Crushes, Bullying, and Boredom in Watercolor: Pages from Edith Louise Allen’s Scrapbook

Edith Louise Allen was a student at Barnard from 1908-1910. Though she never graduated, she clearly possessed the creativity, imagination, and cutting wit of our other alumnae.









Cleo Levin ’14, Archives Assistant


A Day in the Life of a Barnard Student, circa 1950

These excerpts come from the collected letters of Jean Ziegler, Class of 1950. The Barnard Archives possesses over 70 of the letters Ziegler wrote home from 1947-1950. Read here about pledge night, the Soph-Frosh Formal, and skiing at Bear Mountain!

Students in front of Barnard Hall, circa 1950s


Jan. 6, 1947

[In Lake Placid for the holidays]

“The town looked beautiful that night coming home. There were little Christmas trees along the street all lighted and all the other lights were off. The night was real clear and just to complete the picture, the car radio was playing “Winter Wonderland.” If I ever hear that song again, I know I’ll start crying.

Thursday night we saw Never Say Goodbye at the Palace, then went to the Maj, as usual. Saw Ed Damp coming out of the show and broke down and accepted a date with him Friday night, But came Friday night and no Ed. Seems he went to a champagne party and forgot to pick me up. That was the last time he gets a chance to do that. But I was shedding no tears over him, as I would rather sleep.”

Feb. 23

“Since yesterday was a holiday and the library wasn’t open anyway, four of us got a neat idea about going to Bear Mt. to ski. Especially with the lovely 11.6 inch snow, we decided it shouldn’t be wasted. Unfortunately one of the kids got sick Friday night +another decided not to go, but Tay and I got up in time to make an early train, along with millions of other people, and had a swell time falling down and getting up again. Of course, the slopes aren’t nearly as nice as those in Placid, but I got enough practice so I can dodge people and I know what a snowplow and stem turn should be, even if I can’t do them too well. But at least I stood up! (usually). I was all set to take the “Jr.” jump (10 ft., supposedly) but one of my skis was a little loose and when someone in front of me broke a ski, I decided to wait until “next” time. Not that I was scared!!”

March 17

“Sat night. ten of us took fellas from Kingspoint to the Soph-frosh formal and had loads of fun… No doubt you’ll be interested to know that Pat Skelton was up to her old tricks, and ran off with someone else’s date. The little rat pulls that trick every time… The orchestra wasn’t as good for this dance as for the previous ones. It nearly blasted us out of the dining room, They didn’t play one slow number all evening. Too many rhumbas and jitterbug numbers.

After the dance, we went out to a sandwich shop, and had hamburgers, hot roast beef sandwichs [sic], cokes, etc. and the starving hungry Barnardites really enjoyed the food.”

March 21

“For the last two nights, it’s been practically impossible to get to bed early here. Wed. night I was almost asleep when I kept smelling burning rubber, and then we heard millions of fire engines. What happened wasn’t too exciting but the fire trucks have a way of attracting people—a car burnt at 116th + Riverside. I just sat up in bed for a perfect view.

Last night Maureen was over doing Spanish, when we heard a racket outside on Claremont. This time it was ΣX pledge night, and they were copying what Beta did a few weeks ago but on a larger scale. There must have been 25 pledges, compared to Beta’s 4, who sang (?) while bags of water, furnished by the brothers whipped past.”