Archive for February, 2012

The Extended Classroom

21 Feb

While students (in any era) mainly seek education confined to a classroom setting opportunities arise on campus to aid them in furthering their education or to allow them to apply the knowledge they have gained thus far. Such opportunities existed in the 1930’s.

One such opportunity arose on January 11, 1932. The Bullet reported this story on January 28, 1932 under the headline “Conduct Classes In First Aid: Under the Auspices of American Red Cross”. Dr. Otis Marshall, a representative of the American Red Cross, came to F.S.T.C to lecture for an hour and a half for two weeks straight. A total of 75 students attended the lectures and would receive their Red Cross certificate upon completion. While the article focuses mainly on Mr. Marshall himself, the un-named student reporter did note “…that a man who could hold the interest of so large a group, who were not to receive college credit for the course, must have a most pleasing personality, and the students must have felt that it was very much worthwhile”. This is just one example on how educational opportunities existed outside the credit classes offered by the school.

Students were also given opportunities to apply knowledge gained inside the classroom to outside the classroom. The Bullet reported on October 23, 1935, that a “Class Holds Clinics“. A ‘Foot Clinic’ was offered for free to the entire student body after it was learned that “…seventy-five percent of the students here have foot defects…”. The clinic was operated twice a week where alternating students in the Individual Gymnastics and Massage class would advise and treat any ailing student under the constant supervision of Mildred Scott, the college physician.

Opportunities exist all over campus where students can continue their education or even apply their knowledge to the good of all on campus. Take note Mary Washington and look for such opportunities all around!

Why Are You Here?

14 Feb

In order to “recreate the classroom”, we need to explore the dynamics occurring in the classroom. Who better to describe the classroom than the students themselves. In the 1930’s, especially in 1935, there is a reoccurring article titled ‘We Asked Why’ featured in the Bullet. These articles feature a variety of students who are asked, ‘What is your major’ and ‘Why did you choose that major’.

These two simple questions open the door so that we can see not only what majors were available for students but also the motivation behind choosing their major and also choosing F.S.T.C . In the Bullet, dated October 23, 1935, ‘We Asked Why’ features eight students. One student, Miss Mildred Ware, was asked  why she chose Home Economics as her major. Her answer is simple, “…her family, in one of their optimistic moments, thought it appropriate training for married life”. Though this may be one of the factors in deciding her major she also mentions that she would like to work as a dietitian after graduation. Miss Ware shows us her personal motivation but also gives us a glimpse into how her family, as many families do, influenced her life.

Every printing of ‘We Asked Why’ features a different and separate major and highlights the motivation of several students. In the Bullet printed on November 13, 1935, the chosen major was Business. In the article a junior named, “Buff” Haley gives us insight as to why she chose her major and her response is interesting to say the least. The interviewer says, “[Buff] thinks it is a good idea for us Fredericksburg girls to be trained in taking orders from the opposite sex”. Today a comment such as this would solicit numerous letters to the editor condemning such an idea.

If the role of woman in the 1930’s hasn’t been made clear yet the article features yet another student majoring in business who is ambitious in her goals. Mary Ellen Mitchell, also featured in the November 13th article never mentions her family influencing her decision or demotes the role of women but instead seeks out a career. “Mary Ellen is seeking out a superior office position as stenographer or secretary”. The word ‘superior’ stands out to me. By today’s standard the role of stenographer or secretary would be seen as anything but superior.

Through these articles we can explore not only the motivation each of the students had when choosing their particular major but we are also given insights into the social world that shape the roles women in the 1930’s.

On Readings….

09 Feb

Here is a quick opinion on the reading for the week of February 9, 2012. I  really enjoyed reading the selection contained in the Modern American Women text. The stories were personal and taken directly from the women who experienced the problems women faced. There were several phrase that struck out to me…

“…no one but a man can do this” – from “Girl Reporter Derring- Do”,  Nellie Bly

“…the sphere of women is her home…” -from Bertha Palmer’s speech at the World’s Columbian Exhibition

“…no girl can live without a father or a husband to look out for her…” -from Anzia Yezierska, “An Immigrant Daughter Awakens to the Possibilities of the New World”

While the readings in Unequal Sister is more report style and fact based information. These reading show the inequality women faced not only as women but women as ‘other’…that is other than white. These woman face discrimination from the American society but also on a cultural level. For example the women featured in “The Social Awakening of Chinese American Women” faced discrimination from the American government and society but because they kept ties with their country of heritage they still had to comply with their limitations and cultural norms.

Biting the ‘Bullet’

09 Feb

“A Standard A-class senior college, member of the American Association of Teachers Colleges, ideally and strategically located in an atmosphere of culture and refinement, easily accessible to Washington, Richmond, University of Virginia, and other places of importance and note. Special emphasis on Commercial Education, Physical Education, and Music. All courses open to men on equal terms with women. Full information upon request.”  –M.L Combs, President (March 10, 1930)

At first glance the Bullet seems to be a great source of information when it comes to exploring the past, but in truth when the intent is to ‘recreate the classroom experience’ the Bullet misses the target. From 1930-1935 there are only twenty issues of the Bullet in the Mary Washington archives. While each issue is several pages long, most of the information contains articles on club/social events, and student written opinions, jokes and stories.

It is easy to look at the past and point out the flaws. It is not so easy, however, to receive criticism and grow from it. In an article printed on April 18, 1930 titled “Bullet Wins Fourth Place”, the school newspaper receieved an evaluation on the newspaper itself. The paper was awarded fourth place in a contest hosted by the Columbia Scholastic Press Association. While the article does not mention how many schools were competing in the contest it does hint at the fact that there were larger schools included who receive more funds that help improve the other schools newspapers. The article continues by listing the positive and negative criticisms received.

       “Good Points: good poetry, good opinions department,attractive placement of feature articles, and clear cuts. Bad Points:   too literary for a newspaper, too much opinion and not enough facts in leading stories, nothing worthwhile about athletics, no features or human interest stories, humor, old material and poorly adapted.” (April 18, 1930, Front page)

The criticisms received about the paper were seen as educational and the writer petitions the student body, and Bullet staff to learn from the experience and to “get to work and do something about it”.

On February 26, 1932 the Bullet printed another article about criticisms received, titled “Student Opinion Requested By Bullet” . This time the Bullet staff requested constructive criticisms from the Extra-Curricular Activities class, (yes, there was an extra-curricular activities class!). The results from the request were perplexing. While some students asked for more humor and jokes others asked for less. Some students wanted more “serious” articles while others wanted less. The contradictions were numerous and overall unhelpful in aiding to the contents of the paper overall.

The Bullet is a work in progress and is only as good as the students who contribute to it. Every year the school dynamic change with the flow of students entering and leaving. This shift is seen in the Bullet and its changes over the years. While Bullet articles from the 1930’s focus mostly on social news, humor and club activities it is an accurate portrayal of the overall student life and experiences at Fredericksburg State Teachers College, aka our beloved Mary Washington.


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