Vassar College Digital Library

[unknown], Katharine. Letter, 1873

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26 Apr 1873
1 letter, dated 26 Apr 1873, from "Katharine" to her mother. Katharine recounts the events of her first spring semester Vassar College. She describes her dormitory room as extremely small and crowded with furniture, leading her to ask VC Lady Principal Miss Terry about changing rooms. Katharine also discusses her roommate Miss Dale, several faculty members, picking flowers, a recent trip to Buffalo, deciding against getting a spring hat, and a sermon.

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vassar:54344,Folder 64.12; VCL_Letters_Katharine_1873-04-26_064_012_001
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: VCL_Letters_Katharine_1873-04-26_064_012_001_001
Vassar College, Apr. 26, 1873

Dear Mother,

I’m a pilgrim, and I’m a stranger, and can tarry but a few weeks in one room. Don’t you wish you could look in upon me in No. 82 this evening? I rather think you would exclaim at the size of our bedrooms, for it is so snugly arranged that in order to find room to sleep, we are obliged to hang our chairs on the walls and our clothes out the window. Now that perhaps is a slight exaggeration, but it is true that every time I enter the door I am afraid of bumping my nose against the wall on the other side of the room, and feel always inclined to seize my umbrella and punch a breathing hole somewhere. But I must begin straight and tell you all about it. I went to Miss Terry before vacation and asked her about a room, and said that if Miss


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Kellogg returned, perhaps she could give me a single room. On my return I again went to Miss Terry, and she said that the single room was filled, but that she would give me a double outside room on the ground floor, but I need not move until I was sure Miss Kellogg would come. Friday night the young lady arrived, so I came up to sleep in my new place, and today I have been moving and feel somewhat fatigued. I had to run around after Thomas most of the morning to get him to move my things. They came up just after dinner, and it took me most of the afternoon to dispose of them, for I tell you it required some planning to stow away ^my goods and worldly possessions in that room. Besides I had not unpacked my trunk since my arrival last Tuesday, and every thing had to be straightened and spring things brought out, and winter clothing put away. I will put up my furs as you said. I did not have time today. Will any thing harm my winter dresses if I lay them away in


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my trunks, and my cloaks too?

I received your letter today, after one from Nellie addressed to Uncle Henry which he forwarded to me. She probably thinks I have not yet returned. I wrote her just a line after I came back, but she had not received it when she wrote. She seems to be getting along rather [slowly?]. I did not mean to give you the impression in my last letter that I was not having a pleasant time in Buffalo. It was not the most cheerful household I ever saw, but I had a good quiet time, and rested nicely. I never realized before how much good simply a change does. They all said I did them good, and that is enough to make one happy, is it not? One thing is queer about Buffalo - I never realize fully that I am having a good time until I leave. Aunt Anna writes that she and Uncle are coming East next week, and they are going to make me a call. Won’t it be delightful? You asked about my spring hat. I have concluded not to have any. I did not need one in B. as all the


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folks were wearing their winter clothing and I shall go into church but once more here, and my brown [hatband?] is just right for travelling and about [f?]ine, unless I got me a sundown for being on the water. Don’t you think it will do? It is such a bother to get a new one. But the bell has rung, so good night. I will tell you more about my new home tomorrow.

Sunday. We had a very peculiar sermon this morning from a Prof. Richards. It consisted mostly of excuses for himself, and praises for Vassar College. I hate to be preached to as an institution. I want to be spoken two as if I belonged to the same race as other girls, as a christian, and not as a student. But my dear mother, do you fully realize that in all probability, nine weeks from today, I shall attend church with you? It seems hardly possible that my first year here is so nearly ended. That time will pass very quickly. But I must tell you a little about my present surroundings. It almost broke my heart to leave all the dear girls


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in no. 6[6?]. I had learned to love every one of them so dearly. I could not ask for pleasanter companions in any respect than mine have been since the beginning of the semester. I wish you could see them all - they are so lovely. They tell me that I must come to see them every day, and come right in without knocking just as if I belonged there, but when [any?] one is busy, we must stay in our own rooms where our books are, and see very little of others besides our parlor mates. I was down there a few moments this [morn?], but I had to run away because I felt so badly to think it was no longer my home. Perhaps it was too pleasant for me, and I needed a change. I shall soon feel at home here, I suppose, for all the girls are very pleasant. I don’t like the fourth floor very well. Miss Price and Miss Richmond occupy the double inside room. They are both Freshmen. Jeannie Price is our President, perhaps you remember, and ^both are among the brightest and sweetest girls in the college. They are both of them about seventeen. Mary Richmond is [Marie’s?] particular


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friend. There are two single rooms [to?] this parlor, Miss Markham, one of my class mates, occupying one, and Miss Smiley, a sister of my last corridor teacher, the other. My room mate is Miss Dale, from Missouri. I hear very little of her yet except that she is rather ancient, about twenty-four, I should think, is [poor?], and is a christian, a member of the Baptist church. She seems very pleasant, and we shall get along nicely, I think. She has a fashion of retiring early and rising about five o clock, for which she has permission from Dr. Avery, and I think it is very fortunate, for it would be next to impossible for both to dress or undress at the same time in that room. I wish I had some thing to [crossed out] measure it by. It is very much smaller than my [outside?] room in 54 - no larger than the single room which Miss [Maltby?] has been having. But one can stand most any thing for nine weeks with a prospect of home at the end. Miss Dale is not nearly as attractive or congenial as [Marie?], but I suppose it is good for me to have all kinds. I say suppose,


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I know it must be for my good, or I would not have been sent her, and I am ashamed of myself if I have mourned too much about leaving my nice pleasant room. I must to do good wherever I am, and perhaps I have a better chance here than in No. 6[5?] for who knows but what Miss Dale feels lonely and somewhat neglected, as she is older than the rest and came only last winter, and perhaps I can make life pleasanter for her. I don’t think, mother, that I am unhappy because of my change - The[n?] too, Marie and I have permission to study our Latin together, so I shall be with her every day. I forgot to say that Miss Goodsell is my corridor teacher, and she welcomed me very kindly. Will Lucy have time with her school duties and the children, to gather some of the “goslings” and send them to me in [cotton]? I should like some so much for the botany class if she finds time. Perhaps they are not out yet. Miss Kellogg brought some trailing azaleas from her home, and we have found about [here?] the bloodroots, hapaticas[sp: hepaticas], and what we used to call [crossed out: d] “Dutchman’s breeches.” I am much interested in my


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botany, and am going to make an herbatorium. Mary Lyman and I are going to press our flowers together, as she has a nice little press. There is one thing I want to ask about before I forget. Are there any more of my pictures? Ever so many of the girls, at least, all in No. 60, and some of my best friends want them, and it would be very pleasant to exchange. Had I better have some taken here or wait till I reach home? No one seems to think my last ones very good. All our friends seems to be taken sick at the same time, don’t they? I must feel sometimes, as if I ought to be using some of my strength to help you and all the friends, and then again I believe my work [lies] well for the present, and I mean to do it with my might. As you say, “sorrow and trial are on every hand”, and I see it more and more of [...] as I grow older, but I see and feel more joy too, and Christ is more to me than he used to be, so I do not fear the sorrow. I think the joy of Christ is [striking?] despair into my heart, and filling it full. I wish I could help you with the children. You won’t get tired out, will you? Write when


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you can, just a line, but of course I don’t expect much when you are so busy, and have so many to write to. I fear I have not been as faithful as usual about my letters lately. Much love for Lucy and a kiss for Irene and Ethel. I had a letter from Lillie the other day, and her mother is growing stronger every day. This letter sounds selfish - all about myself.

Goodnight, with much love, from your own


Please return Mary’s picture and tell me what you think of her.