Life at a Girls’ College, Article

The first page of the article, Life at a Girls College, showing the opening text under an illustration of a group of women in winter coats.
Excerpt:

“No one ever accused the Smith girl of being dull. She blends work and fun in such happy proportions that to her life is always interesting. She is neither a bookworm nor an idler, but keen intellectual competition and wholesome physical activity combine to bring out all that is best in her. On any bright day the campus is an extremely interesting sight. From dawn til dark it is always full of life. They girls are continually flitting from one building to another, or meeting in groups on the smooth, well kept lawn.”

The claim is justly made for the old town of Northampton, Massachusetts, that it makes provision for a wide variety of earthly needs. It contains a lunatic asylum, an institute for the deaf and dumb, a water cure establishment- and a girls’ college. In addition to these beneficent human agencies, the town is liberally endowed by nature with the gifts at her disposal. Not only is it most picturesquely placed on elevated ground near the bank of the Connecticut River, but it affords a wide view of the Connecticut valley, so hat for charms within and without it is a spot to be remembered.

The town, which Smith College has made notable, consists of one principal street stretching out interminably. The college is situated at one end of the village, on an eminence commanding a fine view of the surrounding country. The buildings are well constructed, though unpretentious in comparison to some of the larger American universities. But the whole place is wonderfully attractive and homelike. It has more the appearance of a group of well kept private dwellings than that of a seat of learning, a place for work and study. And they do study, the daughters of “Fair Smith.” In a manner that would put the average college man to shame. Yet if any one supposes that these young women are a set of “grinds,” that they all wear glasses and masculine collars, and go about continually talking women’s rights and political economy, he is vastly mistaken.

They are students, of course- otherwise they would not beat Smith- but they appreciate the maxim that “all work and no play makes Jill a dull girl,” and they act upon it with good will.

No one ever accused the Smith girl of being dull. She blends work and fun in such happy proportions that to her life is always interesting. She is neither a bookworm nor an idler, but keen intellectual competition and wholesome physical activity combine to bring out all that is best in her. On any bright day the campus is an extremely interesting sight. From dawn til dark it is always full of life. They girls are continually flitting from one building to another, or meeting in groups on the smooth, well kept lawn.

Here's a group of just eleven,
Talking o'er a hard exam;
Here's a group of six or seven,
Eating ginger snaps and jam!

In the pleasant weather the “Smithians” rarely wear any headgear; or if they do, it is nothing but a “Tam-o’-Shanter.” When the weather is cold, they slip over their shoulders a warm golf cape, which may be as easily slipped off again on entering a recitation room. The very sensible fashion prevails of wearing skirts that escape the group by two or three inches, while many of the girls fairly live in their bicycle costumes.

Found in 1871 by Sophia Smith, of Hatfield, Massachusetts, the college has long since outgrown the capacity of its own dormitories, but all about the grounds houses and cottages have sprung up, which during the college year, are devoted wholly to the use of the Smith girls. The campus houses are naturally more in demand than those who are anxious to obtain rooms in them.

Source Citation:

Doty, Douglas Z. 1897. “Life at a Girls College.” Munsey’s Magazine. September 1897.

Cite this page:

Doty, Douglas Z.. 1897. "Life at a Girls’ College, Article." History of Higher Education. https://higheredhistory.gmu.edu/primary-sources/life-at-a-girls-college/