Smith College.Alternative names
Since 1900, Christmas at Smith College has involved the sending of cards, the singing of carols and the annual Vespers. Smith College's Christmas Vespers has allowed religious and non-religious students alike to come together and appreciate the music and spirit of the holiday season. At this annual candlelight ceremony, Smith College choral groups perform seasonal songs and religious readings.
From the description of Records of Christmas at Smith College, 1900-[ongoing]. (Smith College). WorldCat record id: 52235190
The Smith College Alumnae Oral History Project was funded by the President's Office and the College Archives and coordinated by Kelly Anderson. Students from the Archives Concentration and Anderson's class in oral history conducted the interviews with alumnae over Reunion weekend in May 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 in the Alumnae Gymnasium. Interviews were 30 minutes long, on average, and were taped by videographer Kate Geis and Rebecca Rideout, as well as student interviewers. Narrators were asked to reflect on their reasons for choosing Smith, key experiences during their time on campus, significant political and social issues that marked their time at Smith and the impact a Smith education has had on their lives and careers. In 2010, narrators graduated from the classes of 1985-2005. In 2011, narrators were graduates of the classes of 1941-1976. In 2012, narrators were mostly graduates of the classes 1957-1982. In 2013, narrators were primarily graduates of the classes 1943-2008.
From the guide to the Alumnae Oral History Project RG12., 2010-2013, (Smith College Archives)
The materials in this collection have been accumulated over the years from various sources.
From the guide to the Historical Postcard Collection RG 10., 1900-[ongoing], (Smith College Archives)
The tradition of dances and recreation at Smith is longstanding. From social gatherings, teas and parties in the 1880s and 1890s, to the hosting of the "Supper Dance" Weekend of the 1920s through the 1940s, to the present day traditions of Friday Teas, Winter Weekend, Spring Weekend and Rugby Prom are among the activities.
From the description of Files on dances and recreation at Smith College, 1881-1990. (Smith College). WorldCat record id: 52235100
Athletics have been an important part of Smith College life since Senda Berenson started the program in the late 1800's. The first women's collegiate basketball game was held at Smith in 1893 after Berenson adapted the game for women. For many years, all freshmen and sophomores were required to take a sport as part of their regular studies. The Smith College Athletic Association prevented intercollegiate competition, maintaining that it would hurt the spirit of friendly intramural competition at the college, but the intramural programs drew much interest, and spots on class teams were highly coveted. The first intercollegiate games were allowed in 1971, and Smith College joined the Northeast Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. In 1981, Smith became the first women's college to join the NCAA, in which it remains a division III member today.
From the guide to the Athletics Subject Files RG 80., ca. 1890-[ongoing], (Smith College Archives)
Since 1900, Christmas at Smith College has involved the sending of cards, the singing of carols, and, of course, the annual Vespers. Smith College's Christmas Vespers have allowed religious and non-religious students alike to come together and appreciate the music and spirit of the holiday season for over one hundred years. At this annual candlelight ceremony, Smith College choral groups perform seasonal songs and religious readings.
From the description of Smith College Christmas files, 1900-(ongoing) (Smith College). WorldCat record id: 503317234
Smith College was incorporated in 1871 and opened with fourteen enrolled students in 1875. Therefore, most of the extant buildings were erected after 1875, though there are quite a few that date from the earlier part of the 19th century and even some from the 18th. The campus is and always has been a mixture of constructed and acquired buildings: Smith' s first three buildings were Dewey House-former home of Northampton judge Charles Augustus Dewey, College Hall-built by the trustees as the first academic and administrative building, and Gateway House-built by the trustees as a home for Smith's first president, L. Clark Seelye (1875-1910). Dewey was home to the very first Smith students and today houses faculty offices and meeting rooms. The present-day campus as a whole serves as an "architectural garden," with styles ranging from Colonial to Greek Revival and Victorian Gothic to neo-Georgian, with a dose of "modern" styles added more recently.
From the guide to the Buildings Records RG 22., 1875-[ongoing], (Smith College Archives)
The first dramatic productions at Smith were performed by members of societies in the individual student houses on campus. The first of these was formed by Hatfield House in January of 1878 and was named Alpha Society. Washburn and Hubbard Houses soon followed with Olla Podrida in the fall of 1878 and Tertium Quid in 1879, respectively. Houses also occasionally banded together into groups under one name. Sarm Ganok was the name for the Stoddard- Dewey-Hatfield Houses group, and was adapted from the Chinese words for "Three Houses." To these was added Senior Dramatics in 1883 as a feature of Commencement week, although not officially added to the program until 1887. In 1889 the various dramatic societies had achieved official recognition by the administration of the College and in 1891 it became customary for performances to be held in town at the newly-opened Academy of Music. In 1896, owing to the tremendous popularity of Alpha Society, a sister organization was formed, called Phi Kappa Psi, and by 1901 most of the academic departments were also putting on shows. By 1908 the number of productions had out-paced itself to such an extent as to require limitations. The house dramatic groups were dissolved and in their place a divisional system based on class year was instituted. Four new groups were thus formed, each giving one show per year. The groups were called Cap and Bells, Sock and Buskin, The Players and The Mummers. This system was in turn discarded in 1919 when Samuel A. Eliot, of the Department of English Language and Literature, developed the Dramatics Association to replace it and added a course in play production to the Spoken English curriculum. In 1927 even the Senior Dramatics were taken over and all productions were given through the Dramatics Association and the Theatre Workshop, as the performances by Eliot's students were called. That same year also marked the first year of an actor/actress exchange with Amherst College and an end to the tradition of all-female casts in Smith plays. The Department of Theatre was not formed until the 1942-43 academic year, at which time Hallie Flannagan was made its chair. Seven years later, due to flagging student interest and lack of funds, the Dramatics Association voted to merge with the theatre department. All productions thereafter were produced by the department.
From the guide to the Dramatics Files RG 80., 1878-1949, (Smith College Archives)
Smith College has many traditional special days. One of the earliest special days celebrated at Smith College was Ivy Day. Ivy Day is a day in which departing seniors plant ivy cuts on the Smith grounds, symbolizing their seed of knowledge, in hopes that it will flourish. Many of those traditions include Special Day celebrations for students, staff, faculty and parents.
From the description of Files on special days at Smith College, A-Z, 1884-[ongoing]. (Smith College). WorldCat record id: 52235062
In 1892, plans designed by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted were adopted by President Seelye to turn the Smith College campus into a single large botanic garden, labeling all trees and shrub for aesthetic and educational purposes. Francis Ganong was appointed the first director of the botanic garden in 1894, and a systematics garden, based on the theories of Adolf Engler and Karl Prantl was added to the plan under his direction. The master plan has undergone numerous changes, including new systems of walkways and lawns, the expansion of the Lyman Plant House, the construction of a Japanese tea hut and garden, and the reorganization of the herbaceous garden according to more current evolutionary theories.
From the guide to the Grounds Subject Files RG 24., 1879-[ongoing], (Smith College Archives)
From the description of Grounds subject records, 1879-[ongoing]. (Smith College). WorldCat record id: 53372604
Mountain Day has remained a unique and much-anticipated holiday at Smith College since it was first celebrated in October 1877. According to an article written in The Sophian in 1970, "On this occasion, the date of which is unknown to all except [the college president], bells ring to announce a surprise holiday on which all academic appointments are cancelled." Students are encouraged to use this day to take long walks or bike rides and to enjoy a beautiful fall day free from the stress of everyday life.
From the guide to the Mountain Day and Picnics Files RG 80., 1882-[ongoing], (Smith College Archives)
Smith College was incorporated in 1871 and opened with fourteen enrolled students in 1875. Therefore, most of the extant buildings were erected after 1875, though some date from the earlier part of the 19th century and the 18th. The campus is a mixture of constructed and acquired buildings: Smith's first three buildings were Dewey House--former home of Northampton judge Charles Augustus Dewey, College Hall--built by the trustees as the first academic and administrative building, and Gateway House--built by the trustees as a home for Smith's first president, L. Clark Seelye (1875-1910). Dewey was home to the very first Smith students and today houses faculty offices and meeting rooms. The present-day campus as a whole serves as an "architectural garden," with styles ranging from Colonial to Greek Revival and Victorian Gothic to neo-Georgian, with "modern" styles added more recently.
From the description of Buildings records, 1875-[ongoing]. (Smith College). WorldCat record id: 53372597
Smith College had booths at several world fairs and expositions from the 1890s to the 1930s, giving the college unique opportunities to publicize its merits. It was one of the only women's colleges to consistently appear at world fairs. The booths highlighted Smith's history, famous figures, campus, educational opportunities, and distinguished alumnae. The four stated purposes of such displays were to 1) greet and aid alumnae (who had often traveled great distances and were unfamiliar with the area); 2) attract new students; 3) "make friends" for the college (leave visitors with favorable impressions); and 4) interest possible donors. The booths were staffed by alumnae and local Smith College Clubs played major roles in planning the events.
The 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago was the first time women had taken an active role in planning the fair. The Smith College booth was in the Women's Building, which brought together many booths related to women's interests and was called "one of the first major expressions of feminist consciousness" in the country.
At the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco, Smith's booth was in the Palace of Education. This time, the catchphrase was "bringing Smith to California" as the college tried to recruit West Coast students. The college took its role as the main representative of higher education for women seriously, and focused on the achievements of college educated women in the world.
The booth at the 1933 Century of Progress fair in Chicago was located at a highly visible junction in the Hall of Social Sciences. Despite early plans to have a combined Seven Sisters display, in the end Smith was the only women's college to have a booth. However, there was a lounge area for alumnae of all women's colleges elsewhere in the same building. The main attraction of the Smith booth that year was the colorful mural background painted by art professor Oliver Larkin, portraying various aspects of student life at Smith.
From the guide to the World Fairs Records RG 12., 1893-1939, (Smith College Archives)
The tradition of dances and recreation at Smith is longstanding. From social gatherings, teas, and parties in the 1880s and 1890s, to the hosting of "Supper Dance" Weekend from the 1920s through the 1940s, to the present day traditions of Friday Teas, Winter Weekend, Spring Weekend and Rugby Prom, Smith has seen its fair share of parties.
While much of the information regarding the gatherings cannot be found in the folders, many of the photographs tell their own stories.
There is a plethora of information about the Supper Dance. Preceded by 'walk arounds" in the 1880s, when the Glee Club was founded in 1888, it hosted a yearly spring concert, which gradually evolved into Spring Dance and Supper Dance. Organized by a student committee, the dance was open to the entire college, with each house hosting its own dance and hired bands. Because Smith women are "unusually smart as well as unusually attractive, and . . . their hospitality is rightly famous" according to an article for LIFE magazine, the Supper dance was unusually popular and especially well anticipated by male guests. As their hosts, Smithies paid for their weekend and were allowed to cut in on couples and choose their dance partners. The weekend consisted of Friday classes, dancing lasting the greater part of Saturday with a break for dinner, and Sunday activities. The dance was so famous as to attract photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt of LIFE magazine to take pictures for an article about the Supper Dance in 1937. The Supper Dance continued until the 1940s, probably when wartime took its toll.
From the guide to the Dances and Recreation Files RG 80., 1881-[ongoing], (Smith College Archives)
The Smith Centennial Study, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, was a project that President Mendenhall asked Jacqueline Van Voris to undertake in 1970 as an oral history project for Smith College's centennial celebration. Ms. Van Voris dedicated over four years to the project, which culminated with the publication of the book, College: A Smith Mosaic, which she submitted as partial fulfillment of requirements for her MA in Education in 1975. The purpose of the study was to provide a source of information about the importance of education in women's lives. Smith alumnae were interviewed, their observations were recorded on tape and the tapes were transcribed. The interviews were informal conversations conducted in a manner designed to extract pertinent information. The questions were designed to stimulate conversation and to keep the focus on the respondent. Phrasing of the questions encouraged the respondent's frank appraisal of her education. Questions typically asked included: "Why did you decide to go to Smith? Was it your idea? What was your academic preparation? What courses did you study? What are your remembrances of Smith? What is your general assessment of the education you received? How could college have helped you more? Have your views on education changed over the years since your graduation? Have you ever felt discriminated against because you are a woman?"
The interviews were conducted and recorded from 1971-74. The book, College: A Smith Mosaic, was published in February, 1975 and lists of respondents were sent to the Directory of Oral History Collections for inclusion in that directory.
From the guide to the Smith Centennial Study Oral History Project RG 12., 1970-75, (Smith College Archives)
The Student Demonstrations files document how Smith College students have expressed their opposition to national and local issues through rallies and protests since 1933. Major events such as the United States' involvement in World War II, presidential elections, and segregation prompted the majority of student demonstrations from the 1930s to 1960s. Issues of the 1980s and 1990s include opposition to the Persian Gulf War, support for Ada Comstock Scholars, as well as rallies to help improve women's safety on college campuses.
The 1986 occupation of College Hall makes up the largest portion of the Student Demonstration files. These folders contain both primary and secondary sources, documenting Smith students' opposition to the Board of Trustees' investment in South African companies that contributed to apartheid.
From the guide to the Student Demonstrations Files RG 80., ca. 1933-[ongoing], (Smith College Archives)
The idea of a nationally coordinated student strike developed over a period of at least two years of growing tension between the federal administration and minority and student groups who expressed dissatisfaction with the undeclared war in Vietnam, the military draft, and economic consequences of the war. Coordinated by the National Moratorium Committee (organized in June 1969), Moratorium Days held on October 15, 1969 and November 15, 1969 included the suspension of classes, neighborhood canvassing, protest marches and petitions. The third week in March 1970 was proclaimed National Anti-Draft Week. Planned demonstrations were held at local draft board offices, and "we won't go" petitions were circulated. In 1970, the Fast for Peace was held on April 13, 14, and 15, as an expression of moral concern about the war. In early May, student opposition intensified with the knowledge of the expansion of the conflict into Cambodia, President Nixon's April 3 announcement of his decision to resume bombing in North Vietnam, and the treatment of dissenters in the United States. On May 4, the day of the killings on the Kent State University campus, "leaders of the National Student Association and the former Vietnam Moratorium Committee officially called for a nationwide strike of indefinite duration" (Facts on File 1970, p.299).
At Smith, the Moratorium Days were occasions for student involvement in the local community. Smith students staffed the Green Street Moratorium office, canvassed residents, and coordinated marches down Main Street with the cooperation of local businesses. The first Moratorium Day was October 15, 1969 and was called Work for Peace Day at Smith. Smith's Chaplain the Rev. Richard P. Unsworth participated in a memorial service for Hampshire County veterans held at the Unitarian Church. On the second Moratorium Day, November 15, 1969, a contingent of 250 Smith students and 10 Smith professors attended the march in Washington, D. C to protest the Vietnam War. In Northampton, the weekend of November 15 included a teach-in at Wright Hall, a silent march from Helen Hills Hills Chapel to the center of Northampton and back, and well-attended coffee klatches held in a number of Northampton homes.
A timeline of activities at Smith during the May, 1970 Strike is provided below. During and after the strike, alumnae and friends of the college became involved. On May 30, President Mendenhall announced that his office was receiving 10 letters a day expressing opinions about the strike (tape recording of last Chapel,../../70). Many seminars were repeated during Commencement Weekend for the benefit of alumnae and parents, and a video tape of many of the strike activities was shown. The following organizations formed at Smith due to the strike: the Strike Committee, the Education Committee, the Community Action Committee, Union for National Draft Opposition, Committee on Justice and Repression at Home, Unofficial Committee of Concerned Citizens, Committee on Governance, and the People's Lobby. The activities of the People's Lobby continued beyond the academic year, with students working in Northampton, in Washington D. C., and in their hometown to spread information and coordinate lobbying efforts. Several existing Smith organizations took part in Strike activities; these include: the Student Government Association, the Committee on Educational Policy, the Faculty - Student Committee, and the Young Republican Club.
May 4, 5 p.m.:
At regularly scheduled all-college meetings, a few students and a professor speak about strike issues, and there is a discussion of race/foreign policy distinction.
May 4, 8 p.m.:
About 30 people opposed to the strike gather in front of Neilson Library. Meanwhile at Paradise pond, Professor Donald Robinson offers a plan for lobbying Congress.
About 300 students rally at Davis to hear speeches against U. S. action in Cambodia and in support of Bobby Seale. Smith students vote to strike, 1547 to 437 (12 abstentions). Smith faculty vote to suspend all normal college activities from May 6 to May 10.
May 5,ca. 11 p.m.:
In response to a controversy over whether President Mendenhall had announced the results of the student strike vote at the faculty meeting, students and professors stand outside the President's house in the rain until it is announced that there was a failure of communication and that a faculty meeting will be held the next day.
At an all-college meeting, the Sid Waller '70 speech and the BSA speech, both contained in this collection, are delivered.
May 7, 4 p.m.:
The Government Department sponsors a lecture at the J. M. Greene Hall on President Nixon's policy in Cambodia.
May 7,5 p.m.:
A student statement of purpose is read to 15 area clergy and 40 Smith students at a meeting in the Helen Hills Hills Chapel lounge led by the Rev. Richard P. Unsworth and Rabbi Yechiael Lander.
May 8, 9 a.m.:
A memorial service is held in the Helen Hills Hills Chapel for the Kent State dead.
Smith students attend a protest march in Washington, D.C.
Students from Smith and other area colleges canvass local residents. Black Panther Doug Miranda lectures in the Quad to a group of about 300 people.
Commencement exercises bring the Student Strike at Smith College to a close; however, many organizations and students remained active throughout the summer.
From the guide to the Student Strike of 1970 Files RG 80., 1968-1971, (Smith College Archives)
Established in 1944, the Southern Mountain Workship was awarded to a graduating senior who was expected to work for nine to ten months in the isolated rural communities of Appalachia with the Conference of Southern Mountain Workers, as well as at two centers run by the CSMW. A stipend was awarded, as well as room and board for the duration of the "workship." The program was administered by a committee made up of Smith College faculty and administrators, in conjunction with the CSMW.
Faculty members of the Southern Mountain Workship Committee included:
- Dorothy S. Ainsworth, '1916
- Stephen T. Crary
- Alison Cook, 1918
- Virginia Corwin
- Alice N. Davis
- Florence R. Day
- Neal B. DeNood
- Harriet Hitchcock
- Margaret Alexander Marsh
- Miller, H. (Harriet Zimmerman or Henry Laurence, Jr.)
- Marie Schneiders
- Gertrude Parker Smith
- Eleanor Lincoln Terry
- Kathering Reding Whitmore
The Southern Mountain Workship award was given to the following students:
Betsy Ross Bankart (Sylvester)
Diana Northrop Lockard (Malan)
Mary Cabot Holbrook
Elinor Florence Kuhn
Elise May Wentworth
Lee MacMahon/Jane Bishop Nauss
Elizabeth Knowlton Spencer
Jane Pack Kushner
Laura Ashton Smith
Priscilla Ann Baldwin
Phebe Delight Wing
From the guide to the Southern Mountain Workship Files RG 80., 1944-1960, (Smith College Archives)
"The origins of Rally Day can be traced to a series of annual celebrations for George Washington's birthday, the first of which was held at Smith College in February 1876. Over time, these celebrations evolved from essentially social dinners or receptions into daylong college events. The addition of a 'rally' to the day in 1894 was eventually reflected in the name Rally Day, first used in 1906. The celebration is now held annually on the third Wednesday in February.
Through the years, students have sponsored and participated in a range of activities: rallies, debates, basketball rivalries, dramatic presentations, singing and dancing. The current tradition of sponsoring an event to benefit a charity began in 1918 when the Rally Day Show was held to raise funds for the Smith College Relief Unit serving in World War I France.
The Smith College Medal has been awarded to outstanding alumnae at Rally Day since 1973. The medalists have become an important part of the program, speaking prior to convocation in classes and afterward in conversations with students.
Dress at Rally Day has evolved as well. In 1944, the senior class began wearing its graduation caps and gowns to the convocation. The day still marks the first time the seniors publicly wear their gowns. In recent years, however, the caps have been replaced by inventive hats of the students' choosing (and sometimes of their own making), in keeping with the 'rallying' and spirited nature of the day." (From the Rally Day Convocation Program February 23, 2000)
From the guide to the Rally Day Files RG 80., 1885-[ongoing], (Smith College Archives)
As an institution Smith College has many traditions, some with history since its inception. One of the earliest special days celebrated at Smith College was Ivy Day. Still celebrated, Ivy Day is a day in which departing seniors plant ivy cuts on the Smith grounds, symbolizing their seed of knowledge, in hopes that it will flourish. Today, cuts are taken from vines around campus and given to first-year students in anticipation of their own Ivy Day celebration.
Many of those traditions include Special Day celebrations for students, staff, faculty, and parents. Included in the Special Days boxes are the Father's Day folders containing programs, POPS! concert programs, photographs, letters, and newspaper clippings. The change from Father's Weekend to Parent's Weekend and then Family Weekend is documented with the information contained in these folders.
Halloween, Thanksgiving, Easter, Float Night are special days included within the folders. And the repertoire of special days continues to grow as Smith College adds new special day traditions to its old ones: Celebration of Sisterhood and Otelia Cromwell Day. Each celebration seeks to acknowledge and diversify, celebrating what is present and what is to come. Smith College, having a history of celebrating, embracing, renewing and creating traditions, will carry several of them into the future and create several more.
From the guide to the Special Days A-Z Files RG 80., 1884-[ongoing], (Smith College Archives)
"Published when the spirit moves", Campus Cat was a publication created by Smith students in 1918. Its contents provided information to the campus about going-ons, events, activities, and poked fun at the rituals, trials, and stresses of academia and life on the Smith campus. It was a popular publication, provoking many other related publications such as Freshman Eti-Cat and the Campus Cat-alogue, among others.
The Campus Cat was written by a group of students whose sarcasm and wit are clearly evident in each issue of the publication. It was a highly coveted publication and to be included in the group of Campus Cat writers was to hold a position of prestige. The publication ceased in 1929.
However, in 1949, students brought the Cat back. The Campus Cat was now funded by the college. Each issue, of which there were four a year, was bound in program form. Again, to write for it was to hold a position of prestige. The issues published between 1948 and 1952 were written by the same group of students upon whose graduation, the Cat had lived its second out of nine lives.
From the guide to the Campus Cat Records RG 80., 1918-1952, (Smith College Archives)
The College Hall Occupation Oral History Project was the work of two students enrolled in History 367b, Problems in American History: Autobiography, Biography, and Oral History in Twentieth Century America as taught by Maurice Isserman in spring 1986. The sixteen cassette tapes and two papers were given to the College Archives in the summer and fall of 1986 by the coordinators of the project, Donna Kenny '87 and Maureen Dooley Lawrence '87.
Feb. 20, Thursday:
Student/faculty rally and sit-in encouraging total divestment prior to the spring meeting of the Board of Trustees.
Feb. 22, Saturday:
Trustees choose not to adopt the divestment proposal set forth by the Senate Ethical Investment Committee.
Feb. 24, Monday:
"Round-the-clock" sit-in outside the President's office by circa 200 students and faculty to protest the Trustees' decision. Approximately 90 students spend the night in College Hall.
Feb. 25, Tuesday:
Approximately 150 students join the overnighters and 5:30 a.m. The protesters form human chains to block all entrances to College Hall. Employees are denied entrance to the building. President Dunn refuses to have the protesters arrested.
Feb. 26, Wednesday:
Protesters hold a press conference announcing their position and reading statements of support for the occupation. All-college meeting to discuss South Africa and the occupation of College Hall. Protesters send a group of "presidential delegates" to read a statement expressing their conviction that the takeover of College Hall was their only recourse.
Feb. 27, Thursday:
Protesters agree to negotiate with President Dunn. A small group of protesters begins a hunger strike.
Feb. 28, Friday:
Negotiations continue. Protesters hold a rally and announce the hunger strike to the public.
Mar. 1, Saturday:
An agreement is reached between President Dunn, the Board of Trustees, and the protesters.
Mar. 2, Sunday:
Occupation ends with a press conference and victory rally. Mar. 6, Thursday Required teach-in on South African-related issues and on relations between the Board of Trustees and the campus community.
From the guide to the College Hall Occupation Oral History Project RG 80., 1986, (Smith College Archives)