Vassar in Blackface: Negotiating Tensions of Class, Gender, and Race

Rediscovered in the late 2010s, blackface and other types of racial masquerade were prevalent at Vassar College from the 1870s to the 1950s.

Content warning: This work contains language and images that some may find deeply disturbing.

To answer why students, faculty, and administrators all produced and participated in this type of racist entertainment, this paper contextualizes these performances within Vassar’s unique environment as a preeminent women’s college largely limited to upper-middle-class White women.

By examining reports and photographs of racial masquerade performances, accounts of the changing administration of campus life, and existing scholarship on women in blackface, I suggest that practices of racial masquerade at Vassar functioned, in part, to negotiate questions of gender and class-facing women during this period of first-wave feminism. Racial masquerade, as an improper and subversive form of performance for upper-middle-class White women, can be linked to an attempt by students to attain what they thought to be feminist liberation from the restrictive Victorian value system of the early College. In fact, as the first-wave-feminist value of independence permeated the faculty and administration of Vassar in the early 20th century, racial masquerade performances became even more commonplace. In addition to illuminating racist elements of the history of Vassar College, this investigation may help inform the sparse scholarship on women in racial masquerade more generally.

A black-and-white historical photo of Vassar students in racist blackface costumes, performing on stage in an indoor theater.
Scene from What, No Watermelons, Act III of “The Sophomoric Sophistries of 1931,” a skit show presented by the Class of 1931 to the Class of 1932. A number of students are in blackface and costumed as “washerwomen, cotton pickers, [a] blackberry vendor” and fishermen. Photo: Edmund L Wolven, 1928. Vassar Digital Library.


On October 27, 1928, in the Students’ Building (now Gordon Commons) of Vassar College, the class of 1931 put on a skit show for the class of 1932 for the annual Sophomore Party. The third act, “What, No Watermelons,” featured roughly two dozen sophomores in blackface, depicting “washerwomen, cotton picker[s], [a] blackberry vendor…[and] fishermen” in the Southern United States. 1 A chorus sang “Dese Bones Gonna Rise Again,” an African American spiritual. 2 By almost any account, this was a minstrel performance—at Vassar College.

This show was not an aberration; there were dozens, if not hundreds, of racial masquerade 3 performances produced by students, faculty, and administrators. This critical dimension of racism at Vassar was rediscovered with the digitization of the Wolven Glass Plate Negative Collection, which began in 2015. 4 The collection encompasses pictures taken by Edward L. Wolven, the official College photographer, between the 1890s and 1940s. 5 Now anyone with an internet connection can view pictures of many of these performances, including “What, No Watermelons.” 6

This rediscovery raises the question: why did students and faculty perform in racial masquerade? This investigation aims to historicize racial masquerade at Vassar and contextualize it within the interconnected class, gender, and racial tensions playing out nationally and at the campus. This topic is relatively uncharted territory: women in racial masquerade is a scarcely researched or analyzed phenomenon; as such, this investigation may also contribute to scholarship on racial masquerade in general.

My central claim is that the story of racial masquerade at Vassar involves the development of the dialectic between propriety and impropriety. The “progressivism” of the early College involved the elevation of women, but largely in accordance with restrictive Victorian morality. Towards the end of the 19th century, students began to struggle against this reigning value system and for greater independence in college life as part of a nationwide first-wave-feminist movement personified by the New Woman. As amateur theater concurrently rose in popularity nationwide, female students would produce racial masquerade performances that contrasted and subverted the constricting propriety of the founding value system. In other words, I argue that these early 20th-century White women students employed racist tropes and performances as part of an attempt to achieve for themselves what they thought to be feminist liberation.

Eventually, the faculty and administration also adopted these “feminist” values and relaxed restrictions on student life, a shift that could be marked by the transition of the Vassar presidency from James Monroe Taylor to Henry Noble MacCracken in 1915. In turn, blackface and other racial masquerade performances at Vassar became even more commonplace, particularly at Founder’s Day, an annual celebration of Vassar’s founder, Matthew Vassar. These minstrel shows were performed and produced not only by students but also, as the century progressed, by faculty, administrators, and even President MacCraken himself. However, while the student-led performances were primarily mocking and low-culture, the faculty performances were primarily exoticizing and high-culture in tone. Performances primarily took place from the 1870s to the 1950s, and they targeted Black, East Asian, Middle Eastern, and Indigenous peoples, among others.

Tensions with the Founding Value System (1860s–1880s)

Before discussing the performances themselves, it is useful to start with an examination of the College’s founding value system and campus conditions. The first president of the College was Milo P. Jewett, who served from 1861 to 1864. Jewett was one of the College’s prime architects, suggesting to Matthew Vassar the idea of a women’s college with full equipment and materials. 7 Drawing from his experience in the South, Jewett’s plan for the College was one of “broad elective basis without texts or examinations.” 8 After his resignation, these plans would be discarded in favor of a more traditional curriculum desired by the succeeding president, John H. Raymond. At the semi-centennial celebration of the College, President Taylor remarked on these events: “The break of friendly relations between the president [Jewett] and Mr. Vassar defeated the trial of the novel plan, and Dr. Raymond, who was rightly convinced that young women then needed rigor and guidance rather than freedom of election, offered a curriculum similar to that of the typical American college with such modifications as were thought to be called for by women.” 9 Even at its founding, the independence of students was of prime significance and dispute.

As Vassar was among the first institutions of its kind for women, there was “a dearth of sound preparatory schools,” and thus, the first students did not meet the standards wished by Matthew Vassar or the other founders. 10 In 1876’s Historical Sketch of Vassar College, a writer for the College reflected, “Of the three hundred and fifty students with whom the College began, a respectable minority, say one third, had been well taught; a few admirably. But of the majority it could not be said with truth that they were thoroughly grounded in anything.” 11 A preparatory department was deemed necessary to bring students up to speed academically, 12 but there were also significant social, moral, and religious aspects to the standards desired by the founders. The early schedule, which Agnes Rogers, class of 1916, would describe as “monastic,” was characterized by mandatory prayer and little free time. 13

...heavily Protestant, elitist, and strict, emphasizing the value of propriety.

Enforcement by regulation and example was primarily designated to Hannah Lyman, the first Lady Principal of Vassar College. In a letter from January 1865, President Raymond outlined the Lady Principal’s impact: “As the personal and confidential adviser of the young ladies, she would … probably more than any other determine the characteristic and ruling spirit of the College.” 14 Reflecting the lack of independence given to early students, Lyman’s role was to act in loco parentis; Rogers would posthumously label her supervision as “maternal.” 15 Lyman’s philosophy—what I will call the Lyman doctrine—was heavily Protestant, elitist, and strict, emphasizing the value of propriety. Notable were her illiberal dress codes; Lyman believed that proper dress, which was specified in the Course Catalogue as “simple and inexpensive,” 16 was to reflect “delicate taste, good judgment and conscientiousness, which denote true self-respect.” 17 And yet, in a 1872 reflection in the Vassar Miscellany, Lyman was portrayed by students in a progressive light: as working to “elevate the standard of Christian womanhood, to bring women out from the narrow limits of frivolity to the broad basis of truth and noble purpose.” 18 The “progressiveness” of the early College was epitomized by the Lyman doctrine, which intended to elevate the status of women through academic rigor in accordance with Victorian standards of morality.

Although dominant at early Vassar, the Lyman doctrine was contested by independently minded students from the start. In a Vassar Quarterly piece written 50 years after her 1874 graduation, Annie Howes Barus recalled resistance from the students who “fought to secure sane and reasonable standards for young womanhood in college life” against Lyman’s “ultra-conservative Victorianism.” 19 Mary W. Whitney, class of 1868, recalled similar “irritation and friction,” which she attributed to Lyman’s “English ideas” being dissonant with the views of “American girls.” 20 This resistance was a sign of things to come: Vassar’s feminism and moral foundations would shift as the ideal of the New Woman was brought to the College in the 1890s and early 20th century. Coined in 1894, the New Woman was the first-wave-feminist ideal of an educated and independent (White) woman who elevates herself into a higher socioeconomic class. 21 This new type of feminism would fundamentally change the motivations of Vassar women; to understand why requires consideration of socioeconomic class.

Historically, Vassar was often portrayed as a college for the most elite families to send their daughters, but this narrative fails to properly reflect the economic realities of Vassar students. Rather than being a school for the ultra-rich, Vassar appears to have been a school primarily for the upper middle class. At first glance, this may seem like a distinction without a difference; to be fair, the families from which Vassar students arrived had to possess a certain amount of wealth to afford the tuition of $400 for almost all of the late 19th century, or the average expense of $1,855 in 1940. 22 But the significance of this distinction is that, for those with families well off enough to afford the expenses, Vassar was more often a place promising the opportunity of elevation into the upper echelons than a place that would maintain one’s position in said echelons. College records show that the majority of fathers of Vassar students from the late 19th century to early 20th century were consistently found in middle- to upper-middle-class occupations: merchants, lawyers, and manufacturers. 23 This point is relevant when discussing the motivations of the students at Vassar during the pertinent time period; the average student of early Vassar was uniquely invested in her studies because they were her ticket to upward mobility.

...Vassar women still pursued independent occupations in significant and increasing numbers in the early 20th century.

With the introduction of the New Woman ideal going into the 20th century, a Vassar education was valued not just for its opportunity of socioeconomic elevation but also for its opportunity to bring women socioeconomic independence. The desire to gain independence can be seen in the occupational data of Vassar graduates. According to the 1939 Alumnae Biographical Register, 62% of women who graduated Vassar before 1912 and 73% of women who graduated between 1912 and 1926 gained employment at some point. 24 These occupations were not just limited to teaching, nursing, or clerical work either. As of 1937, 12% of alumnae most recently held business positions (including 5% being executives or administrators), 9% were most recently social workers, and 7% were most recently writers, among many other professions. Of course, not all alumnae were career women; Rogers reported, “Out of five graduates who are now married, three have had jobs at some time, but only one has a job at the present time [1937]. Of five graduates who are now unmarried, four have had jobs at some time and three have jobs now.” 25 A Vassar education did help with earnings: in 1937, 23% of Vassar working graduates earned a salary of $3,000 or more, as compared to only 15% of other college-educated working women. 26 So although there were still significant conflicts between desires for careers and a woman’s role as homemaker, Vassar women still pursued independent occupations in significant and increasing numbers in the early 20th century.

The ideas associated with the New Woman resonated particularly with Vassar students because of their motivations derived from their economic status—being (upper) middle class and often social climbers—combined with their lack of agency due to the Lyman doctrine. The College was founded largely to provide women with rigor (both academic and moral), not to empower students to elevate themselves. This distinction is perhaps epitomized by Lyman’s conflict with Maria Mitchell, a prominent astronomer whose teaching tenure at Vassar brought prestige to the nascent College. 27 Mitchell was posthumously labeled as “essentially the new woman herself” by Katherine Heilprin Pollak, class of 1926. 28 Their conflict arose because Lyman refused to allow students to travel to the observatory after dark without a chaperone, which Mitchell objected to due to her feminist value of independent investigation. 29 The tension is perhaps best encapsulated in Mitchell’s characterization of Lyman: “She is very kind to me, but had we lived in the colonial days of Massachusetts, and she had been a power, she would have burned me at the stake for heresy.” 30 More broadly, in a development on which Vassar President Henry Noble MacCracken would later comment, scholarship and pedagogy at Vassar shifted from “gathering facts and describing and arranging them in a precise and orderly way” to a “broader outlook and a more critical approach.” 31

These developments may seem distant from the questions of racial masquerade, but this increasing prioritization of independence associated with the New Woman among students helps explain the types of performances present from the 1880s to 1910s.

Student-Led Racial Masquerade (1880s–1910s)

Using extant resources, the first blackface performances at Vassar took place in 1880. 32 The first was a performance by the Exoteric Society, a literary society for preparatory students, 33 on October 10. 34 Anne Southworth, class of 1882, described how, while “blacked up,” a student sang “Dem Golden Slippers,” 35 a popular minstrel song that parodied a spiritual sung by the Jubilee Singers of Black institution Fisk University. 36 Soon after, Lady Principal Julia A. Ray forbade the group from performing another “farce,” as well as required that the programs be sent to her from then on—this implies that their performances were organized without administrator knowledge. 37 It is unclear whether the farce in question was the minstrel performance—the presence of another performance that Southworth explicitly labeled a farce, as well as Exoteric continuing to feature blackface in their plays may suggest the contrary. 38 Either way, Ray disallowing farce, which Encyclopaedia Britannica notes is “generally regarded as intellectually and aesthetically inferior to comedy in its crude characterizations and implausible plots,” 39 is consistent with the Lyman doctrine; the explicitness of the propriety dialectic in the earliest known example of blackface at Vassar should be noted.

...sophomores repeatedly considered racial masquerade in some way integral to Vassar social life.

Just three weeks after “Dem Golden Slippers,” at least two students performed in blackface in a junior-class Halloween performance. 40 Perhaps unsurprisingly, much of the early racial masquerade at Vassar surrounded Halloween. However, the recorded Halloween performances actually fall into the larger tradition of class performances, where a class would produce a show for another class. This tradition appears to have been the primary occasion for significant racial masquerade performances: all racial masquerade depictions in the Wolven Glass Plate Negative Collection before 1920 originate from these events, as do most contemporaneous written references to racial masquerade in the 1880s and 1890s. The class performance’s significance raises the question: what was their role? A useful case example is the Sophomore Party, where the sophomore class first performed songs and speeches for the freshman class, usually sometime in late October or early November. A 1930 piece in the Vassar Miscellany News describing social life at Vassar in the 1880s specifically mentioned the Sophomore Party as how freshmen are “made to feel a part of the college”; 41 the student editors of the Miscellany in December 1889 described the Sophomore Party as “when the Freshman class comes to be known as a distinct existence,” 42 or in other words, when freshmen enter the social life of the College. From this, one can infer that sophomores repeatedly considered racial masquerade in some way integral to Vassar social life. Additionally, broader participation, 43 as well as a lack of critique in student publications, 44 suggest that class performances were markedly amateur.

The characteristics of class performances align with the wider history of women and minstrelsy. Thomas Recchio observes, “Before the 1890s, blackface minstrel shows were performed almost exclusively by men and in professional venues.” 45 When there was a female performance, Derek Scott notes that it “would nowadays merit the description ‘soft porn,’” 46 in part due to these women utilizing the stereotype of the Black woman’s “voracious sexual appetite.” 47 Because this kind of minstrelsy was suggestive of prostitution, 48 it was socially limited to working-class women. With the concurrent rise of the New Woman and amateur theater at the end of the 19th century, these limitations around minstrelsy were lifted.

Amateur theater expanded minstrelsy beyond professionals, and because the professional setting was largely restricted to men, amateur theater expanded minstrelsy to women. 49 Due to its nature, Vassar was a hub for amateur women performers. Amateur minstrelsy in particular was appealing in building community; Annemarie Bean describes, “Rather than watching the act of blacking up, amateur minstrels got to do it themselves. They became the joke of blackness, and the collective experience of doing so was a community-building exercise.” 50 Amateur minstrelsy then fit naturally into the class performance, the purpose of which was to build community amongst Vassar students.

Engaging with non-White culture, even if to mock it, could be perceived by conservatives as a threat to Whiteness and femininity.

The ideal of the New Woman motivated middle- and upper-class women to enter minstrelsy. The peculiar example of the banjo can help explain why. Laura Vorachek notes how the rise of the banjo among British upper-class women in the late 19th century “was both incongruous and provocative due to the instrument’s racial and working-class affiliations; it was associated with African and African-American culture, blackface minstrelsy, and the working classes who performed this entertainment on city streets, seaside resorts, and music hall stages.” 51 Upper-class White women adopting the instrument required, to some extent, a mixture of the concepts of Whiteness and Blackness. Additionally, the banjo was large and unwieldy; it was therefore viewed as masculine. 52 These racial and gender connotations allowed the banjo to be an important instrument for the New Woman to communicate a separation from Victorian prescriptions for upper-class White women. At Vassar, the banjo was present as early as 1882. 53 The use of the banjo is only one example of how upper-class White women’s interactions with Blackness could subvert Victorian morality—another is blackface. Vorachek observes how “Cartoonists affiliated the New Woman with the banjo and blackface minstrelsy to claim she was a sign of English cultural degeneracy.” 54 Engaging with non-White culture, even if to mock it, could be perceived by conservatives as a threat to Whiteness and femininity. This made racial masquerade a useful tool for upper-class White women to subvert Victorian morality.

A psychological examination can provide further insight into why racial masquerade and its subversiveness was appealing to Vassar women. Toni Morrison, analyzing depictions of race in American literature, writes, “images of blackness can be evil and protective, rebellious and forgiving, fearful and desirable—all of the self-contradictory features of the self. Whiteness, alone, is mute, meaningless, unfathomable, pointless, frozen, veiled, curtained, dreaded, senseless, implacable. Or so our writers seem to say.” 55 Morrison’s characterization of Blackness and Whiteness captures the same dichotomy as the Vassar students’ struggle for expression against the rigid standards of the Lyman doctrine and Victorian womanhood. Richard Dyer uses this quote by Morrison to support his psychoanalytic analysis of the racialized peoples’ role in White American fiction: “Through the figure of the non-white person, whites can feel what being, physicality, presence, might be like, while also dissociating themselves from the non-whiteness of such things.” 56 Paradoxically, through performances that dehumanized racialized people, Vassar students could have connected with repressed aspects of their own humanity. In other contexts, especially for White women, this kind of exploration would be too taboo, foreign, or improper to be accessible.

The College administration too was evolving in their values. Perhaps the most influential Vassar president of this era was James Monroe Taylor, who served from 1886 to 1914. Taylor was a conservative and traditionalist who argued against and actively disallowed activism on campus. 57 In his pamphlet and speech The “Conservatism” of Vassar, it is clear Taylor viewed Vassar through a Victorian mindset: “The chief mission of the college is to train the young, not for special fields of work or any special theories of reform, but to enlighten and broaden and inspire.” In this speech, Taylor also condemned women finding a career and moving beyond the “old-fashioned view of marriage and children” as radical. 58 Understanding that the racial masquerade by Vassar women was an act against Victorian morality and conservatism, student-led performances could have been used to provide a contrast between the cultures of the student body and the administration.

Taylor resigned, which he privately attributed in part to Vassar’s “friction, suffrage, and socialism.”

Although the influence of the Lyman doctrine was long-lasting—for example, the Course Catalogues used practically the same wording and tenets for dress until 1939 59—College policy did begin to shift going into the 20th century. The value of independence from the New Woman permeated the College’s regulation of student life, resulting in the relaxation of many restrictions. Beginning in 1889, “an honor system was introduced and certain rules of conduct … were made matters of personal responsibility.” 60 The office of the Lady Principalship continued beyond Lyman’s death until 1913, when President James Monroe Taylor formed the “board of Wardens,” 61 whose powers were, to a greater extent, bound to “the force of example.” 62 But Taylor was adapting slower than the rest of the College. Sparked by the activism of Inez Milholland, class of 1909, resistance against Taylor’s policy against speech of controversial issues rose. 63 In 1912, students petitioned against Taylor and the Board of Trustees, in support of campus discussion of women’s suffrage. 64 The same year, the faculty also petitioned for greater involvement in College decisions. 65 In 1913, Taylor resigned, which he privately attributed in part to Vassar’s “friction, suffrage, and socialism.” 66

Faculty and Administrative Involvement in Racial Masquerade (1910s–1940s)

Following Taylor as president was Henry Noble MacCracken, who would serve from 1915 to 1946. MacCracken was a progressive who viewed the College as a place for progress and democracy; in 1926, he wrote in the New York Times, “the American college is no longer a college in the old sense of the word. It is a great social organization operating most powerfully in a democracy, where class lines are not yet strictly drawn, and where vast numbers of the people possess leisure.” 67 In line with his democratic educational philosophy, MacCracken championed greater self-determination of students and faculty. This shift was already in progress before MacCracken became president; for instance, the academic year after Taylor’s resignation (1914–1915) saw no interim president, for the trustees allowed an elected member of the faculty to fulfill many of the president’s functions. 68 However, once he became president, MacCracken played a pivotal role in facilitating these changes. He was able to manage the creation of the Vassar College Governance in 1922, which marked a major shift of power over educational life away from the trustees. 69 MacCracken would also empower the Vassar Student Association, enabling them to have legislative and judicial bodies. 70

Under MacCracken’s presidency, Vassar abolished more restrictions on student life, inline with the first-wave-feminist ideal of independence associated with the New Woman. Compulsory chapel attendance, a cornerstone of the Christian roots of the College, was abolished in 1927. 71 More broadly, the concept of in loco parentis would gradually disappear; a 1939 Vassar catalogue explicitly told families, “The parental role no longer has its place in the life of a true college.” 72 These developments were even tracked contemporaneously by Vassar students: Polly Allis, class of 1938, as president of the Students’ Association, told the incoming class of 1941 about “the development of student government from the days of ‘corridor teachers’ to the present ideal of self-discipline.” 73This isn’t to say that there was unanimous support for these changes. In an infamous incident in 1918, several trustee members were so alarmed by MacCracken’s progressivism that they attempted to remove him, but the effort was met with such sharp resistance from faculty and alumnae that it was ultimately prevented, 74 demonstrating the new dominant values of the era.

“The first certain instance of racial masquerade at Founder’s Day...was in 1916”

Associated with this shift in College policy and administrator values was a shift in racial masquerade. Founder’s Day, the prime day of College festivities, would begin to be transformed to be a more casual and frivolous affair in 1911, with a two-day program celebrating the 50th anniversary of the College’s founding. 75 Student performances notably became central parts of the festivities; among them were “Women of Culture in Five Ages,” a “pageant” that featured an 18th-century “serving boy,” and a joint concert by the Glee Club and Mandolin Club, where the Mandolin Club played “Happy Jappy Soldier Man” by John W. Bratton and “Dat Blackville Wedding” by Robert Cone. 76 When MacCracken became president, the unpopular annual lectures that previously dominated Founder’s Day were ditched, and performances became even more central to the festivities. 77 The first certain instance of racial masquerade at Founder’s Day found in this investigation was in 1916, with a dramatic reenactment of Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes in captivity in Algiers, written by Virginia Archibold, class of 1917. 78 The play featured students in stereotypical Middle Eastern costumes, 79 playing “Turkish nobles & ladies, soldiers, captives, slaves, pirates, priests, merchants.” 80

In 1915, faculty began organizing and performing plays, often called “Faculty Follies,” for the College community. 81 The first faculty performances were farces, 82 marking a great departure from Ray’s ban on farces roughly 35 years prior. Faculty plays would become central to Founder’s Day; they were an opportunity for faculty and administrators to become more involved in student life, thereby condoning impropriety (by example) rather than restricting it. In line with this objective, racial masquerade by faculty and administrators became prevalent at Founder’s Day. However, this new wave of racial masquerade substantially differed from the wave of student-led performances it succeeded.

Focusing on the portrayals of women within these performances can help reveal the nuanced differences between the student-led and faculty-led performances. As Bean observes, women entering minstrelsy adopted the portrayals of women previously crafted by female impersonators. 83 Central to these portrayals was a kind of hyper-femininity, containing both archetypal passivity and eroticism. 8485 Bean identifies two types of female impersonation in minstrelsy: “Comic characters were geared toward basing the comedy in the obviousness of the façade; and, high-style drag had at its chief goal to construct convincingly the presence of a woman without the intrusion of a woman.” 86 Female impersonation was so essential to minstrelsy that even White women were targets of mockery; particularly after the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention, female impersonators mocked the increasing advocacy of middle-class White women by giving women’s rights lectures on the minstrel stage. 87 Understanding female impersonation’s integral role in minstrelsy, its high–low culture paradigm can be inferred to be reflective of other elements of the entertainment genre.

The play featured racist imitations of the Chinese language and both students and faculty in yellowface.

The faculty performances more often than not fell into the “high-style” category of minstrel performance. One of the first performances in which faculty of Vassar participated was Margaret Scott Oliver’s The Turtle Dove at Founder’s Day 1922. 88 The play featured racist imitations of the Chinese language and both students and faculty in yellowface. 89 However, unlike previous instances of racial masquerade, this play seems to be primarily based on an exoticized orientalist premise rather than a mocking premise. The Miscellany News described the play in a way that is uncharacteristic of a rowdy, crass minstrel show: “The play was an amusing burlesque drama, but dignity and charm were lent it by the beautiful costumes and the graceful acting.” 90 In the parody student publication Vassarton Lucky Strike, the authors remark, “Doesn’t that [The Turtle Dove] sound as romantic as your wildest dream? They say it’s Chinese.” 91 The Turtle Dove can be understood as a prototypical example of the “high-style” performance, as it employed traditional fragile femininity in depictions of Chinese women, but not femininity that was particularly erotic or objectionable to Victorian morals. 92

A black-and-white historical photo of a theatrical production featuring costumed actors and stage settings that are intended to look Chinese.
The Turtle Dove by Margaret Scott Oliver, featuring stereotypical Chinese costuming and set design. Burges Johnson (wearing solid black) played the “Property Man”. Photo: Edmund L Wolven, 1928. Vassar Digital Library.

Analogous to how “high-style drag” in the case of female impersonation allowed for “the presence of a woman without the intrusion of a woman,” the orientalist minstrelsy of The Turtle Dove allowed for the presence of Asians without supposed intrusion. It’s important to note that this is a long-lasting characteristic of minstrelsy; minstrelsy originated in a desire for authentic insight into Black people, who White people viewed as exotic, without Black inclusion into White spaces. As Ayanna Thompson observes in her book Blackface, “The logic behind this early cross-racial impersonation is that it is not scripted—that is, it is not fictional or fantastical—but rather recorded—that is, it is truthful and compelled by a desire for verisimilitude.” 93 This desire for verisimilitude was especially present during MacCracken’s presidency; MacCracken was an internationalist who strove to make Vassar students “citizens of the world, beginning with Poughkeepsie.” 94 So even though faculty performances like The Turtle Dove differ from the stereotypical minstrel show, they still often fit into the framework of minstrelsy.

Conversely, the early student-led performances at Vassar fell in line with the comic, low culture category of minstrelsy, as they typically opted for the facade to be overt and improper rather than subtle or authentic. Compare The Turtle Dove to Ching-a-ling-a-ling, a student minstrel performance in November 1878. 95 The plot was as follows: the eponymous main character danced onto the stage while someone off-stage sang “Ching-a-ling-a-ling was a Chinese boy,” then he laid under a huckleberry tree where “an Indian with a tomahawk…cut off his pig-tail”; Southworth described the performance as “perfectly comical.” 96 Keep in mind that there were two Japanese students studying at Vassar in 1878, so such displays of anti-Asian racism had real interpersonal consequences within the contemporaneous student body. 97 These student depictions also tended to display more erotic depictions of femininity. Though it was in many ways a “high culture” performance, one example is the Arabian-Nights-themed skit New Lamps for Old by the sophomore class in November 1916, which featured students playing women in a harem; 98 Western representations of harems have notably been used to sexualize and objectify Middle Eastern women. 99

A black-and-white historical photo of people inside a theater, performing in costumes that are intended to appear Middle Eastern.
New Lamps for Old, a skit show presented by the Class of 1919 to the Class of 1920. This scene includes students in stereotypical Middle Eastern costumes. Photo: Edmund L Wolven, 1916. Vassar Digital Library.

...instances of more low-culture forms of racial masquerade were encouraged for the festivities

Although Founder’s Day was largely organized by the College, instances of more low-culture forms of racial masquerade were encouraged for the festivities. For example, a College report on Founder’s Day 1927 details how “impromptu stunts” were put on in every hall, with posters “giving a hint as to the scene and characters of the play, and urging everyone to dress up.” 100 It is unknown whether any of the impromptu stunts that year were minstrel shows, but it is likely that the stunts were related to the day’s theme of Jamaica in 1750. For other festivities that day, students were encouraged to dress as “sailors, Indians, or English planters.” 101

It is this context of evolving displays of propriety and lack thereof in which we can set the two documented instances of President MacCracken performing in racial masquerade. The first was at Founder’s Day 1930, the theme of which was time-traveling to 2015. Following a parade, students gathered in “the Circle” for a mock celebration of the 150th anniversary of the College’s founding, titled in Arabic in the day’s program. 102 MacCracken was sworn in as the new president, “Abdul-al-bul-bul-amir,” while wearing a stereotypical Middle Eastern costume. 103104 His comments to the students were largely unintelligible, but among the understandable words were “one thousands [sic] wives, one thousand girls are nothing,” which may employ the erotic trope of femininity. 105 This performance employs both mockery and exoticization, making it difficult to fit solely into a high-culture or low-culture archetype. The second instance took place at the Gay-Nineties-themed Founder’s Day 1944, amidst faculty performances. The Vassar Chronicle detailed, “‘Bones’ MacCracken, complete with black face, pink and white striped coat, pink bowtie, straw hat, and red boutonnierre [sic], sang ‘Dinah’ and ‘I Will Leave My Happy Home For You,’ a la Jolson, accompanied by Mr. Denny, also black-faced and in similar regalia including red socks.” 106107 This second performance seems to be a more mocking performance, albeit in formal wear. These performances show a complex and evolving mixture of high-culture and low-culture minstrelsy in the College administration’s approach for Founder’s Day and student life in general.

A black-and-white historical photo of people outside, performing in costumes that are intended to appear Middle Eastern.
President MacCracken dressed in a stereotypical Middle Eastern costume and a student at the festivities after the Founder’s Day parade. Photo: Edmund L Wolven, 1930. Vassar Digital Library.

...much of the student body and faculty was dressed in redface.

These changes of the values of the College would culminate in perhaps the most egregious example of College-sanctioned racial masquerade: Founder’s Day 1947, under the theme of a Native American ambush titled “Mat’s Stampede.” 108109 Among the day’s festivities was “Blanding’s Branding,” where Sarah Gibson Blanding, who served as president from 1946 to 1964, was appointed with a Native American headdress. 110 The traditional “hare and hounds” game was labeled “Indian Uprising,” where cowboys captured “pesky Injuns.” 111 At “Tribal Pow Wow,” students would compete in a costume contest in which the Vassar Chronicle predicted “the wildest will be the winners.” 112 Unlike many other circumstances that were limited to those from a particular performance, much of the student body and faculty was dressed in redface. Also significant is that these depictions appear to fit into a particularly low-culture form of minstrelsy.

Entering the 1950s, instances of racial masquerade would decline, 113 and Vassar would see the last large-scale instances of racial masquerade that I could find in this investigation. On Founder’s Day 1953, a play depicted Christopher Columbus’s first voyage to the Americas, featuring students as Native Americans. 114 On Founder’s Day 1956, the script for the faculty play featured a “Negro slave” of William Faulkner. 115 It’s important to note that the racial makeup of Vassar in the 1950s differs from that of the 1880s, so it is possible that Native American or Black students could have played these roles. Absent photographs or descriptions of this aspect of the play, the races of the performers and the manners of the depictions are largely indeterminate.


The aim of this investigation is not to excuse these performances or to deny their racism—that the performances are racist is obvious. Rather, it is to uncover a story of intersecting identities—one we might find uncomfortable. In constructing a more liberal understanding of (White) womanhood, Vassar students and faculty utilized undoubtably racist tropes. These performances illuminate the paradox that, while the College may have been progressive for its time in its views on womanhood, its stance on race was distinctly conservative, and these two positions were inextricably linked.

This story perhaps raises as many questions as answers. As illustrated, there were many possible motivations at play for members of the Vassar community who adopted racial masquerade. Determining with certainty which motivations were most pertinent in the individual decision-making of those who lived a century ago is challenging if not impossible, especially when considering both conscious and subconscious factors. More work is needed to develop a full, intersectional conceptualization of racial masquerade. Vassar’s history can hopefully serve as a useful case study when including upper-middle-class White women performers in this greater understanding.

Although the role of womanhood at Vassar has diminished since the institution became coeducational, the findings of this analysis remain relevant today. It is always our collective responsibility to sever the links that the contemporary College has to racism and bigotry, even when those links don the banner of progress. 


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“Founder’s Day Fraught With Fun.” Vassar Miscellany News (Poughkeepsie, NY), April 30, 1930.

“Founder’s Day Has Olympic Take-Off!” Vassar Chronicle (Poughkeepsie, NY), April 2, 1949.

“Founder’s Day Promises Well.” Vassar Miscellany News (Poughkeepsie, NY), April 27, 1927.

“Freshmen Guests at Party.” Vassar Miscellany News (Poughkeepsie, NY), October 31, 1928.

“Frosh Get ‘Skittish’ For Founder’s Day.” Vassar Miscellany News (Poughkeepsie, NY), May 6, 1953.

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Johnson, Colton, and Elizabeth Adams Daniels. Conversations about Vassar History with Historian Elizabeth A. Daniels. Vassar Encyclopedia. Vassar College, 2014.

MacCracken, Henry Noble. “The Student Movement Surges.” New York Times Magazine, May 30, 1926.

Malone, Dumas, and Henry Noble MacCracken. “Jewett, Milo Parker.” In Dictionary of American Biography 10:69–70, 1943.

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Matsumoto, Lila. “Milo P. Jewett.” In Vassar Encyclopedia. Vassar College, 2005.

“Miss Lyman’s Influence At Vassar.” Vassar Miscellany. April 1, 1872.

Morrison, Toni. Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination. Harvard University Press, 1992.

M. G., and M. C. “Weekly Criticisms Disapproved.” Vassar Miscellany Weekly. May 12, 1916.

Nasir, Sari Jamil. “The Image of the Arab in American Popular Culture.” Order No. 6206198, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1962.

“New Lamps for Old.” Vassar Miscellany Weekly (Poughkeepsie, NY), November 17, 1916.

“Oh, Dem Golden Slippers.” Library of Congress. Accessed Feb. 14, 2024.

“Old Home Day.” Vassarton Lucky Strike. April 28, 1922.

Oliver, Margaret Scott. The Turtle Dove. United Kingdom: French, 1916.

“Olympian Daze Fails To Faze Founding Father!” Vassar Chronicle (Poughkeepsie, NY), May 7, 1949.

Page, Barbara, and Elizabeth Adams Daniels. “The Suffrage Movement at Vassar.” In Vassar Encyclopedia. Vassar College, 1983.

Patterson, Martha H., ed. Beyond the Gibson Girl: Reimagining the American New Woman, 1895–1915. University of Illinois Press, 2005.

Peraza-Baker, Maya. “Maria Mitchell and Women’s Rights.” In Vassar Encyclopedia. Vassar College, 2006.

Pollak, Katherine Heilprin. “The Forces That Launched Vassar College.” Vassar Quarterly 11, no. 3, June 1, 1926.

Recchio, Thomas. “The Serious Play of Gender: Blackface Minstrel Shows by Mary Barnard Home, 1892–1897.” Nineteenth Century Theatre and Film 38, no. 2 (November 2011): 38–50.

Ringel, Lance. “Vassar’s First Japanese Students.” Vassar: The Alumnae/i Quarterly 112, no. 2, Spring/Summer, 2015.

Rodriguez, Sarah. “Hannah Lyman.” In Vassar Encyclopedia. Vassar College, 2004.

Rogers, Agnes. Vassar Women; An Informal Study. Poughkeepsie, NY: Vassar College, 1940.

Rogin, Michael. “Blackface, White Noise: The Jewish Jazz Singer Finds His Voice.” Critical Inquiry 18, no. 3 (1992): 417–53.

Scott, Derek B. The Singing Bourgeois: Songs of the Victorian Drawing Room and ParlourTaylor & Francis Group. 2nd ed. London: Routledge, 2001.

“Social Life at Vassar Described 43 Years Ago.” Vassar Miscellany News. November 12, 1930.

Southworth, Anne. Ms. Diary, 1878–1880. Poughkeepsie, NY, 1880.

Southworth, Anne. Ms. Diary, 1880–1882. Poughkeepsie, NY, 1882.

Studt, Janey. “College Stampedes Westward For Heap Big Founders Day.” Vassar Miscellany News (Poughkeepsie, NY), March 19, 1947.

Taylor, James Monroe. The “Conservatism” of Vassar. Poughkeepsie, NY, 1909.

Taylor, James Monroe. “Vassar’s Contribution to Educational Theory and Practice.” Speech, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY, October 1915.

Thompson, Ayanna. Blackface. New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2021.

Vassar College. Historical Sketch of Vassar College. New York: S. W. Green, Printer, 1876. Nineteenth Century Collections Online (accessed February 13, 2024).

Vassar College. Program for Founder’s Day 1911, 1911. Archives and Special Collections Library, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY.

Vassar College. Program for Founder’s Day 1916, 1916. Archives and Special Collections Library, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY.

Vassar College. Program for Founder’s Day 1922, 1922. Archives and Special Collections Library, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY.

Vassar College. Program for Founder’s Day 1930, 1930. Archives and Special Collections Library, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY.

Vassar College. Program for Founder’s Day 1947, 1947. Archives and Special Collections Library, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY.

Vassar College. Report on Founder’s Day 1927, 1927. Archives and Special Collections Library, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY.

“Vassar Indians Revive Founder’s Day Spirit.” Vassar Miscellany News (Poughkeepsie, NY), March 26, 1947.

Vorachek, Laura. “Whitewashing Blackface Minstrelsy in Nineteenth-Century England: Female Banjo Players in ‘Punch.’” Victorians: A Journal of Culture and Literature, no. 123 (Spring 2013): 31–51.

Wang, Yifan. “Glass Plates Capture Vassar’s Past.” Miscellany News. September 30, 2015.

Weir, Georgette. “Hannah Lyman: The Lasting Influence of Vassar’s First ‘Lady Principal.’” Vassar: The Alumnae/i Quarterly 97, no. 2, Spring 2001.

Willis, Corin. “Meaning and Value in The Jazz Singer.” In Style and Meaning: Studies in the Detailed Analysis of Film. edited by John Gibbs and Douglas Pye, 127–140. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 2005.

Whitney, Mary W. “The Founders of Vassar.” Vassar Miscellany. May 1, 1895.

Wolven, Edmund L. 206_14. October 27, 1928. Photograph, 8 x 10 in. Wolven Glass Plate Negative Collection, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY.

Wolven, Edmund L. 208_04. April 28, 1922. Photograph, 8 x 10 in. Wolven Glass Plate Negative Collection, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY.

Wolven, Edmund L. 208_06. April 28, 1922. Photograph, 8 x 10 in. Wolven Glass Plate Negative Collection, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY.

Wolven, Edmund L. 208_17. April 28, 1922. Photograph, 8 x 10 in. Wolven Glass Plate Negative Collection, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY.

Wolven, Edmund L. Box242_020. May 5, 1916. Photograph, 8 x 10 in. Wolven Glass Plate Negative Collection, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY.

Wolven, Edmund L. Box242_021. May 5, 1916. Photograph, 8 x 10 in. Wolven Glass Plate Negative Collection, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY.

Wolven, Edmund L. Box245_004. November 11, 1916. Photograph, 8 x 10 in. Wolven Glass Plate Negative Collection, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY.

Wolven, Edmund L. Package083_006. April 25, 1930. Photograph, 5 x 7 in. Wolven Glass Plate Negative Collection, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY.

“Wolven Glass Plate Negative Collection.” Vassar College Digital Library. Accessed February 13, 2024.

  1. “Freshman Guests at Party,” Vassar Miscellany News, 1.

  2. Greenbaum and Blank, “Hearing Waycross,” 104.

  3. In this essay, I use the term “racial masquerade” to encompass all performances, formal or informal, that aim to mimic the appearance and/or behavior of any other race and have intrinsic to their performance mockery, harmful archetypes, and/or a racist ideology. This includes modes such as blackface, yellowface, redface, and brownface.

  4. Wang, “Glass Plates Capture Vassar’s Past.”

  5. Vassar College Digital Library, “Wolven Glass Plate Negative Collection.”

  6. Wolven, Box 206_14.

  7. Matsumoto, “Milo P. Jewett.” However, Jewett was not the first to suggest this idea; Matthew Vassar’s niece, Lydia Booth, first suggested the idea.

  8. Malone and MacCracken, “Jewett, Milo Parker.”

  9. Taylor, “Vassar’s Contribution.”

  10. Rogers, Vassar Women, 52.

  11. Vassar College, Historical Sketch of Vassar College, 39.

  12. Rogers, Vassar Women, 52. The preparatory department would not be abolished until 1886.

  13. Rogers, Vassar Women, 58.

  14. Weir, “Hannah Lyman: The Lasting Influence.”

  15. Rogers, Vassar Women, 49.

  16. Course Catalogue 1866–1867, Vassar College, 35.

  17. Rodriguez, “Hannah Lyman.”

  18. “Miss Lyman’s Influence At Vassar,” Vassar Miscellany. 25.

  19. Barus, “Vassar, Fifty-Five Years Ago,” 237.

  20. Whitney, “The Founders of Vassar,” 358.

  21. Patterson, Beyond the Gibson Girl, 2.

  22. Rogers, Vassar Women, 73.

  23. Rogers, Vassar Women, 31–33. The higher-class professions (e.g. doctors, bankers, lawyers.) did become increasingly prevalent from 1872 to 1935. The category “capitalists,” however, failed to ever make the top six in that time period.

  24. Rogers, Vassar Women, 113.

  25. Rogers, Vassar Women, 114.

  26. Rogers, Vassar Women, 143.

  27. Daniels and Johnson, “Maria Mitchell.”

  28. Pollak, “The Forces That Launched Vassar College,” 180.

  29. Peraza-Baker, “Maria Mitchell and Women’s Rights.”

  30. Chen, “Hannah Lyman: The Lady's Principles.”

  31. Rogers, Vassar Women, 54.

  32. These were not the first racial masquerade performances in general, only the first that targeted Black people.

  33. Southworth, Diary, 1878–1880, 52.

  34. Southworth, Diary, 1880–1882, 5.

  35. Southworth, Diary, 1880–1882, 5.

  36. “Oh, Dem Golden Slippers.” Library of Congress.

  37. Southworth, Diary, 1880–1882, 8.

  38. Southworth, Diary, 1880–1882, 41.

  39. Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica, “farce.”

  40. Southworth, Diary, 1880–1882, 8.

  41. “Social Life at Vassar Described 43 Years Ago,” Vassar Miscellany News.

  42. “Editors’ Table,” Vassar Miscellany, December 1, 1889, 98.

  43. “College Notes,” Vassar Miscellany, 78. Descriptions of class performances reference the classes as a group (e.g. “the sophomores gave the freshmen the usual sophomore party”), so I am making the inference that class performances included, if not the entirety of the class, at least a wider range of talents than the literary clubs.

  44. “Editors’ Table,” Vassar Miscellany, July 1, 1886; M. G. and M. C. “Weekly Criticisms Disapproved.” More established performances, like those by the Philalethean/Philaletheis Society, were notably subject to unsparing critique in the Miscellany.

  45. Recchio, “The Serious Play of Gender,” 38.

  46. Scott, The Singing Bourgeois, 89.

  47. Vorachek, “Whitewashing Blackface Minstrelsy,” 44.

  48. Vorachek, “Whitewashing Blackface Minstrelsy,” 44.

  49. Recchio, “The Serious Play of Gender,” 38.

  50. Bean, “Female Impersonation,” 14.

  51. Vorachek, “Whitewashing Blackface Minstrelsy,” 32.

  52. Vorachek, “Whitewashing Blackface Minstrelsy,” 37–38.

  53. Southworth, Diary, 1880–1882, 306.

  54. Vorachek, “Whitewashing Blackface Minstrelsy,” 49.

  55. Morrison, Playing in the Dark, 59.

  56. Dyer, White, 80.

  57. Taylor, The “Conservatism” of Vassar; Page and Daniels, “The Suffrage Movement at Vassar.”

  58. Taylor, The “Conservatism” of Vassar, 3.

  59. Rogers, Vassar Women, 74.

  60. Rogers, Vassar Women, 63.

  61. Course Catalogue 1921–1922. Vassar College, p. 188.

  62. Taylor, “Vassar’s Social Heads.”

  63. Page and Daniels, “The Suffrage Movement at Vassar.”

  64. Page and Daniels, “The Suffrage Movement at Vassar.”

  65. Page and Daniels, “The Suffrage Movement at Vassar.”

  66. Page and Daniels, “The Suffrage Movement at Vassar.”

  67. MacCracken, “The Student Movement Surges.”

  68. Page and Daniels, “The Suffrage Movement at Vassar.”

  69. Johnson and Daniels. “Conversations about Vassar History,” section 1.

  70. Chen, “Vassar Student Association (VSA)”; Johnson and Daniels. “Conversations about Vassar History,” section 1.

  71. Rogers, Vassar Women, 68.

  72. Rogers, Vassar Women, 25.

  73. “1941 Welcomed,” Vassar Miscellany News, 3.

  74. Matsumoto, “Henry Noble MacCracken”; Page and Daniels, “Suffrage Movement at Vassar.”

  75. Langdell, “Founder’s Day”; Vassar College, program for Founder’s Day 1911.

  76. Vassar College, program for Founder’s Day 1911. There are some limitations to determining the extent of the racism in these performances. I could not find a script for “Women of Culture in Five Ages” nor photographs of the performance, which could determine if the depiction of 18th-century “serving boy” actually included blackface. However, if it did, it is significant that such racism is depicted as part of the lineage of Vassar, for the next scene would be the woman of Vassar at its founding. It is also unclear if the Mandolin Club sang the lyrics to “Happy Jappy Soldier Man” or “Dat Blackville Wedding,” or if only instruments were employed to play the tune; although, the employment of these songs is problematic either way.

  77. Langdell, “Founder’s Day.”

  78. “Founder's Day,” Vassar Miscellany Weekly, 5.

  79. Wolven, Box242_020, Wolven, Box242_021.

  80. Vassar College, program for Founder’s Day 1916.

  81. Coen, “Faculty Shows.”

  82. Coen, “Faculty Shows.”

  83. Bean, “Female Impersonation,” 55.

  84. Bean, “Female Impersonation,” 8.

  85. Bean, “Female Impersonation.” The portrayals of racialized women relied not only on general racial stereotypes but also a racialized variant of these gender stereotypes.

  86. Bean, “Female Impersonation,” 5.

  87. Bean, “Female Impersonation,” 60.

  88. Vassar College, program for Founder’s Day 1922; “Actors Play to Full House,” Vassar Miscellany News.

  89. Oliver, The Turtle Dove; Wolven, 208_04; Wolven, 208_06; Wolven, 208_17.

  90. “Actors Play to Full House,” Vassar Miscellany News.

  91. “Old Home Day,” Vassarton Lucky Strike.

  92. Wolven, 208_04; Wolven, 208_06; Wolven, 208_17.

  93. Thompson, Blackface, 27.

  94. Matsumoto, “Henry Noble MacCracken.”

  95. Southworth, Diary, 1878–1880, 80. Notably, this is the first instance of racial masquerade at Vassar that I could find in this investigation.

  96. Southworth, Diary, 1878–1880, 80–81.

  97. Ringel, “Vassar's First Japanese Students”; Southworth, Diary, 1878–1880, 26.

  98. “New Lamps for Old,” Vassar Miscellany Weekly; Wolven, Box245_004.

  99. Alloula, Malek. The Colonial Harem.

  100. Vassar College, report on Founder’s Day 1927.

  101. “Founder’s Day Promises Well,” Vassar Miscellany News, 1.

  102. Vassar College, program for Founder’s Day 1930.

  103. “Founder's Day Fraught With Fun,” Vassar Miscellany News; Wolven, Package083_006.

  104. “Founder's Day Fraught With Fun,” Vassar Miscellany News, 5; Nasir, Sari Jamil. “Image of the Arab.” The Miscellany News reported that MacCracken dressed up as “Abdul-al-bul-bul-amir.” This appears to be a respelling of “Abdul Abulbul Amir,” the title and titular character of a famous orientalist ballad.

  105. “Founder's Day Fraught With Fun,” Vassar Miscellany News, 5.

  106. “Faculty Produce Smash Hit” Vassar Chronicle.

  107. Rogin, “Blackface, White Noise,” 453; Willis, “The Jazz Singer,” 127. “a la Jolson” is likely a reference to Al Jolson, who is infamous for performing in blackface in The Jazz Singer, the first Hollywood movie with sound. Interestingly, Corin Willis notes how the “blackface imagery in The Jazz Singer is at the core of the film’s central theme, an expressive and artistic exploration of the notion of duplicity and ethnic hybridity within American identity,” a similar concept to that which shaped racial masquerade at Vassar.

  108. Vassar College, program for Founder’s Day 1947.

  109. “Founder's Day Has Olympic Take-Off!” Vassar Chronicle; “Olympian Daze Fails To Faze” Vassar Chronicle. Another notable instance is Founder’s Day 1949, which was under the theme of “Olympian Daze.” Each house was dressed as people from different nations: Spain, Greece, Scotland, Russia, the Fiji Islands, Japan, India, Switzerland, and Alaska.

  110. “Vassar Indians,” Vassar Miscellany News.

  111. Studt, “College Stampedes Westward”; “Black Footprints Lead,” Vassar Chronicle.

  112. Vassar College, program for Founder’s Day 1947; “Black Footprints Lead,” Vassar Chronicle.

  113. “Founder’s Day Flounder,” Vassar Chronicle. Concurrently, interest in Founder’s Day also declined.

  114. “Frosh Get ‘Skittish’ For Founder’s Day,” Vassar Miscellany News.

  115. Coover, From Peer to Paternity.

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