Barnard College: “a Most Promising and Attractive Child”

People often question the relevance and role of women’s colleges today. Now that most colleges and universities in the U.S. are co-ed, why do women’s colleges still exist? When Columbia College started admitting women in fall of 1982 a merger was proposed, but ultimately decided against because of bureaucratic complexities and the belief that Barnard College served the community well as a separate institution. And so it has.

Flashback to spring 1915, when Barnard administrators were preparing for the 25th anniversary celebration of Barnard College. Originally planned for November 1914, the event was postponed because, according to a write-up of the event from the Dean’s Office, “there was a common feeling that the grave issues before the civilized world did not permit the occasion to be commemorated with sufficient joy and enthusiasm.” Unfortunately, the events in Europe meant Jane Addams, founder of Hull House in Chicago, had to send her regrets that she could not attend. As national chairman of the Women’s Peace Party, she was wanted at a conference in the Netherlands. This letter, typed up on Hull House stationery and signed by Jane Addams, is one of the many treasures held in the Barnard Archives.

Despite its characterization as “war-belated,” the celebration was a wonderful commemoration of Barnard College, what it stood for, and where it was going in the future. While looking through a box of the Dean’s Office Departmental Correspondence from 1914-15, I came across an article titled “Barnard College, 1889-1914” from the June, 1915 issue of the Columbia University Quarterly. In the left-hand margin of the first page someone wrote “President Butler,” indicating Nicholas Murray Butler, president of Columbia University from 1901-1945, as the author, however, it is unclear whether this article is also the address he gave during the 25th anniversary commemorative exercises on April 29th. I expected the article to be a routine address: probably a brief history of the college and an acknowledgement of the trustees and administrators that made it all possible. Instead, it is a beautiful testament to the necessity of higher education for women and therefore the necessity of Barnard College. Butler includes a quote from November 21, 1890 by Rev. Arthur Brooks, Chairman of the Trustees of Barnard College. On that day, the trustees met to go over the events of the first year of the College and Rev. Brooks spoke on behalf of Barnard:

[…]to allow Barnard College to suffer or to languish would now mean the maiming of Columbia College, which, to the pride and glory of New York, is at the present time taking so many forward steps[…].We gladly believe that the bond between the two Colleges is so strong that the parent, old and yet young with new energy, would sadly feel the loss of this, its youngest and most promising and attractive child.

 Characterizing Barnard College as a “most promising and attractive child” might seem a bit silly today, but as a Barnard student who has felt not quite welcome by the Columbia University community, these words are what I have needed to hear for a long time. Butler goes on to write a defense of Barnard College that celebrates its place as a unique institution, but also commends the awe-inspiring backdrop of Columbia University. I must admit the last paragraph of Butler’s piece gave me chills:

Barnard College is nothing so temporary […]. It is a serious and solemn human undertaking which conceives itself as bearing a grave responsibility toward womanhood, toward society, and toward the University whose traditions and unconquerable vitality it shares. […]if it [the College] continue catholic, large-minded, sincere and scholarly, it will increase with each year in power as a builder of character and a shaper of intelligence in that womanhood which is at once the glory and the hope of our civilization.

What a relief to know that these words will be preserved in the Barnard Archives, a humidity-controlled tribute to the rich history of Barnard College. 

-Alice Griffin, BC ’15

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You Need to Come Look at This!: The Overbury Collection

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Letter from Emily Dickinson. Image courtesy of the Barnard College Archives.

We have a lot of stuff in the archives.  There’s often an overlap between trash and historically significant material culture, so anything that seems relevant to Barnard is carefully boxed, labeled, and stacked onto eight foot high rolling shelves.  Most collection items are unknown to the rest of the world, and linger only vaguely in the depths of the archivist’s mind until called into the forefront by a research request.  We have a gym uniform from the 1960s, at least fifteen copies of a poster for a pro-choice rally from the 1980s, a kinetic learning building block set (missing instructions and two pieces)*, two gold rimmed teacups, a stress-squeeze ball, and a nine-pin.  Among this junk on a shelf three rows from the back, there is the Overbury collection, a repository of female American writers’ manuscripts and letters.**  Purchasing and assembling the collection was the consuming, Herculean labor by which Bertha Van Riper Overbury’s (class of 1896) defined her life.  Overbury began to assemble her collection after reading an article in The Colophon called “Some Bookwomen of the Fifteenth Century”; it is a great love letter to the power, profundity, and charm of feminine imagination in an era when male writers like Ernest Hemingway were increasingly attempting to discredit female authors.  The collection retains Overbury’s original alphabetical filing system and her beautifully handwritten biographical cards that flank each authoress’ works.  While Overbury’s prose is overpowered by the strong voices she collected, her admiration and care for the writers is palpable in each meticulously foldered and bound artifact.  By playing the role of devoted collector and curator, Overbury inserted herself into the literary tradition she longed to be a part of.

Not many researchers use (or know about) the collection.  The Overbury Collection’s quiet, unacknowledged existence at the back of the Archives is almost as astounding as Ravenclaw’s diadem being found on a junky bust in the Room of Requirement or the Arkenstone being buried beneath Smaug’s hoard.  Bertha Overbury wasn’t buying Emily Dickinson’s doodles or Eudora Welty’s grocery lists; she was gathering a formidable, coherent portfolio pertinent to any critical interpretation of American intellectual life in the last two centuries.

In one letter from 1807, Abigail Adams writes to her sister on John Quincy’s pre-presidency diplomatic service in Russia:

“indeed, my dear sister, a man of his worth ought not to be permitted to leave the country….it has been the intolerant spirit of party which has induced him to accept this uniform, and the hope of being serviceable to his country, although reduced and vilified by the same intolerant faction.”

In another, Willa Cather discusses her views on modern poetry with William Braithwaite, an anthology editor and publisher:

“I wish I could be as enthusiastic about contemporary verse as you are.  While I was managing editor of McClures I did my best to seek it out, and if I remember, you agreed with me that some of it was good.  But it is one thing to see merit in a poem, another to feel great enthusiasm for it.  Enthusiasm I do not often rise to, about my own verse of that of my friends.  I wish I did.”

The collection also has a prototype of Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women,” a letter from Harriet Beecher Stowe about dramatizing “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” especially for the daughter of an escaped slave to read, and a selection of Gertrude Stein’s prolific correspondence that provides further evidence for a strong stylistic similarity between her literary efforts (consciously produced for posterity) and her personal letters.

Stuck between these well-known names are sheaves of material by forgotten authoresses, stifled by the cool dryness of manila folders and waiting patiently to be shared.  Though I am still in the process of re-discovering the collection, I have already forgotten pieces of it; I read a poem by a woman I did not know and wished that everyone could know her.  Then I forgot her name.

-Johana Godfrey, BC ’13

 
You should absolutely stop by the current archives exhibition on the Overbury Collection, located by the Admissions Office in Milbank Hall.  To view the Overbury Collection, please contact head archivist Shannon O’Neill.

*Anyone who discovers the missing blocks are encouraged to return them, for the sake of the research of future cultural anthropologists.
**There are also many rare books and first additions, but they’re in storage.

Voter Fraud: the Presidential Mock Trial and Election of 1904

Suffragettes demonstrate voting procedures at Polling Place, ca. 1917. Courtesy of Barnard College Archives

In November of 1904, Frances Hope Purdon (Barnard College class of 1905) addressed her peers: “Friends and fellow citizens of this great and glorious country, after observing politics for many years with calm and deliberate criticism, we have come to the conclusion that campaigns as conducted by men are run in a very inefficient manner.”  Purdon was speaking at an extremely serious mock presidential debate held before the election: political cartoons and pictures of Roosevelt and Parker were pasted to the walls, two parades were held, and now, different members of the Barnard classes would debate each other in the personas of Roosevelt and Taft to defend their positions.  Though American women were still 16 years away from participating in the popular vote, Barnardites were already sharpening their tongues for the inevitable arguments that come with political involvement.

With Elizabeth Warren crushing Scott Brown in the Massachussets Senate race last night, Tammy Baldwin’s election as the first openly gay Senator, and women now comprising one-fifth ( a ground-breaking, if pathetically low, proportion) of the Senate, reporters are dubbing 2012 the “new Year of the Woman” which–as any Barnard woman whether present activist or past suffragist would agree–is a disheartening, patronizing term.  Purdon didn’t participate in the mock debates because she knew that feminist efforts would culminate in a single year when successful political women would be hemmed in by newspaper jargon.  A woman in office should be an unremarkable thing.

We hope all of you voted yesterday, that you will continue to be politically involved, and that you keep in mind the Barnard women who stand behind you as they stood at the podiums in Barnard Hall in 1904: Dean Virginia Gildersleeve (more battleship than the S.S. Barnard) who opened the mock trials; Agnes Ernst, the famous suffragist who decried Roosevelt’s bully-for-you war hungry political tactics; and the undergraduate women who futilely cast their pretend votes in strong favor of Roosevelt.  Barnard forever, America forever, congratulations Mr. Obama, rah rah rah!

-Johana Godfrey, BC ’13

Haunted Library

Archiving is a spooky job.  The Barnard Archives are located in a windowless basement room of the college library, where the air is still and the temperature dial is twisted past cold and into the “tomb” register.  The collection is housed on sliding shelves that could easily crush a careless researcher; visitors to the stacks are followed by the eyes of a couple of 17th century Dutch portraits; an imposing iron bust of Virginia Gildersleeve blankly gapes into the main work-room, as if vowing to one day fall and brain an irreverent student worker; and recently my bosses spent an hour in a dirty underground vault that looked more likely to house un-dead students from years past than the works of art they were tasked with cataloging.

Three costumed students in a 1904 production of “La Farce de Maître Pathelin.” Image Courtesy of the Barnard College Archives.

Archivists preserve personal objects and papers, bolstering physical ephemera–and the personalities they belonged to–against the long fade from collective memory to dust.  The subjects’ spirits rest, not in the ground, but in their relics, and the dialogue created between researcher and relic in the archives grants the subject a second kind of life.  In Henry James’ “Aspern Papers,” the unnamed narrator embarks on a morally dubious quest to procure the personal papers of the deceased poet Jeffrey Aspern from his ex-lover; he believes that by reading Aspern’s private documents and letters, he will have a more developed understand of and become closer to the poet.  Archivists are favored with the opportunity to come as close as possible to understanding the long-dead without actually knowing them.  We familiarize ourselves with their writing styles, values, and personalities while reading their letters, temporarily become their contemporaries while reading newspaper clippings, and unravel their thought processes and analytical styles while pouring over their annotated manuscripts.  Each archival subject–though confined to a shadowy stasis by the selected materials housed in document boxes–becomes almost alive for the archivist during the familiarization that occurs during the conservation process.  I imagine the sliding shelves of our archival room as overcrowded tenement buildings.  Down here, Zora Neale Hurston and Alice Duer Miller live kitty-corner, and ladies from the American Woman’s Association lift up their skirts and step delicately around circles of student activists, still staging their sit-ins long past the academic protests of 1968.

We recently began processing the explorer/writer Jeannette Mirsky’s collection of maps, personal correspondence, manuscripts, and photographs.  Archivists want to neaten, logically arrange, and condense material, and this impulse also leads us to (unintentionally) invade the privacy of,  judge, and reprimand a dead woman: we deem her storage practices dubious, trash certain fragments that were important to her, and eagerly read tender, private letters from her ex-lovers.  It’s good that we don’t actually summon spirits in the course of our work–how dreadful to be confronted by a screaming suffragette skeleton every-time you throw out a crumbling envelope!

Happy Halloween from the paranormally inclined Barnard archivists!

Barnard/library related Links of Terror for thrill-seekers:

–Johana Godfrey, BC ’13

Roof Golf and Aquacades: Barnard Athletics Through the Years

As the 2012 London Olympic Games continue past preliminary rounds, it’s time to talk about athletics at Barnard, from the glory days of the 1940s, when admiration for pageant-like displays of athletic prowess necessitated an extensively choreographed “aquacade”-a swimming carnival complete with lights, music, and mermaid costumes-to now, when Barnard’s athleticism lies less in sequins and glitter and more in archery and crew.

Barnard students play badminton in LeFrak Gynasium in the 1940s. Image Courtesy of the Barnard College Archives.

Because Barnard is a small women’s college and was founded in the late 1800s, it initially had no physical education department.  Ladies could either take their exercise by strolling around the grounds, or they could cross the street to Columbia, where they found male escorts who would walk them up and down Riverside in the evenings.  The first recreational sport clubs were a bicycle club, founded in 1896, and a student taught, student run dancing class founded in 1898.  To help these fledgling organizations survive within a student body without a physical education department, the Athletics Association was founded as a branch of the student government in 1900, with the creation of the Physical Education Department bringing further legitimacy to the association in 1904.  The first gym class offered at Barnard was a mandatory lecture in personal hygiene for students.  In the late 1910s, classes on relaxation and posture were introduced.  The two classes were remarkably straight forward and self guided: sleepy girls in matching pajama sets dozed in perfectly made beds set up around the gymnasium, while posture students swanned gracefully in figure eights while balancing their copies of  “Candide” on their heads.  These mandatory activities were attempts to cultivate “mens sana in corpora sano,” grooming the young ladies for positions in society and fortifying them against anxiety and mental unrest.  While they are “non-sports,” I doubt that Michael Phelps—one of Team USA’s most decorated Olympians, and known for the stooping, duck-like amble that he adopts on land—would be able to medal in “Posture.”

A student undergoes posture evaluation. Image courtesy of Barnard College Archives.

Barnard is a small campus, so classes doubled up in the gymnasium and parts of campus were re-purposed for sport.  Students practiced golf on the roof of Barnard Hall, swung tennis rackets on the old courts that used to stand between Milbank and the Jungle, played quoits on the lawn during a resurgent interest in old-timey folk games, and bowled in the basement of Riverside Church.  During the early 20th century, athletics at Barnard were reduced to pleasant lawn sports.  The expansion of the physical education department at Barnard parallels the expansion of Olympic sports in which women were allowed to participate—both grew during the 1900s, a period in which gender roles were being redefined.   At the 1900 Olympic Games, the committee cracked and allowed women to participate in golf, tennis, and croquet (though one “woman sailor”-scandal!-participated in a mixed event).  These were athletic areas where women were allowed and expected to succeed.  The establishment of the 1983 Columbia/Barnard Athletic Consortium made it possible for students at Barnard to participate in the Columbia athletics program, and sports such as softball, basketball, and volleyball became popular.  Now, classes offered by the Physical Education Department focus on current workout fads-cardio crunch, yoga, and aerial acrobatics.  However, Columbia’s highest-ranked athletic programs today harken back to the old, prep school, New England atmosphere that the school cultivated so carefully in the past. Barnard’s most recognized athletes participate in sports that garnered popularity in the 1940s, such as fencing, crew, archery, and swimming.

Many Barnard athletes have made it to and through Olympic tryouts.  The most recent medalling alumna is Erinn Smart, class of 2001, who won a silver medal in the group fencing event in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.  We wish luck to Barnard alumna and affiliates who are participating in this year’s Games, and hope that they work on their posture.

-Written by Johana Godfrey, BC’13.

Waterworld: Highlights from the History of the Barnard Pool

Gymnasium Pool, circa 1920s. Credit: Sigurd Fischer. Courtesy of the Barnard College Archives, Lucy O. Lewton '22 Scrapbook Collection.

With the recent news of the impending demise of Barnard’s swimming pool in mind (Columbia Spectator, “Barnard Likely to Close Swimming Pool in 2013”), we’d like to take this opportunity to present choice episodes from the pool’s almost-century of history.The Barnard Pool opened in 1918 with the completion of Students’ Hall, now known as Barnard Hall (the building was renamed in 1926).  After the opening, students and faculty alike were in raptures: the 1919 Mortarboard contains a poem in praise of the new building, where “down in the depths the blue-green pool / next greets our wondering eyes, / so clean it is, so clear and cool, / ‘tis quite the best surprise (1919 Mortarboard, 110).  In her report to the president of Columbia University on the academic year 1917-1918, Virginia Gildersleeve observes that “the beautiful swimming pool has been perhaps the greatest source of delight for the undergraduates” (1918 Dean’s Report, 6).

Barnard Swim Team, 1922. Courtesy of the Barnard College Archives.

The students took advantage of their new natatorium by quickly forming a swim team and competing against the team from Teachers College—whose gymnasium and pool Barnard students had used before the construction of Students’ Hall—in an annual swim meet.The pool continued to delight: a December 1932 issue of the Barnard Bulletin printed the following verses, “Pool Poem No. 2,” exhorting students to make use of the wonderful facility:

Breathes there a girl with soul so dead
She can’t recall that once she said,
“See, I can almost stand on my head!
Look, mother, see!”?

Gone is the skill of yesteryear,
But love of stunting still is here
And you may stunt again, never fear.
It still may be.

On this next Friday there will be
Stunts to be done and stunts to see,
Stunts for the clever and stunts for she
Who is a fool.

Come then at four and join the fun,
Be you beginner or be you done.
Come and be young, everyone—
In Barnard Pool. (Bulletin, 13 December 1932, 3)

In 1934, the Bulletin proclaimed, “Since you came to college to learn the Arts and ‘to broaden your abilities,’ you should feel that your education is not complete until you have accomplished the Art of swimming. The pool and the instructors are always at your disposal” (Bulletin, 20 March 1934, 4).

Synchronized swimming: rehearsal for “Snowball Bounce,” the pool, Barnard Hall, December 1951. Credit: Manny Warman, Columbia University. Courtesy of Barnard College Archives.

That same year, Barnard inaugurated the Water Carnival, an aquatic festival featuring, at least in its first year, “a maritime grab-bag, a tango, a spot-light chorus, a fashion parade of beach finery, and a diving exhibit”; later years featured synchronized swimming routines, water dances, skits, and novelty swim races.  In 1941, the Water Carnival presented the wedding of “Miss Hortense Hydroxyl” and “Mr. Horatio Hydrogen” (Bulletin, 11 March 1941, 1).  According to the Bulletin, “the bride wore a gown of white lastex with a white veil of cellophane,” and after the nuptials, “a toast, Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes, was gurgled to the newlyweds by the guests” (here’s Johnny Cash with that old favorite) (1).  The Water Carnival continued into the 1950s.

In 1956, students created the Barnard Barnacles, a synchronized swimming club.  The Barnacles practiced in the Barnard Pool and performed at Water Carnival, eventually becoming serious enough to gain membership in the Inter-Collegiate Synchronized Swimming Association.  In the fall of 1960, three Barnacles left their home waters and journeyed to perform at that Association’s conference for Northeastern schools (Bulletin, 27 April 1961, 1).

Students practicing lifesaving skills in the Barnard Pool. c. 1990s. Courtesy of Barnard College Archives.

As early as 1958, the Barnard Pool provided an aquatic respite not only to students and faculty, but to members of the surrounding community as well.  A November 1958 Bulletin article on Barnard’s community outreach mentions that “the physical education department gives swimming classes for children in the college’s pool” (Bulletin, 18 November 1958, 1).  These community classes continue today: both faculty and neighborhood children use the warm, friendly Barnard Pool for swimming lessons.  Barnard and Columbia students have long taken advantage of the Barnard Pool’s welcoming atmosphere to learn to swim or lifeguard at a more advanced age, as well.

Headline from an April Fool's edition of the Barnard Bulletin, 1 April, 1952. Bulletin Digital Archives.

The pool has always been slightly out of the way, and from reading old Bulletins, it’s clear that the student body thought most about its depths around the first of April.  In 1939, the student paper joked that the Columbia Crew team would henceforth hold its practices in Barnard’s pool, remarking on the sudden popularity of canoe classes among Barnard undergraduates (Bulletin, 28 March 1939, 3). April 1952 saw an article on the drowning death of “beautiful, but unathletic” fictional socialite “Parkus Karcus,” and nine years later, in April 1963, students got into the spirit of the Sixties by with a “passive resistance movement” against a purported new “five year gym plan” (Bulletin 1 April 1952, 2; 28 March 1963, 1).  Students allegedly planned to “sit in the swimming pool until” the administration “abolishes the new requirement. ‘Sink or not swim’ is their motto,” joked the Bulletin (1).In 1980, the Bulletin outdid itself: not only did the issue reveal that the college intend to offer a new course in “aquatic invertebrate zoology” to study the different forms of life which have been known to inhabit the Barnard Pool,” but it also broke the story of the disappearance of six students into the pool’s “murky” depths (Bulletin, 31 March 1980, 4; 8).  According to the article on the disappearances, “students claimed to have sighted what they described as a ‘long brown tentacle’ or a ‘giant eel or snake’ moving across the pool bottom” (8).

Jokes aside, the Barnard Pool has provided students, faculty, staff, and the surrounding community a pleasant and convenient place to play and exercise for the past 96 years.  If it does indeed close after the 2012-2013 academic year, the pool will be gone but, at least in the Archives, not forgotten. —Julia Mix Barrington, BC ’12

Read the Bulletin articles mentioned in this post.

Juliet Stuart Poyntz, Class of 1907

Juliet Stuart Points' photograph from the 1907 Mortarboard. Image courtesy of the Barnard College Archives.

On an early June day in 1937, Juliet Stuart Poyntz—Barnard class of 1907, known for her intellect, poise, and charisma—walked out of her rented room at the American Woman’s Association clubhouse and was never seen again. Her attorney reported her disappearance seven months later, launching Poyntz to a different kind of recognition than the intellectual was used to: notoriety. Newspaper headlines traded allegations: Poyntz was a Russian spy–she had been recalled to Russia–she was murdered by the OGPU (the Soviet secret police and the predecessor to the KGB)–she had turned against her communist ties and was placed in the Witness Protection Program. Who was Poyntz, and what happened to her?

Born Juliet Stuart Points on November 25th, 1886 in Omaha, Nebraska, Poyntz moved to New York City with her family at some point during her adolescence, and enrolled at Barnard College in 1903 as a 16 year old. Precocious and intelligent, Poyntz was extremely invested in Barnard as an institution and supplemented her coursework with leadership roles in extracurriculars. She was a member of the Pi Beta Phi Fraternity for women and of the Christian Association, President of her sophomore class, and President of the Undergraduate Association in her senior year. The scrapbook of her close friend, Sophie Parsons Woodman (also class of 1907) contains a letter from her about the proposed creation of a “senior society,” in which she worried over the possibility of creating divisions within her class. She also participated in the 1907 senior show and worked on the Board of Editors for the 1907 Mortarboard. Poyntz was voted “most popular” in her class and in the college, spoke as valedictorian for her graduating class, and went on to work as an instructor in the Barnard history department.

Page one of an article on feminism written for "The Barnard Bear" by Juliet Stuart Poyntz during her time as an instructor at Barnard. Image Courtesy of the Barnard College Archives.

During her years at Barnard and after her graduation, Poyntz was involved with the suffragette/feminist movement, which was gaining momentum during the early 20th century. In 1912, she gave an address to the Suffrage Club at Barnard, quoting freely from John Stuart Mill and calling for women to assert their individual freedoms. Ironically, referencing one of the fathers of laissez-faire economic policy was in direct opposition to her other great cause: socialism. Poyntz viewed the principles of equality touted in socialism as a natural extension of the women’s movement. In the 1912 Barnard Classbook, Poyntz reports having worked as a Special Agent for the U.S. Immigration Commission shortly after graduation, where she “found [her] proper level in the slums with the lowest of low delightful immigrants” and claims she is “still a woman’s suffragist or worse still a feminist and also a socialist (also of the worst brand).” In 1913, she married Dr. Frederick Franz Ludwig Glaser, a German immigrant. Though she kept her maiden name after the marriage, she legally changed the American spelling of her last name, “Points,” to an Eastern-European phonetic version, “Poyntz.” Though her reasons for doing this are unknown, it is around this time that Poyntz actively became involved in the Communist Party.

Poyntz rose to visibility as an activist for both the suffragette movement and the communist party in the years that followed her marriage. She published articles in the Nation about the economic future of various forms of government, and was one of the headlining speakers at Woman’s Day on April 31st, 1915–a historic event crucial in the women’s suffrage movement and associated with both the socialist and communist causes–where she was billed as a “Feminist Communist.” By 1920, Poyntz was “high in the circles of communists.” In 1934, disillusioned by the apparent inaction of the Communist Party in America, Poyntz withdrew her communist sympathies and visited Russia, where she became an agent for the OGPU. In 1936, Poyntz, disgusted by the brutality of the organization and the realities of the communist Gulag, withdrew from the OGPU. According to an article written by her close friend Carlo Tresca (labor organizer and opponent of Stalin) in which he accused the Soviet Union of murdering her, she began to unleash violent tirades against the self-serving and tyrannical activities in Soviet government to her personal friends. Less than a year later, she vanished.

Given her unpatriotic activities towards the end of her life, it is understandable that Poyntz is not listed as a notable alumna on any of the brochures that Barnard gives prospective students. However, throughout her life of activism, Poyntz worked to maintain her personal integrity and beliefs in the cause of social de-stratification even while she was being dragged progressively deeper into the activities of a dangerous organization. She is an unlikely but excellent example of the dauntless, committed spirit that Barnard prizes in its students.

Additional Information:

Tresca’s accusations can be read here, in an article entitled “Where is Juliet Stuart Poyntz?” written in 1938, just five years before he was murdered by Mafia gunmen for his anti-facist sentiments.

Dorothy Gallagher’s “Disappeared,” a dramatic essay on the Poyntz abduction (in which Gallagher accuses Poyntz of abducting another OGPU spy to the Soviet Union in 1936, before her break with the organization) that claims to draw information from Poyntz’ FBI file, can be read here.

-Johana Godfrey, BC ’13