The Revoluntionary College Project
field hockey

ABOVE - Field hockey game in 1938 on the campus lawn

Justine Hendricks graduated from Washington College in 2007.  She majored in American Studies.  This essay won the American Studies Award for Best Senior Thesis.







the queen


the elm

obeying the rules

the elm

who's who


the elm



Red SwirlLife on the Hill: A Study of Student Experiences and Campus Culture at Washington College, 1930-1960

By Justine C. Hendricks

In her seminal book on undergraduate life, Campus Life: Undergraduate Cultures from the End of the Eighteenth Century to the Present, historian Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz wrote: “The remarkable thing about college life from the 1920s through the 1950s was its persistence” through depressions, wars, and other daunting outside forces.[1] Washington College, celebrating its 225th anniversary this year, would seem to be a model of that stability and continuity. Tracking the evolution of “college life,” a concept that will be explained later in greater detail, from its 18th century development, Horowitz cited several aspects, which “altered significantly” in the 20th century, but generally presents “college life,” during its peak years from 1920 to 1960, as static.[2] While some aspects of the school and the student body, including “college life,” remained constant throughout the middle of the 20th century, changes occurring across the nation had an impact on Washington College and its students. Its geographical isolation determined the degree to which the school was affected by social trends, and although “college life” maintained its important position on campus, student experiences underwent some change. As circumstances changed and American society moved from the depths of the Depression in the early 1930s to unprecedented prosperity during the 1950s, some aspects of the culture on the Washington College campus adjusted as well.  

I became interested in the history of student life at Washington College while researching the 1930 school year for a class about the history of the American undergraduate experience. The information I found in the college archives – disciplinary files, administrative memos, and student publications – painted a picture of a different era at Washington College and in American life, an era of decorum and strict supervision of young people, but also an era of energy and spirit. Another paper for the same class, about the history of football at the school from 1888 until 1950, gave me a clear view of a one narrow aspect of student life over a broad time period. While examining the annual yearbooks and the school and community newspapers for information about the Washington College football team, I came across pieces about other facets of student life – school traditions and customs, dating and relationships, the status of female students, and the overall experience of being at student in Chestertown during different phases of the 20th century – that sparked my interest.

The following pages are a result of exhaustive research, primarily in the Washington College Archives in Miller Library. While documents from the files of the school’s presidents and deans were useful in revealing a side of school history and campus politics not recorded elsewhere, the bulk of my research comes from The Washington Elm (later renamed simply The Elm), the student newspaper, and The Pegasus, the annual yearbook published since 1927. My primary interest is in student life, and in my mind, there is no better place to get information about students’ concerns, interests, and ideas than the numerous pages written over the years by the students themselves.

The students’ writings illuminate Washington College’s campus culture, but the students who contributed to the publications represented only a tiny sliver of the nation’s undergraduate population, a group that, in turn, represented only a small portion of Americans. Books about the fabric of American society at different points in history, especially David Gelernter’s 1939 and David Halberstam’s The Fifties, gave me an idea of the general spirit of those times. William Manchester’s The Glory and the Dream provided me with a detailed factual account of American history during the mid-20th century, while Frederick Lewis Allen’s Since Yesterday and The Big Change revealed the 1930s through the 1950s in America through the eyes of someone who lived them. I was interested in the experiences of women at Washington College as compared to American women in general; Laura Hapke’s Daughters of the Great Depression and Susan M. Hartmann’s The Home Front and Beyond were my main sources for analyses of women’s unique struggles from 1930 to 1960. Horowitz’s Campus Life, a thorough study of the history of American college life, is the cornerstone of my understanding of student life on other campuses and my guide for connecting campus culture to national trends. Her arguments and theories remained in the back of my mind while I was researching Washington College in the decades before and after World War II.

In Campus Life, Horowitz divided undergraduates into three categories: college men and women, outsiders, and rebels. She defined “college life” as organized student life, including fraternities, sororities, sports teams, and student publications. Tracing their origins to student uprisings during the late 18th and early 19th centuries, she argued that these groups formed a collective subculture, which helped students “protect themselves from the harsh and seemingly arbitrary authority of their faculty.”[3] By the 20th century, college men and, later, women were those who enjoyed raucous good times and who competed for prominent positions in campus organizations, especially in fraternities and on sports teams. They were students to whom college meant participating in extra-curricular activities, networking and having fun, and according to Horowitz, they dominated American college and university campuses from the 1920s to the 1950s.[4]


Though “the organized” were strong influences on the student body during the middle of the 20th century, some students, because of their own choices or because of organizational prejudices, remained apart from the major groups. Horowitz separated those students into “outsiders,” those in college strictly for academics, and “rebels,” who opposed the conformity inherent in “college life.”[5] The first outsiders were from poor households, destined for careers in the ministry; over time, outsiders may have had other backgrounds and different future goals, but they remained aloof.  “College was for them not a time for fun, but a period of preparation for a profession,” Horowitz wrote.[6] Rebels, on the other hand, were students who “fought the social distinctions that sorted out college students.”[7] They were not intensely studious like the outsiders, and they felt capable of being hedonistic without being in a group like the college men. During the tumultuous years of the 1960s and early 1970s, their opposition to mainstream cultural trends garnered more support, both on campus and in larger society, as discontent and dissention spread across the nation.[8]


This thesis examines the culture on the Washington College campus during the 1930s and the 1950s. The two decades are separated by World War II, a significant episode for the nation and for Washington College, which underwent dramatic changes but was not fundamentally altered. This analysis focuses on four common threads from the years before and after World War II: the impact of “college life” as defined by Horowitz, students’ social lives, gender roles, and the influence of national and international events on the college campus.


Horowitz wrote that “college life” not only persisted during the mid-20th century, but was the leading aspect of student life.[9] Her argument holds true at Washington College, where an overwhelming majority of students, male and female, participated in varsity or intramural sports and joined Greek organizations and other student groups. In the 1950s, there were four fraternities and three sororities, as there are today, for a student body roughly one-quarter the size, and because so many students were members, Greek organizations were represented in nearly every other group on campus. Especially during the late 1940s and 1950s, the same handful of students held leadership positions in social fraternities and sororities, honor societies, religious groups, and campus publications.


Athletics were also prominent, even at the small, rural, liberal arts college in Chestertown. Across the nation, “Football and basketball emerged as communal rituals of struggle and conquest that renewed loyalty and confirmed prestige,” Horowitz wrote.[10] The “Maroon and Black” football team, despite its poor performances during much of the 1930s, its inactivity for several years during World War II, and its termination after the 1950 season, was an important part of the college, especially in the minds of alumni. The basketball team, state champion in 1936 and 1943, was one of the only varsity sports to compete during World War II; popular before the war, the “Flying Pentagon” attracted large crowds, and Baltimore alums scheduled their annual formal around the team’s game at Loyola College. The Sho’men baseball team, which won the Mason-Dixon conference title in 1955, the still relatively new lacrosse team, and the surprising number of All-Americans from the small college were sources of pride for the college community.


“College life” dominated more than simply Greek life and athletics at Washington College. Horowitz wrote that college culture, passed down through generations of students, was “received” by the freshmen from older students. At Washington College, this instruction came in the form of “ratting,” or hazing, new students. It was not limited to new initiates of any specific organization; all freshmen, or “rats,” had to follow specific rules set by an official committee of sophomores. They were required to wear “rat caps,” do the bidding of the upperclassmen, and follow rules, such as one forbidding them from walking on a path known as the “Sacred L,” that seem arbitrary and even absurd today.[11]


Horowitz said fraternities dominated “college life” during this time period; at Washington College, especially in the 1930s, ratting was just as significant, especially for underclassmen. Briefly discontinued during World War II, students kept it alive by lamenting its absence in the newspaper and yearbooks, and it was revived again in the early 1950s by students who, for the most part, had not been hazed and therefore felt it was an essential part of campus tradition. Throughout the 1930s and even into the late 1950s, ratting was one of the foremost concerns of the students, debated in the pages of the student newspaper and at Student Council meetings, immortalized in yearbooks, and practiced long after it was officially banned.


Though it was an unavoidable part of campus culture, “college life” was only one part of Washington College students’ collegiate experiences. Unofficial social life – dances, dates, and everyday interactions between students – presented challenges for students at a small school in a small town, where everyone knew everyone else. It may have been easier to cultivate friendships than at a larger school, but it was more difficult to experiment with sexuality. Students, especially women, were held to strict standards and were closely monitored by housemothers and college administrators. Girls had strict curfews and were confined to their rooms if they were late. Punishments were worse than “room campus” and “door duty” for girls guilty of misbehaving, especially if boys were involved. Undergraduates, however, are nothing if not creative and resourceful, and The Elm’s gossip columns from these decades reveal countless students who shimmied down the Reid Hall drain pipe after hours or who missed considerable portions of dances because they were outside “star-gazing.” 


Though the draconian rules were frequently and successfully broken, the spirit of the laws – holding women to higher standards of conduct – contributed to their inferior position at the college, a major theme at Washington College that will be discussed at greater length in later chapters. At some points, the status of women reflected American trends, but at others, the college lagged behind. Throughout the mid-20th century, men had fewer restrictions, more freedom, and more opportunities than their female counterparts. On campus, male students held office in the student organizations; until World War II, men held the editorships of the student newspaper and yearbook as well as the presidencies of nearly every other group. Omicron Delta Kappa, the national leadership honor society, and the Varsity Club, for athletes earning varsity letters, were among several organizations that did not accept women. Many men participated in intercollegiate athletics, but women were limited to “honorary varsity,” awarded to standouts in intramural competition. Horowitz wrote that many college women in the 1930s tried to break down gender divisions, but in general co-eds at Washington College upheld conventional roles.[12]


During World War II, it was necessary for women to assume more responsibility in student groups; these breakthroughs, however, did not bring revolutionary changes after the war. Just as women who had worked in war-related industry returned to the kitchen when the men came home, many female students retreated to their sorority rooms. Women had proved their competence in leadership roles, but many were so ensnared in the traditional ideal of marriage and family that they completely abandoned their education in favor of keeping house. During the 1950s, many institutions educated women for careers as wives and mothers, but Washington College, alarmed by the number of female students dropping out of school to get married and start families, went against the grain by encouraging female students to develop their intelligence and potential. Their efforts were, for the most part, futile, because the girls were mainly concerned with finding a mate. The few who had grand dreams of the future faced a difficult challenge; “Upon graduation,” Halberstam wrote, “if they still had ideas of a professional career, the real world did not give them much to be optimistic about.”[13]


In some cases, such as the evolution of gender roles, the campus culture at Washington College reflected trends in broader American society. According to Horowitz, “College life also gave shape and meaning to certain students’ sense that they were on the verge of an important future.” Editorials in The Elm and pieces in The Pegasus reveal that while students were fully involved with campus organizations, they were also aware of contemporary global and national trends. At times, life at the small Eastern Shore school was in step with that of the larger society; at others, the school’s location isolated it from some of the problems and developments in the larger society.


The Great Depression, a defining crisis for America, had a limited impact on students. Based on the coverage – or the lack thereof – in student publications during the 1930s, students were either far removed from the misfortunes that affected so many, or they simply chose to think about the difficult times as little as possible. In response to the national catastrophe, millions of Americans migrated in search of work, and the federal government expanded to create jobs and relief programs. In The Dream of the Golden Mountains: Remembering the 1930s, Malcolm Cowley wrote of a prevailing mood of apprehension and anger among people who could not even afford to feed their families, and Frederick Lewis Allen remembered that many Americans were fearful after losing everything.[14] At Washington College, however, the feeling was quite different. Despite the grim futures awaiting them, students were optimistic. They embodied the sentiments in David Gelernter’s novel 1939:  “Beyond what is awful there is bound to be at least the possibility of joy…Faced with evil we dreamed up this lovely future and we smiled.”[15] Although scores of Americans were disheartened and downtrodden, Washington College students were eager to try their luck against the challenges of the world. A verse in the 1930 Pegasus yearbook summed up the students’ spirit of confidence and hope for the future: “Be the seed of something greater…Look beyond the present minute / Take the past with striving in it / Though but little it reward you / See the future it affords you.”[16]


References to the difficulties of the Depression were oblique and subtle in student publications. In World War II, on the other hand, the war was the focal point around which the rest of the students’ lives were organized. Men left school to serve in the military or enlisted immediately after graduation, while women filled their places on campus and became young war brides. The absence of men on campus had a great impact on “college life” – the fraternities lost most of their members, sports teams skipped several seasons, and women outnumbered men on campus for the first time. The nation was similarly affected – as men joined the armed forces, women were left to head households and do war work. Many of the changes both on campus and in American society were, at least in the immediate postwar years, temporary. At Washington College, men returned in large numbers and new dormitories were constructed to house them. Fraternities became stronger than ever, and G.I.’s who had stayed in shape on their regiments’ football and baseball teams returned to Washington College’s playing fields. Men reclaimed their leadership roles from female students who, instead of competing with them, married them and set about becoming “All-American wives” who were “bright, upbeat, and confident, and modern without looking too glamorous.”[17]


The 1950s ushered in an era that, at least in the television shows of the time, was idyllic and tranquil, a time of prosperity, material comfort, and normalcy after two decades of struggles.[18] In reality, the 1950s brought the Korean War, the Cold War, McCarthyism, the threat of nuclear destruction, and conformity. Horowitz wrote: “An important conservative force in these years started to be the fraternity,”[19] and since Washington College’s “college life” was again flourishing, the decade’s conformist mentality was reinforced on campus. Social life, insofar as it was represented in The Elm, was tamer than in years past, as students followed the orderly progression of becoming “pinned,” then engaged, and finally married en masse, with mind-boggling speed and regularity. The decade emphasized science and math, and at the liberal arts college, many men graduated with degrees in chemistry, physics, and economics. Interestingly, the 1950s also brought more inner conflict to the Washington College campus as students, some of them veterans, clashed with a new administration on significant policy and personnel issues.


Since the school did not always follow the trends of mainstream America, it was not, as colleges and universities often are, a microcosm of the larger society. Instead, it was a separate enclave tucked away on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, sometimes reflecting the politics and culture of the rest of the nation and sometimes remaining isolated. Economic crises, political struggles, wars, and social changes influenced the status of “college life” on campus between 1930 and 1960, but Horowitz argued that “college life” was stable through these years and that was generally true at Washington College. World War II brought dramatic changes to class schedules, dormitories, Greek life, sports, and the roles of women during the early 1940s, but those modifications were temporary. After the war, some of the organizations were different, and a few women continued to play important roles on campus, but lasting changes in the fabric of campus culture would take longer to develop. American society in the 1950s was, in some ways, dramatically different from that of the 1930s, but Washington College, with its unique social structures and traditions, emerged from World War II much the same.



WC in the 1930s: Tranquility in Turbulent Times


Book-ended by the onset of the Great Depression and the threat of World War II, the 1930s were relatively peaceful years at Washington College. The small Eastern Shore college acted as a fortress, especially in the early 1930s, sheltering its students from the unpleasantness of the outside world. Their everyday lives were concerned with the dining hall, the athletic teams, and who took whom to the movies over the weekend. The problems of the world they’d enter after graduating, however, always loomed in the backs of their minds. David Gelernter’s statement in his book 1939, “The future was a tangible, tasteable, nearly corporeal presence in your life,”[20] was true for students at Washington College. The pros and cons of hazing the freshmen were debated in the pages of the student newspaper next to reports of F.E.R.A. jobs on campus and later, editorials about the impending crisis in Europe. In the bubble-like womb that was Washington College in the ’30s, students tested their boundaries and prepared themselves to face the problems that would fall on their shoulders once they walked across the stage and into the real world on Commencement morning.


The world entered the new decade on a grim note. In September 1929, the stock market collapsed, launching a worldwide economic crisis. Frederick Lewis Allen described it as “a collapse of terrifying proportions and duration.”[21] A severe drought in the Midwest, where the majority of America’s edible crops were produced, created a “Dust Bowl” that worsened the situation. Banks foreclosed on farmers’ mortgages, and entire families, which The New York Times termed “nomads of the Depression,” took to the road in search of employment.[22] Jobs were scarce, and the ones available often did not pay enough to buy even one square meal a day. “Millions of American families with their savings exhausted were living not far from the edge of starvation,” Malcolm Cowley wrote.[23]

The situation was bleak, and there was no solution in sight. Violent crime increased in the early 1930s, incited by frustrated men who couldn’t provide for their families and by gangsters taking the law into their own hands. J. Edgar Hoover, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, told the public “The criminal in America is on the march.”[24] Many Americans believed the government was the cause of the dire straits in which they were suffering and, as a result, they often admired and supported gangsters like Charles “Pretty Boy” Floyd and “Bonnie & Clyde,” who defied the authority of the laws and law enforcement.


While “Hoovervilles” – shanty towns of angry and unemployed Americans – sprang up in cities all over the nation and, in the rural areas of the country, farmers were forced off their land, Washington College was relatively safe from the turmoil. If students were in college at the time, they and/or their families had most likely had enough financial resources before the crash that even had they been personally affected, they probably would not be out on the streets.


Student publications from the early 1930s rarely mention the Depression, suggesting that the Depression did not significantly impact the everyday lives of Washington College students. The first explicit reference to the crisis that was crippling the nation was in a joke column in The Elm in January of 1932. Commenting on prices in the bookstore, the columnist wrote: “The fact that soap is selling at the reduced price in the bookstore is either a sign of the Depression or a crusade by the administration [to enforce cleanliness].”[25] The columnist’s lighthearted jab about the nation’s pitiable circumstances was typical of people in the era who were not preoccupied with sheer survival. Americans in the 1930s might not have had much in the way of material goods, but their breezy humor and wry wit – “wry being a favorite thirties flavor” – rarely deserted them.[26]


Three years after the initial stock market crash, the nation was anything but facetious about the economic crisis. People wanted relief from their despair and in the 1932 presidential election, they voted Franklin Delano Roosevelt into office in a landslide victory over the Republican incumbent, Herbert Hoover. Roosevelt, who carried 42 out of 48 states, confided to his son after the election that he was afraid he “would not have the strength to do this job.”[27] In his inaugural address in 1933, however, he declared, “The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself.” Roosevelt infused the nation with “concrete confidence” rather than “vague optimism.”[28] Americans everywhere were buoyed by the new president’s self-assurance and compassionate persona, which Washington College and the Eastern Shore experienced first-hand when he spoke to a crowd of 14,500 during a visit to the school in 1934.[29] 


Immediately after taking office, Roosevelt declared a four-day bank holiday. The Elm’s coverage of the drastic measure was limited to a report that the college’s production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream would be postponed as a result. The piece went into details about the play but not the circumstances responsible for the bank holiday. The Elm’s college readership was apparently more concerned with its social schedule than with the nation’s economic collapse. [30] 


While Washington College may not have been quite idyllic in the midst of the nation’s struggles, everyday life for students was considerably easier than everyday life for the rest of the population. In the 1920s, colleges and universities had been playgrounds for the children of well-to-do parents; surprisingly, in the trying times of the 1930s, enrollment increased at institutions across the country. Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz wrote: “Despite the Depression, the number of sons and daughters in college from working-class and immigrant backgrounds increased, as a generation trained in the public schools matured.”[31] At Washington College, the size of the incoming freshman class increased in the early thirties. In 1935, 112 new students brought the school’s total enrollment to 325.[32] When the numbers dropped two years later, to only 73 freshmen in 1937, the school attributed the decline to higher selectivity in admitting students.[33] An Elm editorial from 1934, however, said when “the Depression came, allowances were chopped in half…attendance dropped 30%... [and] degrees received are more valued, because not quite so many as before are recipients.”[34]


Although Washington College’s student publications, which only occasionally mentioned the Depression, downplayed the nation’s crisis, the school was not unaffected. In February 1933, The Elm reported a number of freshman “fatalities” – students not returning to school. “The main reason,” according to the piece, “is the lack of funds caused by the depression.”[35] The same issue of The Elm hailed the return of Ellis Dwyer, an All-American Honorable Mention football player, “after an absence of two years due to temporary financial difficulties.”[36] 

One year later, in February 1934, the Civil Works Administration (CWA) began a program to aid college students. “Under this plan,” The Elm reported, “students forced to drop out of school because of financial difficulties and those prevented from starting courses for the same reason, would be given sums, ranging up to $30 a month, to help them continue their studies.” According to the paper, the program would be most beneficial to new students because only two Washington College students had to leave school at the end 1933 because of financial hardships.


On the front page of the same issue, The Elm reported that the junior class president, Harry Huey, had been forced to leave college “temporarily,” possibly because his family was strapped for cash. Huey, who was a member of the Alpha Kappa fraternity and basketball team and who also served as treasurer of the Varsity Club, secretary of the Blue Key Honor Fraternity, and sports editor of The Elm, was later able to return to Washington College.[37] Though student publications did not dwell on the problems, the school’s continued operation during the uncertain and difficult times was impressive. As Manchester said, “Considering the rigors of a depression economy, it is something of a marvel that anyone made it.”[38]


An Elm editorial in March 1934 praised the CWA assistance: “We are glad that students who have given and who will give evidence of scholarly bearing are being given aid by the CWA at Washington College. This type of individual in most every case makes the best college student, for they are unwilling to make the sacrifices they must, unless they are sure about this Education business.” Another piece in the same issue includes a list of the 14 students receiving CWA aid at WC in exchange for work such as clearing snow from campus walkways, information that would not be printed today because of privacy concerns.[39] In 1935, the college received $5000 from the National Youth Association to be used for financial aid to college students. While Manchester found that American undergraduate students often worked forty hour weeks during school – and double that during breaks and vacations – Washington College students in the NYA program worked on campus for no more than thirty hours per week, earning up to $20 a month.[40]


While the Great Depression had a profound impact on only a small percentage of Washington College students on a daily basis, it was an ever-present factor in the way the entire generation of Americans lived their lives and planned their futures. According to Horowitz, college students in the 1930s had a “new seriousness of purpose and maturity.”[41] In the “Hail and Farewell” at the back of the 1932 Pegasus yearbook, the editors wrote: “We are very anxious to get a job and be doing things – and a little afraid that we won’t.”[42] Students were conscious that the world outside Washington College was a much harsher place than the cozy campus to which they were accustomed. In some ways, they felt, their knowledge and acceptance of an often grim reality made them better prepared to find jobs in society. In 1934, an Elm editorial referred to college students of the 1930s as a “serious and purposeful people” while criticizing the older generation of alumni, many of whom had recently returned to campus for the annual Homecoming festivities:


The cheap, bawdy and childish behavior of several of the Alumni of the College at the Homecoming Banquet last Saturday night serves to differentiate again the wartime and immediate postwar generation from the students of this later and not so commercially prosperous time…College men and women, too, of today do not act the part of senseless rowdies but conduct themselves in the fashion of ladies and gentlemen…[43]


Students were equipped to deal with the challenges of adulthood in a stagnant economic state because they knew what they would face once they left Washington College. The senior class “Prospice” in the 1934 Pegasus captures the sorrow and grim determination of a youthful generation prematurely stripped of its lightheartedness:


In the closing days of the year before our advent, the greatest city in our nation and the most influential in the world found itself face to face with the direst of all circumstances. The very groundwork of our being was made to tremble and rock because of its insecurity. The mighty turmoil during our four years, the backwash of a mightier cataclysm, has lifted us above the simple, happy-go-lucky environment of a college into…a troubled world…We have ever been conscious of the impending distress that awaits us on the outside…Something of the seriousness of the world at large has pervaded our feelings…Our problem is not different from that which millions of others face. It is, however, different from that which youth has always faced…The future for us is not bright…That which we face is not easy, but it is perhaps a little clearer…[44]


While students were concerned with their futures and the future of the country, they were, first and foremost, college students, and they thought primarily of college life. From January 1930 to December 1939, there were only thirteen stories about the nation’s economic situation and/or its effects on students; during the same time period, there were more than twenty references to the dining hall. Much of the content in The Elm focused on speakers, sporting events, and socials. One of Washington College’s most notable campus events was a visit from President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in October 1933. Roosevelt accepted an honorary degree of laws before treated the crowd to an impromptu speech that looked to a future of greater economic security for the country.[45]


The Elm printed a “Roosevelt Commemorative Issue” on the day of the President’s visit that paid tribute to the momentous event but still kept students abreast of more mundane campus news. At the bottom of the front page, far beneath the gigantic “President Roosevelt Here Today” headline, was a piece entitled “Football Manager Thrown under Shower,” one of dozens of instances of hazing and horseplay at Washington College.[46]


Hazing, or “ratting,” was a fact of life at Washington College in the 1930s. The practice required freshmen to adhere to certain “rat rules,” governing conduct and enforced by the sophomore class. “Freshmen did not re-create college culture; they received it,” Horowitz found, quoting Walter Wallace who wrote of the “transmission of culture from one generation to the next.”[47] Throughout the 1930s, there were cries to eliminate it, or at least to introduce some reforms. Ratting, however, was too deep a part of Washington College traditions to be quickly eliminated.


In December 1930, the class of 1933 (sophomores), decided to end hazing. Surprisingly, not everyone was happy about the decision. The Elm reported that the students were “skeptical as to any method supplanting the old, and successful, ‘nocturnal whacking parties,’” but the sophomore class felt, understandably, that ratting caused a break down in inter-class relations.[48] Two years later, hazing was still practiced, prompting an Elm editorial complaining that “it has continued for too long a period.”[49] Ratting was to continue for several more years, however.


In December of 1935, another “nocturnal whacking party” made headlines in The Elm. Male freshmen were blindfolded and marched up College Avenue and down Morgnec Road. They were forced through muddy ditches “with paddles as persuaders…There were many sore and aching posteriors the next morning.”[50] Though the tone of the report was light (“Rats Prefer Standing to Sitting After Sophs Give Party Sunday Night”), the Elm editorial staff took the sophomores to task for their brutality. An editorial entitled “Sadism?” read: “When the entire male section of the class was taken out with the thermometer registering below freezing and beaten into submission for no good cause at all – save ‘tradition’ – it seems that the bounds of good common sense have been overstepped.”[51]


The outrageous episode of hazing in 1935, nearly incomprehensible in today’s society, did not end the tradition at Washington College. In February 1937, after the annual period of hazing was finished, new rules were implemented to “minimize” hazing. One “rat party,” held the Sunday night winding up Freshman Week, would be allowed, but blindfolds and paddles were prohibited.[52] Two years later, the Student Council, still grappling with the problem, introduced new restrictions to “prevent freshmen from undergoing undue discomfort and to stop juvenile demonstrations in public.” While the Council had good intentions, the new rules, which prohibited ratting between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. and banned it from Hodson Hall, did little to curb the ritual, merely making it ever-so-slightly more civilized. At that time, the Council was not moving towards a complete stop of ratting. If that had been the immediate goal, they probably would not have run a complete list of the Rat Rules (also printed in the Student Handbook) just below the new policy.[53]


The majority of the rat rules were directed at male freshman – wearing a coat and tie at weekly chapel, smoking only corn-cob pipes and, of course, participating in the “rat parties.” Hazing, however, was not limited to the men on campus. An Elm editorial from November 9, 1935, criticized “the recent little party that the sophomore girls were kind enough to inflict on the present freshman girls.” Enjoyable experiences are rarely “inflicted” on the participants, and the “party” was, in actuality, the sophomores’ “way of getting even with the more popular first year women.” The freshman reportedly took the “unexpected and uncalled for demonstration” in stride, while the newspaper marveled at the sophomores’ harshness, recalling their “anything but sportsmanlike behavior” during their rites of passage the previous fall.[54]


In the fall of 1937, hazing was still a problem among the co-eds. The Men’s Student Council introduced effective new rules restricting ratting, and The Elm recorded that “hazing among the men is at its lowest point in many years.” The paper pointed out, however, that there was “a difference in hazing policies of the men and women of the sophomore class” and the Women’s Student Council done little to address the issue. Although “some undignified practices” had been eliminated among the women, they were replaced by other, allowing the torture of female freshmen to continue virtually unabated.[55]


After nearly a decade of campaigns to end ratting, the tradition finally began to fade, or at least become tempered. The 1938 Pegasus praised the sophomore class for “enforcing venerable college traditions in a more civilized way than their predecessors,” eliminating physical violence and other forms of degradation to administer “conservative but effective ratting.” The sophomores found other ways to lord their superiority over the “rats,” declaring in the yearbook: “Freshmen! Bow to us! We have been wise; we have been tolerant. Heed ye our example; follow ye in our footsteps!”[56]


The freshmen apparently followed the example of their benevolent masters. In one of the first issues of the 1938 Elm, an editorial referred to hazing as “a custom, which serves mainly to satisfy sadistic impulses on the part of the sophomores” but emphasized “the hazing of 1938 is quite a different matter.” Ratting in the later part of the decade taught freshman “that they are only small frogs in a big pond” without resorting to physical brutality and humiliation.[57] Not everyone approved of the more humane treatment of freshmen including, surprisingly, at least one of the so-called rats. In an October 1938 letter to the editor, a freshman in favor of the custom scorns the ratting to which he has been subjected as “a poor excuse for what hazing should be.” He adds: “Rats should learn their place on the campus…hazing should be carried out in full measure or discontinued entirely.”[58]


Even The Elm’s editorial staff, a forceful critic of hazing throughout the decade, recognized some of its benefits as they were being phased out. “It is taking longer for the new class to become acquainted with the other classes,” it wrote. Placing a higher premium on school spirit and unity than students’ personal safety and comfort, the piece continued, “If hazing was the method which promised closer relationships among the students, it seems and unwise policy to effect its departure from the campus…It is up to us to find a means of keeping the four classes welded into what we remember as ‘the friendly college.’”[59] It is interesting that Washington’s reputation as a “friendly” college was greater when sophomores – armed with blindfolds, paddles, and the Sophomore Vigilance Committee – actively inflicted their authority on freshmen.


While relations between the freshman and sophomore classes were not always pleasant, the interactions between male and female students were generally more amicable – often to the dismay of concerned adults. In the 1930s, women were protected and sheltered to a point that seems cloister-like by modern standards. Laura Hapke, in her book Daughters of the Great Depression, compared the social climate to that of the Victorian period, writing: “As the country’s hard times either gave rise to new prejudices or validated old ones, a resanctified womanhood was relegated, like its Victorian predecessor, to the home.”[60] While Washington College’s female students were not entirely restricted to the home, they had separate housing, a separate athletic program, a separate student government, and only a fraction of the freedom afforded male students. Female students either lived at home, if they were from the area, or in Reid Hall, where the rules governing conduct were severe. Writing about college men, Horowitz said: “The college man did not merely step outside the rules of home, he stepped inside the rules of campus. The new rules were as strict as any that he had known.”[61] That statement was even more true for college women.


Gelernter described an “ought culture” in 1939, which created a society of social expectations and restrictions. These guidelines were spelled out for Washington College women in the student handbooks of the 1930s with many regulations about quiet hours, “calling,” and curfew. Girls had different dating privileges, based on their year in school and their academic standing. When visiting Reid Hall, male students were not allowed anywhere besides the drawing room, and in 1935, a new rule specified that, “visiting Casanovas must now keep two feet on the floor.”[62] Girls were allowed to go out on dates between 7:30 and 10:30 p.m., with permission of course; those who did not return before 11 p.m. forfeited their dating privileges.[63] In October 1930, The Elm’s society column reported, “Reid Hall girls are rejoicing over a new ruling which gives them permission to remain out until 10:30 p.m. when they attend movies. No more stumbling over people’s feet in the dark or chasing around the next day trying to find out whether they lived happily ever after.”[64]


In the fall of 1930, there was even controversy over whether female students should be permitted to use the library in the evenings. Robert P. Dean, a frustrated athlete, wrote a letter to The Elm about the library’s policy of allowing the women to check out reserve books for the evening, which left male students without access to the materials:

Although none of the athletes pretended to be great scholars there are times when they want to – or have to – get books from the stacks. As most of them have classes the better part of the day the only chance that they have of getting the books is at night. And what do they find? Only the name of some sweet student on the book’s card. Of course if we suggested that girls be allowed to come to the library at night so all would have the opportunity for study there would be howls from the faculty that this was just another excuse to get the girls from Reid Hall.[65]


The majority of the faculty apparently did not howl at the suggestion of girls using the library in the evenings, because less than a month after Dean’s letter was printed, the “Slippery Elm” columnist commended the faculty members who supported extending night library privileges to female students. “It was a wise and necessary step,” the column said, but, “The question now is the attitude of the students on the matter.” The student columnist was aware that students might abuse their privileges and, rather than use the library, “take advantage of the time given to exercise on the back steps of Bill Smith Hall or some equally advantageous spot,” hinting that similar misbehavior was the cause of the night library ban. The writer who, like Dean, probably just wanted access to the books he needed, appealed to his classmates to keep themselves in line: “If you can hold hands under the library table and read about Assyrian Art at the same time, by all means do so; but reserve any further buddings of young love until that fleeting moment beneath the trees just before the Reid Hall lights go out.”[66]


There is an abundance of evidence that many Washington College students took full advantage of the “fleeting moments” outside Reid – and whenever the rare opportunity presented itself. Gelernter suggested that premarital sex in the 1930s, while not discussed, was a generally accepted practice. The administration at Washington College, acting as a surrogate parent, thought differently, constructing rigid rules for male-female interaction. After dances, girls living in Reid Hall were required to be back to the dormitory just fifteen minutes after the conclusion of the dance (by midnight after informal dances and 1 a.m. for formals).[67] To squeeze in a few extra minutes together, couples snuck into dances late and sought privacy in outdoor areas and dark corners. Their attempts to go unnoticed were futile; the undercover campus gossip columnist caught everything and printed tidbits such as “Bissett and Dale thought the dance started at 10:45. Why else should they be so late?” and “We wonder if Jo Gallagher and Bill Collins enjoyed the study of the stars during the second half of the dance Sat.???”[68]


The gossip column, alternately called “Here and There,” “Chit-Chat,” “As I Like It,” “Told to Me by I. Only Heard,” “They Say,” “Over the Hill,” and “Marooned and Blacked,” was a controversial staple of the paper during the 1930s. On more than one occasion, the feature was discontinued because of student complaints, only to be revived soon after by student requests. Shielded by anonymity, the columnists were merciless and brutally honest as they kept tabs on the love lives of Washington College students, predicting future couples and exposing deceit whenever it occurred. Printing such morsels as “Since Phoebe isn’t around, Young spends most of his spare time in Bill Smith wrapped around Betty Smith” and “Charles Leiman is smiling again – Marjorie, why don’t you stop two-timing him?”[69] it is no wonder that someone was always lobbying for the column’s removal from the paper. 


In February 1935, “Told to Me by I. Un-Ly Heard” skewered students’ love lives:

Was Tuesday night the end of short romance with Long, or is the fair Anne true? Ask the basketballer who took her to the movies last night. McCrone, after breaking a sweet little freshman’s heart, isn’t content with her love, but must be seen at the movies playing with dynamite. Unrequited love doesn’t appeal to Bob White. He dropped his Baltimore flame for a local high school girl. Why not sit in the balcony, Bob, it’s cheaper.[70]


In March 1935, “I. Un-Ly Heard” told the campus about Alice’s assets: “Alice has something freshman boys like. Can’t hide your charms can you girlie?” before listing “several hopelessly involved [love] triangles.”[71] In February 1936, the newspaper printed a “Play in One Act (but what an act!)”:

     Personnae: Williams

                 An innocent frosh female

     Setting: Backstage in Bill Smith Hall

     Time: Only Gawd knows

     Conclusion: Draw your own.[72]


In the latter part of the 1930s, the romantic and sexual relations between male and female students finally came into the open – literally. Reflecting on the decade in his 1940 book Since Yesterday, Frederick Lewis Allen wrote: “The fellows regard necking as a taken-for granted part of the date.” At Washington College, students might not have taken it for granted, but they certainly took every opportunity to do it, on a date or not. In the 1938 editorial “Let’s Break It Up!” couples engaging in public displays of affection were scolded for their lack of discretion. The piece openly mocked the “public ‘smooch’ sessions” and urged students to exercise some self-restraint and consideration by seeking a private area when indulging their passions. “The public necking on this campus is becoming nauseating to a few, obnoxious to most, and embarrassing to all the non-participating individuals,” it declared. According to the campus newspaper, when even faculty members and administrators walk in on these “performances,” there is a problem at hand. “The intangible assets of the College certainly do not increase when it entertains its guests by giving them free tickets to necking parties,” the editorial continued.[73]


Gelernter wrote that although burlesque shows were in their heyday, American couples during the 1930s were cautious about even tame public displays of affection.[74] At Washington College, however, gossip columns suggest that the student body was less discerning. In a March 1938 column, “Over The Hill” mocked melodramatic – and public – campus lovers:

Balcony Scenes: Bill Kolar and Dickie doing a Romeo & Juliet in the balcony of Bill Smith after dinner, Sunday evening…Love Scenes: Buffington and Margaret doing a Taylor-Garbo love scene on the steps of the gym during the junior prom…Notice! Free lessons given nightly at 7 o’clock in Reid Hall by Marnee and Stack on the technique of tender parting…[75]


The column found embarrassing or incriminating gossip about just about everyone. It poked fun at male students – “For a laugh get Ed Miller to do his imitation of Jim White gazing soulfully at Alice. The only thing funnier is Ed Miller gazing at Alice”[76] – but was particularly venomous towards the women on campus. Especially during the early part of the 1930s, female students bore the brunt of many degrading jokes in the campus publications, including such sharp quips as: “Reid Hall is a place where fools enter and wise men know better than to enter,” “The girls should sleep well, as they lie so easily,” and “The radio at Reid Hall resembles the girls. They only take a couple of minutes to warm up.”[77]


Women attended the same classes, ate in the same dining hall, and joined many of the same organizations, but despite the intimacy between the sexes, there were still conspicuous gender divisions and inequities. In Daughters of the Great Depression, Hapke wrote that deans of women’s colleges discouraged women from entering the work force after graduation because of the “newly constricted vocational climate.” There is no evidence of this at Washington College, and as we will see, in later decades certain faculty members actively encouraged career-minded women to achieve their goals.[78] No matter what their post-college plans, while in school women were held to different – and higher – standards by male students and administrators with little tolerance for female missteps. In November 1929, an Elm editorial sniped: “Every year the girls begin running wild…No use acting surprised at the new scandal. It’s been a weekly occurrence and a standing joke in the masculine ranks.”[79]


In 1935, several students – male and female – were suspended for one week as punishment for a spur-of-the-moment party in the Alpha Kappa fraternity house. Among those suspended were William “Bill” Nicholson, who later played major league baseball with the Chicago Cubs and the Philadelphia Athletics, and Louis L. Goldstein, who became the longest-serving elected state official in Maryland. The fraternity investigated the matter and determined “that girls were present in the Fraternity House during said affair and drinking and general carousing prevailed from the hours of 12:30 until 2 A.M.” Three fraternity brothers, including Nicholson, resigned.[80]


Minutes from the fraternity meeting reveal the brothers’ decision “to reprimand the Alumni members who participated in the affair.” Additionally, they decided to send “a pointed letter of disappointment and remonstration” to the female participants. The administration suspended the students with a letter chastising them for their “blameworthy conduct…not in keeping with the good name of a coeducational institution” so the AK brothers decided against sending the girls “the pointed letter.”[81] Though male and female students participated in the party and were punished equally, the administrators and the fraternity seemed more concerned with the morals of the women than the men. In Campus Life, Horowitz found that while female dancing and smoking was acceptable, drinking was frowned upon; similarly, the attitude of the fraternity’s letters and minutes reveals a “boys will be boys” attitude and double standard that existed at Washington College – for the men, it was a youthful discretion but for women, it indicated a serious moral shortcoming.[82]


 Women were criticized for nearly any actions that were out of the ordinary, even those intended to increase female standing on campus. A 1936 editorial rebuked the women who lobbied for representation in the Student Government Association rather than remaining satisfied with their separate Women’s Student Council. The piece accused the women of “approaching it in the improper manner,” blaming them for the failure. “By this unpremeditated move they practically defeated their cause of women representatives on the Council for all time,” the paper said. The editorial, however, recognized the inherent “men’s club” attitude of the Council, admitting, “there is still a lingering antagonism for female participation.”[83]


During the 1930s, some women taught in the College’s science department and female students majored in “male” subjects such as mathematics, chemistry, and biology but in general, female population at Washington College played into traditional stereotypes. The “Reid Hall Notes” from a February 1930 Collegian announce an upcoming conference in Baltimore “where the women voters go to learn how, why, and when [to vote].” It seems like a blurb about intellectual, politically active women until the final line: “The best-looking man wins every time.”[84] When Margaret Horsley, a sociology professor at Washington College from 1956-1986 observed that during the early years of her tenure women were expected to be “passive, sweet and not too bright,” she could easily have been describing the campus two decades earlier.[85]


College women were more concerned with getting dates than getting A’s. Dating was a way to choose a husband and also, according to Horowitz, a way to establish social status. “The number of dates a woman had and her dates’ relative social prestige provided the key determinants in establishing a traditional coed’s position on campus,” Horowitz wrote.[86] Dating was, in the collegiate culture of the time, the difference between considered “bland and benign” and “effervescent and charming – blond, beautiful and brilliant.”[87]


While women of later generations wanted co-eds to aspire to careers in medicine, law, and science, during the 1930s girls at Washington College were content to be feminine rather than feminists. In April 1935 and March 1938, the Mount Vernon Literary Society held college fashion shows (despite its fall 1936 declaration of  “a return to its standard of being a literary society”). Female society members modeled the season’s new clothes in different categories – weekend, evening gown, tennis, date – “as worn and seen.” Similar to a modern-day feature, “Runway and Hallway,” in Seventeen magazine, each category featured two outfits – one seen on popular movie stars of the day in fan magazines, and one adapted for real women.[88]


In 1936, in addition to annual popularity contests that named the Queen of the June Fete and, in the early 1930s, the Pegasus senior superlatives, Washington College hosted a beauty contest. One week after The Elm printed a piece by the Associated Collegiate Press asking “Should Girls Be Educated?” (answer: yes, because college-educated women are more likely to remain married and having a degree “makes life more interesting to them and…them more interesting to their families”), the Mount Vernon Literary Society announced a beauty contest – rather than any sort of competition to test their skills and knowledge gained from school – to select “Miss Washington College.” A freshman, Sarah Dodd, was chosen by a panel of judges that including the mayor of Chestertown, the editor of Kent County News, and the owner of the Park Row Beauty Shop. Along with her title, Miss Dodd received a corsage and a sash embroidered with her new title.[89]


The fashion shows and beauty contests show that Washington College women were not wholly focused on their educations and careers; they were just as interested in traditional female pursuits – such as finding a husband – as women across the nation. Horowitz wrote that in the first part of the 20th century, women “did not see college as a steppingstone to a career, but as a way station to a proper marriage.”[90] In 1934, The Elm ran a story about a survey conducted by one of “the leading Institutions of Higher Learning,” investigating why students enrolled in college. One woman admitted, “I came to get the famous M.R.S. degree. I am not failing.” In 1937, the “Over the Hill” Christmas list imagined the gifts for which people hoped. Lorraine Pink wanted her beau to get a job in Chestertown, another girl just wished for a man, and Nancy Kane wanted “a wedding ring and a frying pan.”[91]


Like the co-ed in the survey who was “not failing” at earning her M.R.S., Nancy got her ring. By graduation, she was married to the infamous Alpha Kappa reveler and major-league ball-player, Bill Nicholson. Her senior write-up in the 1938 Pegasus read:



The first of our class

To Marry.

Some still call her ‘Miss Kane’ –

(That’s her profs.) –

Others call her ‘Mrs. Nick’ –

(That’s her friends.) –

And still others say

‘Hey, Nance!’

(That’s us.)

Marriage certainly must be

A great institution

Because after Nancy

Got ‘hitched’

She started grinding and

Showed everybody she could be

A star student

When she wanted to.

Our best wishes

To you and Billy Nick, Nance![92]


One of several Washington College students who “got hitched” as students, Nancy Kane Nicholson’s academic record, referenced in The Pegasus, improved once she’d landed a man and could focus on her education, a pattern that continued in rare cases during the 1950s. Nancy Kane Nicholson was not the only married student whose academic achievements stood out in the eyes of her peers. Mrs. Florence Wilmer graduated near the top of her class in 1937, and The Pegasus acknowledged, “the care of two small children and of a home makes [her maxima cum laude] particularly noteworthy.”[93] The following year, Frederick Truitt was lauded for balancing family and education:


Is the ‘ol married man

Of the class of ’38.

Unlike lots of people

He didn’t come to college to get married –

He married first

And went to school after

He has shouldered the double load

Of taking care of a family

And getting a degree…[94]


In 1939, David Gelernter portrays a woman, desperate to get married, who is in love with a man afraid to raise children in times of global uncertainty.[95] Clips from alumni bulletins and copies of The Elm show that Washington College alumni, who often married their college sweethearts shortly after graduation, seemed to have few misgivings about bringing children into a troubled world. They were not, however, unaware of or unconcerned about the ominous threat of war coming from Europe.


As early as 1935, students were beginning to worry about the approach of another war. That January, Washington College hosted a speaker, Paul Harris, to discuss the prevention of wars. At that time, Harris’ attitude was almost the complete opposite of the way Americans felt when the United States finally entered World War II. Harris spoke of a war “leading to the destruction of democratic government and ushering a postwar depression that will make the present one look sick in comparison if the present foreign policy of the United States is continued.”[96] The following week, the Young Men’s Christian Association made plans to host a peace conference on campus in March, because,  “the subject of world peace has been brought to the attention of everyone by recent developments in Europe [and] by the announcement that Japan intends to renounce the Washington Naval treaty.”[97]


The Elm began a series of stories on Adolf Hitler in March 1935 with an account of a lecture by Washington College German professor Dr. Arthur L. Davis. Dr. Davis’ first speech focused on the German leader’s accomplishments and explained the 25 points of the Nazi program, with Davis “stressing the fact that Hitler had risen to power by constitutional means.”[98] In 1937, Davis again addressed the students about Hitler and Germany. The professor, who had also spent time in the country before Hitler came to power, said conditions were not as bad as reported in the American media. He also had the opportunity to stand within ten feet of the Fuhrer, “with whom he was favorably impressed.” Davis insisted that Germany, which he believed had “one of the most efficient governments in Europe…wants peace and cooperation with other nations.”[99]


A year later, Elm Associate Editor Carroll Woodrow wrote a piece blaming the Allies for the European trouble. He contradicted Dr. Davis, writing: “Another stumbling block to progress is the apparent determination of Hitler to demonstrate to the German people what a great leader he is by seeing how far he can go in forcing England and France to concede to his demands.”[100]


The following week, The Elm reported a speech to the campus Y.M.C.A. and Y.W.C.A. that completely undermined Davis’ argument. “The balance of power is now destroyed,” The Elm reported, adding grimly, “There is nothing stopping Hitler…There is practically nothing we can do about the European crisis…The peace of the world rests with one man – a man who has murdered many. Hitler is a man whose word cannot be believed and whose power lies in the despotism of the Nazi party.”[101]

The writer’s assessment that “there is practically nothing we can do” was the prevalent attitude among Americans and Washington College students through 1939. Manchester wrote that “the country was anxious, biting its nails, drumming its fingers.”[102] In April 1938, an Associated Collegiate Press report found that “American Students Favor Isolationism,” though they opposed a consumer boycott of Japan as well as compulsory R.O.T.C. service, collective security, and any participation in a foreign war.[103] Washington College students, in a survey sponsored by The Elm in coordination with student newspapers from around the nation, also overwhelmingly opposed U.S. involvement in a European war. In October 1939, the student body voted 299-3 against “entering the present European conflict as an active fighting agent.” In the event the United States was attacked however, as it would be in December 1941, 286 students said they would be willing to fight, even though they were split about whether defeating Germany would effectively end the spread of totalitarianism (the majority said no, 189-111).[104]


Only twenty years after the end of the Great War, supposedly the “war to end all wars,” Washington College students, like many Americans, were hesitant to become involved. “A repetition of the last war’s insensate horrors,” wrote Manchester, “was unthinkable.”[105] In April 1939, George Grieb wrote a scathing reproof of President Roosevelt’s handling of the situation, saying, “fortunately, the President does not have the power to declare war without the support of the nation, through the representatives in Congress.” In his editorial, he quoted journalist Walter Winchell, who eloquently said:

Once again, Europe is rolling the loaded dice of destiny and once again America is being asked to play the role of international sucker…America must learn that her sons abroad will be monument to her glory – but her sons at home are a monument to her common sense. The future of American youth is on top of American soil – not underneath European dirt.[106]


Young Americans realized that they and their classmates and friends would be the ones fighting in a future conflict. They followed world events closely to see how they would unfold and how they would affect the nation’s college generation. Born at the end of the last world war and raised in the midst of widespread, crippling poverty, college students in the late 1930s already viewed the world through the eyes of tough veterans. They had already lived through so much, and their main thoughts were of survival.


In October 1939, a piece in The Elm contemplated the effect of the impending war on college students. The piece favored continuing isolationism – as tough as life was in the United States in the 1930s, it would be even more of a fight on the battlefields of Europe with bullets whizzing by. The writer argued that the young adults in college had more to offer the world than combat skills: “We, as individuals of the growing college world, are just at the point where we have ideals and ambitions which will help to advance civilization and humanity. If war should come, for many of us, education would be dropped and civilization would be on the elevator marked ‘Down.’”[107] The author made the case that “many of those ambitious young college students who left college to ‘defend their honor’ would (if they came back at all) come back minus arms and legs or perhaps they would suffer the agonies of gas and shell-shock.” Confronted with these ghastly possibilities, and with the memories of World War I lingering in the not-so-distant past, the students’ desire to “Keep America Out of War” is entirely rational.[108]


At first glance, mired in the Depression and with World War II on the horizon, the 1930s seem like an unbearably bleak time to be a student at Washington College. An article published in Fortune in 1936 called the student generation “fatalistic,” observing “it keeps its pants buttoned, its chin up, and its mouth shut.” The piece adds: “It is a cautious, subdued, unadventurous generation” that had “learned from bitter experience to crave security.”[109] But in spite of the political and economic struggles, the decade was one of optimism and opportunity for many. The class of 1937’s “Senior Class History” in The Pegasus contradicts the Fortune piece, proclaiming, “We were branded as a ‘result of the depression’ but actually we were as ambitious and full of hope as any class who have passed through the Gateway.”[110]


The 1930s were outstanding years for the school, especially its “college life.” In 1930, the combined Oxford-Cambridge lacrosse team visited Chestertown for an exhibition game against the Shore team (the Brits won, 18-0).[111] In 1934, the football team went undefeated for the only time in the school’s history, and the Flying Pentagon basketball team won the state title two years later. All the fraternities and sororities on campus received national charters during the decade and in 1937 a chapter of Omicron Delta Kappa, the national leadership honor society, was established at the school. Although the nation was suffering through the Depression, the school was “fully alive with youthful aggressiveness and progressiveness,” finishing the 1935 fiscal year with a budget surplus and constructing a student social hall and eatery with a $23,000 gift from Mrs. Lillian Brown Hodson and the Hodson Trust.[112] Faced with daunting odds and presented with exciting opportunities, Washington College students during the 1930s took life in stride and, as President Mead wrote in the 1934 yearbook, rode “serenely and successfully through the storms of the day.”[113]



World War II


“Ginny Cooper is engaged – Babe Harris is engaged…Mary Liz is getting married October 17th. Margaret Dukes was married June 27th…Al Dudderar is in the Marines now, and Mac is in the Navy – Mort Garrison is an Ensign in the Navy, and Alex Mackrell is in the Marines. Judson and Wilson are in the Army Air Corps in Colorado – and the first girl in the Service is Sarah Blackwood who is in the WAVES.”

     - “Where Were You?” from The Washington Elm, September 18, 1942.



When America entered World War II in the early 1940s, Washington College was a quiet campus in a fairly secluded town on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. In spite of the Depression, student life was flourishing. The growing student body enjoyed a thriving social life that revolved around dates, dances, athletic events, and Greek life. Aware of the conflict that had been developing in Europe for several years, students, like many Americans, hoped it would remain a foreign conflict, far across the Atlantic Ocean. “It was a war,” wrote historian Susan M. Hartmann, “which most Americans had wanted to avoid.”[114]


When the Japanese attacked the U. S. Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on December 7, 1941, the global situation changed overnight from being one Americans could try to ignore to one that impacted every aspect of their lives. Even before the strike, Washington College had been particularly affected by the threat of war. In October 1941, two senior football players were drafted mid-season, and The Elm’s editor encouraged students to support an amendment to the Selective Service and Training Act, which would save other students from the same fate.[115] As more and more men left for the military, “college life” for those remaining, especially women, changed dramatically. In her book The Home Front and Beyond: American Women in the 1940s, Hartmann wrote: “The 1940s contained developments which sharply set off that decade from the preceding one.” At Washington College, the war was an perpetual presence on campus as the Depression in the 1930s and the Red Scare and Korean War in the 1950s were not. Hartmann continued: “[The war] established patterns that would shape women’s lives for some years to come.” As we will see, though women’s lives, and those of all Americans, changed dramatically during the war, the changes at Washington College were only temporary.[116] 


Killing 2,403 Americans and virtually destroying the United States’ Pacific fleet, the strike on Pearl Harbor which marked the beginning of the nation’s involvement in World War II left the nation reeling. Though there had been warnings, and although one young girl from Palm Springs asked a radio announcer why the program was interrupted when “everybody knew [the attack] was going to happen,” America was dumbstruck. The first issue of The Elm after the bombing reported that many students “even as late as Sunday night, could not believe that the news coming from every station was true.” Once Americans realized what had happened, that the nation was at war with Japan, “the country was united as it had never been,” according to William Manchester’s comprehensive The Glory and the Dream.[117]


Washington College students with loved ones in the Pacific – “and they were not few” – worried about the fates of their family and friends. An Elm editorial noted, “as for the students who are likely to be called [into service], they weren’t missing a word of the war communiqués.” The piece added that to diffuse their tension, anxiety, and fear, the future soldiers” were joking about it [saying] ‘We might as well joke about it now. Later we won’t be able to.’”[118] Many of the students shared the feelings of Senator Burton K. Wheeler of Montana, a former staunch isolationist, when he said: ‘The only thing to do now is to lick hell out of them.”[119]


While Washington College’s male students were eager to lend their support and, inevitably, their lives to the war effort, College President Gilbert W. Mead and Coach J. Thomas Kibler urged patience. “There’s Work to Be Done at Home Until You Are Called For Other Service,” trumpeted the December 12, 1941 issue of The Elm. Kibler, a World War I veteran and member of the local draft board, announced that American youth were “the best in the world,” encouraging students to begin physical training immediately but to wait to enlist after graduation.[120] In an Elm editorial, Mead wrote that Washington College students would have plenty of time and opportunity to do aid the nation. “The war will not be won in a week or a month or perhaps not in a year,” he wrote, continuing, “Obey orders, don’t jump the gun, don’t be hysterical.”[121]


Washington College men remained in a hurry to get involved. The editor of The Elm, J. Calvert Jones, observed in a January 1942 column that:

…since Monday [Jan. 5] when President Roosevelt issued his proclamation setting the date for the registration of 20-year-olds it seems that each of the registrants feels that he is the most important person in the country. Each of them is very confident that he will be called tomorrow and that he will be sent immediately to the front.[122]


The Elm’s “With the Greeks” column was, for the remainder of the school year, dominated by news of fraternity and sorority members involved in the war effort. The Alpha Chi Omega sorority held a card party with proceeds benefiting “the shell-shocked children of Great Britain,” while the sisters of Zeta Tau Alpha raffled off a cake for the American Red Cross. As early as January 9, 1942, fraternity men from Washington College, especially brothers of the Kappa Alpha order, were taking examinations and completing training courses to prepare for the armed forces.[123]


Brigadier General Lewis B. Hershey said it was unlikely that current students would need to leave college before the school year ended, but many students chose to enlist sooner. Elm sports columnist John Kardash wrote: “It is certain that many of the future diamond aspirants are going to be drafted or will take steps toward enlistment, thus nipping many promising futures in the bud.”[124] The basketball pages in the 1942 Pegasus yearbook mentioned several team leaders leaving for the military: “To some of the players we say goodbye…Stevens is going to be called into the Naval Air Corps sometime this summer along with ‘Bill’ Benjamin. [Lew] Yerkes will probably be in the armed services before you read this article…”[125]


Many of Washington College’s varsity athletes served in the armed forces, prompting Kardash to write: “Baseball and football instill more confidence in the minds of American youth to face more defiantly the crucial conditions of today.”[126] According to Manchester in The Glory and the Dream, “With almost no male college students, there were hardly any college athletics,”[127] and at Washington College, several sports cancelled their seasons during the war because of transportation difficulties as well as a shortage of men. After graduation in 1943, the Varsity Club, composed of elite male athletes, was left with just one member, and entrance requirements were relaxed to help the organization regroup.[128]


In 1943, the basketball team, “one of the greatest basketball teams that Washington College has ever had,” won the Mason-Dixon Conference Championship. Even as it celebrated the victory, the 1943 Pegasus lamented that the title would probably be the last for a few years because “the boys will all be in the armed services by the summer.”[129] It was not only their last title but also their last season playing together, and at least one player was in the armed services before the season ended. Ed Athey ’47, who returned after graduation to serve as athletic director and multi-sport coach, was a member of the talented team. In an interview years later, he said, “We had a great year, but I was called up with two weeks left. Most of the players finished before being called up. ‘Goop’ [Ed Zebrowski] was killed in action…The ‘dream team’ never got together again.”[130]


While the departures of male students were detrimental to “college life,” students at Washington College were happy to make sacrifices for the cause and proud to see their classmates join the military. In the 1943 Pegasus, the Sophomore class page read: “As the year wore on, we saw more and more of the class of 1945 leave college and go to fight Japs and Germans – those who just a few months before were ardently fighting freshman – but they’ll be the ones to win the war.” The Junior Class felt similarly about their military men: “If Uncle Sam needs us, well, ‘It’s so long, Washington’ with a fond grin and ‘Hello, Japanazi’ with a snarl…If we never graduate, well, we’ve had good years at Washington.”[131]


College and university administrators across the nation wanted to graduate as many students as possible before the war took them out of class and put them in uniform. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, aware that the ranks of their male students would soon be depleted, colleges and universities adapted swiftly. At Washington College, evening classes were added, spring break was eliminated, summer sessions were held in 1942 and 1943, and many extracurricular activities were curtailed to accelerate the spring semester’s schedule and enable students to graduate sooner.[132]


Academic and athletic schedules were not the only aspects of Washington College affected when the men went to war. According to the Report of the Dean in 1943, 61 percent of the male students enrolled in the 1942-43 school year were serving in the military – mainly with the Navy or the Army – by the next fall. Many of those men belonged to fraternities, bringing drastic changes to the Greek life that was such a vital part of the campus. The Kappa Alpha Order, the college’s oldest fraternity and the first at the college to be nationally chartered, fell inactive from June 1943 until October 1945 because all the chapter’s members were serving in the armed forces. The remaining fraternities lost many of their members due to the war; in the fall of 1943, the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity had six members and the Theta Chis had three.[133]


In 1944, according to Susan M. Hartmann, women made up less than half of America’s college population. At Washington College, however, the fall of 1944 marked the first time more women than men were enrolled. At other schools, Hartmann wrote, men occupied residence halls left empty by women who chose marriage or a job in the defense industry over school.[134] The situation was reversed at Washington College, where sororities leased abandoned fraternity dormitories to house female students, prompting The Elm to announce, “the proverbial tables have turned considerably.”[135] Non-Greek organizations were also affected by the absence of male students at Washington College. In 1943-44, the Glee Club had no male members, and the next year the Young Men’s Christian Association completely disbanded.[136]


While American men were dropping everything, leaving their schools, jobs, homes, and families to flock to join the armed forces and the defense industry, the women left behind were coming into their own. The void left by the departing soldiers created opportunities for women in traditionally male roles, giving them more freedom and greater responsibilities. As we will see later in the chapter, Hartmann’s assessment that coeds “had greater opportunities for leadership in such extracurricular activities as student government and publications” during World War II accurately describes the circumstances at Washington College.[137] Early in the war, however, the roles and activities of women on campus remained conventional. While young men “flooded the Navy with volunteer enlistments,” sorority girls started knitting and collecting books to send to troops overseas. Taking to heart The Elm’s encouragement to do “something, however small,” it was reported, “the Alpha Chis are also saving tinsel.”[138]


The coeds did not maintain their enthusiasm for the duration of the war, however. In October 1942, a Red Cross room was installed in William Smith Hall where girls could volunteer their spare time making surgical dressings. While American women rolled more than two and a half billion bandages for the Red Cross during the war, Washington College’s female students contributed few. On many occasions Elm editorials chided the girls for their lack of participation. “Bandages, Bandages, and More Bandages” acknowledges that the work is neither fun nor exciting but emphasizes that “it is the most important job the women can do.”[139] The coeds, despite good intentions, obviously felt there was more important work elsewhere because in 1944, the paper printed a harsh editorial “For Girls Only,” chastising them for not spending enough – or any – time on the war effort:

Girls are losing the war, if this college is any example!...How many times have you been asked to give a few minutes of your time each week, to fold a few bandages…We can’t think of anyone we know here in school who has not got a father, brother, sister, husband or sweetheart in the service…yet no one can seem to find enough time to help in any other way…It’s hard to face, but perhaps tomorrow you’ll get an official-looking letter with those dreaded first words, ‘The War Department regrets to notify you that…’ Then you’ll be sorry, but then it will be too late. [140]


Some Washington College women simply had greater ambitions than rolling bandages in William Smith. Eager for a more active role, several joined the more than 300,000 women who achieved permanent status in the military.[141] In November 1942, Sarah Blackwood, ’40, and Nellie Bexley, ’41, were training with the Navy to “make [a] splash” in the WAVES, the Navy’s female division. Their work was undoubtedly more taxing than that of civilian women; they reported wearing out two pairs of shoes each marching to and from meals and classes.[142] Nevertheless, the American media, reflecting the nation’s discomfort with women in non-traditional roles, tried to glamorize and feminize the efforts of servicewomen, focusing on aspects “such as their underwear and patronage of beauty shops.”[143] Women played important roles in non-combat divisions of the armed forces, however. The Elm reported in 1943 that former Washington College women “are working in defense plants and performing gallant services” in all branches of the military.[144] At the mid-year graduation ceremony in 1944, the College awarded an honorary degree to Major Frances Alice Clements, an officer in the Women’s Army Corps (WAC), an alumna from the class of 1930, and “the highest ranking officer among the many women graduates of Washington College.”[145]


Women who chose not to enter the military found opportunities in other traditionally male-dominated fields. Female math and science majors, or those who were qualified to teach math and science in the absence of large numbers of male school teachers, had their choice of jobs after graduation. Frances “Babe” Harris, the only person in her graduating class of 24 who was qualified to teach math, received job offers for four teaching positions and two jobs in the defense industry.[146] Though “Rosie the Riveter” was the popular icon representing women who joined the work force during World War II, the majority of Washington College’s working women held white-collar positions. In 1943, Washington College President Gilbert W. Mead hailed the new prospects for career women, writing:

More than ever before in history, the part to be played by the trained and ambitious women of the country is one of major importance… There will be more women lawyers, doctors, medical technicians and specialized science workers, whose success now will keep them in their chosen fields, if they care to continue…If there ever was a time when the whole professional world lay open to the women with advanced education, it is today…The driving of young men from the college into the armed forces opens an unparalleled opportunity for young women to establish themselves in a position which can never again be successfully challenged…The present turn of circumstances may bring about a greater chance for the girls than for their brothers.”[147]


Hartmann found, however, that there were a greater number of women in traditionally male educational and professional fields after the war, but the proportion of women and their status compared to men was lower than it had been in earlier years.[148] Part of the discrepancy was due to preference given to veteran, but many women simply chose to abandon their educations and careers in favor of becoming homemakers.


As students during the war, however, Washington College coeds had opportunities to assume prominent positions on campus while their male counterparts were on the battlefields. Women took positions on the editorial boards of the student newspaper and the annual yearbook where they had previously been confined to the positions of “copy editor,” “girls’ sports editor,” and “typist,” and they asserted themselves in organizations like the student council, from which they had been totally excluded. (In 1945, The Elm wrote of senior Dottie Lewis: “By hook or by crook, she has even gotten to be the Vice President of the Men’s Student Council.”) In 1943, Mary Douglas “Molly” Blackwood raised the bar for Washington College coeds when she became the first female editor of The Washington Elm. Her illustrious senior write-up in the 1943 yearbook, “Tradition breaker…first girl editor of The Elm…president of Alpha Chi…president of Mount Vernon [Literary Society]…leader of the W.S.G.A….Who’s Who…future Vogue editor,” illustrated the accolades ambitious female students could earn, but as we will see, the gender barriers that came crashing down during the war were quickly reconstructed once the G.I.’s returned.[149]


When the 1944 Pegasus triumphantly exclaimed, “It’s a Girl’s Year!” [fig. 1] it was, perhaps, the pinnacle of female independence and individuality in decades at Washington College. During the year, the girls had taken over the fraternity houses and finally secured a spot for a woman in the Student Government. “Ruth Broadwater had the honor of being the first girl to serve on the council,” The Pegasus recorded. The following year, women continued to dominate campus activities and organizations, mainly because they outnumbered the men (the class of ’45 was made up of fifteen girls and seven boys). In 1945, The Pegasus had a female editor, Betty Hill Wharton, whose husband was in the South Pacific; the following issue was edited by Nancy Sutherland.[150]


If blue-collar working women were “Rosie the Riveters,” Washington College coeds, as they began to hold more visible positions on campus, became “Susie the Students.” Despite their extracurricular achievements, however, their personal lives continued to fit the mold of conventional American women. In 1945, The Elm’s editor was a woman for the second consecutive year – Marian Vivian Dinger. Unlike the “tradition-breaking” Blackwood who had served before her, Dinger “found time” to edit the paper despite “plans for becoming a Navy bride in June.” Her senior profile in The Elm just before graduation gives a classic example of a woman forfeiting her career in favor of her husband and family:

Vivian had planned to go to South America and help to provide better relations between the Latins and Americans. A job with the Pan-American Union was her goal [but now] the Midshipman is bragging about his bride-to-be. June sixth is the date. She hardly remembers the South American ambition; she just wants to be a good Navy wife.”[151]


Washington College women could have their independence while men were away and their happy homes when the men returned, but they could not yet have it all. Dinger was only one of many graduates from the war years whose turn as “Susie the Student” led no further than a life as “Susie the Stepford Wife.” In the 1940s and later, marriage, not a career, was promoted as the key to happiness. Four senior women from the class of 1945 graduated with B.S. degrees; five senior women’s bios mentioned their boyfriends. Jean Horne “makes a good scientist,” the Pegasus said. “Much of her time is spent in the lab, and Bill reserves the rest.”[152] Mere success in biology or chemistry was not enough; a “good” female scientist had to be a good girlfriend as well.


Ellen Boiko, “a well-known half of the ‘Boike & Ruarkie’ combination,” planned to join the workforce as a teacher after graduation, “at least until Paul returns from the Pacific,” because wives were expected to put the needs of husbands returning from duty above all else. Eleanor Newton was one of the rare female economics majors, years before economics became the dominant field for male students during the 1950s. Unusual as Ms. Newton’s academic work was for a woman of the time, it was unlikely to translate into a similarly groundbreaking career - her future plans, according to the Pegasus “include wedding bells.”[153]


During the uncertainty of the war years, many Washington College students did not wait for the future to hear wedding bells. In early October 1942, the “most sudden wedding” of Helen Marie Culver, a senior, and Jim Criss, a former student in the Marines, ushered in an era of brief engagements and hasty weddings before servicemen went overseas. The Culver-Criss wedding was more rushed than most; the 48 hour waiting period after receiving a license was waived, the proprietor of the Paca Dress Shop in Chestertown opened the shop for a few hours on a Sunday for Culver’s sorority sisters to purchase shower gifts, the couple was married on Monday, and Criss had to report for duty on Thursday. “Helen Marie will be back to college tomorrow or Monday,” The Elm wrote, less than one week after her nuptials.[154]


The tradition of war weddings at Washington College lasted much longer than most of the honeymoons. Less than a month after Helen Marie and Jim Criss exchanged vows, college student Joan Tischer married Lt. (jg) F. Reed “Bing” Hartnett, who had been at Washington College in the Naval Reserves, just before he had to report for duty. After their honeymoon and Bing’s departure, Joan returned to Chestertown to resume her college career.[155] Only a few weeks later, another senior girl, Ginny Cooper, earned the coveted “M.R.S. degree” when she married Ensign Lloyd Davis, ’42. After a brief honeymoon, “Ginny was back on campus…and is getting used to answering the roll to ‘Mrs. Davis.’” Apparently it was a role Ginny relished; though her collegiate accolades included president of The Washington Players, the Pan-Hellenic Council and of her sorority, Zeta Tau Alpha, varsity hockey and basketball player, member of Sigma Sigma Omicron and Omicron Delta Kappa, and Board of Visitors and Governors Scholarship recipient, The Elm’s “Brief Sketch” of mid-year graduates in 1943 summed up her future in two words: “Navy wife.” [156]


While the weddings were widely reported, congratulated, and envied on the Washington College campus, war brides across the nation were grappling with the choice they made. “The younger wives,” wrote William Manchester, “were prey to secret misgivings. Many weddings had been held just before the troop transports left, and the lonely brides wondered whether lasting marriages could be built upon impulse.” The first Washington College wives returned to school once their husbands shipped out, only to graduate early under the accelerated program and keep a house to which no husband came home at the end of the day. As Hartmann, and numerous war-time couples, found, the lengthy separations made it difficult to maintain their relationships.[157] A piece in The Elm examined the “problem” of war marriages and concluded that the war makes the adjustment to married life even more difficult since “it is almost certain that he will go overseas.”[158]

The absence of their husbands early in their marriages created a predicament concerning the way young wives should behave when their husbands were away fighting the war. Going out with friends too frequently could expose a wife to criticism – Manchester wrote that “putting horns on overseas GIs was just about the most unpopular thing a soldier’s wife could do, and she wasn’t often tempted anyhow” – but women who stayed in to worry and brood were frowned upon as well.[159] With a husband overseas, there was much to fret about. Early in the war, before Washington College students went on a wedding spree, Elm editor J. Calvert Jones wrote that getting married or engaged “sounds rather foolish. What if he does not come back?”[160] It was a very real possibility for war couples. Many young brides, including Joan Tischer Hartnett, the second Washington College student to wed during the war, were widows before victory was won.[161]


World War II claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans, including many Washington College men. By 1944, the pages of The Elm were filled with notices of servicemen either earning honors – most frequently the Air Medal with varying numbers of oak leaf clusters – or dying nobly in service to their country. Elm accounts of soldiers who had been killed included the current tally of the college’s gold stars, while announcements of awards updated the list of medals and other accolades the way modern-day papers count Olympic medals. Some were treated as heroes, like Wilmer Gott, ’46, who by 1945 was decorated five times for more than 30 successful bombing missions over Germany, and Lt. Col. Ben H. Vandervoort, ’38, who was awarded a Bronze Star, three Purple Hearts, and three Distinguished Service Crosses for his role in the invasion of Normandy and was portrayed by John Wayne in the movie The Longest Day.[162]  


For others, however, the war was less glorious. Many former students were listed as “missing in action,” including former Elm editor Lt. Carroll W. Casteel, ’36, who was “missing” for nearly three years after he had to jump from his plane over New Guinea. A war correspondent, Vern Haugland, who was on the same flight included Casteel in his book A Letter from New Guinea. Other Washington College men, including Lt. Terrence M. Burrows, Jr., a member of the class of 1945 who was killed by American bombers while he was a German prisoner of war, were not immortalized anywhere except in the pages of their alma mater’s publications. Those who received lots of glowing media coverage were not necessarily the most successful or courageous soldiers; “American morale,” Manchester wrote, “was being braced with cheerful lies” spread by the government about the military’s accomplishments.[163]

Regardless of what they did or did not do under fire, the men who left Washington College to serve in the armed forces had a deep impact on the college community even after their departure, an impact may have been magnified because of their absence. The school, small at the outset of the war, became even smaller during the conflict. Men joined the military or were drafted en masse, but the expectation was always that they would return to school after the war. As early as February 1942, President Mead looked forward to the day when the armed services would draft men “out of uniform back into college.”[164] Though female students at Washington College gained experience in campus organizations while the men were fighting abroad, they were, as we will see, filling male roles only temporarily until their loved ones returned home.


Manchester wrote: “Every great war is accompanied by social revolution;” though World War II war brought many changes to Washington College, the school did its best to continue with life as usual.[165] The biggest adjustment was in the role of women, but although women assumed unconventional, “masculine” jobs and positions, basic ideas about their role in society remained the same. Continuity in the midst of chaos characterized the Washington College campus during World War II. Of the class of 1945, the class whose college years were marked in the beginning by the attack on Pearl Harbor and at the end by the collapse of Germany, President Mead wrote: “In spite of the disturbances of war in the world and in the College, they have carried on right nobly,” words echoed in an Elm editorial that said despite the global turmoil, the school “continued to function as successfully as ever.”[166] The school’s war-time sentiments – the high regard for students in the service and the confident hope that soldiers would return to their lives at Washington College after the war – were articulated in the 1945 Pegasus, which was edited by a coed with husband was overseas and dedicated both to the graduates of the class of 1945 and to those fighting to defend the United States:

This book, THE PEGASUS of 1945, is our gift to you. It is a promise to you who are leaving that we will keep the traditions you have upheld. It is more than a promise to you who have gone before. It is a picture of the Hill as you knew and loved it. We will keep it that way to the best of our ability. The light in the tower will shine until you return. [167]


From 1941-1945, while the United States was involved in World War II, American society changed dramatically to accommodate total mobilization. As we saw in the last chapter, the Washington College campus also had to adjust by compressing the academic year and offering women more opportunities in student organizations. After the war, returning veterans were ready to start families and to finish their educations with the help of the G.I. Bill. The late 1940s were transition years at Washington College and across America, but by the start of the next decade, the patterns and characteristics that would define the 1950s were firmly established.


Throughout the decade, the school, like the nation, aspired to a Norman Rockwellian existence in which life was calm and predictable. Conformity on campus, in the form of Greek life and athletics, was reassuring, and scandals and controversies that threatened the harmonious college atmosphere were quickly smoothed over. Though some serious issues were glossed over to protect the campus’ Saturday Evening Post-like exterior, other aspects of student life were genuinely sedate and orderly. “College life,” which had been diminished during the war, flourished in the 1950s as men reclaimed their roles as the leaders of campus organizations and as the primary architects of social life, freeing co-eds to devote their time and energy to earning an engagement ring.


Washington College students in the 1950s, like those in the decade before World War II, often seemed removed from major global and national events and trends. McCarthyism and the Red Scare caused hysteria across the nation, but just as Washington College had been isolated from the political radicalism of the 1930s, it was also isolated from the backlash. Senator McCarthy, Communism, the Cold War, and even nuclear technology were largely absent from The Elm and Pegasus in the 1950s. On the other hand, while the Korean War became the “forgotten war” to many Americans, the student body at Washington College was directly affected and followed the conflict more closely than the rest of the nation.[168]


In the summer of 1950, according to William Manchester’s The Glory and the Dream, the Korean War began “while the government of the United States was engrossed in the question of how many Communists, if any, had worked in the State Department.”[169] Unlike World War II, which was at the center of American life, the Korean conflict was rarely more than a peripheral concern. “Although at war abroad,” Manchester wrote, “the country had been neither invaded nor attacked, and nothing cherished was in peril,” and as a result, many Americans stopped following news about the conflict.[170] Information about its effects on American undergraduates is absent from Horowitz’s Campus Life; neither widely supported like World War II nor violently protested like Vietnam, the Korean War was an unwelcome spot on the 1950s’ horizon.


Thought many Americans chose to ignore it, the Washington College administration tracked the situation closely. Two months after hostilities erupted, College President Daniel Z. Gibson sent a letter to the Commandant of the 5th Naval District in Norfolk, Va., offering Washington College’s services to the Navy. Gibson aggressively advocated the establishment of a Naval training program at the school; before contacting the commandant, he sent a letter to the Board of Visitors and Governors explaining the “highly desirable” benefits of such a program. Seeking the Board’s assistance, Gibson entreated Board members to “take advantage of every avenue of approach you have to members of the Senate and the House of Representatives, as well as to officers of the Army, Navy, and Air Corps…To delay until hostilities become large-scale may be too late.”[171]


The volume of Korean War coverage in The Elm suggests Washington College students, like their administrators, were more informed about the situation than the general population. There is no way to know how many students read the stories, but The Elm frequently printed pieces about the war, especially the draft and its effect on Washington College students. Early in the conflict, the coverage remained basic and informative – explaining the draft postponement for full-time students and writing about those who were drafted out of school or who left voluntarily to enlist – but beginning in 1951, students began to reveal their opinions in editorials about the war and the draft.[172]


In “Of Draft Laws and Marks,” Elm editor-in-chief Ed Ryle tackled the question of when to give class credits to men who enlisted before the end of the semester. In order to choose which branch of the military they entered, young men across the nation withdrew from school and enlisted instead of waiting to be drafted. Ryle wrote:

Many colleges throughout the nation are wondering what to do about the students who are leaving school to enlist before the semester ends. Washington College faces the same problem…We do not believe that a student should be given a passing grade just because he feels forced to enlist now or be drafted later.


Ryle argued that if the school considered academic performances up until enlistment before giving credits, it might “start a little thinking on the part of the ‘escapist’ enlistees.”[173]


While Ryle’s editorial was mainly concerned with the possible effects of the war on the school’s academic policies, Tom Lowe, an ex-Marine, wrote at least two pieces in early 1951 criticizing the “escapist enlistees” and the military establishment. In “Sons of Daedalus,” Lowe wrote: 

It is quite commendable that W.C. has so vast a number of patriots, but I must say it says very little for the ability of this institution to produce rational beings. In all this talk of enlistment I have yet to hear one participant of the last fracas say anything but derogatory remarks about the mentality of these patriotic youths…They are drafting persons into an Army…to fight an enemy which our government refuses to recognize as being in existence.[174]


He clearly felt that, in contrast to those who joined the military in the 1940s, the men enlisting voluntarily in 1951 did so for the wrong reasons. “It seems apparent that it is merely the lesser of two evils: finals, or the service, and in the service you get a uniform...To assume the escapist’s policy of ‘enlisting before they draft me’ is synonymous to me with ‘quit school in case I fail,’” he wrote. Lowe suggested that enlisting early was a bad idea for students “searching for a way to avoid if not evade responsibility.” Speaking from experience, he warned: “Once the service gets its hands on you it does not like to let go.”[175]


A few months later, Lowe wrote a piece supporting the proposal to draft 18-year-olds. The choice, he said, is between drafting 18-year-olds or recalling veterans. Manchester wrote of “two-time losers,” veterans of World War II who were dragged into Korea because of their reserve status.[176] Lowe, who had served in the Marine Corps in World War II, did not want to be a “two-time loser.” He argued: “In all probability, if a veteran is still in school, the chances are he was in the service at the tender age of 18 (or in some cases 17) and is not in the least anxious to lose another two or three year period from his life.”[177] Like the men to whom he referred in his piece, Lowe was a veteran still in school who resented losing two or three years from his life to military service. He did not hide his bitterness, writing: “Should we [draft] these naïve youngsters still hobbled by apron strings or the world weary and embittered cynics who, due to their past experiences, have become too lycanthropic to serve humanity in any other way…an 18 year old is easily molded into a well-oiled cog in the military machine.”[178]


The first enlistees, inspired by the success of the last war, often had expectations of a grand triumph. Manchester wrote, “The new infantrymen were the younger brothers of the men who had fought in World War II. Patriotism was still strong, and that early rout of American infantry by North Koreans [in June 1950] had stung the country’s pride.”[179] Lowe’s perspective, as a “world weary and embittered cynic” after his World War II tour of duty, was different. Like one of Horowitz’s “college rebels” who became disillusioned with established “college life” and used campus publications to influence student opinions and administrative policies. Lowe, disillusioned with the authority and power of the military, used The Elm to present his argument to other college students. Readers “still flushed by the mighty triumph of World War II,” however, were probably more interested in The Elm’s reports of “college life” than one veteran’s opinion of the war. [180]


The 1950s was a decade of conformity in America and on college campuses, and returning veterans played a large role in enforcing it. “Their no-nonsense approach to higher education gave little room for non-conformity,” Horowitz wrote. Unlike the organized students who dominated campus and were at college to have a good time, veterans were primarily concerned with academic success. More serious than other students, veterans lacked school spirit and blatantly refused to obey freshmen rules; at some schools they were the driving force behind the prohibition of “ratting.”[181] At Washington College, as we have seen, ratting was a major part of campus life in the 1930s but fell victim to the changes at the school in World War II. In the 1950s, however, it made a triumphant return to campus.


In September 1950, The Elm announced “Sophs Revive Hazing on Hill [fig. 1.]. Rules were much the same as they had been in the 1930s – freshmen must wear rat caps except after 7 p.m. on the weekends, learn the college songs, sit together and cheer at football and soccer games, and greet upperclassmen whom they passed on campus. Freshmen were also forbidden from using the front door of William Smith Hall or walking in the “Sacred L,” as they had been during the 1920s and 1930s. One major change to the practice was an exemption for veterans who had no tolerance for juvenile rituals and no intention of being humiliated by students who were often younger. All other freshmen, however, were expected to obey the rules, and violators were subject to sanctions ranging from door duty at dinner to pushing a peanut around the Hodson Hall recreation room with one’s nose.[182]


For years, the major argument in favor of hazing was its effectiveness in fostering class unity and school spirit. In the 1950s, however, hazing became a point of contention between freshmen and sophomores. When freshmen repeatedly broke the “rat rules” in 1953, they were punished with manual labor such as pulling up weeds, cutting grass, and polishing doorknobs. Fed up, the freshmen raided the sophomore dormitory. Two nights later, sixty sophomore boys retaliated:

The sophomores gained entrance into the boys’ dormitory by breaking several windows and forcing the doors. After they were inside, they flooded the rooms with water from the showers, pelted 1400 eggs upon the freshmen, and created general chaos. During the raid, two freshmen boys received mild injuries.[183]


“Hazing was abruptly ended following the sophomore raid,” and the student government met to discuss the future of ratting on campus, suggesting that in the future “the sophomore class should designate an object which the Frosh should try to confiscate in order to be exempt from certain hazing rules,” and “a mudpit should be used for the releasing of stored energy rather than college properties.”[184] Surprisingly, hazing returned the following fall because “it creates a spirit and liveliness that is good for a college campus,” although The Elm acknowledged that a ban would have been justified because “violence and destruction are not a part of hazing.”[185]


Hazing was the most controversial expression of the conformity that existed at Washington College. Conventionality was also reinforced, in less violent ways, in fraternities and sororities, athletics, and other student organizations. According to Horowitz, “One element remained constant: from the 1920s through the 1950s the fraternity dominated American colleges.”[186] After decreased activity during World War II, Washington College’s Greek organizations in the 1950s were again the main coordinators of campus life. In the 1930s, the still-young social fraternities and sororities received their national charters and began to make inroads into the student body, but by the 1950s, they were pledging dozens of the college’s best students every year.


The annual lists of students chosen for Who’s Who in American College Students during the 1950s indicates the high caliber of students belonging to Washington College’s social fraternities and sororities. In 1951, three women and seven men were nominated; the three women were the presidents of the three sororities on campus, and the presidents of the fraternities were also represented.[187] The only non-Greek on the list was senior James C. “Jim” Haebel, a naval officer who served as a medical corpsman on a hospital ship during World War II before enrolling at the College in 1949.[188]


For the remainder of the decade, all the students chosen were members of a fraternity or sorority.[189] It was not only the leaders of the campus’ Greek organizations who excelled academically, however. Though Horowitz found that “when it came to grades…fraternity members of the 1950s scored significantly lower than independents,”[190] that was not the case at Washington College. Students involved in social fraternities and sororities were often those in the honorary fraternities as well as those at the top of their classes. In 1952, Washington College’s fraternities were second in the nation in scholarship, and The Elm asserted “fraternity men down through the years at Washington College have done better academic work than non-fraternity men.”[191]


Despite the accolades of many of the members, Greek organizations in the 1950s maintained some of the rebellion and mischievousness of the “spirit of the revolts” from which they were founded.[192] As we saw in chapter one, several students were suspended in 1935 after a raucous party at the Kappa Alpha fraternity house. History was repeated in 1957, when fifteen students were suspended for two weeks after a party at the Theta Chi house in February. The students were punished for “(1) attending a social function on campus at which alcoholic beverages were served and (2) attending an unchaperoned function at which women were present in a men’s fraternity house,” and the Theta Chi fraternity was placed on probation for one year. According to The Elm, the disciplinary committee “hastened to make clear that there was no evidence of immoral improper behavior at the party.”[193] In December of the same year, six members of another fraternity were suspended – five until the end of the semester and one “indefinitely” – and thirteen were put on probation after “three incidents of loud singing and disorderly behavior” late at night in the area between the girls’ dormitories.[194]


Between unauthorized parties and raucous serenades, fraternity members still found time to be involved in nearly every other organization on campus. Horowitz wrote that “the fraternities pushed their members into extracurricular activities,” and the profiles of Greek organizations in the 1959 Pegasus support her claim.[195] The Alpha Chi Omega sorority was defined as “an ‘activity conscious’ sorority with its members particularly active in The [Washington] Players, the Choir, S.S.O., The Pegasus, and The Elm,” among a host of other organizations. The Kappa Alpha fraternity page also boasted of its members’ involvement in campus groups: “The brothers of the Kappa Alpha Order believe participation in campus activities to be an important part of college life and the chapter has produced many campus leaders,” holding offices in the Student Senate, the Omicron Delta Kappa and Sigma Sigma Omicron honor societies, editorial positions with The Elm and The Pegasus, and captaining various sports teams.[196]


The presence of fraternities on Washington College’s sports teams increased the position of athletics in “college life,” but not everyone welcomed the strong influence of Greek on the playing fields. In a letter to the editor published in The Elm in 1958, a coed wrote: “I am thoroughly disgusted and fed up with the way elections [for the Girls Intramural Athletic Association] were held.” During the “elections,” several representatives were chosen because of their sorority to maintain the balance of the council. At least one girl, however, felt “girls should be chosen because of their INTEREST in sports, not their ability or their fraternal group.”[197] Ability was, surprisingly, common among many athletes at the small liberal arts school during the 1950s. In 1955, three of the school’s seven varsity men’s teams were champions in their division, and two teams included individual champions.[198]


Though it was not a “training ground for professional sports” like many large universities, Washington College’s athletic program drew a large number of students. Throughout the decade, it regressed in some sports but excelled in others. In 1950, football and baseball were dropped to cut costs, in anticipation of a drop in enrollment because of the Korean War. Though baseball returned after a few years, soccer replaced football as the school’s major fall sport, and in 1954 the team, coached by Ed Athey, ’47, beat Haverford, 1-0, to win the Mid-Atlantic title, the first Maryland team to earn that distinction. Four players from the championship team received All-Conference honors; the goalie, Joe Szymanski, was also the first Washington College athlete to be an All-American in soccer, and he was invited to try out for the U.S. Olympic team.[199]


Lacrosse, revived in 1948 after a fourteen year absence, became a huge success in the 1950s under Coach Charles B. Clark. A piece entitled “The Lacrosse Player,” which ran in The Elm in 1955 and was reprinted later in the 1950s, describes the obsession of the athletes, who put lacrosse above class, meals, and even dates.[200] Their hard work and dedication paid off. In 1950, the team boasted a 10-3 record to take the Mid-Atlantic Conference Championship title, and in 1954, the team won its first national championship, which it shared with Syracuse University.[201] After Clark’s departure from the college in 1956, which will be discussed in detail later in the chapter, former U.S. lacrosse All-Star and Olympian Don Kelly took over the program, where he would remain for twenty successful seasons.[202]


Athletics were an important aspect of life for nearly all Washington College students. Varsity teams required outstanding dedication and enjoyed considerable success, while unifying the entire student body and providing a source of pride for the college. Intramural sports, especially football after the varsity team was dropped in 1950, pitted fraternities and dormitories against one another and received thorough coverage in The Elm.  Women competed in a wide range of intramural sports. Athey later said, “It appeared at time that the women were being shortchanged,” because they did not have the same facilities or opportunities as male athletes, but he attributed it to a lack of funding. In 1956, women competed in an intercollegiate field hockey tournament but, according to Athey, they were also the ones who decided to abandon the effort.[203] With the shifts in varsity sports and the changes to the women’s program, sports at Washington College, supposedly an important force as “guardians of college life,” were unstable during the 1950s.


Athletics at Washington College in the 1950s played a similar role in campus life as in the decade before the war; despite the turnover in athletes and the changes in individual sports, the program did not look significantly different in 1959 than it did in 1950, or even in 1930. Other student organizations, however, differed considerably. During the 1950s, student religious groups were enormously popular on the Washington College campus. For decades, the Young Men’s and Young Women’s Christian Associations were among the student organizations with the largest memberships. As we saw in the last chapter, however, in 1944 the Y.M.C.A. disbanded and the few remaining male students joined the co-eds in the Y’s and Other Y’s. After the war, the Y.M.C.A. and Y.W.C.A. were replaced by groups for specific denominations, and by 1959, the campus boasted six different student religious organizations.[204] Beginning in 1953, the College held a “Religious Emphasis Day,” later a “Religion Week,” featuring church services and talks by different religious leaders to promote awareness of God in students’ everyday lives.[205]


Political groups also emerged on campus in the 1950s. Horowitz wrote of the “return” of political rebels to colleges and universities after World War II, but at Washington College, where there had been no visible rebels before the war, the students who joined the Young Democrats and Young Republicans clubs in the mid-1950s were not rebellious. Like many Americans at the time, they were overwhelmingly conservative; in 1952, The Elm endorsed the Republican candidate, Dwight D. Eisenhower, for president a week after the Young Republicans’ mock convention took up three pages of the school newspaper [fig. 1-3].[206]


Campus political activity also increased during the 1950s, led by the re-establishment of a student government. During the 1930s and into World War II, Washington College had two student governments – the Men’s Student Council and the Women’s Student Government Association. In the previous chapters, we have noted that until 1944, women were restricted to serving on the women’s council, which had jurisdiction over Reid Hall. Criticized for not being representative of the student body, the organization was discontinued.[207]


During the 1950s, as the campus returned to normal, the student body began to reconsider the benefits of a student government. In 1951, a committee of students was formed “to present the point of view of the student body to the College Administration.”[208] Surprisingly, it was the students who were hesitant to reinstate a student government. President Gibson told The Elm he was in favor of the idea, saying, “I am willing to give the student government as much authority as it demonstrates its ability to assume in a responsible fashion.”[209] The student body, however, was not willing to assume too much responsibility. In May 1952, a vote to establish a student government failed to get the necessary support, despite the constitutional committee chairman’s belief that “there is a definite interest among the students in what is desirable for the student body in relation with the administration and faculty.”[210]


The student government question returned in the beginning of the 1952 school year. By that time, Omicron Delta Kappa, the leadership honor society, was operating as a liaison between the student body and the administration when necessary. Though students recognized that it was not ODK’s responsibility, they worried about the effect a student government association would have on other student organizations.[211] William Johnson, ’40, wrote a letter to The Elm that fall, marveling at the change in students’ attitudes since his college years:

The student body was proud and jealous of its privileges of self-determination and was always on guard against faculty interference or any indication that the student government might be taken from us. Today, some of the students seem fearful that self-government will be thrust upon them…The experience [as a student at the College] would be more valuable to future citizens, and their individual careers, if it included participation in such democratic processes as student nominations, campaigns and elections, and student management of campus acts.[212]


Johnson’s observations reflect William Manchester’s assessment of 1950s college students: “A vast hush had settled over the universities. Liberalism had become tired and dull. There seemed to be no indignant young men on campuses, no burning campaigns, and no militancy.”[213] Indignant or not, in January 1953, the students voted to re-establish a student government on campus, and later in the semester, the women’s student government was incorporated into the campus-wide organization.[214]


The reestablishment of a Student Government Association was part of the return to pre-war “college life” at Washington College. After making often-drastic adjustments to accommodate the effects of World War II, students, many of them returning from active duty, reverted to established traditions and activities. The 1946 Pegasus wrote: “There have been many changes everywhere in the world during the bitter war period, yet these men came back to resume their studies as though they had never left.”[215]


The focus of their studies, however, was different than in the pre-war years. During the 1950s, business administration, with the goal of a cushioned position for a large firm after graduation, was the most popular major in America.[216] At Washington College, which did not have a business department, economics claimed the greatest number of students. Among the seniors of 1950, 25 men were economics majors. In response to the national push for greater emphasis on science and technology, 16 male students majored in biology or zoology, with eight in chemistry and two in physics. Perhaps because of their relevance to recent and future world events, history and political science were also popular; in 1950, the two majors boasted 26 male graduates.[217]


At the end of the decade, math and science were still popular among male students – in 1959, 20 senior men majored in economics or math, and 23 in chemistry, physics, or biology. To supplement their experiences in the classroom and laboratory, students established the Society of Sciences in 1948, replacing the Chemical Society of the 1930s. The Society, which claimed both male and female members, was popular during the 1950s. Though a number of women were active in the organization throughout the decade, the majority of co-eds followed a more traditional liberal arts path. In 1950, 1952, and 1953, only five senior women each year majored in math or science, most often in biology. By 1959 the number had doubled, but the proportion of women in those fields remained much lower than that of male students.[218]


During the 1950s, female students were more interested in being the Homecoming Queen than the next Marie Curie. Horowitz wrote that “college women allowed themselves to be bought by social honors that accrued from their appeal to men.”[219] At the annual fraternity and sorority balls, girls whose boyfriends, fiancés or husbands were fraternity brothers could become the Theta Chi Dream Girl, the Kappa Alpha Rose, the Phi Sigma Kappa Moonlight Queen, or the Lambda Chi Alpha Crescent Girl. Men were not excluded – the Zeta Tau Alpha Dreamboy and Alpha Chi Omega Sweetheart titles went to men who were most devoted to the sorority – but a woman’s title carried more weight among her peers. From “Miss Legs,” chosen at a 1952 freshman dance “on the basis of 1 – straightness of bone; 2 – trim ankles; 3 – soft curves above and below the knee; 4 – well-proportioned calves,” to the traditional Homecoming Queen  and Washington College’s Best Dressed Girl, there were plenty of social honors available to the college’s attractive, popular co-eds.[220]


The most highly-sought social honor among women during the 1950s, however, was a man. Wini Breines, author of Young, White, and Miserable: Growing Up Female in the Fifties, wrote in an article in which she claimed that girls’ identities were connected to whether they had man; quite simply, women were defined by their roles as wives and mothers. [221] Profiles of female students in features in The Elm and in the senior pages of the yearbook mentioned boyfriends, fiancés, and future wedding plans in the same phrase as achievements such as sorority president, Girl Athlete of the Year and Who’s Who, putting marriage and family in the same category as academic and extracurricular accomplishments.


As we saw, during World War II women accepted more leadership roles on campus, replacing men who were at the front, but the majority still held tightly to visions of a happy future with a husband and family. In the 1950s, when there were more available men on campus, co-eds’ dreams of domesticity became reality. While dating in the 1930s was not always serious, after World War II matrimony became the goal and dating was just a necessary step towards the altar. The fraternity and sorority system was an essential part of choosing a mate. “Students did not simply choose the most physically desirable members of the opposite sex for parties and fun; they chose in ways that established and strengthened their social position,” Horowitz wrote.[222] In the 1950s, men from certain fraternities were more likely to pair off with a woman from the “corresponding” sorority. A list of couples from a 1959 gossip column in The Elm, for example, shows women who were members of the Zeta Tau Alpha sorority were most likely to be in relationships with brothers of the Theta Chi or Kappa Alpha fraternities, while sisters of Alpha Chi Omega dated members of Phi Sigma Kappa.[223]


Once students paired off, it was usually just a matter of time before they started shopping for a house with a picket fence. Though pinnings and even engagements had been fairly common among college students for years, the frequency and speed with which these relationships were cemented in matrimony is astonishing. Horowitz wrote that World War II veterans who returned to campus with wives and children in tow “heightened coeds’ interest in marriage.”[224] Home to many married students since the beginning of the wedding boom in 1942, Washington College coeds did not need any further encouragement, but they got it in The Elm’s gossip columns, which gave enthusiastic congratulations as well as reports of gorgeous engagement rings in nearly every issue.


Women of earlier generations, watching progress female students made in World War II with great hope for the future, did not understand the new trend. Manchester related the reaction of a City College of New York alumna who returned to her alma mater during the 1950s and was shocked at the attitude of the undergraduate women: “The coeds could talk only of their future homes in suburbia, the very sort of trivial chatter which CCNY girls of other years had scorned.”[225] Feminist leader Betty Friedan had a similar experience when she returned to Smith College for her 15th reunion. According to Halberstam, “When Ms. Friedan asked these young women about their futures, they regarded her with blank looks. They were going to get engaged and married and have children, of course.”[226]


Many women at Washington College did not wait for the future to become engaged or even married. Though large numbers of students were wed soon after graduation each spring – in 1952, The Elm reported four weddings scheduled for June 7th and, “just to be different,” one on May 28th – it was equally common for students to tie the knot between attending classes and participating in extracurricular activities. [227] While women in earlier years may have married as their college careers were drawing to a close, women during the 1950s married younger than ever and the “ideological pressures…to return to the home” caused alarm among Washington College administrators during the 1950s.[228] In the 1954-1955 Dean’s Report, Joseph Doyle wrote about the “steady drop in the average age at marriage” across the nation and the potential problems of its effect on the school: “Three of our women students were secretly married to men students here in the course of the year, and all were pregnant at the year’s end. Two others dropped out at mid-years to marry, and at least two others are breaking off their educations this summer to marry. This amounts to marriage casualties alone of over 6 % in one year.”[229]


Though the “marriage casualties” concerned educators in the 1950s, early in the decade it was not unusual for Washington College women to get married and to finish school. “We notice that hubby picks you up every day,” The Elm’s gossip column teased Alpha Omicron Pi president Lyn White. While many senior women’s future plans were for marriage, the already-wed Lyn, whose husband “thinks she is the best little wife in the world,” planned a career in field psychology after graduation.[230] Jane Bradley, notable for her position as editor-in-chief of The Elm during 1952-53, also continued her studies and extracurricular activities after becoming Mrs. Tom Lowe. The “perky little (5’2’’) Miss with brown hair and blue eyes” served as president of her sorority and was the only women from the College named to “Who’s Who in American Colleges” in 1952. Returning to campus “plus much suntan after spending her honeymoon in Florida,” Jane was awarded The Elm’s Edson Riddle Ryle Memorial award.[231] 


Jane Bradley Lowe’s success as a female journalist at college during the 1950s may have been influenced by the positive example set by her mother, the owner and editor of the Montgomery County Record, where Jane worked for five summers.[232] Many coeds of the time, however, had no one to look up to.  “Reared in home where their mothers had no careers,” according to Halberstam, coeds who arrived at Washington College during the 1950s lacked strong female role models. [233] Female faculty members were rare, and until the mid-1950s, they often lacked advanced degrees and taught only English, French, or art. In 1955, Dean Doyle suggested adding “vigorous, imaginative, younger women” to the faculty, writing, “The female leadership on the campus hitherto has consisted of old spinsters of little imagination for whom the girls show little respect.”[234]


In 1956, the College found a woman who would be a valuable influence to the coeds, hiring Dr. Margaret Horsley as an assistant professor of sociology. Horsley, who earned her Ph.D. at Columbia, worked in the Women’s Army Corps as an Intelligence Specialist, and traveled to the Philippines on a Fulbright Award, remained at the College for thirty years. Horsley and two colleagues, language professors Gerda Blumenthal and Esther Dillon, tried to inspire their students to consider futures beyond the home. “Anytime we spotted a bright woman,” Horsley remembered, “we would encourage her to go on to an M.A. or a Ph.D., or to anything else she felt inclined to do…The problem was, that was not considered a proper role.”[235]


Horowitz wrote that it took “a certain independence of mind for a college woman to envision a future career.”[236] It also took a certain strength and independence for women to maintain those careers despite societal pressures to stay at home. Horsley’s ambitions and motivation made her an inspiration to female students for decades, but other professors succumbed to the same expectations as the coeds. In 1955, Washington College added Dr. Elizabeth Rudd to the English department. A scholar of William Blake, Rudd completed her undergraduate studies at Bryn Mawr, received her Ph.D. from Oxford, and received two fellowships from the American Association of University Women. While Horsley taught at the College for thirty years, Rudd remained just one year before resigning to marry English Department head Dr. Nicholas Newlin.[237]


In 1957, The Elm ran a feature piece on the former professor with the title, “Faculty Member’s Wife Author on Poet Blake,” ignoring the fact that she had also recently been a member of the faculty. The piece made it painfully clear that, no matter what she accomplished as Dr. Rudd, she had become completely immersed in her existence as “faculty member’s wife.” For all the female students curious about “what a woman of such literary accomplishments does in her private life,” The Elm revealed that “At the present time, she is happily mixing formula for her six week old baby.” She had studied at top universities in the United States and the United Kingdom and written two books about the great Romantic poet William Blake, but “when asked about her future literary plans she mentions a children’s book to be written sometime in the future.”[238] 


It was evident in the 1950s that the strides made by college and university women during World War II were the result of the unusual circumstances on campus and in the nation rather than an indication of a shift in national values and expectations. Though professors like Horsley and alumni like Friedan wanted college women to aspire to more than “a nice, ladylike C” and a wedding ring, the prevailing attitude on college campuses reinforced the traditional roles of women. The same draconian rules governing female behavior in the 1930s were still in place two decades later. Curfew, study hours, and dates were all subject to regulation, and a clause in the 1950 handbook that read, “Any woman student is liable to suspension or expulsion if her actions, general attitude, and tone of behavior are at variance with college standards” covered anything administrators may have overlooked.[239] In 1955, Dean Doyle admitted: “There is some likelihood that our rules governing women are too restrictive.”[240] The rules, which “approached the ridiculous…and brought nothing but resentment,” were relaxed ever-so-slightly toward the end of the decade. [241] Curfews were later, and women in the upper classes who had good academic standing were permitted to stay out until 1:00 a.m. one Saturday each month.[242] Rules regarding male suitors remained severe, however. In November 1959, a co-ed ranted in a letter to the editor in The Elm:

The girls at this “liberal” liberal arts college no longer live in dorms as mature young women; They live in a house of corrections headed by dictatorial wardens …when a girl is given her ‘first warning’ for sitting on her knees simply talking to her boyfriend, the rules are getting a little stiff. You are also warned for such vulgar displays of affection as having your boyfriend’s head in your lap, and even, we have been told, kissing him goodnight in the main lounge…WE’d like to know what we’re being changed into in this mid-Victorian society.[243]


Vocally opposed to the strict regulations, the young woman was atypical among many American college students during the 1950s. According to Manchester, young people during the time “kept their mouths shut, avoided serious discussions, and eschewed reformers as ‘bleeding hearts.’ In the conflict between independence and the system, they came down hard on the side of the system.”[244] Washington College students, as we’ve seen, did not always fit the national stereotypes, and while they may have been politically and socially conservative, students during the 1950s confronted administrative policies and decisions about issues from weekend curfew to personnel issues.


Early in 1950, popular English Professor Dr. Rinaldo Simonini was suddenly dismissed. No official reason was offered, though rumors circulated that his affiliation with the American Association of University Professors was a contributing factor. The action came at the height of the Red Scare when, according to Lionel S. Lewis’ Cold War on Campus, investigations, dismissals and forced resignations were common on college campuses fearful of Communist infiltration,[245] but Dean F. G. Livingood refuted rumors about the dismissal and press releases in area newspapers announced “that there ‘has been no suggestion’ of campus subversion.”[246]


Washington College students were still frustrated with the way the case was handled. John A. Woodfield wrote a letter to The Elm which claimed it was the student’s “privilege” to be informed about college events and took the administration to task for keeping the students in the dark about the situation:

Why is it that all information concerning the administration or the acts of the administration must reach the student body through the medium of the grapevine? The students are vitally interested, and rightly so…[it is] the opinion of the administration that the students do not cooperate with it; but how can they be expected to cooperate with anything or anybody which does not reciprocate?[247]


Another student, Sandy Jones, described the situation as “deplorable,” writing: “There exists on this campus a decided disharmony between the faculty and students on one hand and the Board of Visitors and Governors on the other…Faculty members and students are rarely if ever consulted on matters which primarily concern them.”[248]


As suggested in the students’ letters, the faculty was also unhappy with the actions and policies of the administration. In June 1950, a newspaper piece revealed the College was “short of faculty members and seething with student protests over recent board refusals to reappoint certain popular professors.” After three professors were dismissed despite student petitions and at least two “quit with resentment over the Simonini dismissal,”[249] Woodfield wrote a second letter to The Elm, asserting that “the Board has succeeded, through its actions, in losing the confidence of a majority of students, faculty and alumni…it has reduced faculty and student morale to a barren symbol.”[250]


In 1956, Washington College administrators and trustees again came into conflict with the student body over a professor’s fate, triggering a controversy that would take surprising twists and turns over the course of several months. In February, Dr. Charles B. Clark, varsity lacrosse coach and head of the history and political science departments, was not reappointed as chair of those departments. President Gibson defended it as an “administrative decision” that would not affect Clark’s salary, professional status, tenure, or the sports teams and fraternity with which he was involved, but told The Elm that the matter was “kept quiet lest it hurt Dr. Clark and harm the College.”[251] Furious with Gibson’s “veiled implications,” Clark wrote a letter to The Elm, insisting, “I have never hurt the College or its personnel. I have had no evidence presented to me that I have.” He felt “shocked” by his removal and said he “had been misjudged.”[252]


Students were also shocked and disheartened by the Board’s failure to reappoint Dr. Clark. The Elm explained “The Students’ Viewpoint:”

The students feel that they have been entitled to know why things are done the way they are. The decision to relieve Dr. Clark as Head of the History and Political Science Department is taking away the services of a man they think is best qualified for the job…To them the fact that he is being removed as department head is totally incomprehensible.[253]    


Also incomprehensible and, to the students, intolerable was the fact that the student body was not officially notified of the decision by the administration. Many students were already angry at the recent resignation of a favorite professor after he was denied a leave of absence to complete his Ph.D. requirements, and the Clark case made the situation worse. “The faith the students once had in the Administration has all but vanished,” said an Elm editorial, adding that the students’ response was not purely emotional – they did not think the new professors were as competent as those they replaced.[254]


Clark appealed to the Board of Visitors and Governors to allow him to continue as department head but after a brief hearing, it confirmed the administration’s action. “Far from the only faculty member who has been treated in an unprofessional manner, without cause,” Clark asked the College to retract the “published statements made by the President about my academic integrity and professional reputation.”[255] His integrity and reputation, as well as the school’s, came into question a few weeks later after his shocking statement to the Kent County News, alleging that his removal was linked to his report and investigation of an assault and attempted rape at the College the previous fall. Reprinted in The Elm, it said:

[President Gibson] told the student body that the real reason [for Clark’s removal] could not be given lest they shred my professional reputation, and that he did not desire to was the ‘dirty linen’ of the College in public…He has said I exceeded my authority when I reported an assault and attempted rape case (involving one of our college girls and boys) and pressed strongly for action against the boy…I am confident parents would not think a faculty member out of line for this sort of action…[256] 


In a letter to The Elm, the Board of Visitors and Governors’ legal advisor, Preston P. Heck, maintained that the college had responded to the rape accusations appropriately but that the girl’s parents declined to press charges.[257] Clark also wrote a letter to school paper giving a detailed account of the case. He said his wife, who was the victim’s sorority advisor, asked Clark to notify the administration of the incident. Clark’s report of the Dean’s actions after that point is appalling:

The Dean “called the boy and girl in together, told them the case was closed. He humiliated and embarrassed the girl by asking her to relate her side of the story in the presence of the boy and making it clear he believed the boy’s story. He advised the boy and girl to date each other…The girl reported to us that the Dean has closed the case and that she would quit school rather than stay on a campus where such a boy remained…[The Dean] blamed the boy’s actions on his drinking. (The girl said the boy was not drunk.) We insisted that the Dean reopen the case. He proceeded to tell us all about sex and sexual history and asserted the girl would not get so upset on the next occasion.[258] 


Equally disturbing is that the case was disregarded when it came up again during the Clark case. The Board proposed that Clark be dismissed if he continued his refusal to resign but did not address the attempted rape, claiming that the incident “bore no relation to the demotion of Dr. Clark as head of the department of history and political science.” The chief concern was Clark’s appeal to local media outlets; according to minutes from the meeting, “The statement made to the paper by Dr. Clark contained fallacies and misstatements. It was obvious that Dr. Clark’s statements were written in a manner calculated to deceive the public with regard to the administration of the College, conditions on campus, and the Board.” Because of his “public attacks on the Chairman of the Board, on the Board itself, the President, the Dean, and upon his own colleagues of the faculty…It was unanimously agreed that Dr. Clark be separated from the College.”[259]


A committee of tenured faculty found him guilty of “conduct and actions prejudicial and detrimental to the interests of Washington College” and a “serious breach of professional ethics.”[260] Clark was offered the chance to resign and take a one-year leave of absence at full salary before severing ties with the school, but he turned it down to take a position with the Atomic Energy Commission in Washington, D.C.[261] While Clark’s public disclosure of the assault and attempted rape may have been ill-advised and even self-serving, his side of the story is valuable in understanding the culture of Washington College during the mid-1950s. In America at that time, Manchester wrote, “the deadliest sin was to be controversial.”[262] A letter to The Elm claimed Clark “has been singled out and backed into a corner to make it appear he is an upstart and a troublemaker,” and the case, which was more controversial because of the unfavorable light it cast on the College than because of the attempted rape, showed the fate awaiting those who spoke out against institutions and authority.


The Elm admired Clark for speaking out against administrative policies he “could not accept…in good conscience,”[263] and a few students followed his example, voicing their discontent about some college policies later in the decade. In 1957, there was an outcry over President Gibson’s reversal of disciplinary decisions made by the Judiciary Board. Composed of six students and four faculty members, the Board heard three cases of plagiarism and one of cheating; in two of the instances of plagiarism, the students were acquitted. The decisions resulted in “emotional hysteria of a faculty member,” who threatened to resign unless the President overturned the ruling. An Elm editorial wrote: “As things stand now, no student can go before the Board with any confidence…the rift between the administration and students at Washington College is widening constantly.”[264]

The newspaper attributed the gulf between the students and faculty to the tendency of each “to immediately blame the other without careful thought and with great emotional outburst.”[265] The situation began to improve when President Gibson became chairman of the committee that would review academic offenses, preventing future situations where an outsider could overturn committee decisions. The Elm believed student protests led to the change: “If so, then this is proof of what the students can accomplish if they handle it right, and the sympathetic and cooperative attitude the administration will show toward them.”[266] Interactions between the administration and the students during the late 1950s showed “a great deal of faith in the student body’s ability to develop the sense of individual responsibility.” When a number of students were suspended after the spontaneous Theta Chi party discussed earlier in the chapter, the administration reduced the sentence from 30 days to two weeks to prevent students from falling too far behind in their classes and, recognizing “the student body’s desire to accept the burden of striving to prevent another incident of this type,” made the students responsible for developing a code to define acceptable behavior. [267]


Through their involvement with campus politics and college policies, Washington College students defied William Manchester’s definition of the 1950s youth as “the silent generation.”[268] The rational manner with which they generally handled unpleasant disputes was typical of the era – dealing with them quickly in order to get back to their tidy existence – and it showed a greater maturity and gravity among students in the 1950s compared to students before World War II. Even social life was more staid than in earlier generations. In the 1930s, relationships between men and women were flirtatious and often fickle; two decades later, the orderly progression from fraternity pins to diaper pins created a generation of “old married couples” who were barely in their twenties.

The 1950s, with its unprecedented prosperity and technological achievements had the potential to be an exciting decade, both at Washington College and in America. For the most part, however, the decade was not exciting – it was boring. Forced to adjust to the dramatic changes World War II brought to campus life, students eagerly returned to business as usual after the war. But although women relapsed into traditional roles, men controlled “college life,” and Washington College again seemed like a tranquil oasis on the Eastern Shore, the issues and debates of the decade laid the groundwork for advancements in the future







America in the 1930s was a very different place than it was in the 1950s, but student life at Washington College did not change radically between the two decades. In the 1930s, the nation was in the midst of a financial crisis which left millions starving, unemployed, and struggling for survival, while the 1950s saw a period of unprecedented productivity and prosperity. Separating the two extremes was World War II, the impetus that brought America out of the Great Depression and the catalyst for change on the Washington College campus. As we saw, however, the shifts evident in students’ attitudes and activities during the war did not last into the 1950s. Organized “college life,” as it was defined by Horowitz, was deeply imbedded in campus culture by 1930; it was instrumental in shaping student experiences in the years before and after World War II and was responsible for the relative stability of undergraduate life across those decades.


Though they participated in fraternities, sororities, clubs, sports, and numerous other groups, and though they pulled pranks and broke rules and did many of the things undergraduates stereotypically do, at no point between 1930 and 1960 were college students wholly carefree. Regardless of their impact on everyday campus life, the Great Depression, World War II, the Korean War, the Cold War, and the danger of nuclear technology cast shadows across the futures of generations of college students, and the uncertain prospects had different effects on the students of the two decades.


While the national mood at the time was one of grim despair, Washington College students in the 1930s were unexpectedly upbeat and optimistic. Their newspapers and yearbooks show the activities important to them – ratting, football, dating –and their witty humor and subtle sarcasm reveal the flavors of their college years. Their lives may not have been easy, and their futures may not have been promising, but students at Washington College seemed to genuinely enjoy their time at the school.


The 1950s were almost the polar opposite, offering hope, stability, and material comforts to an degree which was nearly unimaginable two decades earlier. Despite the emergence of Communism and nuclear warfare as national concerns, America’s future was brighter than ever. Washington College students, however, were more solemn and restrained than their predecessors. Cautious and conservative, they were the future leaders of the nation, and they took their role seriously. With the exception of the annual Sadie Hawkins dances and Stunt Nites [fig. w/e], there was a noticeable lack of energy and exuberance among Washington College students during the 1950s.


Between the two decades is World War II, an interruption to the stability of “college life” in the mid-20th century. Operating a college in the middle of a war that required total national mobilization made changes and modifications to student life necessity. Greek life and athletics, two major defenders of established “college life,” were forced into inactivity at some points because so many men were in the military instead of in college; the remaining roles were hesitantly but competently occupied by women. The changes during the war interlude were, as we’ve seen, chiefly temporary. When men returned after the war and the college resumed its normal operations, traditional “college life” also revived, with greater force than before.


The guiding principle of my assessment was a quote from Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz’s Campus Life:  “The remarkable thing about college life from the 1920s through the 1950s was its persistence.”[269] At Washington College, with the exception of the war years, that was primarily true. Things changed gradually over the course of the three decades examined in this thesis, but the essence of the undergraduate experience – including “college life,” social life, gender roles, and the impact of the outside world – remained intact.


For this study of campus culture at Washington College from 1930-1960, I went straight to the source: student publications. The newspapers revealed what was important to students on a weekly or biweekly basis, while the yearbooks showed what they most wanted to remember from their college years as well as how they wanted to be remembered. Though the student body was small – no more than 500 students at any point during these thirty years – it is impossible to include in one paper all the student organizations, campus events, and undergraduate opinions found in those publications. To fit such a wide range of student experiences into one study, it was necessary to exclude some groups and occurrences – and many individuals – that were of great importance on campus during those years, as well as those of minor significance. Narrowing the scope of the study to contain specific aspects of student life relevant to certain overriding themes and trends was an obligatory but unwelcome step in the process of organizing the immense amounts of data.


The study of the undergraduate experience, even of a campus as small and homogenous as that of Washington College, is a potentially infinite undertaking. There are so many different aspects and perspectives to consider that almost no analysis could be entirely comprehensive. This study is merely a broad overview of the major influences of campus life, but it would be possible to examine each of the influences – organizations, individuals, controversies, and many more – in much more detail. It was difficult to compare the culture of Washington College to that of American colleges and universities in general, because so many surveys de-emphasize student life. Without students, however, there would be no colleges or universities, and their experiences are worthy of further study. Interviews with alumni of different generations and with current students would be valuable additions to future projects, as would thorough examinations of the global, national, academic, and social trends of other time periods.


From the 1910s and 1920s, when Washington College’s student body became sizeable enough to support a system of “college life,” to the present day, the trends and attitudes of the different eras and generations of college students are linked. The patterns seen in the preceding pages both influenced and were influenced by those of the years outside the view of this study. Though I read nearly every edition of The Washington Elm from January 1930 to December 1959, examined the photographs and signatures in every Pegasus yearbook in a thirty year period, and read social and narrative history of the nation during the era, I barely scratched the surface of potential research in this area, and while there are students in American colleges and universities, there will always be more to learn.

[1] Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz, Campus Life (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1987), 118.

[2] Horowitz, 123.

[3] Horowitz, 12.

[4] Horowitz, 11-12, 123.

[5] Horowitz, 14-15.

[6] Horowitz, 14.

[7] Horowitz, 16.

[8] Horowitz, 19.

[9] Horowitz, 131.

[10] Horowitz, 119.

[11] Horowitz, 123; Washington College Student Handbooks.

[12] Horowitz, 213.

[13] Halberstam, 589; Marcia Landskroener, ed., Washington: The College at Chester (Chestertown: The Literary House Press, 2003), 73.

[14] Malcolm Cowley, The Dream of the Golden Mountains (New York: The Viking Press, 1980), x, 22; Frederick Lewis Allen, The Big Change (New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1952), 148.

[15] David Gelernter, 1939: The Lost World of the Fair (New York: Avon Books, 1995), 337.

[16] 1930 Pegasus, 32.

[17] David Halberstam, The Fifties (New York: Fawcett Columbine, 1993), 498.

[18] Halberstam, 508.

[19] Horowitz, 144.

[20] Gelernter, 369.

[21] Allen, The Big Change, 147.

[22] Newton D. Baker, The New York Times, 11 December 1932, as quoted in William Manchester, The Glory and the Dream (Toronto and New York: Bantam Books, 1974), 19.

[23] Cowley, 22.

[24] Manchester, 94.

[25] “As I Like It,” The Washington Elm, 16 January 1932, p.5.

[26] Gelernter, 212.

[27] Manchester, 54.

[28] Gelernter, 274.

[29] Landskroener, 54-58.

[30] Manchester, 78; “Midsummer Night’s Dream Postponed Due to State’s Bank Holiday,” The Washington Elm, 11 March 1933, p.1.

[31] Horowitz, 183.

[32] “Freshman Class is Largest in History,” The Washington Elm, 28 September 1935, p.1.

[33] “Class of 1940 Attend Freshman Week Programs,” The Washington Elm, 18 September 1937, p. 1.

[34] “The College Student,” The Washington Elm, 3 March 1934, p. 4.

[35] “Freshman Fatalities Great This Year,” The Washington Elm, 11 February 1933, p. 1.

[36] “Dwyer Returns to WC,” The Washington Elm, 11 February 1933, p. 4.

[37] “WC Students Will Be Helped by CWA;” “Harry Huey, Junior Class President, Leaves College,” The Washington Elm, 10 February 1934, p. 1.

[38] Manchester, 128.

[39] “Welcome, CWA Students;” “Students Under CWA Attend W.C.,” The Washington Elm, 3 March 1934, p. 4; 8.

[40] Manchester, 128; “College Receives N.Y.A. Allotment,” The Washington Elm, 28 September 1935, p. 1.

[41] Horowitz, 114.

[42] “Hail and Farewell,” 1932 Pegasus, vol. 6, p. 142.

[43] “A Lost Generation,” The Washington Elm, 10 November 1934, p. 2.

[44] “Prospice,” 1934 Pegasus, p. 78.

[45] Landskroener, 54-55.

[46] “President Roosevelt Here Today; “Football Manager Thrown Under Shower,” The Washington Elm, 21 October 1933, p. 1.

[47] Horowitz, 123; Walter L. Wallace, Student Culture: Social Structure and Continuity in a Liberal Arts College (Chicago: Aldine Publishing Company, 1966) in Horowitz, 123.

[48] “Changes Made in Old Rat Rules,” The Washington Elm, 6 December 1930, p. 6.

[49] “Traditional ‘Ratting’ Must Go,” The Washington Elm, 7 October 1933, p. 2.

[50] “Rats Prefer Standing to Sitting After Sophs Give Party Sunday Night,” The Washington Elm, 7 December 1935, p. 1.

[51] “Sadism?” The Washington Elm, 7 December 1935, p. 2.

[52] “New Freshman Rules Minimize Ratting,” The Washington Elm, 20 February 1937, p.1.

[53] “Council Announces New Hazing Rules,” The Washington Elm, 18 September 1937, p. 1.

[54] “Childish Pranks,” The Washington Elm, 9 November 1935, p. 2.

[55] “For Women Only,” The Washington Elm, 25 September 1937, p. 2.

[56] “Sophomores,” 1938 Pegasus, p. 83.

[57] “Hazing Continued,” The Washinton Elm, 1 October 1938, p. 2.

[58] “A Rat Asks for Trouble,” The Washington Elm, 8 October 1938, p. 2.

[59] “Rats and Stuff,” The Washington Elm, 21 October 1939, p. 2.

[60] Laura Hapke, Daughters of the Great Depression: Women, Work, and Fiction in the American 1930s. (Athens, Ga.: University of Georgia Press, 1995), 221.

[61] Horowitz, 135.

[62] “Regulations for Reid Hall,” The Washington College Student Handbook 1929-1930, p. 67; “They Say,” The Washington Elm, 30 November 1935, p. 2.

[63] “Regulations for Reid Hall,” The Washington College Student Handbook 1929-1930, p. 67-68.

[64] “Society Notes,” The Washington Elm, 18 October 1930, p. 3.

[65] “Open Forum,” The Washington Elm, 18 October 1930.

[66] “Slippery Elm: Bouquet,” The Washington Elm, 15 November 1930, p. 2.

[67] “Committee Announces Rules for All Dances,” The Washington Elm, 30 November 1935, p. 2.

[68] “Over the Hill,” The Washington Elm, 13 November 1937, p. 2; “Over the Hill,” The Washington Elm, 11 December 1937, p. 2.

[69] “Over the Hill,” The Washington Elm, 19 March 1938, p. 2; “Over the Hill,” The Washington Elm, 23 April 1938, p. 2.

[70] “Told to Me by I. Un-Ly Heard,” The Washington Elm, 2 February 1935, p. 2.

[71] “Told to me by I. Un-Ly Heard,” The Washington Elm, 9 March 1935, p. 2.

[72] “Over the Hill,” The Washington Elm, 15 February 1936, p. 2.

[73] Allen, Since Yesterday. (New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1940), 130; “Let’s Break It Up!” The Washington Elm, 5 February 1937, p. 2.

[74] Gelernter, 125.

[75] “Over the Hill,” The Washington Elm, 5 March 1938, p. 2.

[76] “Over the Hill,” The Washington Elm, 18 December 1937, p. 2.

[77] “Reid Hall Notes,” The Washington Collegian, 18 January 1930, p. 4; “Genuine Bull,” The Washington Collegian, 8 February 1930, p. 5; “Genuine Bull,” The Washington Elm, 15 November 1930, p. 2.

[78] De Pasquale, 73.

[79] “Yearly Scandal,” The Washington Collegian, 23 November 1929, p. 2.

[80] Minutes of the Alpha Kappa Fraternity Meeting, 13 January 1935, p. 176, Miller Library Archives, vertical files: 1933-1936 G. W. Mead, folder: FRATERNITY: KAPPA ALPHA.

[81] Minutes of the Alpha Kappa Fraternity Meeting, 13 January 1935, 17 January 1935, p. 176, 178; President Mead, letter to transgressors, 15 January 1935; Miller Library Archives, vertical files: 1933-1936 G. W. Mead, folder: Discipline 1935.

[82] Horowitz, 211.

[83] “Feminine Persistence,” The Washington Elm, 16 May 1936, p. 2.

[84] “Reid Hall Notes,” The Washington Collegian, 8 February 1930, p. 2.

[85] De Pasquale, 73.

[86] Horowitz, 211.

[87]  “Barbara Sparklin,” “Mary Lillian Knotts,” 1939 Pegasus, p. 36, 49.

[88] “Mount Vernon Holds Fashion Show,” The Washington Elm, 13 April 1935, p. 1; “Mount Vernon to Hold Fashion Show Tuesday,” The Washington Elm, 5 March 1938, p. 1; “Literary Society Outlines Its Program for Semester,” The Washington Elm, 9 November 1935, p. 1.

[89] “Mount Vernon Sponsors College Beauty Contest,” The Washington Elm, 25 April 1936, p. 4; “ ‘Should Girls Be Educated?’ Asked,” The Washington Elm, 18 April 1936, p. 4; “ ‘Miss Washington College’ Is Named,” The Washington Elm, 2 May 1936, p. 1.

[90] Horowitz, 201.

[91] “Over the Hill,” The Washington Elm, 18 December 1937, p. 2.

[92] “Nancy Kane Nicholson,” Senior Bio, 1938 Pegasus, p. 39.

[93] “Florence Conrath Wilmer,” Senior Bio, 1937 Pegasus, p. 74.

[94] “Frederick Howard Truitt,” Senior Bio, 1938 Pegasus, p. 66.

[95] Gelernter, 337.

[96] Marvin H. Smith, “‘War in 1940’ Fear of Paul Harris;” “Group Discusses the Prevention of Wars,” The Washington Elm, 12 January 1935, p. 1.

[97] “Peace Conference Planned for March 7, 8,” The Washington Elm, 19 January 1935, p. 1.

[98] “Dr. Davis Talks to Society on Hitler’s Accomplishments,” The Washington Elm, 2 March 1935, p. 1.

[99] “Dr. Davis Speaks at Assembly on Visit in Germany,” The Washington Elm, 2 October 1937, p. 1.

[100] Carroll Woodrow, “Short-Sighted Diplomats are Responsible for European Crisis.” The Washington Elm, 1 October 1938, p. 2.

[101] “European Crisis Topic of Speech,” The Washington Elm, 8 October 1938, p. 1.

[102] Manchester, 189.

[103] “American Students Favor Isolationism,” The Washington Elm, 23 April 1938, p. 2.

[104] “Students Vote for U.S. to Stay Out of European War,” The Washington Elm, 7 October 1939, p. 1.

[105] Manchester, 174.

[106] George E. Grieb, “International Sucker,” The Washington Elm, 29 April 1939, p. 2.


[108] “Coming War Seen as Influence on Current College World,” The Washington Elm, 14 October 1939, p. 2.

[109] Fortune magazine article circa 1936 as quoted in Frederick Lewis Allen’s The Big Change, 149.

[110] “Senior Class History,” 1937 Pegasus, p. 77.

[111] Unpublished article written by P. J. Wingate ’33 in 1954, Oxford-Cambridge Lacrosse Game 4/3/1930, vertical files, Miller Library Archives.

[112] “Shore College Alive,” Baltimore Md. News, 23 April 1934, Miller Library Archives, vertical files: 1933-1936 G. W. Mead, folder: Newspaper Clippings 1933-34; “Shore College Alive,” Baltimore Md. News, 23 April 1934; “Shore College Ends Year ’35 With Surplus,” Wilmington Del. Journal, 9 January 1936, Miller Library Archives, vertical files: 1933-1936 G. W. Mead, folder: Newspaper Clippings 1933-34; “College Receives $23,000 Gift,” The Washington Elm, 18 January 1936, p. 1.

 vertical files: 1933-1936 G. W. Mead, Miller Library Archives.

[113] Gilbert W. Mead, “Washington College – Her Present Status,” 1934 Pegasus, p. 36.

[114] Susan M. Hartmann, The Home Front and Beyond: American Women in the 1940s (Boston: Twayne Publishing, 1982), 2.

[115] J. Calvert Jones, “Do Your Part Today,” The Washington Elm, 24 October 1941, p. 2.

[116] Hartmann, ix.

[117] William Manchester, The Glory and the Dream (Toronto: Bantam Books, 1974), 251, 255-257; “This War and Us,” The Washington Elm, 12 December 1941, p.2.

[118] “This War and Us,” The Washington Elm, 12 December 1941, p.2.

[119] Manchester, 257.

[120] “There’s Work to Be Done at Home Until You are Called For Other Service,” The Washington Elm, 12 December 1941, p. 1.

[121] Gilbert W. Mead, “An Editorial,” The Washington Elm, 12 December 1941, p.1.

[122] Jones, “Editor’s Desk,” The Washington Elm, 9 January 1942, p. 2.

[123] “With the Greeks,” The Washington Elm, 9 January 1942, p. 3.

[124] John Kardash, “Kardash’s Corner,” The Washington Elm, 9 January 1942, p. 4.

[125] Jones, “Editor’s Desk, The Washington Elm, 9 January 1942, p. 4; “Basketball,” 1942 Pegasus, p. 59.

[126] Kardash, 9 January 1942.

[127] Manchester, 306.

[128] “Varsity Club,” 1944 Pegasus, p. 46.

[129] [129] The “Flying Pentagon” basketball team continued to compete during World War II. Relying heavily on freshman talent, the team finished in second place after the 1945 season. “The Team,” 1943 Pegasus.

[130] “Q & A With Ed Athey,” in Landskroener, ed., 240.

[131] “The Sophomore Class;” “The Junior Class;” 1943 Pegasus.

[132] Frederick G. Livingood, “Report of the Dean – Acting for President G. W. Mead, March 1, 1943-September 1, 1943,” p. 2, vertical files: 1948-1951 Daniel Z. Gibson, folder: Dr. Mead – Miscellaneous.

[133] In the 1948 “Victory Memorial Issue of the national Theta Chi publication The Rattle, twelve members of Washington College’s Beta Eta chapter were named for being honored by the government for their service or for receiving a Gold Star for being killed serving the nation – or both, in the case of Lt. Carroll W. Casteel, ’36. The Rattle of Theta Chi, Victory Memorial Issue 1948, vertical files 1948-1951 Daniel Z. Gibson, folder: Theta Chi, The Rattle 1948;  “Kappa Alpha,” 1948 Pegasus, p. 44; “Lambda Chi Alpha,” “Theta Chi,” 1944 Pegasus, p. 24, 26.

[134] Hartmann, 103-104; Livingood, Report of the Dean, p. 4.

[135] “Fraternities Disband; Sororities Use Houses,” The Washington Elm, 28 May 1943, p. 1; Fred W. Dumschott, Washington College (Chestertown: Washington College, 1980), p. 224; Hartmann, 103-104.

[136] “Glee Club,” 1944 Pegasus, p. 41; “Y’s and Other Y’s,” 1945 Pegasus, p. 54.

[137] Hartmann, 104.

[138] “No Request Yet Made to Lower Draft Age,” The Washington Elm, 12 December 1941, p. 1; “We Resolve,” The Washington Elm, 9 January 1942, p. 2; “Greek Girls Give to Service Men,” The Washington Elm, 23 January 1942, p.1.

[139] “College Girls Start Red Cross Program,” The Washington Elm, 9 October 1942, p. 1; Manchester, 303; “Editor’s Desk,” The Washington Elm, 30 October 1942, p.2; “Bandages, Bandages, and More Bandages,” The Washington Elm, 8 Janurary 1943, p. 2.

[140] “For Girls Only,” The Washington Elm, 18 February 1944, p. 2.

[141] Hartmann, 31-32.

[142] “Two Washington Grads Make First Splash in WAVES,” The Washington Elm, 13 November 1942, p. 1.

[143] Hartmann, 41.

[144] Washington Women Enlist in All Branches of Armed Forces,” The Washington Elm, 3 December 1943, p. 1.

[145]  “Washington College Commencement to Honor WAC Officer; Col. Hobby Will Address Mid-Year Graduates,” The Enterprise, 5 January 1944, Miller Library Archives, vertical files 1939-1944 G.W. Mead, folder: Clippings 1943-1944.


[146]  “‘Babe’ Will Find Open Field for Mathematics with B.A.,” The Washington Elm, 15 January 1943, p. 1

[147] Mead, “Northeast Corner,” The Washington Elm, 5 March 1943, p. 2.

[148] Hartmann, 105, 107.

[149] Instead of becoming Vogue editor after graduation, ‘Molly’ Blackwood put her journalistic aspirations on hold to enter the WAVES. A piece in The Washington Elm on April 14, 1944 described her grueling routine, which she brightly described as “fun!” “Mary Douglas Blackwood,” 1943 Pegasus; “Through the Knothole,” The Washington Elm, 16 February 1945, p. 2.

[150] 1944 Pegasus, p. 74; “Student Government,” 1944 Pegasus, p. 38; “Wharton Praises Hawaiian Life,” The Washington Elm, 2 March 1945, p. 3; “Nancy Sutherland New Pegasus Head,” The Washington Elm, 5 October 1945, p. 1.

[151] “Marian Vivian Dinger,” 1945 Pegasus, p. 20. , 18-28; 1946 Pegasus.

[152] Hartmann, 164; “Jean Eleanor Horne,” 1945 Pegasus, p. 23.

[153] Hartmann, 169; “Ellen Boiko,”  “Eleanor Marie Newton,” 1945 Pegasus, p. 18, 25.

[154] “College Hears Wedding Bells for First Real War Bride,” The Washington Elm, 2 October 1942, p. 1.

[155] Wedding Bells Ring Out Again for Second Student Marriage,” The Washington Elm, 30 October 1942, p. 1.

[156] “Third Senior Girl Weds Service Man,” The Washington Elm, 20 November 1942, p. 1; “Third Senior Girl Carries on Tradition of Student Brides,” The Washington Elm, 4 December 1942, p. 2; “Brief Sketch of Next Week’s Graduates,” The Washington Elm, 22 January 1943, p. 3.

[157] Hartmann, 165.

[158] Manchester, 305; “War Marriage Problem Argued Both Pro and Con,” The Washington Elm, 28 April 1944, p. 3.

[159] Ibid.

[160] Jones, “Editor’s Desk,” The Washington Elm, 10 April 1942, p. 2.

[161] “‘Bing’ Hartnett Dies Aboard Boat in Norfolk Harbor,” The Washington Elm, 17 March 1944, p. 1.

[162] “Wilmer Gott, ’46, Ends 30 Missions,” The Washington Elm, 2 March 1945, p. 1.

[163]“Gold Stars,” The Rattle of Theta Chi, Victory Memorial Issue 1948, p. 7, vertical files 1948-1951 Daniel Z. Gibson, folder: Theta Chi, The Rattle 1948; “War Correspondent Writes of College Grad in War Novel,” The Washington Elm, 22 October 1943, p. 1; “News in Brief…,” The Washington Elm, 25 May 1945, p. 1.

[164] “Youth Today are Better Prepared,” The Washington Elm, 20 February 1942, p. 1.

[165] Manchester, 289.

[166] Mead, “Northeast Corner,” The Washington Elm, 4 May 1945, p. 2; “Washington College and the War,” The Washington Elm, 12 January 1945, p. 2

[167] 1945 Pegasus, p. 4-5.

[168] Manchester, 565.

[169] Manchester, 530.

[170] Manchester, 565.

[171] Daniel Z. Gibson, letter to Commandant of the 5th Naval District, 31 August 1950, Miller Library Archives, vertical files: 1948-1951 Daniel Z. Gibson, folder: 1950/51 Gibson Misc. Correspondence;  Gibson, letter to the Board of Visitors and Governors of Washington College, 17 August 1950, Miller Library Archives, vertical files: 1948-1951 Daniel Z. Gibson, folder: Military Training-Proposal Plan & G.I. Bill 1950-1951.

[172] “Draft Call for Full-Time Students to be Delayed,” The Washington Elm, 6 October 1950, p. 2; “Reserve Calls, Enlistees Deplete Student Ranks,” The Washington Elm, 27 October 1950, p. 2.

[173] Ed Ryle, “Of Draft Laws and Marks,” The Washington Elm, 12 January 1951, p. 2.

[174] Tom Lowe, “Sons of Daedalus,” The Washington Elm, 19 January 1951, p. 2.

[175] Ibid.

[176] Manchester, 549.

[177] Lowe, “‘No Matter Were…’” The Washington Elm, 16 February 1951, p. 2.

[178] Ibid.

[179] Manchester, 539.

[180] Manchester, 555.

[181] Horowitz, 168, 187.

[182] “Hazing Committee Deals Out First Penalty,” The Washington Elm, 6 October 1950, p. 1.

[183] “Freshman Hazing On,” The Washington Elm, 10 October 1953, p. 1; “Sophomore Raid Inflicts Damage,” The Washington Elm, 23 October 1953, p. 1.

[184] “Sophomore Raid Inflicts Damage,” The Washington Elm, 23 October 1953, p. 1; “Student Government Reports,” The Washington Elm, 12 December 1953, p. 1.

[185] “Hazing – Think Twice!” The Washington Elm, 9 October 1954, p. 2.

[186] Horowitz, 131.

[187] “11 Seniors Selected for Who’s Who,” The Washington Elm, 16 November 1951, p. 1.

[188] “Senior of the Week: James C. ‘Jim’ Haebel,” The Washington Elm, 16 February 1952, p. 2.

[189] “8 Are Chosen for ‘Who’s Who,’” The Washington Elm, 8 November 1952, p. 1; “W.C. Nominates 9 to Who’s Who in American Colleges,” The Washington Elm, 16 January 1954, p. 1, 4; “Seven Leading Seniors Join ‘Who’s Who,’” The Washington Elm, 11 December 1954, p. 1; “Eight Seniors Chosen for ‘Who’s Who,’” The Washington Elm, 19 November 1955, p. 1; “Who’s Who Honors Seven Students,” The Washington Elm, 19 January 1957, p. 1; “Committee Nominates Seven Seniors to National Honorary Society,” The Washington Elm, 21 February 1958, p. 4; “Eight Seniors Named to Who’s Who,” The Washington Elm, 21 January 1959, p. 1.

[190] Horowitz, 142.

[191] “Scholarship High in College Fraternities,” The Washington Elm, 11 January 1952, p. 1.

[192] Horowitz, 29.

[193] Albert S. Hill, Memo, 28 February 1957; Letter to the Student Body of Washington College, 28 February 1957, Miller Library Archives, vertical files: 1956-1959 Daniel Z. Gibson, folder: Student Activities & Affairs 1956-57;  “Theta Chi Party Ends in Two Week Suspension,” The Washington Elm, 5 March 1957, p. 1.

[194] “Dean Announces Suspensions,” The Washington Elm, 13 December 1957, p. 2.

[195] Horowitz, 140.

[196] “Kappa Alpha,” “Alpha Chi Omega,” 1959 Pegasus, 132, 126.

[197] Joyce Poetzl, letter to the editor, The Washington Elm, 7 November 1958, p. 3.

[198] Wayne Gruehn, “Athlete’s Feat,” The Washington Elm, 19 March 1955, p. 3.

[199] H. Hurtt Deringer, “It All Started with a ‘Social Game’: Sports at Washington College,” in Landskroener, ed., 238; “W.C. First Maryland Team to Win Title,” The Washington Elm, 11 December 1954, p. 3. “Goalie on All-American,” The Washington Elm, 10 February 1955, p. 3; Dixie Walker, “Szymanski to Try Out for Olympic Soccer,” The Washington Elm, 10 December 1955, p. 3.

[200] “The Lacrosse Player,” The Washington Elm, 19 March 1955, p. 3-4.

[201] “W.C. Represented at Stick Convention,” The Washington Elm, 12 January 1951, p. 2; Deringer, 237.

[202] “Don Kelly Named to Lacrosse Helm,” The Washington Elm, 17 October 1956, p. 3; Deringer, 238.

[203] “Q & A with Ed Athey,” in Landskroener, ed., 241.

[204] “Y’s and Other Y’s,” 1945 Pegasus, p. 54; “Wittenberg Club,” “Westminster Foundation,” “Canterbury Club,” “Newman Club,” “Wesley Club,” “Jewish Council,” 1959 Pegasus, p. 120-122.

[205] “Inter-Faith Day for W.C. Students,” The Washington Elm, 14 March 1953, p. 1; “Religious Week Program Begins 4/27,” The Washington Elm, 23 April 1958, p. 1.

[206] “The Right Man,” The Washington Elm, 17 May 1952, p. 2; The Washington Elm, 3 May 1952, p. 2-4.

[207] The Women’s Student Government Association, however, remained active. Dumschott, 230.

[208] “Student Advisory Group Is Formed This Week,” The Washington Elm, 16 February 1951, p. 1.

[209] Mike Bronstein, “Sees Trend for Student Government,” The Washington Elm, 16 November 1951, p. 1.

[210] “Student Government Loses with 123 Negative Votes,” The Washington Elm, 17 May 1952, p. 1.

[211] “Student Government Issue Returns,” The Washington Elm, 6 October 1952, p. 1.

[212] William Johnson, “From the Outside World,” letter to the editor, The Washington Elm, 8 November 1952, p. 2.

[213] Manchester, 576.

[214] “Student Government Voted In, 191-171,” The Washington Elm, 17 January 1953, p. 1; “Student Council Reports,” The Washington Elm, 14 March 1953, p. 1.

[215] “Returning Veterans,” 1946 Pegasus, p. 66.

[216] Manchester, 578.

[217] 1950 Pegasus, p. 20ish-50ish

[218] In 1959, approximately 62 percent of the senior men and 38 percent of senior women chose a math or science-related major. “Society of Sciences,” 1948 Pegasus, p. 34; 1950 Pegasus, p. 20ish-50ish; 1952 Pegasus, p. 81-100ish; 1953 Pegasus, p. __; 1959 Pegasus, p. 138-165.

[219] Horowitz, 291-292.

[220] “Frosh Dance to Determine ‘Miss Legs,’” The Washington Elm, 22 March 1952, p. 1; “I.F.C. to Hold Homecoming Queen Nominations,” The Washington Elm, 27 October 1950, p. 1; “Best Dressed Contest,” The Washington Elm, 21 January 1959, p. 5.

[221] Wini Breines, “The ‘Other’ Fifties: Beats and Bad Girls,” in Not June Cleaver: Women and Gender in Postwar America, 1945-1960, ed. Joanne Meyerowitz (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1994), 396.

[222] Horowitz, 128.

[223] “The Royal Shaft,” The Washington Elm, 23 October 1959, p. 4.

[224] Horowitz, 216.

[225] Manchester, 577.

[226] Halberstam, 596.

[227] “On the Hill,” The Washington Elm, 17 May 1952, p. 2.

[228] Horowitz, 216.

[229] Doyle, Report of the Dean 1954-1955.

[230] “On the Hill,” The Washington Elm, 12 October 1951, p. 2; “Senior of the Week: Lyn White,” The Washington Elm, 8 November 1952, p. 2.

[231] Doris Schellinger, “Senior of the Week: Jane Bradley,” The Washington Elm, 11 October 1952, p. 2; “8 Are Chosen for ‘Who’s Who,’” The Washington Elm, 8 November 1952, p. 1; “With the Greeks,” The Washington Elm, 14 February 1953, p. 2; “Jane Lowe to Receive ELM Award,” The Washington Elm, 16 May 1953, p. 1. The Edson Riddle Ryle Memorial was named for the former editor-in-chief, Ed Ryle, who was killed in an automobile accident in April 1951, just before the end of his term as editor. Bradley, then the news editor, replaced him as editor-in-chief.

[232] “Jane Lowe to Receive ELM Award.”

[233] Halberstam, 589.

[234] Doyle, Report of the Dean 1954-55.

[235] “New Teachers Appointed By College,” The Washington Elm, 17 October 1956, p. 1; Sue De Pasquale, “Coeducation Changes Attitudes Toward Women,” in Washington: The College at Chester, ed. Marcia C. Landskroener (Chestertown, Maryland: The Literary House Press at Washington College, 2003), 71, 73.

[236] Horowitz, 216.

[237] “Introducing the Faculty…,” The Washington Elm, 22 October 1955, p. 2; April 7, 1956 Minutes of the Meeting of the Board of Visitors and Governors, p. 7, Miller Library Archives, vertical files: BVG 1950-1980, folder: BVG 1956-1959.

[238] “Faculty Member’s Wife Author on Poet Blake,” The Washington Elm, 20 February 1957, p. 2.

[239] Washington College Student Handbook, 1950, p. 27.

[240] Joseph Doyle, “Women’s Affairs,” Report of the Dean of the College 1954-55, Miller Library Archives, vertical files: 1952-1956 Daniel Z. Gibson, folder: Report of the Dean of the College.

[241] “Give Me One Minute More,” The Washington Elm, 3 October 1957, p. 2.

[242] Washington College Student Handbook, 1953, p. 19.

[243] “Sounding Off,” letter to the editor, The Washington Elm, 6 November 1959, p. 2.

[244] Manchester, 578.

[245] Lionel S. Lewis, Cold War on Campus (New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Books, 1988), 2.

[246] “Has No Reds, College Says,” The Evening Sun, 24 March 1950, clipping from Miller Library Archives: 1951-52 Inauguration and Misc., folder: Clippings, Etc. 1951-52-53.

[247] John A. Woodfield, “What’s What,” The Washington Elm, 23 March 1950, p. 2.

[248] Sandy Jones, “Tempest in a Teapot?” The Washington Elm, 23 March 1950, p. 2.

[249] Unidentified newspaper clipping, 3 June 1950, Miller Library Archives: 1948-1951 Daniel Z. Gibson, folder: Miscellaneous News Clippings 1950.

[250] Woodfield, letter to the editor, The Washington Elm, 27 April 1950, p. 4.

[251] George Hanst, “Gibson Defends Clark Removal,” The Washington Elm, 18 February 1956, p. 1.

[252] Charles B. Clark, The Washington Elm, 28 February 1956, p. 1.

[253] “The Students’ Viewpoint,” The Washington Elm, 18 February 1956, p. 2.

[254] Ibid.

[255] “Board Hears Clark; Affirms First Decision,” “Clark’s Statement Calls Hiring Unfair,” The Washington Elm, 14 April 1956, p. 1.

[256] “Clark Makes Full Statement on Removal,” The Washington Elm, 28 April 1956, p. 1.

[257] The girl’s father and lawyer threatened to press charges against her attacker, but after he withdrew from the College “of his own accord,” they decided against further legal action. Preston P. Heck, letter to the editor, The Washington Elm, 12 May 1956, p. 2.

[258] Clark, letter to the editor, The Washington Elm, 12 May 1956, p. 2.

[259] June 1, 1956 Minutes of the Meeting of the Board of Visitors and Governors, Miller Library Archives, vertical files: BVG 1950-1980, folder: BVG 1956-1959, p. 8.

[260] September, 8, 1956, Minutes of a Special Meeting of the Board of Visitors and Governors, Miller Library Archives, vertical files: BVG 1950-1980, folder: BVG 1956-1959, p. 8-10.

[261] June 1, 1956 Minutes, p. 9; “Summa Cum Laude,” The Washington Elm, 17 October 1957, p. 2.

[262] Manchester, 578.

[263] “Summa Cum Laude,” The Washington Elm, 17 October 1957, p. 2.

[264] “Justice in Judiciary?” The Washington Elm, 3 October 1956, p. 2.

[265] “Let’s See the Other Side,” The Washington Elm, 21 February 1958, p. 2.

[266] “Judicial Reform Commended,” The Washington Elm, 21 February 1958, p. 2.

[267] “An Admirable Move,” The Washington Elm, 6 March 1957, p. 2.

[268] Manchester, 576.

[269] Horowitz, 118.




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