23 October 2014

Class of '94....1894, that is.

I was perusing the archives of my alma mater, as one does, looking for an image that had been used in a presentation that I'd been to over the weekend. The speaker had said it was from the 1894 yearbook, and happily, all of the yearbooks exist as pdfs on the college library's web page. I love the intertubes.

That 1894 yearbook turned out to be 317 pages long what with covers and endpapers and advertisements, and it is completely wonderful in an unexpectedly whimsical way. Oh sure, there are pages and pages of lists of names, but there was a banjo club! Complete with banjeurines and a factotum! And two members named Florence. The whole yearbook delighted me, actually.

One page was given over to a ditty about bananas:

I found the image I was looking for:

There's a whole riff on the Declaration of Independence, rendering it applicable to a graduating class:

A Declaration of Dependence.

WHEN, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for a class to dissolve the bonds which have connected them with college life, and to assume, among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and their own opinion of their learning and importance entitle them, a decent respect to their Alma Mater requires that they should declare the grief which moves them at the separation.

Prudence, indeed, would dictate (this have we learned line upon line, precept upon precept, from our foster mother) that conditions long established should not be changed for light and transient causes. But when a long train of courses and matriculations, pursuing invariably the same object, has fulfilled its design of reducing us under an absolute sense of our profound ignorance, there is its beneficent task ended, and it is our right, our duty to throw off such conditions and to provide new fields for our future activity. The history of the present Faculty in its relations with the Class of '94 is a history of continued kindness and of repeated benefits (sometimes, we confess, these blessings were so disguised that we failed to recognize them), having in direct object that knowledge of folly which is wisdom, and that mild and submissive disposition which is the crown of womanly character. To prove this let facts be submitted to a candid world.

They have maintained, often against our will, laws the most wholesome, and the most necessary for the public good.

In every stage of our history we have petitioned in humble terms for that which seemed necessary and convenient for us; our repeated petitions have been answered by repeated refusals. Thus has an overruling wisdom preserved us from error.

We, therefore, the representatives of the Class of '94, do, in the name of the class, solemnly publish and declare that this Class of '94 is not, and never can be, unmindful of these benefits; that nothing can absolve them from their allegiance to their Alma Mater; and that the affectionate connection between them and Wellesley College cannot now, or at any other time, be totally dissolved.

And near the beginning was this heart-stopping and ever true statement from Tennyson:

Just that, alone on a page. Wise words. Witty women. I'm so glad I stopped to read that 1894 yearbook.


YourFireAnt said...

heart-stopping indeed.


catherine said...

"Banjeurines" is definitely my new favorite word.

Jocelyn said...

You know what my work study was for a year and a summer of my college career? Taking all of the documents in the college archives and running them through the machine that transferred the paper copies into microfiche. So I took a million pages of aged docs, held them in my hands, and put them on what was essentially a photocopier. I was very slow at this job, as I had to read and read and read. I got to read ALL THE APPLICATIONS OF EVERY STUDENT EVER.

So, um, what I mean to say is: I feel you.