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