New Students, Meet Barnard

For several decades, Barnard has distributed an orientation brochure to new students when they arrive on campus. The content has changed greatly over the years, but the purpose of the publication was always to give first-years and transfer students a broad overview of academic and campus life at Barnard.

Each year’s book has a theme—such as “Happiness is a Honey Bear,” “The Barnard Alice,” “CU on the Road: Do You Have the Drive?” and “The Game of Life”—through which the information is presented. For instance, in “The Barnard Alice” (1966), freshmen were told about program planning, extracurricular activities, campus geography, and local restaurants through a modified Alice in Wonderland story.

1966 orientation booklet

From 1949 to 1967, the books included class rosters, a glossary of campus terms, and information about academics, extracurriculars, and student life. In 1970 and 1971, the “Barnard Action Coalition” published a comprehensive guide to Barnard for first-years and upperclassmen alike. These “Reorientation” books covered academic and student life, the Barnard bureaucracy, the political scene in the wake of 1960s campus activism, and the neighborhood and city.

Beginning in 1971, the books became more minimal; this coincided with the transition from a Barnard-exclusive publication to a University-wide “NSOP” (New Student Orientation Program) book. They were just a few pages long and contained only a schedule of orientation week activities and a map of campus. In 1987, they

1970 "Reorientation" booklet

1970 "Reorientation" booklet

began to include several pages of advertisements at the end, primarily from restaurants and retailers near campus. Some years they also included a list of religious services in the neighborhood and a list of important phone numbers. In 1992, the

University began to publish separate books for first-years and for transfer students, though both had largely the same content.

Copies of most orientation books from 1949 to 2007 are available to view in the Barnard Archives.

Written by Maggie Astor ’11

For more images of Barnard orientation booklets, please visit our Gallery.

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Into the Wild: Barnard Camp

“This Barnard Camp in the hills is one diamond in the rough that is ‘smooth.’ You have the grandest times up there! Your college education won’t be complete unless you’ve been to Camp.” — Barnard Athletic Association

Camp_line_c30

For students constantly inundated with the pressures of academic life and the stresses of city living, discovering urban respites to relax and unwind has always been pivotal. Until seventeen years ago, Barnard women had a place to escape far from the hustle and bustle of New York City, a special retreat all their own—Barnard Camp (renamed Holly House in 1963 in honor of Physical Education Department Chair and first Camp counselor Margaret Holland), located just 38 miles outside of the city, and yet a world away from campus.

Situated near the water on 20 acres of Westchester County’s Croton-on-Hudson, the camp was officially opened on Oct. 15, 1933. The idea to construct a camp was born more than ten years earlier, when students spent the occasional weekend at geology professor Dr. Ida Ogilvie’s farm near Bedford, New York. As interest grew, the Athletic Association planned winter wilderness retreats to two sites—Brentmere cabin and Bear Mountain Inn, a ski lodge. By 1926, Barnard was offering retreats year-round to a farmhouse in Ossining rented from Phys. Ed. Department member Dorothy Nye.

The search for a site upon which to construct a camp of Barnard’s own began in 1928, when the Alumnae Association set a fundraising goCamp_interior39al of $10,000. Funds were raised by alumnae donation, proceeds from alumnae Greek Games tickets, and benefits hosted in 1928 and 1929. In 1933, Barnard acquired the first ten acres of property for the depression-era price of about $9,000. The deed for the land was presented to Dean Virginia Gildersleeve on Feb. 12, 1933 and ground was broken in March, after a road had been built through the woods. Ten more acres of land were purchased in the 1950s.

Camp offered a welcome return to simple, rustic life. A modest cabin furnished simply with just a meager cookstove, a few comfy sofas, and a large fireplace was the only escape from winter’s chill. The building slept 15-20 students in two bunk rooms, each heated with a small stove; braver souls could also elect to doze on a screened sleeping porch. All amenities were acquired outside and required a little elbow grease—students pumped their own water, cooked food over a fire pit, bathed in the lake or with primitive showers, and used outhouses connected only to refuse pits. Three small campsites constructed by students—“Eagle’s Nest,” “Hemlock” and “Red Oaks”—provided extra space to cook, relax, and dispose of waste.

This was more of a draw than a deterrent for Barnard students, who relished the opportunity to escape the cityCamp_wood43 for a few days and experience a taste of the country life. In addition to their daily chores, campers could also indulge in a number of activities, from hiking and skiing to swimming and storytelling. In addition to four annual events and four class days planned by the Athletic Association, Holly House was open to students of all sorts for club retreats and private stays for groups of 8-20. During the early years of Camp, a campcraft course was also offered every June. Run by Miss Holland, it gave six students the opportunity to learn about the running of the camp, organize independent projects, and help build new campsites. From this group, the Barnard Camp Committee was selected each year. This group was in charge of planning activities, menus, and other necessities for each weekend.

The total cost of the trip amounted to only a few dollars, making it a fun and accessible destination for all; the Athletic Association beckoned every student to make an excursion up to Camp. In the Oct. 6, 1933 issue of the Barnard Bulletin, Agnes Wayman remarked, “Camp now deliberately reaches out for the book-worm, the bridge fiend, the indoor girl, the weak sister…each may find friends and activities and peace and quiet and ‘unlax’ in her own way.” A student member of the Bulletin, Edna Jones, held similar sentiments. “Camp is the place for the student who wants a change from city life, for the student who wants to get away from It All,” she wrote, “for the student who has ‘spring fever,’ (even in the winter) and for the student who is a ‘natural’ for the great out-of-doors at any time of year. To the dorm girl it offers a special kind of freedom; to the day student it offers the possibility of living with her classmates and getting to know them in a way that is out of the question when she commutes every day.”

While in the early days of Camp 60-70 students would sign up every weekend, interest began to dwindle after World War II and dropped significantly in the mid-fifties. In a 1963 issue of the Bulletin, one student remarked, “It seems that people have lost their taste for the shared pleasures of fire-building and massive pancake breakfasts. Nowadays the cabin is less often visited than it was in the past, and large groups seldom get together there for a weekend.” Many campers began to complain of the strict rules still enforced at Holly House—the inability to walk far or alone, the requirement Camp_waterthat students be at all meals, the decision to no longer allow male guests, etc. In 1962, the Camp Committee proposed to modernize facilities, but the $5,000-$10,000 project was not within the College’s budget. While the Camp Committee conducted a number of investigations into the reasons for the decline, it seemed students simply just weren’t interested in getting their hands dirty anymore. In a Barnard College Camp Report from 1961-1962, the committee remarked, “Past reports have attempted to analyze the limited use of the camp. School pressures; absence of cohesive groups who socialize together; travel time, cost, and difficulty; lack of inside plumbing and adequate heating are valid explanations. The changing nature of the student, as several students have pointed out, accounts in part for their not participating in experiences that the camp offers. Apparently few are interested in spending a weekend of group living with girls, especially when there are chores and some discomfort.”

Nevertheless, Barnard did not want to abandon the camp so soon after they had endeavored to build it, and continued to host events there, mostly for alumnae. Why the land was inevitably sold, and to whom, is a mystery, but by 1991 trips to Holly House were no longer listed as an option in the Student Handbook, and the camp was reportedly sold by the college in 1992.

Memories of Barnard Camp may have been lost in the new wave of city slickers arriving at Barnard, their eyes glowing with the prospect of technology and sophistication. Yet the relics of Holly House are rich and plentiful, and former students will forever look back on the site fondly.

Written by Abbey Ozanich ’11

For more photographs of Holly House, please visit our Gallery.

note: This article erroneously reports the date of the acquisition of additional land by the camp. Barnard Camp expanded in size to 20 acres in 1938, following an alumnae purchase.

The Jungle: Demystified

Aerial View of the Jungle, c.1944-1950

In Barnard lore, “The Jungle” is more than a classic book by Upton Sinclair. For much of Barnard’s history, the segment of the campus between 117th and 118th Streets — south of Milbank, Fiske, and Brinkerhoff Halls, just north of Barnard Hall, near the current site of Lehman Hall— was an area of trees and shrubs with a path running through it. This was commonly known as “The Jungle.” Just north of the Jungle, where Altschul Hall and the Diana student center now stand, were the Elizabeth Arden Tennis Courts.

A Barnard promotional brochure from 1953 describes the Jungle as “a grove of trees and flowering shrubs … complete with small lawns, winding paths and secluded benches and tables. Here on a warm day in spring a professor often brings his class for an informal session.”

Groundbreaking of Lehman Hall, 1958In 1958, ground was broken on Lehman Hall, and the western half of the Jungle was lost, much to the chagrin of students. In a letter to the editor published in the Barnard Bulletin on Nov. 17, 1959, an anonymous student complained that “the Jungle could now more aptly be termed the Desert.”

The eastern half of the Jungle remained into the mid-1960s, when it was razed to accommodate the building of the Millicent McIntosh Student Center and Altschul Hall. But while the Jungle and the tennis courts are long gone, they remain a beloved aspect of Barnard’s history.

Written by Maggie Astor ’11

For more photographs of the Jungle, please visit our Gallery.