My Character for the 1950s recreation

I chose to come to Mary Washington because my father, who is in the Navy, is stationed in DC and I wanted to be close to home. I am currently sophomore at MWC and will be majoring in History. I would love to become a teacher one day as well. I’m very involved on campus, but my favorite extra curricular activity is being a member of the Student Government. I love to help plan events on campus like Devil-Goat Day and May Day.

How to Recreate the ’50s

What class/discipline should we re-create?

Since this is a history class, I think recreating a history class would be a good idea. Not only would it keep our class more interested in general, but it would also allow us to actually have a class that we could actively participate in. Apart from this, having a class in Monroe would also be fun for our class

– What sources will we use?

The 1950s group did a great job with all of their research, their website will obviously be one of the best sources we can use. From looking at their site, I saw that they used most of the resources my group (the 1940s) used, like the Bullet, course catalogues, and student handbooks.

– How will we work in non-academic material?

I think the best way to do this would be to do what Dr. McClurken does at the beginning of our classes today: ask the class what they did over the weekend/ what their plans are for the week. Maybe there could be a dance or other social event coming up, or a new rule or privilege could have just been introduced.  A short discussion at the beginning of class of the world outside academics would be a great way to give a little authenticity to the class and also work in the elements that are not purely academic.

– Material aspects (clothes? books?)

There are a lot of sources in the archives that would be great to use. We would of course have to be very careful with some of the older materials we use, but if we could have access to them, I think it would help the project enormously. As for clothes, Dr. McClurken has said that the UMW costumer is very excited at the prospect of dressing our class up for this event and I think it would be great if he could! Did they wear the freshman beanies back then?

Completed Group Site!

Well, after over half a semester, all our research has been compiled and our group site is complete! We organized our research into four sections, Classroom Experience, Campus Life, Courses and Majors, and World War II. While the main focus of the project is Classroom Experience, the other three categories had such a profound impact on the experience in the classroom, it would be impossible not to note their significance. We also reserved a page for the interview with MWC graduate Dr. Vivian Wilkerson. One of the most interesting parts of this page was the fact that we were able to locate a picture of the Dr. Wilkerson’s favorite teacher. We also included two posts, one was a welcome page that guides visitors through the site. The other contains a slide show of images from MWC in the 1940s and UMW today.

Hope you all enjoy the site!

http://mwc1940s.umwblogs.org/

Interview with Dr. Vivian Wilkerson

Basic Questions:

What year did you graduate from Mary Washington College?  1946

What was your major? Science and Commerce

Why did you decide to attend MWC? I lived in Richmond and my father worked for the railroad, so I had free transportation.  It was during WW2 so gas was scarse and money too!

Pertaining to your classroom experiences:

What was one of your favorite classes and why? Biology.  It sparked my interest in medicine.

Can you recall one of your more difficult classes? Why was this class so hard? Math.  I never liked math and still don`t.

Who was one of your favorite professors and why?  Dr. Iltis explained Science well and seemed interested in his pupils.

What can you recall of the importance placed on the “Honor Code” in the classroom? I was not aware of anybody cheating.

What was the final exam process like? Scary!!

Overall, what was one of your most memorable classroom experiences during your time at MWC? As part of my time in a Health class, I went downtown to a physician`s office to observe how he saw patients.

Pertaining to World War II:

If so, how did if effect life at MWC?  The food included powdered eggs ,They bussed in Marines from Quantico for our dances.

Were you at all involved in the campaigns to collect war bonds for the war effort?  Yes.  I still have some War Stamps which were collected until you had enough to buy a bond.

Were course curriculums at all altered to meet specific needs for the war? Not that I am aware of.

Did any of your professors or fellow students leave to become soldiers, nurses, ect.? No

Bullet Points: 1945

This week I had the opportunity to look at articles from The Bullet, published in 1945. Perhaps the most difficult part of looking through The Bullets is finding information that is relevant to describing the classroom experience in the 1940s.

After combing through all of newspapers from 1945, I came across two articles that described some of the classes that were offered to women at MWC in the 1940s. One of them, interestingly enough, was flying. While this class did not actually count for college credit and was only available to girls who were in good academic standing, it is still fascinating to know that the Board of Visitors approved of this opportunity for girls.  The students would be given the chance to learn to fly on one of six planes at Garner Aviation Service. Certainly one of the most interesting classes offered to girls at MWC, this would be one that might be a bit difficult for our class to recreate in April. [1]

Another of the classes that was offered, demonstrates one of the many ways World War II affected academic life at the college. Directed in part my the College Unit of the Red Cross, MWC students would be given the opportunity to take classes in “HomeNursing.”  The article talked about the importance of this class and stated plainly that “home front health is a wartime necessity.”  It also stated that every class on home nursing should be filled to capacity, not only so women could help with the current war efforts, but also the post war period in which men “returning from their nation’s service” would need care. [2]

Another interesting article does not directly discuss classroom life, but details what a MWC student’s classroom experience would prepare them for after they graduated. Published at the beginning of the 1945-1946 school year, What the Class of ’45 is Doing, gave details on what jobs members of the class had, now that they had graduated. Many of these jobs involved teaching, but the subjects they taught ranged in everything from typing and mathematics to elementary education and commerce. Some women became stenographers, secretaries, and nurses. Ruth Abbey Brann even got a job working for Vogue in New York!

This will be the last research post I do for this project and a quote taken from one of the Bullet articles, seems like a fitting end to these blog posts,

“There is a tremendous job to be done in the world in the years just ahead. Women will be called upon to play a large part in politics, government, science and psychology as well as in education and art. No field will be closed to them. Just as it did after the last war, education for women will take a great step forward, probably in ways we cannot foresee.”[3]

It is interesting to think about what the women of MWC in the 1940s would have thought about UMW and the strides forward women have taken in education.

[1] “Board of Visitors Approves Flying ,” The Bullet, January 15, 1945.

[2]“Courses In Home Nursing Now Open to MWC Students ,” The Bullet, January 17, 1945.

[3] Camilla M. Payne, “Values,” The Bullet, October 15, 1945.

A Very Interesting Find

Are you an Isolationist?

Looking through the Bullet has been one of the most fascinating parts of this project. In my group, I was assigned to look at the Bullets from 1945.  However looking through the old papers of MWC students past was so interesting, that I took advantage of this opportunity and looked into some of the older papers back in 1941. One of the articles I found was just too interesting not to share.

This article was published on Friday, December 5, 1941 and was titled Are You an Isolationist? The timing of the publishing of this article was very ironic. The editorial detailed an idea that MWC students were all isolationist by nature, simply because of the fact that they were so sheltered by life at the college. There is no way these students could have known that just two days later, that weekend in fact, the entire country would be thrown head first into World War II. They would never have guessed that in the years that would follow their school paper would be printing advertisements for war bonds and describing the efforts of MWC students to help the war on the home front.

All the research I have done for this project has made it clear that the war had a tremendous effect on the women of MWC, and would certainly have effected life in the classroom, and it all began just two days after this article was published. [1]


[1] “Are you an Isolationist?” The Bullet  (Fredericksburg), December 5, 1941.

Preview to an Interview with a MWC Graduate

Happy Valentines Day!

This week I was privileged enough to have the opportunity to ask Dr. Vivian Wilkerson, a graduate of Mary Washington College in the 1940s, a few questions, pertaining to life at MWC during her time there. This interview will certainly be one of the most important parts of this project and I am very excited to hear her responses.  I do not have her answers ready in time to post for this week’s blog, so for today, I will just post the questions I have sent to her.

Some MWC students from the 1940s with Dr. Combs

Basic Questions:

What year did you graduate from Mary Washington College?

What was your major?

Why did you decide to attend MWC?

Pertaining to your classroom experiences:

What was one of your favorite classes and why?

Can you recall one of your more difficult classes? Why was this class so hard?

Who was one of your favorite professors and why?

Were you required to dress in a certain way when you attended class?

What was the policy on tardiness and/or missing class?

What can you recall of the importance placed on the “Honor Code” in the classroom?

Overall, what was one of your most memorable classroom experiences during your time at MWC?

Pertaining to World War II:

Were you at MWC during World War II?

If so, how did it effect life at MWC?

Were you at all involved in the campaigns to collect war bonds for the war effort?

Were course curriculums at all altered to meet specific needs for the war?

Did any of your professors or fellow students leave to become soldiers, nurses, ect.?

More MWC students

What Our Group Site Will Look Like

After talking with our full group on Thursday, we came up with some pretty good ideas on how to create our group website.

We will have several different “pages,” each dedicated to a different area of our studies. One will be on the classroom experience, one will focus on the effect of WWII in the classroom, another will have a “Then & Now” segment where we will take a look at how MWC has changed into UMW, and finally we will have on that is dedicated to our interviews.

We also discussed making some kind of slideshow to help showcase the many fascinating images and other pictures we have found or taken during the course of our research.

Our overall aim is to make this a unique site that will not only give direct information on the classroom experience, but also provide background information on things that may have more indirectly affect life in a MWC classroom.

…and of course we want our decade to be picked for the actual recreation in April 🙂

Just a little preview of what our website will look like!

Unequal Sisters- Class Readings for 2/9/2012

One of the readings we were assigned in class this week was “Black and White Visions of Welfare” written by Linda Gordon. This reading focused on the differences seen between black and white women’s ideas on welfare. One of the quotes that struck me most in this reading was in relation to the separation of black and white welfare reform. Gordon states “Separating the white from the black women was not me decision: The networks were almost completely segregated.”  She goes on to talk about how both national and local organization were segregated and how that effected the reform movements.  Gordon also notes, “the black groups was created in part by white racism.”  It’s interesting to think about how these reform movements would have been different had race not been such a big factor in how the organizations were run.

Scrapbooks

Emma Elizabeth Collins Burke's Scrapbook from 1940-1942

This past week I have had the privilege of researching a few scrapbooks, made by the women of Mary Washington College themselves.  Glued and taped to the fading and worn pages of these seventy year old books, were unique glimpses into the lives and feelings of these students. In particular, the scrapbook constructed by Emma Elizabeth Collins Burke, turned about to be a veritable gold mine of information pertaining to this project.  In her scrapbook she taped report cards, class schedules, and test papers, as well as invitations to dances, and articles from “The Bullet.”

Today, the University of Mary Washington’s “Undergraduate Course Catalogue “is over 250 pages long[i], a stark contrast from the college’s seven-page catalogue

Course Catalogues from 1940 and 2012

from1941. The catalogue is indeed so thin that is was easily glued into a scrapbook later made by Burke. There may not have been as many classes as we have today, but there was a decent range of subjects (fourteen in all)[ii] for the women to choose from.  Most of the course subjects would be familiar to students today (like math, history, and foreign languages), but a few, such as “Dietics and Home Economics,”[iii] are a little different from the kinds of classes UMW students today are used to.

Burke's Test from 1940. Note the Honor Pledge signed in the center of the page.

One of the most interesting things Burke put into her scrapbook was a paper she had written for one of her classes on August 6, 1940. Clearly proud of her work (she got an A- on the paper), she was also quick to note that the class this paper was written for was no walk in the park, writing next to the paper “what a tough course!”[iv]

One final piece of Burke’s MWC history that was taped into her scrapbook was her report card. This “Quarterly Grade

Burke's 1940 Report Card

Report,” dated June 8, 1940, is a great way to see not only what classes students could have taken, but how they chose to pair them to make their schedule. During this quarter, Burke (then Collins) took six classes: Survey of American Lit (Eng 263), American History (His 153), History of Civilization (His 263), Latin (Lat 113), Survey of Music (Mus 113), and General Psychology (Psy 219).[v] Who knows, maybe one of these classes from 1940 will be the one HIST 328 will recreate in 2012.

From Burke's Scrapbook

While these class schedules, test papers, and report cards will be invaluable when it comes time to recreate a typical classroom experience (the unlimited goal of this project), there was one aspect of life that was mentioned in every scrapbook from the 1940s I looked at. While it was not directly related to classes, there is no doubt that it had a profound effect on the students.  I’m speaking of course about World War II.  In Burke’s scrapbook, she taped an article from the Bullet about Hitler vs. U.S. Presidents and their viewpoints and captioned it “December 7, 1941 -That momentous day!” [vi]  Much like 9/11 dominated the topics of conversation in and outside the classroom, the attacks on Pearl Harbor, would certainly have affected life in the classroom for MWC students.

"If you want them back- Back them!"

One of the scrapbooks I looked at, entitled “Victory,” was completely devoted to the work of the “Mary Washington College Defense Program.”[vii]  This program’s mission was to help the men fighting in the war through the sale of war bonds.  The women had drives to help sell the bonds, asked faculty and staff to make pledges, and even a contest for a “Bond Queen.”[viii]  The amount of success they had in their efforts was astonishing.  Between 1942 and 1945, the women raised $45,173.64 for the war bond effort. Women working at a War Bond drive at the college were even featured in a Treasury Department Bulletin entitled “A War Savings Handbook for Colleges at War.” The women were pictured standing around a sign saying “If you want them back- back them!” [ix]In 1945, Mary Washington College was even presented with a certificate from the United States Treasury Department  “For distinguished service rendered on behalf of the War Finance Program.”  [x]

These scrapbooks have, both directly and indirectly, brought us one step closer to being able to recreate a true classroom experience.

 



[i] Emma Elizabeth Collins Burke. UMW Archives, Scrapbook 1940-1942.

[ii] Emma Elizabeth Collins Burke. UMW Archives, Scrapbook 1940-1942.

[iii] Emma Elizabeth Collins Burke. UMW Archives, Scrapbook 1940-1942.

[iv] Emma Elizabeth Collins Burke. UMW Archives, Scrapbook 1940-1942.

[v] Emma Elizabeth Collins Burke. UMW Archives, Scrapbook 1940-1942.

[vi] Emma Elizabeth Collins Burke. UMW Archives, Scrapbook 1940-1942.

[vii] Mary Washington College Defense Program. Victory. UMW Archives, Scrapbook.

[viii] Mary Washington College Defense Program. Victory. UMW Archives, Scrapbook.

[ix] Mary Washington College Defense Program. Victory. UMW Archives, Scrapbook.

[x] Mary Washington College Defense Program. Victory. UMW Archives, Scrapbook.

the “Bayonet”

The "Bayonets" from the 1940s

When students leave for college today, there is one word used to describe the upcoming college experience that is talked about more than any other- freedom. For many, the idea of leaving home for a world in which there are no parents watching and controlling every move they make, is one that trumps all the other excitements that come with enrolling in college. It was therefore very interesting to find that the Mary Washington College students of the 1940s had a very structured life within the college.  There were strict curfews and study hours, mandatory meals, stringent guest policies (especially when it came to male visitors), and rigorous policies on what one could do off campus.  It is safe to say that a current University of Mary Washington student would have found the “Mary Washington College of the University of Virginia” of the 1940s almost unrecognizable.

The ultimate goal of this research project is to be able to recreate a classroom experience of Mary Washington students during a particular decade. However, understanding what life was like at the college outside the classroom is essential to understanding the way students would have acted inside them. To do this, this past week I have researched all of the student handbooks (known as the “Bayonet”) from the 1940s, more specifically I focused on the “Rules and Regulations of the Student Government Association”[i] portion of the handbook. This outlined the policies and community standards that all Mary Washington College students were held to.

At the start of the decade the “Rules and Regulations” were divided into ten sections; “School Work,” “Class Organization,” “House Council”, “Dorm Life,” “Meals and the Dining Hall,” “Dates,” “Riding,” “Week-end and Holiday Visits,” “Trips to Town,” and “Miscellaneous.”[ii]In the “Dorm Life” section, there were several rules that would directly affect the classroom experience of students. Not only was there a curfew of 10:30pm, quiet hours that began at 10:45, and lights out at 11pm, there was also a study hall period that began at 7:15 (7:30 on Fridays) and ran until 10:15. During the study hall period,

Opening pages of the 1939-1940 "Bayonet"

students were required to be in their own room doing schoolwork. The fifteen minute period between the end of study hall and curfew were considered “recreational periods” in which the students could visit each other’s rooms, but they were expected to be back in their own rooms promptly at 10:30. These tightly regulated and required study periods would have, in some part, increased how prepared students were for class, which would certainly add to the overall classroom experience. [iii]

It was not only Dorm Life that was strictly regulated by the college. In 1940, all meals were compulsory for all students (with the exception of breakfast for Seniors everyday and all other students on Saturdays and Sundays) and most extra curricular activities, including trips to town, dates, and weekend trips, could only be done with “special permission from the Dean of Women.”[iv]  Dates in particular were heavily regulated. All male callers were required to be on the “Calling List” before they could call on a student (out of town boys could only be added to the list after written permission was granted from the student’s parent) and upon arrival at MWC, they would have to pick up a “Calling Card” from the Dean of Women.[v]

Campus Map taken from the 1939-1940 "Bayonet"

As years passed in the decades, there were some subtle changes in these rules. Most significant changes came between the 1945/1946 and 1946/1947 school years. Since the first handbook of the decade all students had gained the right to skip breakfast any day of the week and ride bikes without parents permission. In 1946 however, students were allowed to begin hanging things on their walls, bring electronic devices other than a lamp into their room, and skip any meal at any time.[vi] The lights out time was also moved back from 11pm to midnight on Saturdays and “two or more Seniors with approved escorts” were allowed to go to the movies on weekends.[vii] While students did gain many liberties over the decade, some new rules were also put in place during that time period as well. Rules about smoking and electronic devices in the rooms were added to the handbook during the decade.

While it is true that many present day Mary Washington students would find life at the college in the 1940s unimaginable, it is important to note that some values have stayed consistent throughout the years since 1940. Even then, students were required to sign the honor pledge on all of their graded work and the honor code itself was still regarded as one of the most important aspects of life at the college. [viii]

A rule from the "Trips to Town" section of “Rules and Regulations of the Student Government Association”

[i] Juanita Carpenter ed., The Bayonet, 1939-1940  (R.A. Kishpaugh Print, Fredericksburg, VA).

[ii] Juanita Carpenter ed., The Bayonet, 1939-1940  (R.A. Kishpaugh Print, Fredericksburg, VA).

[iii]Juanita Carpenter ed., The Bayonet, 1939-1940  (R.A. Kishpaugh Print, Fredericksburg, VA).

[iv]Juanita Carpenter ed., The Bayonet, 1939-1940  (R.A. Kishpaugh Print, Fredericksburg, VA).

[v]Juanita Carpenter ed., The Bayonet, 1939-1940  (R.A. Kishpaugh Print, Fredericksburg, VA).

[vi] Lelia Marsh, Miriam Riggs, Ellen Campbell eds., The Bayonet, 1946-1947 (R.A. Kishpaugh Print, Fredericksburg, VA).

[vii]Lelia Marsh, Miriam Riggs, Ellen Campbell eds., The Bayonet, 1946-1947 (R.A. Kishpaugh Print, Fredericksburg, VA).

[viii]Juanita Carpenter ed., The Bayonet, 1939-1940  (R.A. Kishpaugh Print, Fredericksburg, VA).