arison Hall

In 1917, gateposts were erected at the entrance of the Main Building of the Women's College, as the Institute Building (slightly visible to the far right in the photograph) of the discontinued Female Institute was now called. These gateposts were a gift of the Class of 1917.

In June, 1927, the building was named Larison Hall in honor of Katherine B. Larison, Institute Class of 1864, who was Principal of the Female Institute from 1882 to 1897. Upon her death in 1926, her entire estate of $32,450.00 was given to Bucknell.

The Women's Dinning Hall

In December, 1928, a one-story addition was constructed which was called the Women's Dining Hall (above). There was a large sun porch at the east end of the building where meals were served on special occasions. Lockwood, Green and Company prepared the plans. The kitchen opened in January 1929, and the first meal in the new dining hall was a New Year's dinner. The total costs were: construction, $63,000.00; furnishing, $6,947.00; and kitchen and equipment, $11,413.00. The kitchen was located in what had been the South Hall of the Institute Building. The Dining Hall was connected to Larison Hall by an enclosed passageway, under which was a road which connected St. George Street with Loomis Street ( slightly visible to the right in the photograph). In 1936, Larison Hall and the other buildings of the Women's College were surrounded by water when the Susquehanna River flooded Lewisburg.

The Women's Infirmary

In 1930, a part of Bucknell Cottage (not visible in the photograph) was set aside as an infirmary for women at a cost of $6,000.00, which included equipment and furnishings. Two nurses provided medical services under the supervision of the college physician. Bucknell Cottage, connected to Larison Hall by an enclosed passageway, served as a dormito ry for about forty women.

The Education of Women During The Interwar Years

Between 1919 and 1931, the number of female students increased from 235 to 407 and “the staff responsible for the women students” increased from two (“the dean of women and the matron”) to eleven (“the dean of women and her full-time secretary, two physical education instructors, a house director, a dietitian, two trained nurses, and three hostesses.”)

On Thursday June 4, 1920, members of the Freshman class lit a bonfire around the public fountain at the intersection of Third and Market Streets in downtown Lewisburg. The "collection of boxes, barrels and store goods cases" produced " a fire of such magnitute" that the fire company responded to a fire alarm "to check the blaze and protect the property." In response, the college boys "interferred with the firemen and proceeded to prevent thse Borough officials from doing their duty." On June 15, at the same meeting during which the they called upon the faculty “...to conduct a thorough-going investigation of the recent attack upon certain of the townspeople of Lewisburg, and disturbance upon the public thoroughfares of that Borough, and interference with the firemen thereof in the performance of [their] duties...”, the Trustees adopted a resolution that had been offered by Roy Grier Bostwick.

RESOLVED, That the Board of Trustees looks to the faculty of the University to govern and maintain order among the undergraduates in attendance upon the school and that the Board of Trustees does not favor the present attempt of student self government either among the men or among the women in attendance upon the Institution; and that the Board requests the Faculty at once to promulgate proper restrictions for the women in attendance upon the Institution and under its care, including restrictions of the hours during which men and women students of the University may mingle socially and a restriction which prohibits College women from leaving the College Campus and buildings after seven o’clock in the evening except for business (with permission of the Dean of the College of Women), and to attend social gatherings held with the sanction of the College authorities, and then only when properly chaperoned..

By 1931, however, “the activities and responsibilities of the Women’s Student Government Association [had] greatly increased.”

Sorority representation [was] ...the basis of membership in the Student Senate, but each dormitory [was] governed by a house president and proctors, who recommend[ed] to the senate the disciplinary measures deemed advisable in cases of infraction of Student Government rulings. Realizing that bars, bolts, and rules do not make a law-abiding citizenry, the underlying philosophy of Student Government [had] come increasingly to be that of individual self government; and the training offered to students in their community life [was] directed toward the development of personal responsibility in maintaining high standards of conduct in all aspects of student life.

The increase in the number of female students resulted in an expansion of the athletic program for women, which “...included inter-[sorority] hockey and basketball contests during the fall and winter.” By 1931, “the major sports event of the spring season” had become “...an inter-collegiate play day, sponsored and managed in cooperation with the Department of Physical Education”, during which representatives from different colleges “...played together in mixed groups rather than competitively as colleges in athletic events of the day.”

The Effect of World War II on the Women's College, 1939-1945

In the mid-1930's, there was a “ratio of two men to one woman” By 1938, “...there were...two applications for each woman student who could be admitted.” so the college could become more selective in the admission of females. In June, 1939, “...all places in the Women’s College Dormitory [had] been filled and a considerable waiting list [had] been made...” and “...it was expected that there would be at least three times as many applications for admission from women as there were vacancies in the Women’s College Dormitories.” In December, 1941, anticipating the probable effect of the war on male enrollment, the Trustees authorized “...an increase in the number of girls [to be] accepted...” the “school year” beginning in 1942. The number of females attending the college increased dramatically during the war. For example, for the November 1943 term “...562 Navy and Marines were enrolled, 205 civilian men and 582 women, making a total of 787 civilian students and 562 service men, a total enrollment of 1,349 students. By the November 1944 term, however, the “...total enrollment [was] 1,144 students, composed of 617 women, 139 civilian men and 353 trainees.” Thus, in this term, the number of women enrolled was greater than the number of men. By December, 1944, the Board of Trustees was anticipating the return of males to college.

More women were admitted during the last two years than formerly in order to cushion the enrolment against the natural loss of civilian men, with result that there are now 617 women students on campus and 139 civilian men, compared with 844 men and 477 women in 1940-41...As men return to campus it will be necessary to decrease gradually the number of women students if the former policy of the Board is to be followed, that is a ratio of two men to one woman.

In May, 1945, the Trustees debated whether to house women “in Old Main on the Hill in an effort to reduce or eliminate an operating deficit for next year.”

Chairman [Roy Grier] Bostwick explained the reasons [why girls should not be housed in Old Main in order to prevent a deficit], aside from sentimental ones, were the proximity of boys and girls which was not a healthy situation; also that the necessity of taking back returned men students and veterans and finding a place for them in later years when the girls would be too numerous to house the boys properly in their former dormitories; and that the settled policy of the University to keep men students in excess of women students, would be upset for an indefinite period (probably several years) by filling the dormitory facilities with women.

Later that year in December, the President presented to the trustees a recommendation by the Dean of Women “that an announcement should be made immediately to the effect that there would be no vacancies for women students for the Fall of 1946.”

In 1945, Larison Hall was a dormitory for about sixty freshman women. It also contained an office for the Dean of Women, a living room and a reception room. That same year, tuition was $400.00 per year and the charge for "boarding service" was $250.00 per year. Room costs were additional depending upon accommodations.

"the dean of women..." and "the dean of women..." MBU, p. 134

"collection of boxes..." and "interferred with the firemen..." "Freshmen Nuts", Lewisburg Journal 6/4/1920

"...to conduct a ..." BT '82-'20, p. 380

"RESOVLVED, That the..." ib., p. 381; a slightly different version is in BT '20-'50, 6/15,/920, pp. 10-11

"the activites and..." MBU, p. 133

"Sorority reprensentation...", ib.

"...included inter-[sorority]..." and other quotations in this paragraph, ib.

""ratio of two men to one woman" BT '20-'50, 6/5/1937, p. 1

"...there were..." ib., 6/11/1938, p. 4

"...all places in..." ib., 6/10/1939, p. 3

"...an increase in the..." ib., 12/20/1941, p. 6

"...562 Navy and..." ib., 6/24/1944, p. 1

"...total enrollment was...", ib., 12/16/1944. p. 2

"More women were..." ib. p. 4

"in Old Main..." mib., 5/12/1945, p. 1

"Chairman [Roy Grier]..." ib., p. 2

"that an announcement..." ib., 12/15/1945, p. 2

The major source for the information on this page is the Minutes of the Board of Trustees of Bucknell University, 1920-1950 (BT '20-'50). Additional sources are the Minutes of the Board of Trustees of Bucknell University, 1882-1920 (BT '82-'20; Memorials of Bucknell University, 1919-1931 (MBU '19-'31); "Freshmen Nuts Escape Squirrels", Lewisburg Journal, June 4, 1920; and the Bucknell University Bulletin, Catalogue Issue, Ninety-Ninth Year, 1944-1945 (CAT '44-'45) and the Bucknell University Bulletin, Catalogue Issue, One Hundredth Year, January, 1946 (CAT '45-'46).

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