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.


International Students Day

November 15, 2010

Smith College first celebrated International Students Day on November 17, 1947.  The International Student Congress meeting in Prague in 1945 declared November 17th as a day of remembrance of a group of Czech students who were slaughtered by the National Socialists.  IS Day emphasized the need for students from all over the world to come together and establish an understanding between nations to foster work on common problems–and find solutions.

International Students Day Festival, 1947

The program of events for 1947 included a parade of students from 26 different nations, with flags of each nation in John M. Greene Hall beginning at 8:30am.  The speaker at the College Chapel services was Walter Wallace, the New York regional head of the National Student Association.  The NSA goal is to “equalize education throughout the country on a high level.” A forum on “student political activity in China, Britain, Russia and the U.S.” took place in the Browsing Room of Neilson Library.  A British graduate student, a Smith alumna from China, a current student, and a U.S. citizen who spent his youth in the USSR took turns describing the activities in their representative lands.  A Russian culture exhibit,  and an international fair with wares and food took place all day.  In the evening, Alumnae Gymnasium was alive with dance and music performed by student representatives from England, Brazil, Burma, Czechoslovakia, China, Norway and Greece .  A special chapel service was held at the end of the day in the Library’s Little Chapel with prayers and hymns in several different languages.  The IS Day was sponsored by the Student Government, and several of the political committees on campus.

An editorial in the Smith College Associated News hoped  “International Students Day will become a tradition at Smith, and a yearly celebration in other colleges as well.  Typical of Smith’s leadership in international affairs” the program…was printed on the front pages of the Mount Holyoke and Wesleyan student newspapers.  Kudos were given to the coordinating committee, and “…especially to the foreign students, whose participation gave significance to International Student’s Day.

International Students Day provides an opportunity for Smith students to celebrate thinking and acting globally and to share native foods and culture with one another.

Sarah Anael, GS1962 with professor William van Voris at IS Day, 1961

Students from India prepare a meal for International Students Day in 1982

International Students Day events are happening today, November 15th at Smith College.

For more information about the history of International Students Day celebrations at Smith, and Smith’s history of global work and education, come to the Smith College Archives.


Freshman Grinds

March 25, 2010

1909's Freshman Grind for the Class of 1910

Long-standing competition between the First Year and Second Year classes (otherwise referred to as Freshman and Sophomore classes) has over the years produced a number of interesting items, many of which have made their way to the College Archives.

Smith women have always been a literate bunch.  Beginning as early as with the Class of 1889, these publications were printed and appeared on the doorsteps of incoming first year students, or in their mailboxes.   The Grinds skewered the First Year students and not surprisingly, the authors referred to them as babies who knew nothing about campus life, and who were impressionable beyond imagination.

"Babies Own Journal" Class of 1908

“Babies Own Journal” produced by the Class of 1908 was a take-off of modern baby books, with instructions on how to keep the baby member of the Class of 1909 happy, healthy and clean.   The Freshman Grind of the Class of 1918 is shaped like a baby sucking a bottle and holding a doll.  It was titled “Initial Instructions for Infants, or the Babies Botany Book.”  Inside were poems about various types of Smith women including the ‘Freshman A-weepiosa’ the ‘Fusser Blush-i-orum’ and the ‘Athlet-a-Longorum.’   Reading, writing and arithmetic were themes of the Class of 1903 grind which was published in the form of an elementary primer.  The Class of 1904 chose to render the Class of 1905 as first year baby chicks in their grind.  At Smith the published grinds appear to end with the Class of 1927.

ABCs for the Class of 1903

Chicken motif for Freshman Grind, Class of 1904


Diploma Circle at Smith College

May 15, 2009

Smith undergraduates end their academic career in Northampton with one final tradition: the Diploma Circle.

Diploma Circle at Smith College, 1984

Diploma Circle at Smith College, 1984

When they walk across the front stage and shake hands with the College president during the Commencement ceremony, graduating seniors are not given their own diplomas.  Instead, they receive a classmate’s.  In order to leave with the correct diploma, the entire senior class gathers in concentric circles on the lawn of King-Scales houses. On a signal, they start to pass the diplomas around until the right one finally lands in their hands.  Usually, this is met with a  joyful look similar to this image from 1944:

Student opening her diploma, 1944

Student opening her diploma, 1944

Evidence in the College Archives suggests that the Diploma Circle has been around since at least 1911, possibly earlier.  It has seen many names in that time, including: the “Magic Circle” and the “Great Ring.”  Whatever the name,  when the student steps out of the Circle with her diploma in hand, she knows she is officially a  Smith alumna!

*1984 Diploma Circle image by Gabriel Cooney


The staff of the College Archives wishes all of the Senior Class our best in your next journey, whatever it may be.  We hope you’ll return to the Archives anytime you’re on campus in the future!!

All the best from Nanci, Debbie, Leslie & Susan