MoboReader> Literature > The Story of Wellesley


The Story of Wellesley By Florence Converse Characters: 49462

Updated: 2017-11-28 00:06


Ever since we became a nation, it has been our habit to congratulate ourselves upon the democratic character of our American system of education. In the early days, neither poverty nor social position was a bar to the child who loved his books. The daughter of the hired man "spelled down" the farmer's son in the district school; the poor country boy and girl earned their board and tuition at the academy by doing chores; American colleges made no distinctions between "gentlemen commoners" and common folk; and as our public school system developed its kindergartens, its primary, grammar, and high schools, free to any child living in the United States, irrespective of his father's health, social status, or citizenship, we might well be excused for thinking that the last word in democratic education had been spoken.

But since the beginning of the twentieth century, two new voices have begun to be heard; at first sotto voce, they have risen through a murmurous pianissimo to a decorous non troppo forte, and they continue crescendo,-the voice of the teacher and the voice of the graduate. And the burden of their message is that no educational system is genuinely democratic which may ignore with impunity the criticisms and suggestions of the teacher who is expected to carry out the system and the graduate who is asked to finance it.

The teachers' point of view is finding expression in the various organizations of public school teachers in Chicago, New York, and elsewhere, looking towards reform, both local and general; and in the movement towards the formation of a National Association of College Professors, started in the spring of 1913 by professors of Columbia and Johns Hopkins. At a preliminary meeting at Baltimore, in November, 1913, unofficial representatives from Johns Hopkins, Yale, Harvard, Princeton, Cornell, Columbia, Clark, and Wisconsin were present, and a committee of twenty-five was appointed, with Professor Dewey of Columbia as chairman, "to arrange a plan of organization and draw up a constitution." President Schurman, in a report to the trustees of Cornell, makes the situation clear when he says:

"The university is an intellectual organization, composed essentially of devotees of knowledge-some investigating, some communicating, some acquiring-but all dedicated to the intellectual life.... The Faculty is essentially the university; yet in the governing boards of American universities the Faculty is without representation." President Schurman has suggested that one third of the board consist of faculty representatives. At Wellesley, since the founder's death, the trustees have welcomed recommendations from the faculty for departmental appointments and promotions, and this practice now obtains at Yale and Princeton; the trustees of Princeton have also voted voluntarily to confer on academic questions with a committee elected by the faculty.

An admirable exposition of the teachers' case is found in an article on "Academic Freedom" by Professor Howard Crosby Warren of the Department of Psychology at Princeton, in the Atlantic Monthly for November, 1914. Professor Warren says that "In point of fact, the teacher to-day is not a free, responsible agent. His career is practically under the control of laymen. Fully three quarters of our scholars occupy academic positions; and in America, at least, the teaching investigator, whatever professional standing he may have attained, is subject to the direction of some body of men outside his own craft. As investigator he may be quite untrammeled, but as teacher, it has been said, he is half tyrant and half slave....

"The scholar is dependent for opportunity to practice his calling, as well as for material advancement, on a governing board which is generally controlled by clergymen, financiers, or representatives of the state....

"The absence of true professional responsibility, coupled with traditional accountability to a group of men devoid of technical training, narrows the outlook of the average college professor and dwarfs his ideals. Any serious departure from existing educational practice, such as the reconstruction of a course or the adoption of a new study, must be justified by a group of laymen and their executive agent....

"In determining the professional standing of a scholar and the soundness of his teachings, surely the profession itself should be the court of last appeal."

The point of view of the graduate has been defining itself slowly, but with increasing clearness, ever since the governing boards of the colleges made the very practical discovery that it was the duty and privilege of the alumnus to raise funds for the support of his Alma Mater. It was but natural that the graduates who banded together, usually at the instigation of trustees or directors and always with their blessing, to secure the conditional gifts proffered to universities and colleges by American multimillionaires, should quickly become sensitive to the fact that they had no power to direct the spending of the money which they had so efficiently and laboriously collected. An individual alumnus with sufficient wealth to endow a chair or to erect a building could usually give his gift on his own terms; but alumni as a body had no way of influencing the policy of the institutions which they were helping to support.

The result of this awakening has been what President Emeritus William Jewett Tucker of Dartmouth has called the "Alumni Movement." More than ten years ago, President Hadley of Yale was aware of the stirrings of this movement, when he said, "The influence of the public sentiment of the graduates is so overwhelming, that wherever there is a chance for its organized cooperation, faculties and students... are only too glad to follow it."

It would be incorrect, however, to give the impression that graduates had had absolutely no share in the government of their respective colleges before the Alumni Movement assumed its present proportions. Representatives of the alumni have had a voice in the affairs of Harvard, Yale, and Princeton. Self-perpetuating boards of trustees have elected to their membership a certain number of mature alumni. In some instances, as at Wellesley, the association of graduates nominates the candidates for graduate vacancies on these boards.

The benefits of alumnae representation on the Board of Trustees seem to have occurred to the alumnae and the trustees of Wellesley almost simultaneously. As early as June, 1888, the Alumnae Association of Wellesley appointed a committee to present to the trustees a request for alumnae representation on the Board; but as the Association met but once a year, results could not be achieved rapidly, and in June, 1889, the committee reported that it had not presented the petition as it had been informed unofficially that the possibility of alumnae representation was already under consideration by the trustees. In fact, the trustees, at a meeting held the day before the meeting of the Alumnae Association, this very June of 1889, had elected Mrs. Marian Pelton Guild, of the class of 1880, a life member of the Board.

But the alumnae, although appreciating the honor done them by the election of Mrs. Guild, still did not feel that the question of representation had been adequately met, and in June, 1891, a new committee was appointed with instructions to inform itself thoroughly as to methods employed in other colleges to insure the representation of the graduate body on governing boards, and also to convey to the trustees the alumnae's strong desire for representation of a specified character. And a second time the trustees forestalled the committee and, in a letter addressed to the Association and read at the annual meeting in June, 1892, made known their desire "to avail themselves of the cooperation of the Association" and to "cement more closely the bond" uniting the alumnae to the college by granting them further representation on the Board of Trustees. A committee from the Association was then appointed to discuss methods with a committee from the Board, and the results of their deliberations are given by Harriet Brewer Sterling, Wellesley, '86, in an article in the Wellesley Magazine for March, 1895. By the terms of a joint agreement between the Board and the Association, the Association has the right to nominate three members from its own number for membership on the Board. These nominees must be graduates of seven years' standing, not members of the college faculty. Graduates of less than three years' standing are not qualified to vote for the nominees. The nominations must be ratified by the Board of Trustees. The term of service of these alumnae trustees is six years, but a nominee is chosen every two years. In order to establish this method of rotation, two of the three candidates first nominated served for two and four years respectively, instead of six. The first election was held in the spring of 1894, the nominations were confirmed by the Board in November, and the three new trustees sat with the Board for the first time at the February meeting of 1895.

But as graduate organizations have increased in size, and membership has been scattered over a wider geographical area, it has become correspondingly difficult to get at the consensus of graduate opinion on college matters and to make sure that alumni, or alumnae, representatives actually do represent their constituents and carry out their wishes. And the Alumni Movement has arisen to meet the need for "greater unity of organization in alumni bodies."

In an article on Graduate Councils, in the Wellesley College News for April, 1914, Florence S. Marcy Crofut, Wellesley, '97, has collected interesting evidence of the impetus and expansion of this new factor in the college world. She writes, "More clearly than generalization would show, proofs lie in actual organization and accomplishments of the 'Alumni Movement' which has worked itself out in what may be called the Graduate Council Movement.... Since the organization of the Graduate Council of Princeton University in January, 1905, the Secretary, Mr. H. G. Murray, to whom Wellesley is deeply indebted, has received requests from twenty-nine colleges for information in regard to the work of Princeton's Council."

Among these twenty-nine colleges was Wellesley, and the plan for her Graduate Council, presented by the Executive Board of the Alumnae Association to the business meeting of the Association on June 21, 1911, and voted at that meeting, is a legitimate outgrowth of the ideals which led to the formation of the Alumnae Association in 1880. The preamble of the Association makes this clear when it says:

"Remembering the benefits we have received from our alma mater, we desire to extend the helpful associations of student life, and to maintain such relations to the college that we may efficiently aid in her upbuilding and strengthening, to the end that her usefulness may continually increase."

In an article describing the formation of the Wellesley Graduate Council, in the Wellesley College News for October 5, 1911, it is explained that, "From the time since the 1910-12 Executive Board (of the Alumnae Association) came into office, it has felt that there was need for a bond between the alumnae and the college administration; and it believes that this need will be met by a small representative (i.e. geographical) definitely chosen graduate body, which shall act as a clearing-house for the larger Alumnae Association. The Executive Board recognized also as an additional reason for organizing such a graduate body, that it was necessary to do so if the Wellesley Alumnae Association is to keep abreast of the activities in similar organizations." The purpose of the Council, as stated in 1911, is a fitting expansion of the Association's preamble of 1880:

"That, as our alumnae are increasing in large numbers and are scattered more and more widely, it will be of advantage to them and to the college that an organized, accredited group of alumnae shall be chosen from different parts of the country to confer with the college authorities on matters affecting both alumnae and undergraduate interests, as well as to furnish the college, by this group, the means of testing the sentiment of Wellesley women throughout the country on any matter."

There are advantages in not being a pioneer, and Wellesley has been able to profit by the experience of her predecessors in this movement, particularly Princeton and Smith. Membership in the Councils of Wellesley and Smith is essentially on the same geographical basis, but Wellesley is unique among the Councils in having a faculty representation. The relation between faculty and alumnae at Wellesley has always been markedly cordial, and in welcoming to the Council representatives of the faculty who are not graduates of the college, the alumnae would seem to indicate that their aims and ideals for their Alma Mater are at one with those of the faculty.

The membership of the Wellesley Graduate Council is composed of the president and dean of the college, ex officio; ten members of the Academic Council, chosen by that body, no more than two of whom may be alumnae; the three alumnae trustees; the members of the Executive Board of the Alumnae Association; and the councilors from the Wellesley clubs. As there were more than fifty Wellesley clubs already in existence in 1915, and every club of from twenty-five to one hundred members is allowed one councilor, and every club of more than one hundred members is allowed one councilor for each additional hundred, while neighboring clubs of less than twenty-five members may unite and be represented jointly by one councilor, it will be seen that the Council is a large and constantly growing body. Clubs such as the Boston Wellesley Club, and the New York Wellesley Club, which already had a large membership, received a tremendous impetus to increase their numbers after the formation of the Council. All members of the Council, with the exception of the president of the college and the dean, who are permanent, serve for two years.

The officers of the Graduate Council are the corresponding officers of the Alumnae Association, and also serve for two years. The Executive Committee of five members includes the president and secretary of the Council, an alumna trustee chosen annually from their own number by the three alumnae trustees, and two members at large.

The Council meets twice during the academic year, at the college; in February, for a period of three days or less, following the mid-year examinations, and in June, when the annual meeting is held at some time previous to the annual meeting of the Alumnae Association. In this respect the Wellesley Council again differs from that of Smith, whose committee of five makes but one official annual visit to the college,-in January. The "Vassar Provisional Alumnae Council", like the Wellesley Graduate Council, must hold at least two yearly meetings at the college, but unlike Wellesley, it elects a chairman who may not be at the same time the President of the Vassar Associate Alumnae. Bryn Mawr, we are told by Miss Crofut, has no Graduate Council corresponding exactly to the Councils of other colleges; but her academic committee of seven members meets "at least once a year with the President of the College and a committee of the faculty to discuss academic affairs."

The possibilities which lie before the Wellesley Council may be better understood if we enumerate a few of the activities undertaken by the Councils of other colleges. At Princeton, since 1905, more than two million five hundred thousand dollars has been raised by the Council's efforts. The Preceptorial System has been inaugurated and is being slowly developed. The university has been brought more prominently before preparatory schools. All the colleges are feeling the need of keeping in touch with the preparatory schools, not for the sake of mere numbers, but to secure the best students. Doctor Tucker has suggested that Dartmouth alumni endow outright, "substantial scholarships in high schools with which it is desirable to establish relations," and the suggestion is well worth the consideration of Wellesley women. The Yale Alumni Advisory Board has distributed to the "so-called Yale Preparatory Schools" and to schoolboys in many cities, a pamphlet on "Life at Yale." And Yale has also turned its attention to tuition charges, "academic-Sheffield relations", the future of the Yale Medical School, the Graduate Employment Bureau.

All of these Councils are concerned with the intellectual and moral tone of the undergraduates. Wellesley's Graduate Council has a Publicity Committee, one of whose functions is to prevent wrong reports of college matters from getting into the press. Mrs. Helene Buhlert Magee, Wellesley, '03, who was made Chairman of the Intercollegiate Committee on Press Bureaus, in 1914, and was at that time also the Manager of the Wellesley Press Board, reminds us that Wellesley is the only college trying to regulate its publicity through its alumnae clubs in different parts of the country, and gives us reason to hope that in time we shall have publicity agents trained in good methods, "since the members of each year's College Press Board, as they go forth, naturally become the press representatives of their respective clubs."

The Council has also a Committee on Undergraduate Activities, whose duty it is to "obtain information regarding the interests of the undergraduates and from time to time to make suggestions concerning the conduct of the same as they affect the alumnae or bring the college before the general public." This committee proposes a Rally Day and a Freshman Forum, to be conducted each year by a representative alumna equipped to set forth the ideals and principles held by the alumnae.

A third committee, bearing a direct relation to the undergraduate, is one on Vocational Guidance. In order to help students "to find their way to work other than teaching," and to "present a survey of all the possibilities open to women in the field of industry to-day," this committee welcomes the cooperation of Miss Florence Jackson, a graduate of Smith and for some years a member of the Department of Chemistry at Wellesley, who is now at the head of the Appointment Bureau of the Women's Educational and Industrial Union of Boston. Miss Jackson's practical knowledge of students, her wide acquaintance with vocational opportunities other than teaching, and her belief in the "value of the cultural course as a sound general foundation most valuable for providing the sense of proportion and vision necessary for the college woman who is to be a useful citizen," make her an ideal director of this branch of the Council's activities, and the college gladly promotes her work among the students; the seniors especially welcome her expert guidance.

In framing a model constitution for the use of alumnae classes, the Council has done a piece of work which should arouse the gratitude of all future historians of Wellesley, for the model constitution contains an article requiring each class to keep a record which shall contain brief information as to the members of the class and shall be published in the autumn following each reunion. lf these records are accurately kept, and if copies are placed on file in the College Library, accessible to investigators, the next historian of Wellesley will be spared the baffling paucity of information concerning the alumnae which has hampered her predecessor.

With ten members of the Academic Council on the Graduate Council, and with the president of the college herself an alumna, the relation between the faculty and the Graduate Council is intimate and helpful to both, in the best sense. Relations with the trustees, as a body, were slower in forming. President Pendleton, at the Council's fifth session,-in the third year of its existence,-reported the trustees as much interested in its formation. At the sixth session of the Council, in June, 1914, when the campaign for the Fire Fund was in full swing, Mr. Lewis Kennedy Morse, the able and devoted treasurer of the college, and member of the Board of Trustees, addressed the members upon "The Business Side of College Administration",-a talk as interesting as it was frank and friendly. In December, 1914, when the first of the new buildings was already going up on the site of old College Hall, the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees invited a joint committee from the faculty and the alumnae to meet with them to discuss the architectural plans and possibilities for the "new Wellesley." The Alumnae Committee consisted of eleven members and included representatives "from '83 to 1913, and from Colorado on the west to Massachusetts on the east." Its chairman was Candace C. Stimson, Wellesley, '92, whose name will always ring through Wellesley history as the Chairman of the Alumnae Committee for Restoration and Endowment,-the committee that conducted the great nine months' campaign for the Fire Fund. The Faculty Committee, of five members, chose as its chairman, Professor Alice V.V. Brown, the head of the Department of Art.

Miss Stimson's report to the Graduate Council of this meeting of the joint committee with the Executive Board, indicates a "strong sense of good understanding and a feeling of great harmony and desire for cooperation on the part of Trustees toward the alumnae." The Faculty Committee and Alumnae Committee were invited to continue and to hold further conferences with the Trustees' Committee "as occasion might offer." The episode is prophetic of the future relations of these three bodies with one another. President Nichols of Dartmouth is reported as saying that Dartmouth, founded as the ideal of an individual and governed at first by one man, has grown to the point where it is no longer to be controlled as a monarchy or an empire, but as a republic. Such an utterance does not fail of its effect upon other colleges.


The women who constitute the Wellesley College Alumnae Association, numbered in 1914-1915 five thousand and thirty-five. The members are all those who have received the Baccalaureate degree from Wellesley, and all those who have received the Master's degree and have applied for membership. But only dues-paying members receive notices of meetings and have the right to vote. Non-graduates who pay the annual dues receive the Alumnae Register, and the notices and publications of the alumnae, but do not vote.

Authoritative statistics concerning the occupations of Wellesley women are not available. About forty per cent of the alumnae are married. The exact proportion of teachers is not known, but it is of course large. The Wellesley College Christian Association is of great assistance to the alumnae recorder in keeping in touch with Wellesley missionaries, but even the Christian Association disclaims infallibility in questions of numbers. An article in the News for February, 1912, by Professor Kendrick, the head of the Department of Bible Study, states that no record is kept of missionaries at work in our own country, but there were then missionaries from Wellesley in Mexico and Brazil, as well as those who were doing city missionary work in the United States. The missionary record for 1915 would seem to indicate that there were then about one hundred Wellesley women at mission stations in foreign countries, including Japan, China, Korea, India, Ceylon, Persia, Turkey, Africa, Europe, Mexico, South America, Alaska, and the Philippines.

From time to time, the alumnae section of the News publishes an article on the occupations and professions of Wellesley graduates, with incomplete lists of the names of those who are engaged in Law, Medicine, Social Work, Journalism, Teaching, Business, and all the other departments of life into which women are penetrating; and from this all too meager material, the historian is able to glean a few general facts, but no trustworthy statistics.

In 1914, the list of Wellesley women, most of whom were alumnae, at the head of private schools, included the principals of the National Cathedral School at Washington, D.C.; of Abbot Academy, Andover, Walnut Hill School, Natick, Dana Hall, the Weston School, the Longwood School, all in Massachusetts, and two preparatory schools in Boston; Buffalo Seminary; Kent Place School, and a coeducational school, both in Summit, New Jersey; Hosmer Hall, in St. Louis; Ingleside School, Taconic School and the Catherine Aiken School, in Conn

ecticut; Science Hill, at Shelbyville, Kentucky; Ferry Hall, at Lake Forest, Illinois; the El Paso School for Girls; the Lincoln School, in Providence, Rhode Island; Wyoming Seminary, another coeducational school; as well as schools for American girls in Germany, France, and Italy. This does not take into account the many Wellesley graduates holding positions of importance in colleges, in high schools, and in the grammar and primary schools throughout the country.

The tentative list of Wellesley women holding positions of importance in social work, in 1914, is equally impressive. The head workers at Denison House,-the Boston College Settlement,-at the Baltimore Settlement, at Friendly House, Brooklyn, and Hartley House, New York, are all graduates of Wellesley. Probation officers, settlement residents, Associated Charity workers, Consumers' League secretaries, promoters of Social Welfare Work, leaders of Working Girls' Clubs, members of Trade-union Leagues and the Suffrage League, show many Wellesley names among their numbers. A Wellesley woman is working at the Hindman School in Kentucky, among the poor whites; another is General Superintendent of the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind; another is Associate Field Secretary of the New York Charity Organization Department of the Russell Sage Foundation; another is Head Investigator for the Massachusetts Babies' Hospital. The Superintendent of the State Reformatory for Girls at Lancaster, Massachusetts, is a Wellesley graduate who is doing work of unusual distinction in this field. Mary K. Conyngton, Wellesley, '94, took part in the Federal investigation into the condition of woman and child wage earners, ordered by Congress in 1907, and has made a study of the relations between the occupations, and the criminality, of women. Her book "How to Help", published by The Macmillan Company, embodies the results of her experience in organized charities, investigations for improved housing, and other industrial and municipal reforms. In 1909, Miss Conyngton received a permanent appointment in the Bureau of Labor at Washington, D.C.

Wellesley has her lawyers and doctors, her architects, her journalists, her scholars; every year their tribes increase. Among her many journalists are Caroline Maddocks, 1892, and Agnes Edwards Rothery, 1909.

Of her poets, novelists, short story writers, and essayists, the names of Katharine Lee Bates, Estelle M. Hurll, Abbie Carter Goodloe, Margarita Spalding Gerry, Florence Wilkinson Evans, Florence Converse, Martha Hale Shackford, Annie Kimball Tuell, Jeannette Marks, are familiar to the readers of the Atlantic, the Century, Scribner's and other magazines; and the more technical publications of Gertrude Schopperle, Laura A. Hibbard, Eleanor A. McC. Gamble, Lucy J. Freeman, Eloise Robinson, and Flora Isabel McKinnon, have won the suffrages of scholars.

Her most noted woman of letters is Katharine Lee Bates, Wellesley, '80, the beloved head of the Department of English Literature. Miss Bates's beautiful hymn, "America", has achieved the distinction of a national reputation; it has been adopted as one of America's own songs and is sung by school children all over our country. The list of her books includes, besides her collected poems, "America the Beautiful and Other Poems", published by the Thomas Y. Crowell Company, volumes on English and Spanish travel, on the English Religious Drama, a Chaucer for children, an edition of the works of Hawthorne, and a forthcoming edition of the Elizabethan dramatist, Heywood. Since her undergraduate days, when she wrote the poems for Wellesley's earliest festivals, down all the years in which she has been building up her Department of English Literature, this loyal daughter has given herself without stint to her Alma Mater. In Wellesley's roll call of alumnae, there is no name more loved and honored than that of Katharine Lee Bates.


"Hear the dollars dropping,

Listen as they fall.

All for restoration

Of our College Hall."

These words of a college song fitly express the breathless attitude of the alumnae between March 17, 1914, and January 1, 1915, the nine months and a half during which the campaign was being carried on to raise the fund for restoration and endowment, after the fire. And they did more than listen; they shook the trees on which the dollars grew, and as the dollars fell, caught them with nimble fingers. They fell "thick as leaves in Vallombrosa."

Between June, 1913, and June, 1915, $1,267,230.53 was raised by and through Wellesley women.

In 1913, a campaign for a Million Dollar Endowment Fund had been started, to provide means for increasing the salaries of the teachers. Salaries at Wellesley were at that time lower than those paid in every other woman's college, but one, in New England. The fund had been started with an anonymous gift of one hundred thousand dollars, and the committee, with Candace C. Stimson as chairman, planned to secure the one million dollars in two years. By March, 1914, a second anonymous gift of one hundred thousand dollars had been received, the General Education Board had pledged two hundred thousand dollars conditioned on the raising of the whole amount, Wellesley women had given fifteen thousand dollars, and there had been a few other gifts from outsiders. The amount still to be raised on the Million Dollar Fund at the time of the fire was five hundred and seventy thousand dollars.

President Pendleton, in a letter to Wellesley friends, printed in the News on March 28, 1914, ten days after the fire, writes: "Our Campaign for the Million Dollar Endowment Fund must not be dropped... we have between five and six hundred thousand dollars still to raise. All the new buildings must be equipped and maintained. The sum that our Alma Mater requires for immediate needs is two million dollars. But this is not all. Another million will soon be needed, properly to house our departments of Botany and Chemistry, and to provide a Student-Alumnae building, and sufficient dormitories to house on the campus the more than five hundred students now living in the village. We are facing a great crisis in the history of the College. The future of our Alma Mater is in our hands. Crippled by this loss, Wellesley cannot continue to hold in the future its place in the front rank of colleges, unless the response is generous and immediate.

"To sum up, Alma Mater needs three million dollars, two million of which must be raised immediately. Shall we be daunted by this sum? We are justly proud of the courage and self-control of those dwellers in College Hall, both Faculty and Students. Shall we be outdone by them in facing a crisis? Shall we be less courageous, less resourceful? The public press has described the fire as a triumph, not a disaster. Shall we continue the triumph, and make our College in equipment what it has proved itself in spirit-The College Beautiful? We can and we must."

The response of the alumnae to this stirring appeal was instant and ardent. The committee for the Million Dollar Endowment Fund, with its valiant chairman, Miss Stimson, shouldered the new responsibility. "It is a big contract," they said, "it comes at a season of business depression, and the daughters of Wellesley are not rich in this world's goods. All this we know, but we know, too, that the greater the need the more eagerly will love and loyalty respond."

Then came the offer of seven hundred and fifty thousand dollars by the Rockefeller Foundation, if the college would raise an additional million and a quarter by January 1, 1915. The intrepid Committee of Alumnae added to its numbers, merged the two funds, and adopted the new name of Alumnae Committee for Restoration and Endowment.

Mary B. Jenkins, Wellesley, '03, the committee's devoted secretary, has described the plan of the campaign in the News for March, 1915. As the Wellesley clubs present the best chance of reaching both graduate and non-graduate members, a chairman for each club was appointed, and made responsible for reaching all the Wellesley women in her geographical section, whether they were members of the club or not. In states where there were no clubs, state committees rounded up the scattered alumnae and non-graduates. Fifty-three clubs appear in the report, twenty-four state committees, and eight foreign countries,-Canada, Mexico, Porto Rico, South America, Europe, Turkey, India, and Persia. Every state in the Union was heard from, and contributions also came from clubs in Japan and China. The campaign actually circled the globe. By June, 1914, Miss Jenkins tells us, the appeals to the clubs and state committees had been sent out, and many had been heard from, but in order to make sure that no one escaped, the work was now taken up through committees from the thirty-six classes, from 1879 to 1914. In March, 1915, when Miss Jenkins's report was printed in the News, 3823 of Wellesley's daughters had contributed, and belated contributions were still coming in. In June, 1915, 3903, out of 4840, graduates had responded. Every member of the classes of '79, '80, '81, '84, '92, sent a contribution, and the class gift from '79, $520,161.00 was the largest from any class; that of '92, $208,453.92, being the next largest. The class gifts include not only direct contributions from alumnae, and from social members who did not graduate with the class, but gifts which alumnae and former students have secured from interested friends. Of the remaining classes, five show a contributing list of more than ninety per cent of the members; eleven show between eighty and ninety per cent; and fifteen between seventy and eighty per cent. Besides the alumnae, 1119 non-graduates had contributed. None of Wellesley's daughters have been more loyal and more helpful than the non-graduates.

An analysis of the amount, $1,267,230.53, given by and through Wellesley women between June, 1913, and June, 1915, shows four gifts of fifty thousand dollars and over, all of which came through Wellesley women, thirty gifts of from two thousand dollars to twenty-five thousand dollars, three quarters of which came from Wellesley women, and many gifts of less than two thousand dollars, "only a negligible quantity of which came from any one but alumnae and former students."

Throughout the nine months of the campaign, the Alumnae Committee and the trustees were working in close touch with each other. Doctor George Herbert Palmer, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at Harvard, was the chairman of the committee from the trustees, and he describes himself as chaperoned by alumnae at every point of the tour which he so successfully undertook in order to interview possible contributors. To him, to Bishop Lawrence, the President of the Board of Trustees, and to Mr. Lewis Kennedy Morse, the treasurer, the college owes a debt of gratitude which it can never repay. No knight of old ever succored distressed damsel more valiantly, more selflessly, than these three twentieth-century gentlemen succored and served the beggar maid, Wellesley, in the cause of higher education. Through the activities of the trustees were secured the provisional gifts of seven hundred and fifty thousand dollars from the Rockefeller Foundation, and two hundred thousand dollars from the General Education Board, Mr. Andrew Carnegie's $95,446.27, to be applied to the extension of the library, and gifts from Mrs. Russell Sage, Mrs. David P. Kimball, and many others. Mrs. Lilian Horsford Farlow, a trustee, and the daughter of Prof. Eben N. Horsford, to whom Wellesley is already deeply indebted, gave ten thousand dollars toward the Fire Fund; and through Mrs. Louise McCoy North, trustee and alumna, an unknown benefactor has given the new building which stands on the hill above the lake. Because of the modesty of donors, it has been impossible to make public a complete list of the gifts.

From the four undergraduate classes, 1915, 1916, 1917, 1918, and from general undergraduate gifts and activities, came $60,572.04, raised in all sorts of ways,-from the presentation of "Beau Brummel" before a Boston audience, to the polishing of shoes at ten cents a shine. One 1917 girl earned ten dollars during the summer vacation by laughing at all her father's jokes, whether old or new, during that period of recreation. Other enterprising sophomores "swatted" flies at the rate of one cent for two, darned stockings for five cents a hole, shampooed, mended, raked leaves. Members of the class of 1916 sold lead pencils and jelly, scrubbed floors, baked angel cake, counted knot holes in the roof of a summer camp. Besides "Beau Brummel", 1915 gave dancing lessons and sold vacuum cleaners. One student who was living in College Hall at the time of the fire is said to have made ten dollars by charging ten cents for every time that she told of her escape from the building. The class of 1918, entering as freshmen in September, after the fire, raised $5,540.60 for the fund when they had been organized only a few weeks.

The methods of the alumnae were no less varied and amusing. The Southern California Club started a College Hall Fund, and notices were sent out all over the country requesting every alumna to give a dollar for every year that she had lived in College Hall. Seven hundred and fifty dollars came in. There were thes dansants, musicales, concerts, of which the Sousa concert in Boston was the most important, operettas, masques, garden parties, costume parties, salad demonstrations, candy sales, bridge parties; a moving-picture film of Wellesley went the rounds of many clubs, from city to city, through New England and the Middle West. An alumna of the class of 1896 "took in" $949.20 for subscriptions to magazines, with a profit of $175.75 for the fund. She comments on Wellesley taste in magazines by revealing the fact that the Atlantic Monthly "received by far the largest number of subscriptions." One girl in Colorado baked bread, "but forsook it to give dancing lessons, as paying even better!" In New York, Chicago, and other cities, the tickets for theatrical performances were bought up and sold again at advanced prices. A book of Wellesley recipes was compiled and sold. An alumna of '92 made a charming etching of College Hall and sold it on a post card; another, also of '92, wrote and sold a poem of lament on the loss of the dear old building. The Cincinnati Wellesley Club held a Wellesley market for three Saturdays in May, 1914, and netted somewhat over seventy-five dollars a day for the three days. One Wellesley club charged ten cents for the privilege of shaking hands with its "fire-heroine."

On Easter Monday, 1914, when the college had just come back to work, after the fire, the "Freeman Fowls" arranged an egg hunt, with egg-shaped tickets at ten cents, for the fund. The students from Freeman Cottage, dressed as roosters, very scarlet as to topknot and wattles, very feather dustery as to tail, waylaid the unwary on campus paths and lured them to buy these tickets and to hunt for the hundreds of brightly colored eggs which these commercially canny fowls had hidden on the Art Building Hill. After the hunt was successfully over, the hunters came down to the front of the new, very new, administration building, already called the Wellesley Hencoop, where they were greeted by the ghosts and wraiths and other astral presentments of the vanished statues of College Hall, and where the roosters burst into an antiphonal chant:

"Come see the Wellesley Chicken-coop, the

Chicken-coop, the Chicken-coop.

Come see the Wellesley Chicken-coop,

(It isn't far from Chapel!)

Come get your tickets for a roost, and give

Your chicken-hearts a boost,

Come see our Wellesley Chicken-roost,

(It isn't far from Chapel!)

"Just see our brand new Collegette, it's

College yet, it's College yet,

With sixty-six new rooms to let,

(They're practicing in Billings).

The Collegette is very tall,

It isn't far from Music Hall,

Our neighbors can't be heard at all

(They learn to sing at Billings).

"Oh, statues dear from College Hall, from

College Hall, from College Hall,

Don't hesitate to come and call

On Hen-House day at Wellesley.

Niobe sad, and Harriet, and Polly Hym and Dian's pet

On Hen-House day,-on Hen-House day,

O! Hen-House day at Wellesley.

Come walk right through the big front door,

Each hour we love you more and more,

There's fire-escapes from every floor

Of the new Hen-house at Wellesley."

Having thus formally adopted the new building, whose windows and doors were already wreathed in vines and crimson (paper) roses which had sprung up and blossomed over night, the college now hastened to the top of College Hall Hill, whence, at the crowing of Chanticleer, the egg-rolling began. The Nest Egg for the fund, achieved by these enterprising "Freeman Fowls", was about fifty-two dollars.

Far off in Honolulu there were "College Capers" in which eight Wellesley alumnae, helped by graduates of Harvard, Cornell, Bryn Mawr, and other colleges, earned three hundred dollars.

The News has published a number of letters whose simple revelation of feeling witnesses to the loyalty and love of the Wellesley alumnae. One writes:

"A month ago, because of obligations and a very small salary, I thought I could give nothing to the Endowment Plan. By Saturday morning (after the fire) I had decided I must give a dollar a month. By night I had received a slight increase in salary, therefore l shall send two dollars a month as long as I am able. I wish it were millions, my admiration and sympathy are so unbounded."

Another says: "Perhaps you may know that when I was a Senior I received a scholarship of (I think) $350. It has long been my wish and dream to return that money with large interest, in return for all I received from my Alma Mater, and in acknowledgment of the success I have since had in my work because of her. I have never been able to lay aside the sum I had wished to give, but now that the need has come I can wait no longer, I am therefore sending you my check for $500, hoping that even this sum, so small in the face of the immense loss, may aid a little because it comes at the right moment. It goes with the wish that it were many, many times the amount, and with the sincerest acknowledgment of my indebtedness to Wellesley."

From China came the message: "In an indefinite way I had intended to send five or ten dollars some time this year (to the Endowment Fund), but the loss of College Hall makes me realize afresh what Wellesley has meant to me, and I want to give till I feel the pinch. I am writing (the treasurer of the Mission Board) to send you five dollars a month for ten months."

From nearer home: "My sister and I intend to go without spring suits this year in order to give twenty-five dollars each toward the fund; this surely will not be sacrifice, but a great privilege. Then we intend to add more each time we receive our salary.... I cannot say that I was so brave as the girls at the college, who did not shed a tear as College Hall burned-I could not speak, my voice was so choked with tears, and that night I went supperless to bed. But though it seems impossible to believe that College Hall is a thing of the past, yet one cannot but feel that from this so great calamity great good will come-a broader, higher spirit will be manifested; we shall cease to think in classes, but all unite in great loving thought for the good and the upbuilding-in more senses than one-of our Alma Mater."

And the messages and money from friends of the college were no less touching. The children of the Wellesley Kindergarten, which is connected with the Department of Education in the college, held a sale of their own little handicrafts and made fifty dollars for the fund.

One who signed himself, "Very respectfully, A Working Man," wrote: "The results of your college's work show that it is of the best. The Student Government is one of the finest things in American education. The spirit shown at the fire and since is superb."

Another man, who wished that he "had a daughter to go to Wellesley, the college of high ideals," said, "I should be ashamed even to ride by in the train without contributing this mite to your Rebuilding Fund."

A woman in Tasmania sent a dollar, "for you are setting a great ideal for the broad education of women.... We (in Australia) have much to thank the higher democratic education of America for."

From many little children money came: from little girls who hoped to come to Wellesley some day, and from the sons and daughters of Wellesley students.

The business men of Wellesley town subscribed generously. Many men as well as women have expressed their admiration of the college in a tangible way.

And from Vassar, Smith, Bryn Mawr, Mt. Holyoke, Radcliffe, Barnard, Wells, Simmons, and Sweet Briar, contributions came pouring in unsolicited. Harvard, Yale, the University of Pennsylvania, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Tufts, and others had already loaned equipment and material for the impoverished laboratories, and direct contributions to the fund came from the University of Idaho, the Musical Clubs of Dartmouth and the Institute of Technology; from Hobart College, in cooperation with Wellesley alumnae, in Geneva, New York; from the Emerson College of Oratory, the College Club of Tucson, Arizona, the Boston and Connecticut branches of the Association of Collegiate Alumnae, the Fitchburg Smith College Club, and the Cornell Woman's Club of New York City. To Smith College, which had so lately raised its million, Wellesley was also indebted for helpful suggestions in planning the campaign.

When the great war broke out in August, 1914, wise unbelievers shook their heads and commiserated Wellesley; but the dauntless Chairman of the Alumnae Restoration and Endowment Committee continued to press on with her campaign-to draw dilatory clubs into line, to prod sluggish classes into activity, to remind individuals of their opportunity.

The pledges for the last forty thousand dollars of the fund came snowing in during Christmas week, and eleven o'clock of the evening of December 31, 1914, found Miss Stimson's committee in New York counting at top speed the sheaves of checks and pledges which had been arriving all day. The remarkable thing about the campaign was the great number of small amounts which came in, and the number of alumnae-not the wealthy ones-who doubled their pledges at the last minute. It was the one dollar and the five-dollar pledges which really saved the day and made it possible for the college to secure the large conditional gifts. On the morning of January 1, 1915, the amount was complete.


With 1915, Wellesley enters upon the second phase of her history, but the early, formative years will always shine through the fire, a memory and an inspiration. Nothing that was vital perished in those flames. Yet already the Wellesley that looks back upon her old self is a different Wellesley. All her repressed desires, spiritual, intellectual, aesthetic, are suddenly set free. Her lovers and her daughters feel the very campus kindle and quicken beneath their feet to new responsibilities.

"The New Wellesley!"

No one knows what that shall be, but the words are vision-filled: prophetic of an ordered beauty of architecture, a harmony of taste, that the old Wellesley, on the far side of the fire, strove after but never knew; prophetic of a pinnacled and aspiring scholarship whose solid foundations were laid forty years deep in Christian trust and patience; prophetic of a questing spirit freed from the old reproach of provincialism; of a ministering spirit in which the virtue of true courtesy is fulfilled.

The end of her first half century will see the campus flowering with the outward and visible signs of the new Wellesley; and even as the old fire-hallowed bricks have made beautiful the new walls, so the beauty of the old dreams shall shine in the new vision.

"Pageant of fretted roofs that cluster*

On hill and knoll in the branches green,

Ye are but shadows, and not the luster,

Garment, ye, of a grace unseen.

"All our life is confused with fable,

Ever the fact as the phantasy seems:

Yet the world of spirit lies sure and stable,

Under the shows of the world of dreams.

"Not an idle and false derision

The rocks that crumble, the stars that fail;

Meaning caskets within the vision,

Shaping the folds of the woven veil."

* Katharine Lee Bates: from a poem, "The College Beautiful," 1886.

Free to Download MoboReader
(← Keyboard shortcut) Previous Contents (Keyboard shortcut →)
 Novels To Read Online Free

Scan the QR code to download MoboReader app.

Back to Top