Vassar College Digital Library

James, Fannie (Shouse). Diary, ca. 1860s-1870s

Content Warning
The Vassar College Archives within the Digital Library include some images, texts, and material items that are racist, xenophobic, or otherwise harmful. The Vassar Libraries have provided descriptive text and additional notes whenever possible to alert Digital Library users to these items. The Engaged Pluralism Initiative Race and Racism in Historical Collections Project Group is working with the library on contextualizing and facilitating community conversations about these materials. For more information see:
Access Control
ca. 1860s-1870s
From page 1 of the memoir: "Fannie [Fanny] Shouse was from Kansas City, Mo. She entered Vassar College Sept. 1869, preparatory department, and left on account of her father's death in April, 1873, and the following October, 1873, she married. The following is a copy of a sketch about her college days written by Fannie Shouse James and found in her desk after her death. Sent to the college by her daughter, Fanny James Egan '04 (Mrs. Louis H. Egan)." The memoir describes entrance exams, course assignments, visitors to the College, professors (especially Maria Mitchell, a favorite instructor), and general college life.

Transcription view:

While on the first image, click on the three stacked horizontal lines (burger) on the top left side of the image viewer to view the text transcription for the entire item. The transcription will not be viewable once you click through the other page images.

Transcript file(s)
Finding aid:
vassar:1010,isbn: Box 133,
1 item
These materials are made available for research and educational purposes. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine the copyright status of materials in the Vassar College Digital Library.
Poughkeepsie (N.Y.)
Description and travel,Kansas City (Mo.),Poughkeepsie (N.Y.)
Description and travel,Kansas City (Mo.)


: VCLDiariesJamesFannie1874001
. /,»‘
“ as V .
» \
I “'7. -\. _
' ‘. 1”"; E
e .
Fannie Shduse was from Kansas City. Mo, She entered Vassar College Sept. 186$,
preparathrygdepartment, and left on account of her father‘s death in April, l873,
and the following October, I873, she marriedt The following is a copy of a sketch
about her college days written by Fannie Shouse James and found in her desk after her
death, Sent to the college by her daughter, Fanny James Egan '04 (Mrs. Louis H. Egan)»
c o P X
REGOLLEGTIONS or rnnm". (ssousn) JAMES, ex '74
It was in September l869, just sixty years ago that four Kansas Gity girls
started for Vassar College. My father having buiness in New York went with us to
Poughkeepsie and left us at the Nelson House until College opened. There were no
sleeping cars coming into Kansas City and no pullmens so we made the trip to Chicago in
a day coach in twenty-two hours. From Chicago we secured berths in a very primitive sleep»
ing car, but in the middle of the night we were called to get up and go into the day
coach on account of trouble in the car. We found the Nelson House filled with others
like ourselves waiting for the College to open. These girls were studying for exams
so we each bought a book of a different kind and put ourselves to work.
At that time examinations for college entrance were given at the college and it
took several days to get through. We were not allowed to stay at the college until we
had passed the exams, It was rather upsetting to meet girls in the hall crying because
they had failed,
Mrs. Warren had been my teacher in Kansas City and felt sure I could pass for
full freshman work, but dear kind Professor Hinkle was German and so intent that I was
frightened and failed to make the grade in Latin so I was put into the second prepare-
tory class with some classes in freshman work, -~ math for one, and I had the privilege
of studying in a small class in Trig under Miss Braislin and astronomy with Miss Mitchell
which I count one of the blessings of my life. Helen Hiscock, who wasrthe second Mrs.
Backus, was in that class and a very brilliant student. While we were waiting in the
Qbservatory Miss Mitchell would entertain us with stories of her life, her trip to
Europe where she was entertained by famous astronomers. The French Astronomer Royal


: VCLDiariesJamesFannie1874002
- 2 ~ Fannie Shouse éx°74
gave a ball in her honor at which she stood ~ - I imagine in a woolen dress, high
neck, long sleeves - — horrified at the dress or undress of the-ladies and half frozen.
She said she was both deaf and dumb all the while she was in France.
’ Dr. Raymond was president e a fine Shakespeare scholar and reader and often
entertained us for an evening. He preached too, and the girls said his prayers were
often twenty minutes long ~- I never timed him. We had no thought of going away over
the week end. There was always something we enjoyed and I often spent part of my
Spring vacation in college, and enjoyed that too. All the famous men of the Country
were interested in Vassar and wanted to visit it. I heard Samuel F.B. Morse, George
Wm. Gurtis, Wendell Phillips, Charlotte Gushman; Booth came to Poughkeepsie and we
went to hear him. Geo. B. McDowell spent a week with us.
Miss Lyman was Lady Principal. She came from a school in Canada with very strict
ideas. We had compulsory chapel and after prayers she gave us a talk on manners, dress,
and deportment. I remember she said we should always wear gloves at every entertain-
ment, even if only white cotton. She dressed beautifully herself, and looked quite
regal in her lovely lace head~dress@ She sat at the head of the Faculty table just
inside the door of the dining room and one of the penalties of being late was that you
had to bow to her and sometimes mac your excuses. when we wanted to go to town shop-
ping we had to show her our list and three girls would take a teacher as chaperon. When
I wanted to spend Christmas with a friend of my fathers in Philadelphia and went to her
with the telegram giving his consent I told her I must go to town and buy a new coat,
She said "Now My Dear, you go and brush your coat and wear it in for me to sect" When
I did so, she thought I did not need a new coat so I could not make the trip to town.
The first thing I did when I reached Philadelphia was to buy a new coat.
We had every year a trip to Mohonk, once we spent the night, the college sending
up provisions in barrels. At that time Mr. Smiley allowed no dancing, but the girls
started a little old melodian, some got out their combs covered with tissue paper, and
we had quite a hilarious time, The girls were divided into sections and took turns
waiting on the table, each trying to outdo the other, with one taking the part of head


: VCLDiariesJamesFannie1874003
~ 3 ~ Fannie Shouse ex‘74
The Professors had their homes in the towers; two families in each tower. The
fourth floor south wes the Infirmary, with Dr. Avery in charges She was very severe
until you were really ill, then she was kindness itself.
We had chapel morning and evening. The evening chapel was conducted with e good
deel of eeremonyr quite like a church service, while in the morning Miss Lyman, after
prayers, would give a talk on table manners, etiquette, appropriate dress, insisting
that dress should be changed for dinner.
more ffi¥£?ma%h;§mgoi2%ért€g€g were notes in pencil? evidently with the idea of writing
Fanny James Egan.3
A Professor Orton had already made one trip to South America and was always
thinking and talking of the next ones President Raymond and family lived in the main
building on the second floor. Miss Braislin, the mathematics teacher, surveyed the
lend around the lake. Miss Lord, our Latin teacher, afterwards went to Smith Gollege.
Miss Mitchell carried e carpet beg to classes and to meetings of society women» She
was dressed generally in greys
On Founders Day we had an address by G800 Wm. Curtis.