January 11, 2009

January 11, 1919: "Exclusive Party at Tyler Hall"

The first month of 1919 proved to be a busy time for the first class of women at the College of William and Mary. Along with finishing coursework and exams from the previous year, there were events to attend as well.

A calendar of events in The Colonial Echo gives this enigmatic entry for January 11: "Exclusive party at Tyler Hall. Gent's suits and shoulder bars are borrowed, and the shades are drawn tight???? Skulking figures slink down Gloucester Street. Every man a girl and every girl a lady." The event? The Manless Dance. While some female students opted to wear their normal clothing, the point of the dance was for the women to dress like men. They borrowed suits and uniforms from male friends in order to look as masculine as possible. The dance was such a success that it became an annual event among the women students.

Editions of The Colonial Echo and Catherine Dennis' scrapbook are available in the Special Collections Research Center.

This post was composed by Kate Hill.

For additional information about the first women students at the College of William and Mary see: When Mary Entered with her Brother William: Women at the College of William and Mary, 1918-1945 by Laura F. Parrish; "The Petticoat Invasion": Women at the College of William and Mary, 1918-1945; The Martha Barksdale Papers; and the Women at the College of William and Mary page on the Special Collections Research Center Wiki.

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