March, Basketball and Smith

March 23, 2012

Our Pioneer basketball team had a good season this year–capturing their first ECAC championship, beating their opponent after coming back from a 16 point deficit.  Women’s basketball and Smith go hand-in-hand together, ever since 1893, when the Director of Gymnastics, Senda Berenson watched a YMCA basketball game in Springfield, MA and decided that Smith women could play that game just as well.

Senda Berenson in front of Alumnae Gymnasium

Berenson brought the game back to Alumnae Gymnasium, chose women from various classes (seniors, juniors, sophomores, freshman) and started them practicing.  The energy of the women who participated in these practices was contagious.  Lines of students would form at the doors of Alumnae Gymnasium to see a game, and snake around Washburn and Hubbard House, as in this 1895 image.

Students waiting in line for the doors to open for a basketball game.

Josephine Dodge Daskam, Class of 1898, describes the tenor and temperament of a game in her short story “The Emotions of a Sub-Guard” part of her book Smith College Stories (published by Charles Scribner’s & Sons, 1900).  Check it out for yourself.  In the meantime, basketball continues to hold sway over the students during the winter months.  While no longer the painfully slow game that it was in the 1890s (the first game ended with in a 5-4 win by the sophomores), the energy, creativity, and complete passion that Berenson, the teams of the Class of 1895 and 1896, and the majority of Smith women generated and endorsed at that first game on March 22, 1893 remains today.

Watch an award-winning video about the early days of Smith’s basketball legacy at:




You Can Find It in the Archives: Madeleine L’Engle’s College Writing

February 21, 2012

It was a dark and stormy night; Meg Murry, her small brother Charles Wallace, and her mother had come down to the kitchen for a midnight snack when they were upset by the arrival of a most disturbing stranger.

This is the 50th anniversary year of that opening sentence; the 50th anniversary of the publication of Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time. But before she published her Newbery Award-winning science fantasy book, L’Engle wrote for and edited the Smith College Monthly. She was a member of the Class of 1941, graduating cum laude with a degree in English.

Madeleine L'Engle Camp, Class of 1941, yearbook picture.

Madeleine L’Engle Camp was the first Editor-in-Chief of the new Smith College Monthly, a publication which made its debut on campus in October 1940. The magazine had had an earlier life at Smith from 1893 to 1930 before fading away. L’Engle brought it back with a full editorial, business, and circulation staff.

First issue of the Smith College Monthly, October 1940.

The magazine featured political essays and opinion pieces, book reviews, fiction, and poetry by students and, occasionally, by faculty members. The managing editor at that time was Bettye Naomi Goldstein, Class of 1942 — better known today by her married name, Betty Friedan. We imagine it would have been interesting to hear the conversations at those editorial meetings!

Bettye Naomi Goldstein, Class of 1942, yearbook picture.

Along with editorials, L’Engle published two short stories and a long poem in the pages of the Monthly.

Madeleine L'Engle Camp, "Night at the Fair," Smith College Monthly, December 1940.

Madeleine L'Engle Camp, "From A City Boarding House," Smith College Monthly, February 1941.

Madeleine L'Engle Camp, "The Birthday," Smith College Monthly, April 1941.

Smith awarded L’Engle an honorary degree in 1986. According to the Smith Alumnae Quarterly, L’Engle told students in a discussion on campus in 1997 that honesty is the most important quality to successful storytelling. “If my readers don’t believe it, then it’s not true,” she said.

Here’s the book trailer for Wrinkle in Time‘s 50th anniversary edition to inspire you to read our alumna’s story again or for the very first time.

You Can Find It in the Archives: Valentines (and candy!)

February 14, 2012

Smithies have long celebrated February 14th by exchanging cards and gifts. Some of these cards were lovingly tucked into scrapbooks to be remembered and admired later; some of the candies were too, as you’ll see below! Here’s a sampler of Valentine’s Day cards preserved in Smith College student scrapbook albums from the late 1870s to the 1950s.

Esther "Daisy" Brooks, Class of 1882, valentine from scrapbook, ca.1878.

Esther "Daisy" Brooks, Class of 1882, valentine from scrapbook, ca.1878.

Elizabeth Learoyd, Class of 1892, candy heart from scrapbook.

Eleanor Upton, Class of 1909, valentine from scrapbook.

Eleanor Upton, Class of 1909, musical romance valentine from scrapbook.

Eva Simpson, Class of 1926, match valentine from scrapbook.

Eva Simpson, Class of 1926, lollipop valentine from scrapbook, 1925.

Joan Janderson, Class of 1947, valentine from scrapbook.

Joan Janderson, Class of 1947, valentine from scrapbook.

Mary Chrisman, Class of 1959, valentine from scrapbook.

Mary Chrisman, Class of 1959, valentine from scrapbook.

You Can Find It in the Archives: Advertising

February 6, 2012

Corset advertisement, 26 October 1921, in the Smith College Weekly.

Advertising may not be the first subject that comes to mind when you think of the collections in the Smith College Archives. But open up to the back of a yearbook or skim through the pages of the student newspaper and suddenly you’ll learn how both national and local companies chose to advertise to Smith students. Advertisements helped to sustain these student publications and gave companies access to a population of potential consumers.

Here’s a sampling of print advertising through the decades. Come in to the reading room and explore more of these for yourself!

Jello advertisement from the 1915 Smith College yearbook.

Cigarette advertisement, 5 February 1936, in the Smith College Weekly.

Nail polish advertisement, 13 October 1944, in the Smith College Weekly.

Frozen foods advertisement in the 1966 Smith College yearbook.

Health care advertisement, 16 March 1978, in the Sophian.

Stand By–Smith

January 13, 2012

Fundraising campaigns are never easy, and when a college begins a campaign within an economic recession, the chances are it won’t receive as much money as it does in times of more economic stability.  However, give Smith women a challenge and they more than rise to it!

In 1919 Smith College entered a new phase of fundraising.  President William A. Neilson announced plans to enhance its $4 Million Campaign.  In order to make the campaign happen, and encourage complete participation of its alumna, the College split its Alumnae Association group into 59 sectors, covering the world.  No area was left untouched.  Volunteer alumnae served as directors of the fundraising effort.  In the fall, the Alumnae Service School took place at Smith, and these volunteers were trained in organizing and other techniques that were deployed for the benefit of the campaign for the College.

Alumnae Service School, 1919

The Smith College Club system churned out numerous intriguing and creative ways to make money and identify individuals to pledge their support.  Fathers, husbands and brothers were employed, among others, to give pep talks about Smith to potential donors.  Among the many projects were ‘Bridget Smith’ parties: card parties (primarily bridge), where individuals would pay a certain amount to play at an alumna’s home, as well as pledge to give all her winnings to Smith; in New York City two Smith alumna baked apple and cherry pies and sold them to the men’s clubs in the city, for a profit.  These women were part of the Home Express Club

Home Express Club

that helped Smith alumna prepare meals in their homes.  A catering service with a twist!  The New Haven, CT club had a very active group of women willing to do this type of work–for a price, which was then sent to Northampton as a contribution to the Fund.  Another group of Smith alumnae purchased 590 straw hats from the Philippines through a Smith connection, sold them at a 5th Avenue store front location (currently a Fendi Store).  They sold out their supply in 6 days and were all the rage.  They made back the $5,000 investment, and then some.  The extra was contributed to the Smith College Fund.

Straw hats for sale in NYC for the Smith Club Fund, 1920

The Smith Fund adopted a baby camel named ‘Sophia Smith’ at the Bronx Zoo, seen here with her mother and 2 Smith canvassers.  Visitors could get an in-depth look at the animals, and access to the zoo for parties and other events.  It was one of the more intriguing activities of the $4 Million Campaign.

Baby camel, Sophia Smith, and her mother at the Bronx Zoo, 1920

The campaign was a huge success in the limited time it ran.  By the summer the coffers tipped over the $4 million mark.  The announcement of the successful campaign took place at Reunions.  Alumnae, students, administrators and faculty were all very proud of the accomplishment.

To learn more about the $4 Million campaign and other moments in Smith history, come visit the Smith College Archives!





Archives welcomes high school students

July 13, 2011

This week 9 high school girls are engaging with undergraduate students from the 1880s, 1890s and 1910s through letters, journals, diaries, scrapbooks and photograph albums located in the Smith College Archives.  These young women are part of the summer program “Exploring New England.”  Working with professor Susan van Dyne, they are learning what it was like to be a young woman on an educational adventure in the early decades of the College.  The Archives is proud to work with professor van Dyne in exposing these students to some of the wonderful resources available to all researchers in the Smith College Archives.


Smithipedia gets some press

June 17, 2011

Smith president Carol Christ discusses the Smithipedia project in her ‘President’s Perspective’ column in the latest issue of the Smith Alumnae Quarterly magazine on pages 24-25 of the electronic version; pages 22-23 of the paper version.  Learn more about this STRIDE student project and how you can participate in the on-line encyclopedia of Smith history.