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1914 Song

In the early 1900's it was the practice of each class to submit a song for an annual competition. The class of 1914's junior year submission showcases the pride and spirit they would be forced to call upon when tragedy struck during their senior year.

The great College Hall Fire took place at 5:30 am on the morning of March 17th, 1914. Miraculously, no lives were lost, but the damage done to the campus's primary building was irreparable. Wellesley faced the question of closing in the wake of financial devastation, but the campus community rallied to rebuild an even stronger College. Classes were only paused for three weeks before students returned to complete the spring semester.

To learn more about the College Hall Fire, click here

 

Click play below to hear the 1914 Competition Song performed by the Wellesley College Tupelos

The Wellesley College Tupelos performed the 1914 Competition song in 2014 at a College-wide event commemorating the 100th anniversary of the College Hall Fire. Click play on the sound file above to listen to a recording of the song from their 2015 album Sweeter Than Tupelo Honey

What is "forensic burning?"

Juniors at Wellesley took Forensics, a year-long course in debate which was widely detested. Several times throughout the year, they would burn their old forensics papers in a secret location, and sophomores were challenged to catch them in the act in order to "win." As competition grew fierce, College administrators made attempts to stop this practice, but according to an except from the 1916 Wellesley News, "When 1914 were Juniors, the Faculty consented to the continuance of Forensic Burning only on the condition that the time should be limited to one day and to the hours between 4:15 and 9:30. To offset this tremendous disadvantage, 1914 found it necessarty to formulate certain rules and regulations." 
The new rules introduced stricter terms - students could not hide or search by vehicle or horse, the junior class Vice President had to be the one to burn the papers, and many of the buildings on campus were out of bounds. If the juniors managed to burn the papers without being found out, they were the successful winners.

Sources: College Women.orgWellesley News

Who is Harriet?

College Hall was home to a statue of English reformer Harriet Martineau. The statue was a gift from Massachusetts poet and sculptor Anne Whitney. It soon became a tradition for first-years to be lifted up by their classmates and passed horizontally through the rungs of the stone chair that Harriet's figure rested upon. Read more about Anne, Harriet, and College Hall in an article from Wellesley magazine's fall 2014 issue.

Click here to return to the Stepsinging home page

The Class of 1914 form their class numerals on Severance Hill with the ruins of College Hall behind them

Lyrics

We're told of Berkeley and his notions, things existing only in the mind
And we've waited to hear decisions in the faculty's mind confined
We are told of a new student building when we come back in the fall
And we've dreamed of joint committees that never seem to "joint" at all.

But we'll cheer, cheer, cheer for our Wellesley, f
or it surely is the best by far;
Our forensics, bright burning issues

were never thought of at Vassar or Bryn Mawr
Tho' Radcliffe girls are so clever, next to Wellesley O what can they do?
Though they sing the charms of Smith, they are nothing but a myth
Here's to us and to the Wellesley Blue

Oh still we burn for information, and we will pop the question yet
Was the noble Academic Council ever put through our Harriet?
And how did we keep forensic burning when the old rule was taboo?
And was the "six days shalt thou labor" ever found outside of "Q?"


But we'll cheer, cheer, cheer for our Wellesley, for it surely is the best by far;
Our forensics, bright burning issues
were never thought of at Vassar or Bryn Mawr
Tho' Radcliffe girls are so clever, next to Wellesley O what can they do?
Though they sing the charms of Smith, they are nothing but a myth
Here's to us and to the Wellesley Blue

The junior class of '15 banner, hung with attached terms challenging the sophomore class of '14 to catch them burning their forensics papers

 

 

An illustration from the 1913 Legenda shows the passing of students through Harriet's chair