Office of University Communications
From Martha Mitchell’s Encyclopedia Brunoniana:
May Day was a traditional celebration at the Women’s College. The Sepiad for May 1901 notes that the annual May Festival of the Young Women’s Christian Association had occurred from 4 to 10 on May 15.
The Sepiad for June 1912 had the following account of May Day, which had been planned by the Brownies.
“Though a city college with a tiny campus, we had a very delightful May-day festival. At five o’clock, just as the sun was setting, we assembled out of doors to do honor to our May Queen, Cornelia Fill. The seniors twined the Maypole, while the juniors and sophomores executed difficult fancy dances. The life and jollity of the occasion was fittingly provided by the freshmen, who in clown suits of yellow and brown, indulged in folk dancing with the utmost abandon. Then every one joined in singing college songs. ... A basket-lunch in the gymnasium in real picnic fashion was followed by a ‘faculty stunt.’ Professor Crosby, Professor Potter, Professor MacDonald and Dean King were represented with affecting lifelikeness.”The next year a similar festival was described by the Sepiad as “a grand and glorious occasion” with Marion Luther ’13 enthroned as queen. In 1914 every freshman presented her senior with a May basket. Maud Tucker ’14 was queen with Margaret Carr ’17 as her attendant. May Day of 1915 was described as “the best organized May Stunt we have had,” with three heralds in brown, wearing the bear rampant, leading a procession of “personages of every county and every class, from the fair Queen of the May to tinkers and sailors.” The queen, Ruth Thayer ’15 was attended by flower-girls and was crowned by her maid of honor, Irene Mathewson ’15. Folk-dancing was featured in addition to the May pole dance and the presentation of the baskets, and the Komians presented the “most lamentable comedy, Pyramus and Thisbe.” The next year there were Dutch children, a gypsy, and nymphs to perform before queen Margaret Corey ’16, the Komians presented scenes from “As You Like It,” and the Class of 1918 was “conspicuous by its absence.” In 1918 the sophomore masque, which had been performed by that class since 1907, became part of May Day. Other features of May Day over the years have been tumbling, maypole dances, the presentation of May baskets by the freshmen to the seniors, and entertainments by the Komians. A combined celebration of Spring Day and May Day was held in 1942. In the fall of 1943 a Harvest Queen was crowned, for the benefit of seniors who were graduating in October or February under the accelerated system and would miss the traditional May Day. The May Day festivities became part of the Mother-Daughter Weekend in the 1950s and were last held in 1967.
The above entry appears in Encyclopedia Brunoniana by Martha Mitchell, copyright ©1993 by the Brown University Library. It is used here by permission of the author and the University and may not be copied or further distributed without permission.