[Pennsylvania]: 1894-1896. An exceptional piece documenting the well-rounded college experience of one the early students at a Seven Sisters College. Comprised of 25 handwritten pages, 29 original illustrations, 11 pasted in or inserted matriculation exams with pencil notations, 8 photographs, 5 playbills, and an assortment of pasted in ephemera including dance cards, place cards, and ribbons. Quarter cloth over brown marbled boards, with paper ownership label adhered to the front cover. Measures 8 x 10 inches. Front hinge cracked but holding; rear hinge tender. Minor edgewear to boards. Front signature detached and loosely inserted, but the remainder of the text block is complete and tight. Some minor foxing and offsetting where ephemera has been tipped in or inserted, else internally clean.
Committed to recording memorable experiences in her academic career, Mary Helen MacCoy reveals that the benefits of higher education for women extended beyond the classroom. A diligent student, she encloses copies of her matriculation exams for courses such as Algebra, German Translation, Latin, American History, Grammar, and Literature, noting on each whether she passed and leaving contextual annotations ("High credit. A dreadfully hot day, and disagreeable examination. Bought some ice cream"). These rigorous classes are rounded out by her on and off campus activities. She writes about campus traditions that encourage matriculants to foster and support a sense of community among incoming freshman ("Freshman class meets train from out of town. Each Freshman takes a matriculant and gives her some daisies for good luck"). An avid theatre-goer, she pastes in playbills for performances of The Merchant of Venice, The Prisoner of Zenda, and Robyn Hood, as well as performances by the American Academy of Music; each of these bear her remarks about her enjoyment, and with whom she attended ("Had a glorious time!" "Went with Jessie Miller. We had a splendid time!"). She records day-trips, including a visit to Longfellow's grave. And she most notably leaves beautiful and detailed drawings of her own when pictures won't suffice -- among these are homes she visits, portraits of friends, renderings of herself taking exams, and costumes she sees onstage. Overall a special, and densely detailed commonplace book, capturing the excitement, enthusiasm, and learning of a young woman attending Bryn Mawr only a decade after its establishment.
With research potential including but not limited to the history of American women's colleges, the history of women's education, social histories involving friendship and courtship, the relationship among Seven Sisters colleges and Ivy League schools, women's reading and engagement with the arts, the history of American theatre, costuming, and fashion. (Item #2231)