THE WOMEN'S LEAGUE
THE history of the Women's League is the story of women at the University. The presence of women on campus was ignored, for the most part, by both students and faculty for twenty years after the admission of the first woman in 1870. The natural craving for social life found expression as the years passed in the forming of sororities, but only a small part of the growing number of women was included, while the fact that these groups were rivals served often to separate the women rather than to unite them. It was the desire for unity and the need for social intercourse which led to the formation of the Women's League in 1890.
In May of that year, Alice (Freeman) Palmer ('76, Ph.D. hon. '82) addressed the Alumnae Association, emphasizing "the necessity for college girls cultivating their social natures, as well as their intellectual powers." As a result of her interest, serious consideration was given to the problems faced by women students. One of the founders of the League, Mary (Butler) Markley ('92), contributed to the Castalian (the yearbook published by the "independents" of the senior class) an article which described Page 1817"the object of the association, its working, and its aims" as they were expressed during the League's first year on campus:
In order to discuss plans for originating some society which should unite all college girls irrespective of department, class, or fraternity, and which should tend to promote a more decided college spirit and intensify and deepen our love for our Alma Mater, a meeting was held shortly before the close of college. At this meeting there were eighteen college girls and three Faculty ladies … a committee was appointed to draft a constitution. A Reception Committee was also appointed whose duty it was … to welcome Freshman girls, to help them in finding their way about the college buildings, to introduce them to their different professors, and assist them in getting suitable rooms and boarding places, and in establishing their church relations, as well as the various minor details of life which add so much to one's comfort in going to a strange place…
In October the first general meeting was held in the University Chapel, Mrs. Angell presiding, and Mrs. Gayley Browne presenting the object of the society. At this time our Constitution was read and approved, the terms of membership agreed upon, and the question of a name discussed but not settled. Another meeting was held later, and the name Women's League of the U. of M. decided upon.*
All college girls were to be eligible for membership, and also the ladies of the families of those who have been or are now Professors in the University, upon payment of the fees agreed upon. Arrangements were also made for the admittance of others interested in the welfare of the girls. At this meeting membership fees were paid and an enthusiastic company of Faculty ladies and college girls donned their yellow and blue badges.
(Castalian, 6 : 78-79.)
The government of the Women's League was organized with a student Executive Committee and an Advisory Committee — a group of Ann Arbor women known as associate members. The Executive Committee included one member from each sorority and an equal number of independents, chosen at a caucus of unaffiliated women (MS, "Constitution of the Woman's League"). Representatives were elected from students enrolled in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts and also in the Pharmacy, Dental, Homeopathic, and Law departments. The committee elected its own officers and chairman. The first president of the Women's League was Ethel (Fountain) Hussey ('91), an independent who was instrumental in the initial planning preceding the League's formation. The Advisory and Executive committees held regular business meetings together and separate meetings when necessary. Mrs. Gayley Browne served as the first chairman of the Advisory Committee.
In November, 1890, it was decided "that the associate members who were willing and able to undertake the work — should take ten of the college girls as a special charge — the names to be drawn by lot — this arrangement to last through the college year (MS, "Minutes of the Woman's League," December 6, 1890). Each woman who took part served as adviser and counselor to her group of ten. Numerous "at homes" were given by these associate members, and their gracious hospitality and friendship were an important part of the League program. In addition, seven general meetings or receptions were held during the first year, 1890-91.
In October and November the meetings were both business and social. In January Professor Fred Newton Scott addressed the group on the subject "Art as Relating to the Peranesi Collection." Page 1818In February Mrs. Angell held a general reception, and in March Mrs. Charles B. G. de Nancrède also entertained the League. Jane Addams, of Hull House, spoke on the "Outgrowths of Toynbee Hall" in April. On May 2, 1891, Mrs. Angell led a "conversation on social etiquette." The report for the year showed 212 active members, 48 associate members, and a balance of $57.28 in the treasury. In 1891 President Angell commented: "I deem worthy of mention here the formation of the Woman's League, an organization composed of many of the women students and of the wives of members of the faculties … It has already proved of value by conferring both pleasure and benefit upon its members" (P.R., 1891, p. 11).
In June, 1891, the Executive Committee received a letter from the Detroit Branch of the Collegiate Alumnae, asking that a committee be formed to raise funds for the women's department of the new gymnasium. Waterman Gymnasium was in the process of construction, and this letter marked the beginning of a long campaign by the women of the University for a "women's annex" to this building. In January, 1892, Professor Albert A. Stanley gave the surplus from the Paderewski concert to the gymnasium fund. In the same month Miss Octavia W. Bates ('77, '97l), of Detroit, presented the plans for the Women's Building, illustrating her remarks with sketches. The League members were greatly encouraged and gave their support to all projects planned for the benefit of the gymnasium fund. Alice (Freeman) Palmer, the guest speaker at the second annual meeting in May, 1892, spoke on "The Life and Future of College Women." The secretary of the League reported: "Altho' the League has done nothing startling during the past year, it is coming more and more to be looked upon, both here and wherever the University is known, as the representative of the Women of the University and that it is undoubtedly accomplishing the work for which its founders designed it, is evident from the hearty expressions of approval of its work, made by those who have been watching its course" (MS, "Minutes of the Women's League," May 3, 1892).
During the next few years the League expanded its activities. The "at homes" were replaced by a series of tea parties given by the ladies of the faculty. The Executive Committee took charge of new student "groups," thus relieving the Ann Arbor women of this duty, and each member was responsible for meeting her girls throughout the year. Socials for the new girls were given in the parlors of Newberry Hall. Since 1890 the "Fruit and Flower Mission," a committee which ministered to patients in the Hospital, had been operated under the auspices of the League; in October, 1893, this arrangement became official, and provision was made to promote other service projects.
The Women's League sponsored Friday afternoon dances for members and their friends, and lectures and symposiums were held on subjects of interest; the topics varied from the "Columbian Tea and World's Fair Symposium" to a "political symposium" — a debate on women's suffrage. Circulars explaining the work of the League were sent each year to accredited high schools. Upon the suggestion of the Advisory Committee, in 1893, an "intercollegiate correspondence" was begun with colleges in which women were enrolled.
Waterman Gymnasium, completed in the fall of 1894, was used by the men in the afternoons and by the women on certain mornings of the week. From the large number of women who enrolled voluntarily for supervised athletics, the need of a separate women's gymnasium Page 1819was apparent. Early in 1895, the drive for the Women's Building received great impetus:
One of the Regents, Mr. Hebard, secured ten thousand dollars — a large part his own gift — toward the erection of such a building as a wing of the present gymnasium, and another Regent, Mr. Barbour, gave for the same purpose a lot of land in Detroit valued at twenty-five thousand dollars… The purpose is not only to provide a gymnasium in this building, but also other rooms which the women much need, such as bath rooms, parlors, and an assembly room, that will accommodate a few hundred persons where lectures especially for the women may be given.
(P.R., 1895, pp. 20-21.)
Mr. John Canfield, of Manistee, also gave $5,000. The League was promised space in the proposed building, and the women enthusiastically set about raising the $15,000 needed to meet the estimated total cost. Appeals for subscriptions were sent to all alumnae and friends of the University, and mass meetings were held to raise funds. Any woman giving $500 to the gymnasium fund automatically became a "life member" of the League, and in January, 1896, the League offered a scholarship to the University to any graduate of an accredited high school who would raise $500 for the gymnasium. Proceeds from all entertainments and projects during the next five years were applied to the gymnasium fund.
The League became a member of the State Federation of Women's Clubs in November, 1895, and was an active participant in that group for more than twenty years. The first delegate to the annual meeting took advantage of the opportunity to acquaint the women of the state with the need for a Women's Building at the University of Michigan. Donations were received later from many of the women's groups represented at that meeting.
The Board of Regents selected Eliza M. Mosher ('75m) as Professor of Hygiene and Dean of Women in the Department of Literature, Science, and the Arts in 1896; she was the first woman to be appointed professor on the University of Michigan faculty. Her duties included the first official University supervision of women's affairs. Dean Mosher, who was made an honorary member of the Women's League, won the respect and friendship of the students and was soon an active participant in all their meetings.
In 1898 the League was incorporated so that it could own property legally. The purpose of the organization was stated as follows:
To promote acquaintance, unity, and loyalty among its members both actual and associate, and to elevate social life in the University. — To organize upper class women into a body whereby systematic and helpful work may be done for incoming students. — To make it possible for the women of the University of Michigan to investigate subjects of general importance with facility and thoroughness and to inaugurate any other work which may be deemed advisable by the executive and advisory committees.
("Articles of Incorporation of the Women's League.")
Welcoming of new students and the work in the Hospital were still important League activities. In the fall of 1901 the League was hostess at the annual meeting of the State Federation of Women's Clubs. The following semester the Girls' Glee Club was formed, and the first "County Fair," sponsored jointly by the Men's Athletic Association and the Women's League, took place in the spring of 1902. The Fair, held on two consecutive nights in the combined Waterman-Barbour Page 1820Gymnasiums, was publicized each day at noon by a street parade. Vaudeville and side shows were presented by campus groups, and great crowds attended every evening. This entertainment proved to be the most successful ever attempted, and a large profit was divided between the sponsoring organizations.
The "group" system was still found to be of value in making contact with the women on campus. In 1899, in an attempt to encourage participation in League-sponsored activities, the groups were expanded to include nonmembers. Originally, there were ten members in each group, but by 1902 this had been increased to twenty, ten freshmen and ten upperclassmen. The older girls looked after the younger and accompanied them to League functions, and the groups took turns entertaining each other at the weekly receptions. Each group had two patronesses from the associate membership and a group leader who was chosen by the Executive Committee.
Another important phase of League activity was the student employment bureau, organized in 1896 to assist women in finding work in the community. In 1902 President Angell reported: "I take pleasure in recognizing the great value of the services rendered by the Student's Christian Association, the Young Men's Christian Association, and the Women's League in aiding new students in finding suitable homes and also employment … The great body of our students have very limited means, and many of them are glad of the opportunity to gain something by honorable toil, however menial" (P.R., 1902, p. 9).
The Women's Building was opened in November, 1896, and the gymnasium a year later. The parlors, completed in 1900, were furnished by the Women's League. The building was named "Barbour Gymnasium" in honor of the principal donor, Regent Barbour, and, at the suggestion of the Women's League, the second-floor assembly room was named "Sarah Caswell Angell Hall," in honor of Mrs. Angell.
Dean Mosher, who personally supervised the building and equipping of the Gymnasium and organized the women's program in physical education, resigned in 1902 to return to private practice in New York. In the six years she had served as Dean, Dr. Mosher had brought great honor to that position and had helped to eliminate much of the antagonism toward coeds. Myra (Beach) Jordan ('93) succeeded Dean Mosher in 1902. Realizing the need for centralizing the interests of women students, Mrs. Jordan made the Women's Building (Barbour Gymnasium) the focus of social events on the campus and encouraged the League to become the "clearing house" for all women's activities.
Women's honorary societies were formed — Mortar Board (all-campus senior women's honorary) and Senior Society (independent senior women's honorary) in 1906, and Wyvern (all-campus junior women's honorary) in 1910. In 1912 the Women's Athletic Association, which had formed separately in 1905, became the "Athletic Committee of the Women's League"; this merger lasted until 1917. The women's vocational conference, first presented by the League in 1915, was so successful that it became an annual event. Dramatic groups were organized, and a "point system" to evaluate the participation of women in campus activities was put into practice in 1913. War relief work was the chief interest from 1917 to 1919, and each woman was asked to pledge a part of her time to the Red Cross.
The social life of the women improved largely as a result of the development of class loyalty. In the fall of each year Mrs. Jordan gave four Friday afternoon receptions for the freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior women, respectively. Page 1821Class projects and meetings were organized at these weekly receptions, which were continued under the sponsorship of the League. Since 1884 the Freshman Spread in honor of new students had been given annually by the sophomores for all the women on campus. During Commencement week in 1903 the seniors presented a Senior Play in which all of the parts were taken by women. The graduates were honored by the three other classes at a Senior Breakfast and at a party held by the juniors the night before Commencement. In 1904 the juniors entertained the seniors with an original playlet, which was a takeoff on prominent seniors. This was the first Junior Girls' Play, an annual production which soon developed into a full-length musical comedy.
All the women of the University, including alumnae, were invited to the annual Michigan Women's Banquet, first held in 1907. Sponsored by the Women's League and the Collegiate Alumnae, this affair became one of the highlights of the school year, varying from dinners to luncheons or receptions. An attendance of 600 was not unusual. From 1909 to 1920 the Junior Girls' Play was presented as part of the entertainment. These class events have become traditions to University of Michigan women and are preserved in essence in League class projects. The distinct organization of the classes strengthened the feeling of women's "corporate existence." Each class felt responsible not only for its share in these projects but for the over-all improvement of conditions for women. The Michigan Alumnus, in November, 1911, commented that the Women's League was regarded as "the representative of Michigan women in all campus affairs … Everything that is of interest to women and touches them on Campus is carried on by the League."
Barbour Gymnasium had been in use only twelve years when a new "athletic" problem arose. In 1908-9 the erection of the Chemistry Building on the site of the tennis courts eliminated the only place for outdoor athletics available to the women. At the suggestion of Mrs. Hussey, the League purchased the 6.9 acres which comprised Sleepy Hollow, situated south of the Observatory. The transaction was made possible through a gift of $1,500 from Regent Peter White and a $500 loan from Regent Levi L. Barbour. The League assumed a $4,700 mortgage on the balance. Solicitations and fund-raising projects during the next few years netted more than $5,500; of this amount, $3,000 was the gift of Senator Thomas W. Palmer. Additional lots were purchased at intervals, and the total land thus acquired became the nucleus of the present Palmer Athletic Field.
Housing was another important problem which was of much concern to the Women's League. The members promoted projects to arouse interest in better housing conditions, and as a direct result of their labors separate houses for women, known as league houses, were established on the campus. By 1909, however, because of the growing enrollment of women it was clear that dormitories would be the only answer to the housing problem. A drive was begun for funds, and the League employed a financial secretary to travel about and arouse interest in the project among the alumni. As a direct result of their efforts Helen Newberry Residence, the Martha Cook Building, Alumnae House, and Betsy Barbour House had been donated to the University by 1920.
Recognizing the need for uniformity in the procedures and government of the proposed residence halls, as well as in the scattered living units already on campus, the League, in 1913, appointed a self-government committee to work with representatives from all the women's house groups and to investigate systems Page 1822of government for women in other coeducational universities. In 1914 the constitution of the League was amended to include provision for a permanent self-government committee consisting of two League officers, four elected representatives, and the dean of women as adviser without vote. The vice-president of the League was designated as chairman. Later in that year, the name of the committee was changed to the "Judiciary Council." The League, with the permission of the Student Affairs Committee, organized a simple form of government for the league houses and a set of uniform regulations and house rules for all women's residences.
By 1915, the League, in the twenty-five years since its establishment, had expanded in size and scope, and the early form of government had become unwieldy. It was reincorporated, therefore, and its structure was revised in the new bylaws. All business was conducted by a Board of Directors, which was made up of the officers and four class representatives; later, committee chairmen were added to this board. A Board of Representatives, which included one representative from each organized league house and sorority, and five independents-at-large, met regularly in order to serve as a means of communication with the active membership, to recommend policies for action by the Board of Directors, and to ratify house rules. There was also an Advisory Board of seven associate members. Under the new bylaws the Judiciary Council was given charge of girls' class organization, nominations of class representatives to serve on the Board of Directors, and matters of conduct and house regulation.
The League presented a pageant, "Joan d'Arc," with a cast of 300 men and women students in the spring of 1914. More than 4,000 persons attended, and it was a great success. In 1916 another pageant was undertaken as a part of the tercentenary Shakespeare celebration. Although the production was well managed, its finances were not. The "Annual Report of the Committee on Student Affairs" commented, "in view of the universal interest in the occasion and the University's duty to participate in the world-wide celebration, the debit is no more than the Campus may cheerfully assume in so good a cause." Unfortunately, it was the League which had to make up the $800. The pageant deficit was cleared within the following year, but the League officers could see no way to lessen the $1,700 still owing on Palmer Athletic Field. Therefore, in June, 1917, the League petitioned the Regents to liquidate this debt, and the Board agreed, meeting the payments out of the accumulation in the Palmer Field Fee Fund (R.P., 1914-17, p. 793).
The fact that women had never served on the Student Council nor been permitted to vote in elections served as a factor to strengthen the position of the Women's League, which was viewed as an equal governing body by both students and faculty. In 1918 the president of the Student Council and the president of the Women's League were invited to attend meetings of the Senate Committee on Student Affairs as nonvoting student representatives. The chairman of that committee, Professor Louis A. Strauss, replied as follows to a question regarding student self-government:
In general, … the Student Council takes charge of all campus elections, regulates the games between the freshmen and sophomore classes, assumes the lead in all movements of the University interest involving student initiative, and attempts to model student sentiment on public questions in the right direction. The Judiciary Council of the Women exercises similar functions on the whole with greater success, as I believe they have the more united support of the women of the University.
(MS, "CorrespondencePage 1823 of the Senate Committee on Student Affairs.")
A University Committee on Discipline was set up in 1922 to handle cases referred by the deans or those which involved students enrolled in two or more University schools or colleges. A representative of the Women's Judiciary Council was invited to attend formal meetings of this committee when cases pertaining to women students were to be discussed.
By 1918-19 virtually every undergraduate woman was enrolled as a "dues-paying member" of the League. In February, 1919, the Board approved the request of the Women's League and of the Dean of Women that with the beginning of the University year 1919-20 there should be included in the annual fee of all women students "the sum of $1, the net proceeds of which were to be turned over to the Women's League" (R.P., 1917-20, p. 509). Under this arrangement every woman student in the University automatically became a member of the League upon admission to the University.
In June, 1919, at a luncheon given the alumnae during Commencement week, the League outlined the work of the past year and stressed the need for a new building to serve as a social center for women. At a meeting of the Alumnae Council in January, 1921, it was emphasized that Barbour Gymnasium facilities were inadequate for the current enrollment of women, which had multiplied four times since the building's construction. At that time the League had more than $1,200 to offer the Alumnae Council with which to finance a campaign for a new building. Consequently, it was voted to raise one million dollars for the building.
The fund-raising program for the League was the primary interest of the undergraduates in the 1920's. All League activities centered around the goal of the new women's building, which was to be named the "University of Michigan League." An Undergraduate Campaign Committee was appointed to stimulate interest and promote projects to increase the building fund. The University donated the site of the Michigan League in December, 1921, with the condition that the Alumnae Council begin building within five years. This was also the date of the first "Women's League and InterChurch Bazaar," an event which yielded thousands of dollars annually.
After twenty years of service, Dean Jordan resigned in June, 1922. Her achievements as dean, which had endeared her to Michigan women, were aptly described by the Regents:
Not alone has she materially improved the housing condition of the women students on the campus but she has throughout her career taken a personal interest … that should be appreciated by every one interested in the welfare of the University women… When it is considered how many there are and how rapid has been the growth of the University, it is small wonder the Governing Body feels grateful to Mrs. Jordan for the results which must be accredited to her.
(R.P., 1920-23, pp. 364-65.)
In 1923 it was reported: "Never for an instant has anyone in Ann Arbor been permitted to forget that every woman in the student body or in any way connected with the University is a factor in the campaign for funds for the Women's League Building … They have had sales, style-shows, benefits without number, their booths have grown up like mushrooms about the city, but they have done their work with a quiet enthusiasm Page 1824which has at once opened the public's purse and earned its grateful admiration" (Mich. Alum., 29 [1922-23]: 1033-34). Class projects were one of the "means" used to raise funds. The Junior Girls' Play, presented in honor of the seniors and first staged in the Whitney Theater in 1919, was opened to the "general public" for the first time in 1923. In 1924 the first Freshman Pageant was given as a part of Lantern Night celebration and was thereafter a yearly event; until this time freshmen had not been permitted to participate in extracurricular activities which involved public performances. The Senior Girls' Play was presented publicly until 1925, when it became a part of the entertainment at the women's Senior Breakfast, and the Women's Banquet was replaced by a tea in honor of alumnae attending the annual Schoolmasters' Conference. In the same year the first Sophomore Circus was held in conjunction with the bazaar.
The Committee on Student Affairs was reorganized in 1925 to consist of the dean of students, the dean of women, six Senate members, and five students, including the president of the Women's League and one other woman student to be elected by the League Board of Directors.
Upon the resignation of Dean Hamilton in 1926, the office of dean of women was discontinued, and a Committee of Advisers to Women, made up of Alice Crocker Lloyd ('16), Beatrice W. Johnson (Maine '24, A.M. ibid. '25), and Grace E. Richards (Minnesota '10, A.M. ibid. '17) was appointed. From this time women's self-government was greatly encouraged. It was decided that "since the house rules are made by the Women's League, it is fitting that the Judiciary Council of the League enforce them" (P.R., 1926-27, p. 166).
Mary (Bartron) Henderson ('04) was elected executive secretary of the Alumnae Council in January, 1926. One of her duties was the supervision of the campaign for funds for the Michigan League Building (see Part VIII: Michigan League Building). Only one-half of the million dollars estimated had been raised at that time, but under her guidance, the balance of the money for construction was pledged by June, 1927, at which time ground was broken.
According to the original plan of management for the building, a Board of Governors was appointed to control all matters affecting its operation. Membership on this Board included a regent, three alumnae, two women appointed by the Regents, one of the advisers to women, the head of the Department of Physical Education for Women, the president of the Women's League, and three undergraduates from the Board of Directors. Instead of placing the responsibility with the Board of Governors during the first year of operation, the Alumnae Council was given full control of the building under the direction of Mrs. Henderson. The Michigan League was formally opened on May 4, 1929. At last the women of the University had a "home" of their own, and the Women's League had a center for all its activities. Facilities included meeting rooms, dining rooms, lounges, work rooms, a ballroom, hotel accommodations, and a theater seating 700. When the building was formally presented to the Regents on April 1, 1930, a new Board of Governors was appointed, and the following statement recorded:
The Regents of the University of Michigan accept with the profoundest thanks the Michigan League Building, which was turned over to their custody on April 1, 1930. As public officers, charged by the people of Michigan with the control of the University of this State, the welfare of the women students is one of the most important responsibilities committed to our care. It has also Page 1825been one of our most troublesome problems. Facilities for the social gatherings of women students and for the housing of their extracurricular activities, which rightfully take a prominent place in the experience and training of a college student, have been in late years utterly inadequate, if not wholly non-existent. The Michigan League Building has already remedied this unfortunate situation, and we can see that it is to prove of the greatest practical use to the women students of the University and the alumnae themselves.
(R.P., 1929-32, p. 223.)
With the appointment of Miss Lloyd as Dean of Women in 1930, the "adviser" system came to an end. At Dean Lloyd's request, the Regents added to her staff a new position. Assistant Professor Ethel A. McCormick (Columbia '23), of the Department of Physical Education for Women, was appointed Social Director in the Office of the Dean of Women on a half-time basis, to be in charge of women's social activities. By 1932 Miss McCormick's work had proved to be of such value that she left the Department of Physical Education to become Social Director of Women, with her office and residence in the Michigan League Building.
Management of the building faced many difficulties in the early 1930's. Finances were a major problem. The endowment fund originally planned had not materialized, and the League was forced to become self-supporting. Because there were fewer students during the depression, the League found it difficult to make ends meet. By 1934, however, the situation had begun to improve. At the request of the Board of Governors, the Regents assumed control of the Lydia Mendelssohn Theater and placed it under separate management. Relieved of the responsibility for the theater, the League began to make progress, and in June, 1935, Regent Esther (Marsh) Cram reported that "for the first time … the operation of the League showed a substantial balance instead of a deficit."
In the 1930's the Women's League as an organization was closely identified with the newly opened building, the Michigan League. The problems of the one seriously affected the other, and it was difficult to separate the duties of the building staff from the activities of the student group. To eliminate this confusion and to clarify the position of the Women's League as the governing body for women students, the administration of the building, 1934-35, was combined with the student organization under the title Michigan League; the Women's League became the Undergraduate Division. The students were given more opportunity to share in the responsibilities of the Board of Governors, with the League president as chairman. The name of the undergraduate executive body was changed from the Board of Directors to the Michigan League Council. A Board of Representatives, composed of the Panhellenic Association and Assembly (a newly formed organization for non-affiliated women), was established as the legislative branch of the League. Each campus housing unit was represented on this Board, which decided questions of student government. The Judiciary Council, in turn, enforced the rules made by the Board of Representatives.
A merit system was adopted in selecting League officers and chairmen. The retiring Judiciary Council interviewed candidates for League posts and nominated the best-qualified applicants. The women's student body elected the new members of the Judiciary Council and the vice-presidents from those nominated, and the retiring League Council elected the new committee chairmen. Nominations for League officers were referred to the Electoral Board, composed of three faculty members and four students. All-campus elections for League positions Page 1826were discontinued in 1940; the Electoral Board was given power to elect the Judiciary members, and the vice-presidents were chosen by the League Council. Henry C. Anderson, Director of Student-Alumni Relations, reported in 1936:
The Michigan League … contributed more than usual to student government and student activities… Approximately four hundred students took part in one or more of the various activities… The League completed final payment on its pledge of fifty thousand dollars, made at the time the Michigan League Building was started
(P.R., 1935-36, p. 38).
At about this time the League began an endowment to provide scholarships from accumulated interest. The Ethel McCormick Scholarships for outstanding undergraduate activity leaders have been awarded annually since 1937, and the Alice Crocker Lloyd Fellowship for graduate study has been awarded semiannually since 1944.
Activities in the 1940's were greatly influenced by World War II. In her report for 1942-43, Dean Lloyd said:
The activity program of the girls changed drastically in character. Such traditional affairs as the Sophomore Cabaret, the Junior Girls' Play and the Freshman Project were abandoned. The sophomores took over as their special enterprise, hospital volunteer work; the juniors sold bonds and stamps; and the seniors took charge of the campus working on surgical dressings for the Red Cross.
(P.R., 1942-43, p. 48.)
In 1946-47 the League returned to a peace-time basis. The executive board resumed the name Michigan League Undergraduate Council, and class programs became as elaborate as before. Volunteer hospital work and participation in local philanthropies were resumed, and the Council initiated a successful drive for the University Fresh Air Camp Fund. In 1949 the Electoral Board was discontinued, and the election of officers and the selection of committees were referred directly to the Board of Representatives. The following year (1950), the Undergraduate Division resumed its original title, the Women's League.
Because Miss McCormick's staff now includes three assistants, it is possible to maintain close contact with the various League projects. In addition to its governing and co-ordinating function, the Women's League emphasizes training for leadership. Class programs and service committees have expanded in scope and participation. The practice of interviewing and nominating candidates for League positions has resulted in well-organized committees. Detailed written reports are bound in permanent form as the "President's Reports" of the Women's League.
Today (1957) the structure of the League is complex, yet unified. The Board of Governors, eight representing alumnae, administration, and faculty and five students, determines policy for the building. The student group, the Women's League, has three branches of government. The League Council, the administrative branch, includes officers, committee chairmen, and presidents of associated organizations. This group plans and co-ordinates women's activities. The program offered by the various Page 1827League committees includes community service through hospital volunteers and entertainers, instruction in ballroom dancing, contact with foreign students, tutoring services, and the maintenance and staffing of the League library. Special projects of educational and entertainment value are presented as well as dances and parties. Class projects such as the Junior Girls' Play, the Sophomore Coed Show, and Frosh Weekend are given yearly. In addition, the League co-operates with the Michigan Union in carrying out the Orientation program for new students, and in planning the Homecoming festivities, the monthly teas at the home of President Hatcher, and Gulantics, the campus talent show.
The Women's Senate, which replaced the Board of Representatives in 1953, is the legislative branch of the Women's League. There is one senator for every sixty women on campus, and each housing unit chooses its representatives. The Senate makes decisions on all proposed women's legislation and on the League budget; it also elects the officers of the Women's League. The Women's Judiciary Council, the third branch of the League, is the disciplinary body which enforces the legislation passed by the Women's Senate. The Judiciary Council acts as a co-ordinating and reviewing group for the House Judiciary Councils established in each living unit and for the League House Judiciary Council which handles housing cases outside of the sorority and residence hall system.
Program and structure have fluctuated greatly in the sixty-seven years since the founding of the League, but the purpose has remained the same — to unite the women students irrespective of varied backgrounds, courses of study, affiliations, or interests. In addition to its coordinating and governing functions, the League has emphasized leadership training in organizational and service opportunities. In many respects, this work was "not chosen," but laid upon it by the demands of the University.
Butler, Mary E. (Markley). "The Women's League."Castalian, Vol. 6 (1891): 77-80.
"Constitution of the Women's League," adopted Oct. 11, 1890. Mich. Hist. Coll., Univ. Mich.
The Michigan Alumnus, Vols. 1-60 (1894-1954).
MS, "Annual Report of Committee on Student Affairs," 1915-19.
MS, "Articles of Incorporation of the Women's League," filed June 9, 1898.
MS, "Correspondence of the Senate Committee on Student Affairs."
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