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Jan-Jun 1871

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vassar:1921,isbn: VCL_Diaries_Keffer-Bertha_1871_002
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: VCLDiariesKefferBertha1871001
Vassar as it impressed a "poet" in 1871
Extracts from the Diary of Miss Bertha Keffer of '76* (see following page)

Monday January 16th

Thursday Etta and I went to see Miss -- about one hundred and twelve.

B. "We want to change our room."
E. "We thought Eve would like to room together on the fifth floor."
Miss -- "There is no room vacant there."
E. & B. together "Yes, one hundred and twelve is."
Miss -- slowly. "Yes if you want to go there without any bed, and sleep on the floor you can." to E. "Why do you wish to change your room?"
E. "My room-mate is not very agreeable."
Miss -- to B. "Is anything of that sort the matter with you?"
B. O no, my room-mate and parlor are very nice and I like them ever


: VCLDiariesKefferBertha1871002

so much, but we thought we would like to room together."
Miss -- "Would you like to go to the first floor for the sake of rooming together?"
E. Not liking that a bit, but not liking to back out now, "Yes ma'am."
Miss -- "Well, I will see what I can do for you." To B., "You may go."

Miss -- left E. and told her how much good she might to to her room-mate by staying put and behaving like a Christian, to try it on that plan a month longer."

As soon as we had definitely arranged to go w Miss -- I felt sorry but could not very well back out then. Guess now I'll stay fixed and not trouble her any more.

* Miss Keffer belonged to the class of '75 but having to remain at home her senior year she graduatted with '76.


: VCLDiariesKefferBertha1871003

Tuesday January 17th

President Raymond gave quite a lecure this morning on loyalty -- a word he thought we did not know the meaning of. I guess something disloyal in his sesne of the word came up in Faculty Meeting yesterday. We always have something new after the big folks talk us over.

Wednesday January 18th

Heard today of Miss -- slapping a girl over the fingers for not playing rightly, and so now despise her more than ever. The President told of Roger Sherman slapping his boy, and being slaped by his mother, and then kissing her hand and leading her to a seat.


: VCLDiariesKefferBertha1871004

Thursday January 19th

Mrs. Lyman requested through the president this evening that we try being quiet in the corridors in our talk, until Monday, and see how we like the change.

Monday January 23rd

Had a gay time tonight at supper over the professor's baby. Laughed till we tired. Something was the matter with the three waiters and they had to go out to laugh. It is curious to see them when they are feeling funny and Solomon looks at them. I am glad it is not against the rule for preps to laugh.


: VCLDiariesKefferBertha1871005

Thursday February 2nd

I wish it were the June examination instead of February. I wish the Faculty had to be examined before a lot of people twice a year, when we are. They would soon do away with all such botherations.

Friday February 3d

Thus endetth the two days of torture. I agree with Mr. J. in saying "Pity the sorrows of a poor young woman." Mrs. Lyman's corridor is covered all over with matting and her sister is here, so I suppose she is worse.


: VCLDiariesKefferBertha1871006

Frday February 10th

Saw in the paper yesterday, that a diary to be of any use ought to be truthful and one ought never to leave it unwritten for several days and then fill them all in at once withouth noting the fact. Therefore, I acknowledge this to be written on Saturday instead of Friday. Now my conscience is clear.

Saturday February 11'

Principal events of today, were the meetings of the Studet Association. It abolished the Transcript because the Faculty would not let it be published quarterly instead of yearly; and intends to send a printed circular to Exchanges notifying them of this action. The Student Association also resolved that each student should send a notice to her corridor teacher of what she particularly abominated in our face. At noon another meeting was held and they decided to send a written note instead of a circular to their exchanges, and voted against that way of altering our eatables, and decided on masterly inaction for the present.


: VCLDiariesKefferBertha1871007
Friday February 17
Meditated all silent time on what I would
probably have to do after leaving college,
and came to the conclusion that I must
have some definite aim in view, and
fit myself for it, and not keep going
on in this blind aimless way. Made
up my mind it was not sufficient to
try to obey the Golden Rule and to be an
accomplished well educated woman,
but that I must have something defin-
ite in view.
Tuesday February 21
Miss Lyman died today at four o'clock.
She peacefully slept away. I first
heard of it at the gymnasium. It was
curious to see how the girls received
the news. Some looked as jolly as
they heard it-as they had looked a
moment before; some looked grave, and
a very few cried. At supper the room
was as still as chapel, almost, no one


: VCLDiariesKefferBertha1871008
spoke above a whisper, and the creaking
of the waiters shoes was plainly
heard. The President made some
very fitting remarks in chapel. He
said we nust not feel sad. Miss
Lyman wished us to rejoice that she
was gone. Her prayer for days had
been not that she might stay, but that
she might be made willing to stay.
Wednesday February 22
We had funeral services today in the
chapel. There were a great many strang
ers here from town. All the gallery
was filled and downstairs packed.
Nearly all the girls had on black entirely
There was a meeting of the Student As-
sociation in the morning at which it
was decided to send to town for flowers,
the Freshmen a wreath, the Sophomores a
cross, the Juniors an anchor, the Seniors
a crown, the Specials and Preps. cut flowers.


: VCLDiariesKefferBertha1871009
At another meeting it was decided that
we all wear crepe for thirty days.
Twenty-three carriages of teachers and
visitors went to the train.
Thursday February 23
Day of Prayer for Colleges. Had Chapel
services at 11.15, prayer meeting in
the afternoon and evening. Heard a
good sermon by the Rev. John Hall of
New York, a Presbyterian. He is an
Irishman and has been in this country
only three years. About every evening I
think of going to Dr. Avery and saying
I want some medicine, but before
her office hours the next day, I feel
so much better I put it off hoping
to get well of myself. I have a great
admiration for Dr. A. and if I had
anything serious troubling me would
go to her.


: VCLDiariesKefferBertha1871010
Friday February 24
Mina went to Miss--- today. Miss ---
said she-a-thought-that-a-fruit
cake-was-a-not necessary, nor-a-
candy-or-a-raisins-or chickens-a
-could we strike some of those off?
As we could not help ourselves we struck
off the cake and raisins and candy. She
is afraid we will spend too much money
and "-a-Vassar College-a-has a name
-a-to be sustained and -a-she wishes
we would try not to feel her objections as
restrictions at all, but try and feel
cheerful over it. It is queer how she can
imagine in what other way we could
take them. It is a pity Vassar is
in such need of a character for solid-
ity, that we can't have a spree
once a year.


: VCLDiariesKefferBertha1871012
Sunday February 26
Last night after I got into bed, I suddenly
thought of the basket of remains and
hopped out and set it on top of the
two pitchers, the basin being filled with
water, to keep the mice off. I hear
them all going to prayer-meeting but
I aint going. The great subject of
conversation is Miss S. who has been
put back from the Senior class. I
pity her, but am not yet sure
whether herself or the faculty is most
to blame.
Monday February 27
Miss Z. slid neatly over the 21st chapter
that we were dreading so, when Prof. H. came
in, by tell us to turn directly to the advance
in the 22nd. Today we had a whispering ex
ercise beside the breathing and sounds of a
in Elocution. I distinguished myself in a very
uncomfortable manner in the Latin class, but
did better than my associates. It was an abominably hard lesson anyhow


: VCLDiariesKefferBertha1871013
Wednesday March 1.
The subject of College colors was
settled in Student Association meeting
today, and we are to send for the
number of yards of ribbon we want be-
fore Saturday.
Saturday March 4.
Miss Monks and Miss Nichols were the
essayists of the evening. The latter's
Essay was "A Plea for Charles Dickens"
and was first rate. She is a smart
girl and thinks correctly of Charles-
according to my idea (Miss Keffer had
read nearly every one of Dickens'
works before she was eleven
years old)
The girls in Vassar are the poorest set I
ever came across for change or big bills either
I guess, from the way they spoke when I tried to change that X today


: VCLDiariesKefferBertha1871014
Wednesday March 8.
The President said we would have no
new lady principal until next year, but
the same arrangement as at present
would continue. Did not take off our
blankets this morning as ordered.
Friday March 10
Lecture by Robinson - professor of some
college and author of our Algebra.
- on "The Real Movers of the World."
About half the girls think it was
splendid and the other half think it
was abominable. I don't like lectures
on Friday evening for we have to
study so hard Saturdays in conse-
Wednesday March 18
Last night - M. & G. were scared be-
cause they thought some one was
at their window, and they screamed.
This brought in Misses Preston, Swayze
and Hamlin. They got quieted down
soon and went to rest again. It was
kept pretty quiet all day but at
night E. R. came up and heard the news


: VCLDiariesKefferBertha1871015
and said she was going to frighten
the girls and sure enough she
did. About two hours after - a
deputy came up from the 1st South
to know if they should barricade
their windows to keep people out, and
as soon as I got home L. and J.
called out to know all the story.
Thursday March 16
M's man is growing. Today
the story is that he got in the
window and had a heap of
jewelry out and was just going off
with the watches, and when they
screamed he ran. He went through
several stages before he got to this
Miss H. says he was all made by the
watchman shutting down the windows
when it began to rain. Anyway it
was nice for a little excitement.


: VCLDiariesKefferBertha1871016
Wednesday March 22
Small explanation this evening on exami-
nations. The three weeks review deter-
mines whether we pass in our studies,
and the two days are for the benefit
of the examining committee. President
Raymond made several little jokes about
our changing our names and having
our pet names go down to posterity.
He wants good names, respectable if not
beautiful to go into the Vassar Catalogue.


: VCLDiariesKefferBertha1871017
Thursday May 4th.
Two ladies from Philadelphia, principals
of schools have been here. One wears
a cap on her head, like a crown. It
is trimmed with purple feathers. She
looks as Queen Victoria would look if
she were an old maid and fixed her
hair in little bunches of curls stick-
ing out in front and at the sides
under her crown.
Saturday, May 6th
Hope my cold will get well soon. Also
that the supply of coal will not
give out again this spring, or I
will have another cold.
Friday May 12th
Miss C. told us yesterday that a
principal of a school, visiting here,
said he was much surprised to
see that there was communica-
tion in every class he saw. As an
offset to that Lady A. said she was


: VCLDiariesKefferBertha1871018
delighted with the girls here be-
cause they did not stare her out
of countenance.
Saturday May 13th
Went to the Field lecture on
French literature last night. It was
fine. The President had the lecturer
change her subject to "What French
will do For You". She said, that even
if we learned French pretty well,
it would not do us much good in
French society, for the people were
too selfish and fond of good
conversation to invite anyone to
their parties, who could not be
an ornament to society. French
would do us good in reading
French writings, memoirs and letters,
It would help us in giving en-
tertainments and to secure
general converse, instead of paring [sic]
off people for the evening.


: VCLDiariesKefferBertha1871019
Monday May 15th
Heard that the minister who has
been here several days, and who
preached yesterday, is going to write
us up in Scribner's. He appears better
in the pulpit than out. It would be
well if he could always stay there.
Went to supper with Corinne, and when
we saw what a horrid supper there
was, we left after pocketing some
cookies from our respective tables.
It was well we were in soon or
we would have had to stay. An
illustration of how the early bird
catches the worm.
Saturday May 20th
Have on a summer dress for the
first time. This is a good place not
to wear out summer clothes in.
Sunday May 21
A nice looking gentleman preached
this morning, his sermon full of poeti
cal quotations fro Paradise Lost
& the Queen of the May. He called
this a "unique Seminary," "a seminary
of secular learning.


: VCLDiariesKefferBertha1871020
Tuesday May 30
Had a lecture by the President on
the frivolity of the Literary Society.
[He objected to the character of the
show the Society was going to give]
and said too much time was spent
on such things for our intellectual
Friday June 2
The President modified his Tuesday
night remarks a little Thursday night.
May asked me to Delta. The girls
had given up the grand show they
had expected to have, because of
the President's remarks. But they
had essays and music and every-
one enjoyed it. The one who
seemed to enjoy the show least
was Miss B's young man. I think
the poor fellow may have been
scared by the presence of so
many of "the sex."


: VCLDiariesKefferBertha1871021
Tuesday June 13
Nothing to say except that I am
no longer a "prep." There was the
usual rustle over the chapel when
the President said he would read
the names of those, who by a vote
of the faculty, were admitted to the
Freshman class.
Tuesday June 20
Have enjoyed the day exceedingly so far
and am now writing the events before
packing up my book. Now that we are
through I am in a hurry to go away
and get out of all this muss. The
history of the Senior class by Miss
G. was first rate, and the prophecy
was very good. The sibyl was rather
rough on poor D. and I should
think Miss M. would hope the cat
would soon be buried and forgotten
Miss F. and Miss L. did well at the
tree. The Juniors and Seniors like
to fling at one another.
Wednesday June 21
The End.