Professor of English Christabel Forsyth Fiske edited the first number of the Vassar Journal of Undergraduate Studies. Her foreword stated that the volume, a pioneer work of its kind, was intended to answer charges of superficiality in American college work, adding that the articles chosen for publication "offer, at least, a fair mark at which to aim the slings and arrows of public criticism of college methods today."  The New York Herald Tribune commented, “Certainly these papers quite disarm that criticism so far as Vassar in concerned,” and reviewing the journal in Bulletin of the American Association of University Professors, the eminent literary historian Professor George R. Havens called it "a very interesting step which may ultimately prove of far-reaching importance." 

To be considered, an essay needed, in Professor Fiske's words, to "either make an original contribution, however modest, to scholarship; or, for the convenience of the specialist, it must furnish a synthesis, from various and more or less technical sources, of hitherto uncollated material; or it must present, in it dealing with its subject, a new, fresh, and interesting point of view."  The first volume included a critique of Bernard Shaw as economist and playwright, essays on George Meredith, Mother Goose and medieval symbolism, a paper on “Stars With Bright Lines in Their Spectra” and another on “Crystal Structure of Metallic Tellurium and Selenium and of Strontium and Barium Selenide.”

The New York Times noted that the new journal “is in scope, size and seriousness modeled upon the publications of the postgraduate learned societies.  Nearly twenty contributions represent a broad field of intensive study by undergraduates carrying advanced work.” The publication appeared annually until 1944, was suspended during the paper shortage in World War II and was revived in 1950.  It appeared since then from time to time.