Thursday, May 1, 2014

A Historical Look at this Women’s College: Bryn Mawr

I very much enjoyed reading Evangeline Holland’s recent blog post Women’s Colleges & Universities: Bryn Mawr from her blog Edwardian Promenade, a blog focusing on Edwardian history. Interesting blog and interesting blog post for sure; I’m sure you'll enjoy reading them as much as I did.

Evangeline writes about the college founder:

“Bryn Mawr College was founded by Dr. Joseph W. Taylor, of Burlington, New Jersey, a man who, though a bachelor, had all his life taken a great interest in the education of women. He died January 18, 1880, leaving the greater portion of his estate for the establishment and maintenance of this institution of advanced learning.”

And she also captures one of the college’s heart-felt traditions:

“One of the oldest and most characteristic customs is the Presentation of the Lanterns. The ex-freshmen then greet the incoming girls with a song, and present each one with a “lantern to light her steps through the unknown ways of college life,” and especially through the mazes of the group system. Sometimes much sage advice is given with the light, and once the unfortunate freshmen won their lanterns only after passing an impromptu oral examination. The form of the affair differs with the character and resources of the class giving it; but as preparations for it are begun in the freshmen year, the offering is usually both clever and original.

The farewell lantern celebration is at the alumnae supper given on Commencement evening. Here a speech of welcome is made to the new alumnae, and at the close of the festivities the lights are turned low, and the lanterns, standing at each place, are lighted from one large lantern that has been burning throughout the evening at the head of the table. Holding the lighted lanterns, the alumnae sing the old college song. Then they slowly go out, leaving their bright lights still burning on the deserted board.”

There's much more to her blog post and I encourage you to continue reading here.

To learn more about Bryn Mawr College, visit the college Web site.

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