— Mary Washington College in the 1930s

Hello, my name is Dorothy Booth and I am from Richmond, Virginia. I am a senior Psychology major and a council member of the Recreation Association. My older brother was a soldier in World War II and I decided to come to MWC when he decided to go because his G.I. Bill. I am trying to become a primary school teacher.

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Well first off, I thought the group that did the 1950s did an absolutely amazing job on their blog website, so props to them, they really deserved it! Now we get to recreate their decade which should be REALLY fun! As far as actually pulling it off though I have a few thoughts. I think that we should definitely talk with Professor McCluskey of the theater department to get an accurate sense of clothing and dress of the time. I know I personally think of June Cleaver as being the 1950s look but I wonder if thats just mainly an ideal portrayed on television, and not the style of what most women wore. I also think that we should maybe try to recreate an education class since that was the primary major of the college from the beginning. I’m not really sure what roles people should have other than students really. Working in non-academic material I think is going to be tough just because we are trying to stay within the classroom experience. Maybe we could some how recreate a Devil-Goat Day and then continue the “rivalry” in the classroom somehow. To get more information from source I think that we can start with what the 1950s group looked through in the University Archives. Dr. Crawley’s book could definitely provide some great secondary material and point us in a direction to look by pulling from sources that he used. Also looking at The Battlefield can give us a sense of dress and location, like where to recreate. Being able to recreate the 1950s should be pretty fun and I am looking forward to learning more about the decade!

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Our group has completed our research and website on the Mary Washington College student experience in the 1930s! Check it out! http://mwc1930s.umwblogs.org/

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“Alumni Association Scrapbook Cover.” University of Mary Washington Special Collections Library. (accessed February 15, 2012).

I was hoping to find more information this week from the final two scrapbooks I needed to look through in the Special Collections library but unfortunately neither of them came even close to the amount I found in Mary Louise Carter’s scrapbook. I thought that the Alumni Association Scrapbook would give me tons of great stuff since it covered from about 1927 to the 1950s. But there was one page from the 1920s then there was actually not a single thing from the 1930s as it jumped straight into the 1940s. That was a bit frustrating since it had all the Alumni Association’s journals and agendas.

So I moved on to the Cotillion Club scrapbook. I figured before I even began that I wouldn’t find too much on the classroom experience but I decided to look at it because there may be some references to important people around campus. Luckily, unlike the Alumni Association scrapbook, there was some stuff covering the 1930s, even though it was a limited amount.

“Cotillion Club Opening Page.” University of Mary Washington Special Collections Library. (accessed February 15, 2012).

And just as I thought, I was able to see in one of the programs from that one of the dances was held in honor of President Combs and his wife. It also indicates that this was his 11th year in office, as he became president of the State Teacher’s College in 1929 and remained well after it became Mary Washington College, which we can also see by this program it had already transitioned to the later.

“Cotillion Dance Program.” University of Mary Washington Special Collections Library. (accessed February 15, 2012).

In the same program, at the end there is an indication that the dance was held in Monroe Hall and that at midnight there was breakfast in Seacobeck. Seacobeck was built in 1931 so it was still a brand new facility. I thought of it as the Anderson Center of their day, since it wasn’t the sort of dining hall we know it as today. At first I was a little confused by having the dance in Monroe Hall, thinking of the building’s layout now, and even from my freshman year before the renovation; where was there space for a dance?

“Cotillion Club Program End.” University of Mary Washington Special Collections Library. (accessed February 15, 2012).

Turns out that Monroe Hall used to have a gymnasium! I found this newspaper clipping soon after the program which states, “The first cotillion of the season will be danced tomorrow night in the gymnasium of Monroe Hall…” Now, there is no indication where this newspaper article came from but it too mentions Dr. Combs.

“Cotillion Club Newspaper Clipping.” University of Mary Washington Special Collections Library. (accessed February 15, 2012).

Then came some photos to the dance actually in the gymnasium, basketball lines painted on the floor and everything. Dr. Combs and his wife attended the dance. The photo below is the two of them entering the gym for the dance.

“Combs Enters Cotillion Dance.” University of Mary Washington Special Collections Library. (accessed February 15, 2012).

Although this week I found out more about the social aspects of the Mary Washington experience, I still found some indications an important figure, President Combs, as well as the academic building we know of today as Monroe was used for a completely different purpose in the 1930s. As the final weeks before our project is due come to a close, I want to take another look at Mary Louise Carter’s scrapbook one last time as well as maybe scan some things from it. I also want to look at correspondence that a couple of students wrote as students and not alumni. This will definitely be an interesting couple of weeks as our website starts to come together.

“Cotillion Club in Monroe.” University of Mary Washington Special Collections Library. (accessed February 15, 2012).

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“Mary Louise Carter’s Opening Page.” University of Mary Washington Special Collections Library. (accessed February 10, 2012).

This week I went back to Special Collections to look at Mary Louise Carter’s scrapbook another time. She refers to the school as “Fredericksburg State Teacher College.” She attended from September 1931 to June 1935. It was so interesting to see this scrapbook again. It was so fragile and had so much information, both social and academic. She had many tickets, May Day memorabilia, letters she had kept, and newspaper clippings. Especially towards the end of the scrapbook, she had a lot of marriage announcements, which must have been her friends, or people she knew.

“Memorabilia.” University of Mary Washington Special Collections Library. (accessed February 10, 2012).

She also had her first and last “Program Cards” which were her class schedules. From this we can see a couple of things. First, they attended classes on Saturdays, and each day had periods, but the periods each day are different, like today with a MWF schedule and a TR schedule. They also had lunch at the same time each day.

“First Program Card.” University of Mary Washington Special Collections Library. (accessed February 10, 2012).

“Last Program Card.” University of Mary Washington Special Collections Library. (accessed February 10, 2012).

She also had a graduation program, pictures, and newspaper clippings announcing her graduation. Her graduation was the Twenty-fourth Commencement on June 3, 1935 at 10:00AM. It says that the graduation took place in the “Open Air Theater” which make me believe that it was in what we know today as the amphitheater. Unlike today, and the picture I found earlier this semester of the 1930 commencement, it doesn’t seem to be held in Ball Circle.


“Graduation.” University of Mary Washington Special Collections Library. (accessed February 10, 2012).

This coming week I am planning on looking at the final scrapbook available in the Special Collections library. I am hoping to find as much as I did in this scrapbook because it would be so helpful in recreating the classroom experience. I think I might also look at some course catalogs since one of my group members mentioned that there were a lot of pictures included in those as well.

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When our group met in class the other day we decided on a few things for our 1930s website. First, we decided that the address to it would be mwc1930s.umwblogs.org and we chose a preliminary theme and decided that the first page would serve as our introduction. We also decided the different pages that we will have, including an academic, social, the switch from State Normal School to Mary Washington College, and a page of a summary of our primary sources. We also would like to add widgets of different topics under these pages, such as professors, classes, departments, distinguished alumni, clubs, events, gossip, and May Day. We also said that we would be integrating images throughout the website rather than having them all on one page.

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I thought one of the most interesting readings we had this week was Linda Gordon’s “Black and White Visions of Welfare.” It was really interesting to see the differences between race and gender activism for welfare. The focuses for both races of women were very different. While white women focused more cash relief and anti-child labor laws, in a more urban form, black women were focused more on their own community, in a much more rural community. Blacks focused on building up schools and trying to better their community as a whole, while whites wanted to better the conditions for the community. Much of the beginning of the essay talks about the African American welfare programs and organizations like NACW, but also the YWCA, the Young Women’s Christian Association, which had both white and black local groups. Gordon also talks about the shift for blacks from racial uplift to to integration. I thought this was interesting, how they had to come together to eventually fight for integration.

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This week I was able to get into the Special Collections room at the library and actually found some pretty interesting stuff. I was able to find more pictures on the computer that had been digitized but were not yet uploaded to the Digital Archives. There were a lot of Class reunion photos this time around but I was really surprised to see that there were actually photos in the classroom.

I was really interested to see this photo (below), of a Commerce Class in 1938. The caption by the library stated, “Class in office practice. Female students typing in classroom during 1938. Mr. Arthur L. Walker, Emma Ziegler Brown.” This shows us a couple of things. One, what the classroom actually looked like. And two, what sorts of courses students were taking in the 1930s. Being in a commerce class, it seems these students were preparing for secretarial work.

“Commerce Class 1938.” University of Mary Washington Special Collections Library. (accessed February 3, 2012).

Another really interesting photo that I found relating to the classroom experience was one of students study in the Virginia Hall library. The caption stated, “Female students studying in Virginia Hall Library.” With bookshelves surrounding the perimeter of the room, this library is not like the Simpson Library we are used to by today’s standards. Regardless, the library was still used as an area to research and study, even in 1932.

“Virginia Library 1932.” University of Mary Washington Special Collections Library. (accessed February 3, 2012).

Most of the other photos that I was able to find were again of academic buildings or faculty. So, I continued on to look at the scrapbooks that Special Collections. This week I only had time to look through one but it was probably one of the most exciting and interesting experiences I ever had while at Mary Washington. Looking back at what sorts of things were happening around campus, both academic and curricular, was extremely interesting. I look at a member of the Class of 1935, Mary Louise Carter. She actually had many of her class scheduling cards, as well as many newspaper articles. Flipping the delicate pages I came across an article from the Richmond Times Dispatch on Mrs. Charles Lake Bushnell, the Dean of Women, and who earlier in the day I had come across a photo on the Special Collections computer.

Next week I’m hoping to go back to Special Collections again and take a further look into Mary Louise Carter’s scrapbook as well as the one other scrapbook that they had in the University archives. With that, I’ll be able to post more photos of the scrap books as well since I will be able to access the scanner in the Special Collections room.


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I have taken on the responsibilities of looking at the photographs and scrapbooks throughout the 1930s. This week I decided to go through the Digital Archives that the Special Collections Department of the library have posted online. To be completely honest, there weren’t many photos posted for our decade, especially with the lack of pictures at all for 1933, but I still need to check the Special Collections room for any photos that haven’t been uploaded, as well as the scrapbooks.

I did notice many trends throughout the photos though. Many of them had to do with student activities such as May Day and the Daisy Chain. With that we can really see just how important these activities were for the women attending Mary Washington College. It was interesting that the 1937 image of the May Day Court was the first image with the markings “M.W.C.” written upon it. The transition from the “State Normal and Industrial School for Women” to “Mary Washington College” was occurring during this time.

“May Day, 1937.” University of Mary Washington Digital Archives. http://archive.umw.edu:8080/vital/access/manager/Repository/umw:569 (accessed January 30, 2012).

There were a few pictures of faculty and staff, as well as pictures of the academic buildings and other spots on campus. I think one of the most interesting pictures I found was of the 1930 commencement, which seemed to be held on Ball Circle, just as it still is today.

“Commencement during the 1930s.” University of Mary Washington Digital Archives. http://archive.umw.edu:8080/vital/access/manager/Repository/umw:599 (accessed January 30, 2012).

Judging from other pictures, many students were also involved in music, as there are a number of orchestra images, as well as others with faculty members of the music department.

There was also another image of a 1936 senior class member, Frances Josephine Liebenow, which under the image from the Battlefield, our university’s yearbook, is a description stating, “FRANCES JOSEPHINE LIEBENOW 606 Littlepage Street Fredericksburg, Virginia Major: Science Minors: Elementary Education, Social ScienceTown Girls Club, Alpha Tau Pi, Science Club.” With this description we can see that this student came to Mary Washington to be an elementary teacher and what other organizations she belonged to on campus.

So far, I believe that with just a brief look through these pictures we can get more of a sense of campus activities and experiences with only a bit of classroom experiences. Though we are able to see some academic buildings and professors, there isn’t too much including students and their classwork. And while some captions written on the photographs themselves prove to be useful, as is evident in the description of Frances Liebenow, there doesn’t seem to be enough classroom activity in my initial search of 1930s photographs. With 37 photos in the Digital Archives, I am hoping there are more in the Special Collections room, and more photographs pertaining to the classroom in the scrapbooks for our decade.

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Hi, my name is Claire Brooks and I’m a senior. I’m from Richmond and grew up there pretty much all my life. I am on the women’s basketball team here at UMW and I absolutely love it. I’m really looking forward to this class and this research project. I think it’s going to be a really interesting way to look at the history of Mary Wash. It will definitely be a new experience for me being able to actually do some archival work.

“Monroe Hall 1934.” University of Mary Washington Special Collections Library. (accessed February 3, 2012).

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