“The Best Thing in a Girl’s Life”: Early Women’s Colleges in Fiction and Fact

Stunts and Spreads

 Parade from Marjorie Dean, Post Graduate

 Stunt or Skit in Denbigh Hall

The social life of the colleges occupies a large part of the novels.  “Spreads” (dorm room parties with food) are an essential part of the narratives, in which the girls establish and affirm friendships, and practice the rudiments of entertaining.  The fudge party (where the candy was cooked, sometimes successfully, in a chafing dish) was the stereotypical entertainment of the college girl.

"Stunts” (amusing skits), organized plays, dances, suppers, and other large scale events entertained the girls, but also gave them an opportunity to develop their executive ability.   Both in the books and in real life, some of these events represent college traditions, some are fund-raisers (like the early May Days), and some simply channel the high spirits of their creators..

Tea party  at BMC

Grace Harlowe’s First Year at Overton College

School Spirit

Bryn Mawr College Library