the girls who do not live with their par-
ents in or about New York are made comfortable in
the dormitory of the Teachers' College, just across
the street. The board here costs from seven dollars
to twelve dollars a week, which, added to text book,
matriculation, and tuition fees, makes the total neces-
sary expenses for a student at Barnard average about
fifteen dollars each week of the academic year.
Chapel service, held in the college assembly-room on

138 The College Girl of America

Tuesday and Friday of each week at half -past twelve,
and conducted by Dean Gill, or by some clergyman
of the city, is a beautiful academic function. It
lasts twenty minutes and attendance is entirely vol-
untary. Always, however, there are hundreds of
worshippers present.

Inasmuch as the large majority of the Barnard
girls are day-students, the college must make pro-
vision for studies and reading-rooms. One such
study in Fiske Hall is charmingly furnished in
green, and has been equipped by the alumnae as
memorial to Miss Ella Weed, for many years the
very able chairman of the college's academic com-
mittee. In the basement of this same building is a
well set up lunch room where excellently cooked and
nicely served food is provided at a nominal cost.

The little plays, the teas, the fudge parties, and
the chafing-dish affairs, which make up the charm
of college-girl life, are as prominent at Barnard as
in other educational centres. Every class entertains
the freshmen within a month or two of their entrance
at college, and about Christmas time the incoming
class returns the compliment. Once shadow pictures
furnished the amusement on such an occasion, and
at another time there was a cotillion. Of under-
graduate plays, too, Barnard has its share. " The
School for Scandal " is frequently presented, and.

Barnard College 139

last year, on a special occasion, " The Manoeuvres
of Jane " was given an almost professional pres-
entation in the theatre of the college building.
Though tennis and basket-ball have been enjoyed to
some extent, the college has hitherto had no gymna-
sium work. Now a new building is being erected,
by means of which the ** sound body " will be kept
carefully in mind.

The flavour of life at Barnard can perhaps be
best conveyed by some excerpts from The Mortar-
hoard, the college annual. Here an undergraduate
thus describes herself :

" I am the very model of a perfect undergraduate,

I never overcut, at recitations I am never late ;

I always know my lessons and delight to answer readily

The deep and puzzling questions which the others fail at

I am present at all meetings where a quorum is or's meant

to be,
And remember to address the chair in language parliamentary.
I read through every reference book that's given out in my

And write neat commentaries on whatever facts I come

across ;
The questions that I ask are all indicative of intellect,
I never leave the subject, or indulge in lengthy retrospect.
I write a hand that's legible, I show a lot of common sense,
And on committees do the work successfully at small expense.
I show my college spirit by subscribing for the Bulletin.
The Morningside and Lit are also things I put my money in.

140 The College Girl of America

I always pay my dues and do it solely of my own accord,
I laugh at all the jokes in that absurdity, the Mortarboard^
In view of which I'm sure you will not think it overbold to

That I 'm the very model of a perfect undergraduate."

Further on in this same interesting class produc-
tion, the Barnard girls thus cleverly feel their tem-
peramental pulse : " However much our impression
on undergraduate life may be worn smooth, it will be
impossible to obliterate the marks of the college
influence upon ourselves, even when formulae have
become medley, and hypotheses have run aground
upon fact. A four years' reaction of individual upon
individual does not harden the college woman, as
some antagonists to the * higher education ' are wont
to assert. On the contrary, we have found that it
tends to wear away prejudices and peculiarities, and
to stimulate a healthy, sympathetic, human charity
toward men and women. We have proved the
proposition which our class genius considers an
axiom : * The longer you know most people, the
better you like them.' "

That the Barnard girls are able to appreciate their
individual as well as their sex peculiarities, is shown
by some of the " grinds " in the class biography at
the end of a Mortarboard. One of these reads :

Barnard College 141

" Alas, Gulielma ! we would fain
Thy pleasant friendship claim ;
But no, it is impossible —
We cannot speak thy name ! "

A peppery maiden is thus gently ridiculed :

"We love little Helen, her heart is so warm,
And if you don't cross her she'll do you no harm;
So don't contradict her, or else, if you do,
Get under the table and wait till she's through."

Every college girl who has ever speculated as to
the authorship of a particularly clever daily theme,
and has then had her curiosity gratified by an omnis-
cient maiden who sits down front, will appreciate
this " grind " :

"'Who wrote the theme?'

* I know,' said Adele,

* I know very well
Who wrote the theme.*

* How do you know ? '

* I sit near and spy
With my little eye,
That's how I know.' "

But to the Barnard girl, as to her sisters in other
colleges, comes finally an end to the years of study
and friendly fooling. On the last Friday of the
spring term, the Class Day exercises for the girls

142 The College Girl of America

are held in the theatre ; a salutatory is given by the
president of the class, the roll called by the secre-
tary, the class statistics presented, the class prophecy
made, the class oration pronounced, the song '' To
Barnard " sung, and the valedictory offered. The
following Sunday, Barnard girls share with the
other members of Columbia University the Bacca-
laureate sermon in the university gymnasium, wear-
ing their caps and gowns, and looking every inch
the grave and reverend seniors that they are. On
Wednesday the Commencement exercises for the
whole university are held in Columbia gymnasium,
and degrees are given to the graduates of all depart-
ments of the university. This function comes in
the morning, and the seniors march to it in stately
procession. It is followed by a lunch at Barnard
for the new graduates of that college, and the same
afternoon the Association of Barnard College
Alumnae gives a reception to the incoming class.

When all this is over, the girls who were yes-
terday undergraduates are full-fledged alumnae, with
the duty and privilege of working for their col-
lege. Often they do' this in highly original fashion.
The class of 1903, for instance, gave this spring
at Sherry's, for the benefit of the Barnard Reading-
room, a very interesting entertainment called
Advance Sheets. The Contents of the Sheets were



















Barnard College 143

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Online LibraryMary Caroline CrawfordThe college girl of America and the institutions which make her what she is → online text (page 8 of 18)