Today is Ours— The Class of 1916

Posted on February 26, 2016 by Kimberly Roblin in ,

1916 marked a year of progress and accomplishment not only for Kathryn, Laura, Mollie, Pearl, Floy, Fern, Beulah and Helen, but for their country. After decades of struggle and pursuit, the Women’s Suffrage Movement was nearing its goal. President Woodrow Wilson had pledged his support. Several states had amended their constitutions to uphold it, and Montana had elected Jeannette Rankin the first woman to Congress. Change was afoot and although the eight young women in north central Oklahoma could not yet vote, they could graduate. Exactly 100 years ago this May, they did.

With 26 other women, they attended the Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical School (now Oklahoma State University) in Stillwater and comprised 40 percent of the senior class. Their various backgrounds, campus participation, and studies spoke to the diversity, complexity, and changing roles of women. They came from both modest and privileged beginnings, participated in different clubs or none at all, held student office, acted and debated, and earned degrees ranging from science and literature to education to home economics. Despite these differences, however, each was unique and progressive.

These portraits mark their junior year when their lives stretched out before them with unknowns and opportunities; but today those futures are history. Some married and raised children. Some taught and raised students. Some did both and some did neither—but all remind us of how far we have come and how far we have yet to go. Women can now vote, hold office, and even run for president. None of this could have been possible without Molly, Beulah, Laura, Pearl, Floy, Helen, Fern, Kathryn, and countless others. In honor of their centennial and Women’s History Month, we celebrate and remember them. They led by example and advanced women’s rights not through rallies or protests, but through enrollment—stating boldly and clearly:

We have potential. We have value. We are intelligent. We are here.

 

 

Eight Graduates from the 1916 Yearbook

 

Wantland’s Art Studio, 1915. RC2000.005.2.0204. Robert E. Cunningham Collection. Dickinson Research Center, National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.

Kathryn Adams

Hometown: Tishomingo

Clubs: Alpha Theta, Home Economics Club, 16 Club

Degree: Home Economics

“Today is ours; be ours its joy. Let not tomorrow’s care annoy.”

 

Kathryn Adams grew up in the Chickasaw Nation, but moved extensively after graduation. She lived in Kansas City, Denver, and Illinois—marrying, but never having children. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wantland’s Art Studio, 1915. RC2000.005.2.0205. Robert E. Cunningham Collection. Dickinson Research Center, National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.

Laura Brower

Hometown: Luther

Clubs: Senior Home Economics, 16 Club, YWCA

Degree: Home Economics

“I am constant, constant as can be.”

 

Born to a farming family, Laura was the oldest of five children. After graduation she worked as a teacher in Jordan Valley, Pawnee County, Oklahoma.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wantland’s Art Studio, 1915. RC2000.005.2.0209. Robert E. Cunningham Collection. Dickinson Research Center, National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.

Mollie M. Bonar

Hometown: Stillwater

Clubs: Beta Phi, 16 Club

Degree: Education

“Oh! Glory, I try to be true to them all.”

 

Mollie followed her father’s example when she majored in education. Unlike him, however, she never taught. She quickly married and began a family after completing her studies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wantland’s Art Studio, 1915. RC2000.005.2.0209. Robert E. Cunningham Collection. Dickinson Research Center, National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.

Pearl Cole

Hometown: Cushing

Degree: Education

“One of the good things Cushing has given us.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wantland’s Art Studio, 1915. RC2000.005.2.0203. Robert E. Cunningham Collection. Dickinson Research Center, National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.

Floy Krone

Hometown: Chandler

Clubs: Philmathean, Germania, Lincoln County Club

Degree: Education

“A good dependable student.”

 

Also from a rural, farming background, Floy moved to Oregon after completing her degree and worked as a high school teacher. She married and eventually moved back to Oklahoma where she continued to teach.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wantland’s Art Studio, 1915. RC2000.005.2.0206. Robert E. Cunningham Collection. Dickinson Research Center, National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.

Fern Lowry

Hometown: Stillwater

Clubs: President, Girls Athletic

Association, 16 Club, Debating Team, YWCA

Vice President of Senior Class, 1st

Semester

Degree: Science and Literature

“We could not do without her, but we would not want another like her.”

 

The youngest of six children born to Annie and Robert, an attorney, Fern enjoyed a comfortable childhood. After Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical School, she continued her studies at Cornell before working as a social worker at the Industrial Girls School in Tecumseh. She eventually moved to New York as a child welfare worker and became a pioneer in applying social psychology to social work. She never married and maintained a long and respected career—teaching at Columbia University, consulting for the New York City Department of Health, and working at the New Jersey Reformatory for Women. She passed away in 1983 and is buried in Stillwater.

 

 

 

Wantland’s Art Studio, 1915. RC2000.005.2.0192. Robert E. Cunningham Collection. Dickinson Research Center, National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.

Beulah Mondy

Hometown: Stillwater

Clubs: Alpha Theta, 16 Club, Home Economics Club, Beauty Section

Degree: Home Economics

“I think and think and now I simply say ‘She’s winsome.’”

 

As a minister and doctor, Beulah’s father was well educated and wanted the same for his children. After graduating she married and soon began a family. They lived in Oklahoma City where Beulah played an active role in the community, serving as President of both the League of Women Voters and Planned Parenthood.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wantland’s Art Studio, 1915. RC2000.005.2.0321. Robert E. Cunningham Collection. Dickinson Research Center, National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.

Helen Moorman

Hometown: Stillwater

Clubs: 16 Club, Home Economics Club, Girls Glee Club

Degree: Home Economics

“Civilized men cannot live without cooks.”

 

From a farming family, Helen stayed close to home and worked as teacher in Stephens County after graduation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Quotes and information regarding hometown, clubs, and degrees pulled from the 1916 yearbook

About Kimberly

Kimberly Roblin is Curator of Archival and Photographic Collections at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. For the native Oklahoman, sharing western history through research, exhibitions, and publications is much more than business. It’s personal.