Class of 1918 50th reunion book documented a grand celebration

Cover of 50th reunion booklet with bouncing hatted rider

Photo by Deirdre Haber Malfatto

Among the treasures held by Archives and Special Collections are reunion books going back decades. It’s hard to know just how longstanding the tradition of creating these mementos is, but a copy from the class of 1863 is one of the earliest in the College’s collection.

Many 50th class reunion booklets — a tradition that continues today — chronicle the lives of alumnae since graduation, but this one, written by several members of the class of 1918 after their class’s campus reunion in 1968, documents the event itself in great detail. The 24-page, softbound booklet featuring a cover illustration of a top-hatted rider bouncing upon a winged horse includes a list of the 84 attendees; personal remembrances of cocktails and meals; the election of new class officers; and a community picnic — all familiar details to those who have attended Reunion in recent years. Campus changes are also recorded: A “meditation center at Eliot House, the swimming pool in the new gym, and the new residence halls” — Abbey, Buckland, Ham and 1837.

A description of 1918’s reunion exhibit mentions memory books, photos, reunion costumes and gym clothing, including long-skirted uniforms. Class of 1918 alumna and former editor of the Mount Holyoke News, Helen Giddings, contributed a few of her own poems, one of which is titled, “To Mary Lyon.” Further pages hold names of deceased classmates, letters from a beloved local cobbler and financial reports, including a reunion gift of nearly $100,000!

Though the content of the reunion books has varied over time and with each unique class, the tradition is one that alumnae still hold dear. As reunion attendees leave campus with a renewed sense of camaraderie among their classmates they take with them a keepsake to return to again and again.

—By Anne Pinkerton

This article appeared as “Documenting a Grand Celebration” in the summer 2018 issue of the Alumnae Quarterly.

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