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Vassar Encyclopedia

An online work in progress under the direction of Vassar's College Historian

Civil War

Vassar College opened its doors in the fall of 1865, just five months after Robert E. Lee surrendered his troops at Appomattox Courthouse. As Vassar’s first students entered Main Gate, the country nursed its wounds and took the first steps toward national unity and the total emancipation of slaves. The Civil War and it repercussions […]

Vassar Relief Unit, WWI

Verdun Experiences, a slim volume written by Margaret Lambie and comprised primarily of an article she wrote for the November 1919 Vassar Quarterly, recounts the College’s special connection with the battered French city of Verdun, which began less than six months after the Armistice of November 11, 1918 ended the First World War that had […]

The Vassar Training Camp for Nurses

To those of us who are both Vassar graduates and member of the nursing profession this is almost the proudest and most thrilling moment of our lives, for we see our own beloved Alma Mater making to our no less beloved profession the greatest contribution I believe, that any college could make at this time […]

Viet Nam

“For the past week, the top officials of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point have been practicing their Military Police in riot control and the use of tear gas,” an ephemeral Vassar publication, Blood & Fire, reported in October 1969. “Their fear: an onsurge of college girls from Vassar with anti-Vietnam War petitions in hand, and […]

World War I

Like much of the United States, Vassar reacted to the outbreak of the First World War with shock, but with a prevailing sense of the war being a European problem, not an American one. The editorial board of the Miscellany, while acknowledging the “well-nigh unimaginable horror of the European War,” encouraged students in 1914 to […]

World War II

I. Vassar Considers the New Germany  In the years leading to the Second World War, Vassar’s campus, perhaps more than much of the world, examined the rise of the Third Reich with a dispassionate, measured attitude. The college’s president since 1915, Henry Noble MacCracken was himself both an internationalist and a pacifist. The founder, during […]