Monday, December 7, 2015

New Exhibit of College Girl Fiction from Special Collections

Mount Holyoke's Archives and Special Collections has a new student-curated exhibition of College Girl Fiction on display in Dwight Hall and the MEWS! Four student assistants each curated an exhibit case for this project. My case features novels based at the historic Seven Sisters colleges. The combination of the college girl fiction genre and the Seven Sisters colleges provides a unique look into women’s education in the early 1900s. Here are some of the books featured in my exhibition case:

Bryn Mawr Stories
Bryn Mawr Stories is a collection of short stories written by various Bryn Mawr students and alumnae. Written for the purpose of giving “a truer impression of college life,” Bryn Mawr Stories is sure to give readers an in-depth and varied impression of student experiences. To show the diversity of the college student, many of the stories use different character types to give readers an impression of the different personalities and interests that are encouraged in such institutions. 

Smith College Stories
Like Bryn Mawr Stories, Josephine Dodge Daskam’s Smith College Stories is told in a series of short stories, although this book is written entirely by one author. In this collection we also get several character types -- including the athlete, the intellectual, and the flirt. Interestingly, Daskam references other Seven Sisters colleges throughout the collection, as in one of the short stories entitled “Miss Biddle of Bryn Mawr.” As a result, this novel gives readers a look into the college community created through this consortium. 

Brenda’s Cousin at Radcliffe
Helen Leah Reed’s novel, Brenda’s Cousin at Radcliffe, follows the heroine Julia and her friend through their time at Radcliffe College. Much the same as a contemporary college experience, readers enjoy the highs and lows of studies, friends, and college events. However, this novel also gives modern readers some insight to the transition to educating women and the perception of society towards these institutions. 

Bab’s at College
The final book in my case is Alice Ross Colver’s novel Bab’s at College. Set at Wellesley College, the main character Bab’s explores all the opportunities that arise in her four years in higher education. This novel differs from the others in the showcase in that it contains all four of Bab’s college years in one volume. In most college girl fiction, the years are usually spread out in a series, allocating one novel for each year -- freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior. Colver also uses real events, such as the 1914 Wellesley fire, to give more authenticity to the story. 

The College Girl Fiction exhibition will be on display through mid-February. Please come and visit it in Dwight Hall and the MEWS! 


Brittnee Worthy, Class of 2017, is a volunteer student assistant in Archives and Special Collections. 

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