Alumnae Bulletin August 2009

Letters

Snapshots of lives well lived

For the past two years I have had the opportunity to read your Alumnae Bulletin courtesy of my friendship with Candance Herrman, M.S.S. '87. I have found the class notes and obituaries particularly appealing.

Compared with my own alumni magazines (BS, F&M '58; MD, UPenn '64) your class agents write with friendship, warmth, respect, and love. These are unique and very personal tributes. Reading these snapshots of lives so accomplished and so well lived gives great dignity to a remarkable group of women across many years. I respectfully bow before you all.

— Charles F. Smith, Sr., M.D.

BMC letters home and diaries

We are gratified by the response of alumnae/i to the recent announcement of our plans to celebrate the College's 125th anniversary. Thus far, we have heard from graduates from the 1950s, the 1960s, and the 1990s who have generously offered photographs, artifacts, and their time and expertise to help the College celebrate this milestone. We would love to hear from other classes as well.

Students from last semester's course that investigated the history of women's education and particularly the history of Bryn Mawr used the materials that we have collected over the years in the College archives to produce some remarkable essays, one of which is excerpted in this issue of the Bulletin (see page 6). A further sampling will appear in each subsequent Bulletin leading up to and through our anniversary year.

Though perhaps not surprising, what these students found most moving and most informative about the lives of Bryn Mawr's women were the collections of letters home and diaries kept by students of the past during their college years. In making connections between their own contemporary experience of the College and those experiences of 19th- and early 20th-century women, students came to realize that while their own college years may appear at first glance quite different from those of students who arrived at Bryn Mawr by horse and carriage and communicated home by pen and ink, they in fact shared more than they could believe.

One of the most memorable moments in the class occurred when a student announced that she was going to start a diary to record her own life at Bryn Mawr so that students “50 years from now can read what we were able to read.” She talked about how she feared that her treasured experiences might be lost through the largely electronic and oral nature of her communications with family and friends.

Many of the students in the course hoped that we would offer it again in the 2010–2011 academic year. Currently, we have about 25 sets of letters home and diaries from the earliest period of the college's history. We would like very much to add to our collection of College letters and diaries from recent classes so that we can continue to increase—and deepen—the archival record of the lives of the students. This is a critical aspect of the history of the College that we want to highlight in the activities of the anniversary year.

— Anne Bruder, Ph.D., Council of Library and Information Services (CLIR) Post-Doctoral Fellow in the Humanities and Coordinator of Bryn Mawr's 125th Anniversary Celebration.