Spring Term in Maggie Boyd’s World

Spring quarter to students today usually means warm weather, blowing off classes to go to Stroud’s run and “fest season.” Spring term was much different socially in Maggie Boyd’s time at Ohio University. She enjoyed tea, crochet and going to church events. In terms of classes, Maggie Boyd spent the spring of 1873 studying history, law, political science and economics.

Maggie’s four classes for spring term 1873 were History of Civilization, International Law, Political Science and Political Economy (Ohio University). Sound familiar? Most of Maggie’s classes have similar equivalents in today’s Ohio University curriculum. International Law is still offered, as well as several Political Science introduction classes and International Political Economy.

Maggie’s course fees were $10 for tuition per term, and $3 in “Constituents” per term, a fee for supplies and books (Ohio University). According to the Consumer Price Index by Ethel D. Hoover, that would equal roughly $251 in tuition per each of the three terms in 2012 dollars.

College Green, Pre-1880s. Mahn Center for Archives and Special Collections.

As a student her life was filled with recitations, reading, orations and essays. Written exams were uncommon in her time because the university feared they would scare away potential student with a tough curriculum (Hoover). The university was also particularly understaffed at the time, making administering proctored exams difficult (Hoover). It was not until 1876 that the university returned to written exams as the request of President Scott to “stimulate intellectual activity” (Hoover).

Giving speeches was a popular form of examination in Maggie’s time, and she often wrote about her dislike for the amount of speeches that she was required to give. On Tuesday, February 4, 1873, Maggie wrote:

“Study and recite, Study and Recite what monotony!”

Partying, singing and dancing were all expressly forbidden in the 1870s especially for women (Hollow). So, while Maggie did not have a spring in Athens that we are used to today, she did participate in enjoyable social activities that were popular at the time including attending fraternity parties, having friends over and getting ice cream on Court Street.

On Thursday May 29, 1873, she wrote:

“We have a nice time tonight. Play crochet after tea. We start home at nine.”

For photographs and drawings of what Maggie’s world in the spring of 1873, please check out our Pinterest board, Maggie’s World in 1873. Please follow Maggie’s Twitter account, @MaggieBoyd1873 – we will be chronicling her day-to-day entries from her pocket diary. Also, keep following the Library Blog, the @AldenLibrary Twitter account or the Alden Library Facebook pageto read more about the university’s history during Maggie’s time and other aspects of Victorian life. Photo: College Green, prior to the 1880s. Courtesy of the Mahn Center for Archives and Special Collections.

 Works Cited

Boyd, Margaret. “Pocket Diary for 1873.” Digital Initiatives. Ohio University. 1873 http://cdm15808.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/compoundobject/collection/archives/id/40940. Web. 29 Dec 2011.

Hollow, Betty. Ohio University, 1804-2004: History of a Singular Place. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2003. Print.

Hoover, Thomas. The History of Ohio University. Athens: Ohio University Press, 1954. Web. 16 April 2012.

Ohio University. Annual Catalogue of the Ohio University, 1873-1874. Athens, OH: Ohio University, 1873. http://www.archive.org/stream/ohiouniversitybu1874ohio#page/24/mode/2up. Web. 8 March 2012