Mary Washington College in the 1930's

The Student Experience


Department and Faculty Files

The Department and Faculty Files are some of the most important records for understanding what academics were like in the 1930s. The department files contain things like syllabus from certain courses, class supplies lists, and plans for what students were meant to learn. The faculty files contain professor correspondence and contracts. Even though there are not too many files still in existence, there are some left that explain classes and professors that were very important to the  for the school during this decade and later.

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Faculty and Alumni Interviews

The Faculty/Alumni interviews were a very useful tool to help determine what the classroom and campus environment were like at Mary Washington during the 1930’s.  Our group was able to conduct an interview with a member of the Class of 1935 and we used an interview conducted by the 2008 UMW Alumni Project with a member of the class of 1936 to help us gather information.  However, we were not able to contact any members of the UMW Faculty from the 1930’s decade.  The interviews that we used for the project that can be found here:

Student Handbooks and Course Catalogues

The student handbooks were sponsored by the YWCA and had a large amount of them devoted to the organization. They were printed annually and given to prospective, new, and returning students. They provided a look at the countless rules and regulations, and all of the different clubs and organizations on campus. Special collections was missing a few of them from the early thirties but the ones that were available were in great shape and proved invaluable to the project. The course catalogues, or bulletins, were printed three times a year (one for each semester Fall, Spring, Summer) and had curriculum, professor, and class information as well as numerous photographs and even the half page application for admission. The bulletins were valuable in providing the academic side of the thirties while the handbooks were more geared toward the social aspects of the decades.

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Photographs and Scrapbooks

Photographs and Scrapbooks have provided much of the view of campus students had during the 1930s. Looking at digitized images from the University archives, we are able to get a sense at how the campus and classrooms looked at this time. Course catalogs also provided many images around campus. Scrapbooks also provided a more intimate look at clubs and student experiences, both academic and social. One particular scrapbook has been exceptionally helpful to gain a full student experience, the one of Mary Louise Carter, who graduated in 1935. Her scrapbook included many interesting academic qualities, such as “program cards” which were the class schedules, and pictures and newspaper clippings. Photographs and scrapbooks overall are able to give a more mental and physical picture of the classroom experiences of students at Mary Washington College.

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“The Bullet is published semi-monthly during the college year. Its purpose is to chronicle the chief events of the college life and to create a greater and finer school spirit among the students.” ~Bullet Mission statement published February 13, 1930

Fifty one Bullet newspapers that span from 1930-1939 are archived at the University’s Simpson Library in the Special Archives Department. The articles, advertisements, and pictures printed in the Bullet offer us a vast array of research. Articles included discuss current events on campus and off, Club Activities, student written stories and poems, student opinion, Advertisements (both from large companies such as Camel cigarettes and local venues), Personal/Society/Gossip, and News of the World.

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