Touching Base

Today the group discussed our visions for the final website. It seemed like we were all on the same page, or at least a similar one. We have an ambitious plan to create the website in a way that would simulate what it would have been like to become a student at Mary Washington. We are planning on meeting with Tim Owens hopefully some time soon so we can get started on the website as soon as possible. I really liked the idea that we came up with; the visitor to the site will go through a series of pages beginning with having to sign the Honor Code to picking a major and seeing the professors and classes that went along with that major, to aspects of campus life that influenced the classroom experience. If we can achieve what we have been discussing I think it will be a pretty cool website.

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Reading Response

When reading Judy Yung’s “The Social Awakening of Chinese American Women” I enjoyed learning further about Chinese women’s experiences in America during the later 19th and early 20th centuries. When we left off in class Chinese women were banned from entering the United States because they were seen as prostitutes adding to the corruption of middle class white society. I was surprised to read that there was a Chinese newspaper in the United States that advocated for Chinese women’s rights such as getting rid of foot binding and the inborn ability women had to be educated. Not surprisingly though Chinese women did not feel a part of the American women’s suffrage movement but instead related more to the women’s emancipation in China. Women felt more of a connection with their Chinese roots than they did the country they were living in and looked to women in China as role models and figures of reform. It makes sense that in a country where these women were not exactly welcomed that they would look to their home country for examples and support. Especially when ideas of equal rights were being pursued and to a degree won in China. This article explained a different facet of womanhood that existed in the United States that I think often gets looked over.

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Updated info about week 4


Here are the plans for this week, as I also talked about in class:

Before Class Time on Thursday

  • Post (to your blog) a few observations (a paragraph) about one or two of the readings this week.

Thursday during class

  • Tim from DTLT will walk the class through some of the possible approaches to creating a project site for your decade, using UMWBlogs/WordPress
  • You will meet with your group and begin/continue to plan for the group project sites which are due right after Spring Break.  Take good notes.

Thursday (after class)

  • Post a brief summary of what your group decided (each of you should post your own summary, then compare notes).

By Tuesday (2/14) at class time

  • Have posted your 3rd Research Log Post, discussing your research progress and your findings related to the classroom experiences for your decade.
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The Battlefield, 1951

Within one of the ten yearbooks I studied, there is a page titled “Profs Say Student Is The Grand Enigma—And Vice Versa” from 1951. On this page, there is a short “stream of consciousness” narrative of students from a professor’s point-of-view. The professor speaks with a jaded tone, asking,

 “Who ever conceived of the Saturday class anyway?”

Students are absent, reading magazines, or knitting, less prepared for the class than the professor himself.

 “Now, where did I stop after the last lecture? … 
  No wonder I can’t find the place, I forgot to prepare any notes.”

Since he cannot figure out where to begin, he declares there is a quiz instead! One of the students doesn’t understand, and he accuses her of writing letters last class. The professor belittles the students as they work on the quiz, thinking,

 “Show me three of them who know what a college education is all about… 
  wasted on the young.”

For my purposes within this blog, this page is a goldmine of information. The yearbook staff clearly had to elect to include this page that pokes fun at the professors since there are no similar pages within any of the other 1950s yearbooks (I have yet to investigate earlier yearbooks to determine if there was a precedent). The staff probably felt that this page would be easily relatable for many if not all of the students and alumni who would be reading it. The narrative is embellished, of course, to include stereotypes such as the “letter-writers, knitters, magazine-readers, manicurists, and nap-catchers who are called students”and the indifferent professor more inclined to do personal research then teach a class of students like the ones described above.
Even though this is not a serious piece, it does hold some indications of how students perceived classes to be—especially the Saturday morning ones. The professor would languish at the podem, calling roll and hoping that no one responds.

 “Adams, Amison, Bowers… absent… too bad more of them couldn’t be.”

Then as the professor tries to gather his thoughts about his lecture for the day, he realizes he had forgotten to make notes, because he was more concerned with his own research. After the quiz is given, he begins to think of all the things he needs to do,

 “Now, if I can just complete the story, it may sell…
  the roof needs fixing, so does the… There’s the bell.”

The narrative ends when the professor realizes that he just created more work for himself, because now he has tests to correct.
For our possible reconstruction of the 1950s classroom, this page offers insight into how some classes proceeded, especially under a professor with overwhelming outside responsibilities.


University of Mary Washington. “Profs Say Student Is The Grand Enigma—And Vice Versa.” The Battlefield 1951. Vol. 28, pg. 11.

IMAGE SOURCE: University of Mary Washington Archives.Battlefield, 1951. Vol. 28, pg. 11. (accessed February 6, 2012).

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Post #2: Digging Deeper

So far I have been able to go through photos from 1960 to 1965 that have not been uploaded to the archives online in addition to all the 1960s photos online. I had more luck in finding photos of actual classroom experiences and a variety of classrooms in the not uploaded photos. I found photos from chemistry, home economics, theater, and art classes. Mary Washington has definitely come a long way in the past 52 years. I also pulled photos that did not necessarily have to do with the actual classroom but were on the related note of students studying and doing homework. I also found a picture of students standing in line at Seacobeck, an experience many of us can relate to today. The majority of photos in the 1960 to 1965 collection were of social events or group department faculty photographs.

Home Economics Class 05-12-1962 Mary Washington Archives

When going through the student handbooks for the 60s I tried to look for information pertaining to the classroom or academics in general. Throughout the decade the handbooks mostly dealt with the social aspects of Mary Washington such as dress code, dorm rules and regulations, conduct expectations, safety reminders, etc. In my last post I mentioned the different looks of the handbooks. Here are photos of them:

After glancing through all of the handbooks this time around I decided to focus on the Honor Code and the Dean’s List requirements because they would have helped to shape the academic and classroom experience.

Starting with the 1960 handbook the Honor Code had a small part compared to later years.  Only a page was dedicated to honor pledge and signature  space. In subsequent years 4 pages were dedicated to the Honor Code and Pledge explaining the importance of the Honor Code and the repercussions for violating it. The only exception to this was in 1966 to 1967 where the Honor Code had only one page like the 1960 handbook. I’m not sure why the Honor Code would be emphasized  some years and not others but it definitely plays a big role in student life at Mary Washington for the majority of the 60s.

Something that also changed over the years was the GPA required for the Dean’s list. The Dean’s list wasn’t mentioned until 1965 with a required GPA of 2.5 or better. In 1966 the required minimum GPA for Dean’s list was 3.5 and for 1967 3.5. In 1968 the GPA was 3.25.

Moving on with my research I am going to pursue scrapbooks to see how much information I can get out of them. Also I am going to go back to the student handbooks and look into the various dress codes and such to get an idea of what the student body had to look like sitting in these classroom and go through the last half of the decade’s not uploaded photos.

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Post #1: Just Starting Out

I have chosen to go through the student handbooks and photographs for the ‘60s. I really enjoy looking at photographs because of what they can tell you about a certain time, situation, people, and styles and so on. When I was looking through the photographs of the ‘60s on the Mary Washington archives website I was a little disappointed that there were so few that had been uploaded to the internet. In the digital archives online there are 125 photos spanning from 1960 to 1969. 1965 and 1964 have the most photos with 25 and 24 respectively. When browsing through all 125 photos there were only a few that dealt with the classroom. From those we might be able to garner some kind of idea of what a classroom experience might have been in the 60’s at Mary Washington. From the other photos we can get an idea of what the environment of the school itself was. There are photos of protests and everyday things students did on campus. I think by getting an idea of what the overall atmosphere was like at Mary Washington it will help to also get an idea of what the classroom environment would have been like. I plan on going to the photo archives in special collections this week to try and find some more photographs that show more classroom life.

As far as the student handbooks go there are 10 handbooks for each year of the decade. The student handbooks from 1960-1964 were titled Mary Washington College of the University of Virginia. These handbooks were much smaller than their later counter parts, they were about pocket sized but contained about the same amount of pages. In 1963 the student constitution was introduced and in 1965 lists of student clubs and academic departments and their heads of departments are listed. In every year’s handbook the honor code is made prominent and its importance stressed. From these handbooks we can also find out the Academic probation rules, the required number of credits a student had to take each semester, and class standings. There are also rules for what is expected as far as behavior and dress. When going through these handbooks it was definitely entertaining reading how different our student handbooks are from their predecessors.

Something I found amusing:

One of the safety rules listed in the 1960-1961 student handbook made sure that “Students are reminded smoking in bed is dangerous” in between warning students about the dangers of walking along the road that is now Campus walk and crossing Route One at College Ave.

Here is one of the photos I came across. I thought this photo demonstrated some aspects  of the classroom experience and also of the social aspects of the 60s.

Debate Team, 1968

The University of Mary Washington Digital Archive

When I was in special collections looking through the student handbooks I came across Freshmen handbooks for the first half of the decade as well. I’m not sure if they would be anymore helpful than the regular student handbooks but I am going to look into them some more.

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Weekend tasks

As I said in class today, please do the following over the next few days:

  • By Noon Friday, let me know if you want to work on a particular decade for the project.  I will post the groups assignments by Friday evening on the blog.
  • By Sunday evening, create a new blog for your individual research log, email me the link to that blog, and publish your first post in which you introduce yourself and include an image (with attribution).
  • Next Tuesday, Remember that we’ll be meeting in Special Collections on the 2nd floor of the library.  We will see what materials are available for the project.  You’ll also have a chance to meet with your group and begin to talk about what set of sources you’ll be working with.

I’ve also updated the online syllabus with more information about the first research log assignment.

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Welcome to HIST 328 — US Women’s History in 1870

In addition to a history of US women from 1870 to the present, the 2012 iteration of this class will explore experiences of Mary Washington students in the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s.

More to follow.

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