Hello, my name is

Polly Davis and I am a Junior majoring in biology and in the pre-nursing program at Mary Washington College. I am from rural Fauquier County, Virginia and the first member of my family to go to college. I am one of five children and went to college to have a different life than my parents. I plan on being a nurse because I have always enjoyed helping people. I am a member of Pi Nu Chi (nursing club) as well as the Terrapin (swim club).

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Recreating a 1950s Classroom

As far as ideas for how to go about the recreation of the 1950s website I’m a little lost. I think it would definitely be cool to dress in period clothing and maybe have era appropriate props such as books and bags and such, but other wise I don’t know how we’d go about making the classroom look as it did in the fifties. Looking over the photos from the website the classrooms look so much different than they do today. We should probably steer away from home economics or science classes that would have had dated equipment and would probably be difficult to find for our purposes. As far as roles people should have, the females could be students, Professor McClurken could be the professor, but I’m not sure what the males in the class could be since none of the pictures really show males. If we wanted to recreate the social aspect they could possibly be dates visiting girls in the dorm or something of that nature. Its really difficult for me to think of how to recreate the 1950s in 2012 when so much has changed and things are so different. If we were to recreate the 50s thoroughly I think it would turn in to a much bigger production that the syllabus has allotted for. So I suppose the question is, how thorough do we want to go, and what aspects of the 50s do we want to recreate?

The main goal at the beginning of this assignment was to discover what the classroom experience would have been like in each decade. We could use, if any exist, syllabus from classes in the 50s to try and recreate a class that way in order to experience what students might have learned and how a class was structured. This would meet the original goals for the assignment but I think would leave out many aspects of college life for a woman of the 1950s that shaped a student’s experiences at Mary Washington  in and out of the classroom.

We could combine the clothing with the class syllabus to add a further dimension of the 50s to our recreation. I think this would combine the classroom experience goal as well as help give the feeling of the 50s and the expectations of women in American society at the time since in class we have talked about the importance of clothing in shaping a woman’s identity and status throughout the years. This could also help keep the recreation from becoming too daunting of a project and keep it simpler but still effective in getting the feeling of the 50s at Mary Washington across.

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Website Up!

Hey everyone, check out the culimination of our research for the ninteen-sixties here!


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Post #4: Wrapping up my research

After hearing that it was a good idea to broaden our research to aspects of MWC other than the classroom experience, this past week I got to working on finding photos that demonstrated the atmosphere at Mary Washington. I was able to find a few more classroom experience photos, but they were once again Home Ec classes, art and science classes. When looking for more photos I also looked for faculty photographs and department photographs as well as photographs of the campus.

Sculpting Class, 1960 UMW Special Collections

Pollard Hall 1965 UMW Special Collections











After Thursday’s class and hearing other groups talk about the sources they had gotten the most information out of the next time I went to Special Collections I looked into the department files for the sixties. Our group is focusing on certain majors to prevent getting bogged down in too much resarch, so I requested the files for the Education, Chemistry, Home Economics, and English majors. In each department’s folder there were no references to curriculum in the ninteen-sixties. It was a little disapointing because I was hoping to find syllabi or at least documents pertaining to those majors so we could get more of a cohesive idea of what it would have been like to major in those different subjects.

Overall I think our website is coming along pretty well. Thanks to Tim Ownes we have a starting point for the format of our website. Right now I have a vague understanding of what it was like to go to Mary Washington in the sixties, but as we start to combine our findings we can begin to draw conslusions and get a broader understanding of what it might have been like.


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Post #3: The Details

This week  I went back to the student handbooks and photo archives to look in to topics we discussed in our group that we would like to include in our final website.

First I looked into the smoking policies because we wondered if in our reenactment of the classroom there would have been the possibility that there would have been students smoking in class. Up until 1967 smoking was not permitted in classrooms except in designated seminar rooms. The 1967 to 1968 student handbook is the first to allow smoking in classrooms as long as it wasn’t a safety hazard or a professor or a fellow student objected to it. From 1967 to 1970 students were allowed to smoke in the classroom and so it would not have been unheard of to have seen a student smoking in class.

I finished looking through the 1960s photos in the archive and did not come up with too many more photographs that added to the classroom experience. I came up with some photos that were related to the classroom in a broader sense. . .

1966 Students Lined Up for Registration, Mary Washington Archives

1968 New Student Orientation, Mary Washington Archives

and one that showed an actual classroom experience. . .

1968 Chemistry Class

This time when I was in special collections the staff found me the 1969-1970 handbook. It had been included in a different decade’s box and so had not been included in my previous posts.

1969-1970 Student Handbook

The handbook from the last year of the decade held many new additions to the academic aspect of Mary Washington College. Academic distinctions, Individual study, Honors work, Junior Year Study abroad Program, Grad School information, Intermediate and Final Honors, and a Grading Scale are all are first introduced in this student handbook. Not only does this handbook look much different than the other two styles of handbooks, but the last handbook of the decade seemed to put a greater emphasis on academics and less on the social aspects of campus life.


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Touching Base

Today the group discussed our visions for the final website. It seemed like we were all on the same page, or at least a similar one. We have an ambitious plan to create the website in a way that would simulate what it would have been like to become a student at Mary Washington. We are planning on meeting with Tim Owens hopefully some time soon so we can get started on the website as soon as possible. I really liked the idea that we came up with; the visitor to the site will go through a series of pages beginning with having to sign the Honor Code to picking a major and seeing the professors and classes that went along with that major, to aspects of campus life that influenced the classroom experience. If we can achieve what we have been discussing I think it will be a pretty cool website.

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Reading Response

When reading Judy Yung’s “The Social Awakening of Chinese American Women” I enjoyed learning further about Chinese women’s experiences in America during the later 19th and early 20th centuries. When we left off in class Chinese women were banned from entering the United States because they were seen as prostitutes adding to the corruption of middle class white society. I was surprised to read that there was a Chinese newspaper in the United States that advocated for Chinese women’s rights such as getting rid of foot binding and the inborn ability women had to be educated. Not surprisingly though Chinese women did not feel a part of the American women’s suffrage movement but instead related more to the women’s emancipation in China. Women felt more of a connection with their Chinese roots than they did the country they were living in and looked to women in China as role models and figures of reform. It makes sense that in a country where these women were not exactly welcomed that they would look to their home country for examples and support. Especially when ideas of equal rights were being pursued and to a degree won in China. This article explained a different facet of womanhood that existed in the United States that I think often gets looked over.

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Post #2: Digging Deeper

So far I have been able to go through photos from 1960 to 1965 that have not been uploaded to the archives online in addition to all the 1960s photos online. I had more luck in finding photos of actual classroom experiences and a variety of classrooms in the not uploaded photos. I found photos from chemistry, home economics, theater, and art classes. Mary Washington has definitely come a long way in the past 52 years. I also pulled photos that did not necessarily have to do with the actual classroom but were on the related note of students studying and doing homework. I also found a picture of students standing in line at Seacobeck, an experience many of us can relate to today. The majority of photos in the 1960 to 1965 collection were of social events or group department faculty photographs.

Home Economics Class 05-12-1962 Mary Washington Archives

When going through the student handbooks for the 60s I tried to look for information pertaining to the classroom or academics in general. Throughout the decade the handbooks mostly dealt with the social aspects of Mary Washington such as dress code, dorm rules and regulations, conduct expectations, safety reminders, etc. In my last post I mentioned the different looks of the handbooks. Here are photos of them:

After glancing through all of the handbooks this time around I decided to focus on the Honor Code and the Dean’s List requirements because they would have helped to shape the academic and classroom experience.

Starting with the 1960 handbook the Honor Code had a small part compared to later years.  Only a page was dedicated to honor pledge and signature  space. In subsequent years 4 pages were dedicated to the Honor Code and Pledge explaining the importance of the Honor Code and the repercussions for violating it. The only exception to this was in 1966 to 1967 where the Honor Code had only one page like the 1960 handbook. I’m not sure why the Honor Code would be emphasized  some years and not others but it definitely plays a big role in student life at Mary Washington for the majority of the 60s.

Something that also changed over the years was the GPA required for the Dean’s list. The Dean’s list wasn’t mentioned until 1965 with a required GPA of 2.5 or better. In 1966 the required minimum GPA for Dean’s list was 3.5 and for 1967 3.5. In 1968 the GPA was 3.25.

Moving on with my research I am going to pursue scrapbooks to see how much information I can get out of them. Also I am going to go back to the student handbooks and look into the various dress codes and such to get an idea of what the student body had to look like sitting in these classroom and go through the last half of the decade’s not uploaded photos.

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Post #1: Just Starting Out

I have chosen to go through the student handbooks and photographs for the ‘60s. I really enjoy looking at photographs because of what they can tell you about a certain time, situation, people, and styles and so on. When I was looking through the photographs of the ‘60s on the Mary Washington archives website I was a little disappointed that there were so few that had been uploaded to the internet. In the digital archives online there are 125 photos spanning from 1960 to 1969. 1965 and 1964 have the most photos with 25 and 24 respectively. When browsing through all 125 photos there were only a few that dealt with the classroom. From those we might be able to garner some kind of idea of what a classroom experience might have been in the 60’s at Mary Washington. From the other photos we can get an idea of what the environment of the school itself was. There are photos of protests and everyday things students did on campus. I think by getting an idea of what the overall atmosphere was like at Mary Washington it will help to also get an idea of what the classroom environment would have been like. I plan on going to the photo archives in special collections this week to try and find some more photographs that show more classroom life.

As far as the student handbooks go there are 10 handbooks for each year of the decade. The student handbooks from 1960-1964 were titled Mary Washington College of the University of Virginia. These handbooks were much smaller than their later counter parts, they were about pocket sized but contained about the same amount of pages. In 1963 the student constitution was introduced and in 1965 lists of student clubs and academic departments and their heads of departments are listed. In every year’s handbook the honor code is made prominent and its importance stressed. From these handbooks we can also find out the Academic probation rules, the required number of credits a student had to take each semester, and class standings. There are also rules for what is expected as far as behavior and dress. When going through these handbooks it was definitely entertaining reading how different our student handbooks are from their predecessors.

Something I found amusing:

One of the safety rules listed in the 1960-1961 student handbook made sure that “Students are reminded smoking in bed is dangerous” in between warning students about the dangers of walking along the road that is now Campus walk and crossing Route One at College Ave.

Here is one of the photos I came across. I thought this photo demonstrated some aspects  of the classroom experience and also of the social aspects of the 60s.

Debate Team, 1968

The University of Mary Washington Digital Archive


When I was in special collections looking through the student handbooks I came across Freshmen handbooks for the first half of the decade as well. I’m not sure if they would be anymore helpful than the regular student handbooks but I am going to look into them some more.

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My name is Kendall Simonpietri and I am a junior majoring in History.

I have lived in the Fredericksburg area all my life and have grown up enjoying all that the area has to offer… I am currently living at home, trying to save money and avoid as much misery that is college debt as possible. I enjoy riding my horse, being in the presence of my three dogs, and watching older movies. I am a pretty big classic movie fan and have included a photo of Doris Day and Rock Hudson from their film Pillow Talk.  I am pretty excited to discover what all the ’60s had to offer at Mary Washington.


Flixster – Share Movies
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