Archive Materials



Founding Years




Gracious Living

Broader Diversity

Forward Looking





Student Life

Historical Contexts

Wider World


Worshiping Marion
Social Structure at Mount Holyoke 1909-1912

Marion Osborne, "the belle of 1909," as pictured in the yearbook her senior year. Courtesy MHC Archives (4)
Edith "Grace" White in her her junior year. Grace was a well written admirer of Marion. Courtesy MHC Archives (5)

Leaderhip and Friendship were central to social status: Mount Holyoke College fosters the admiration of women among women. How students have appreciated their peers has and continues to evolve. In this essay a specific example from the girls of 1909 and 1912 is used to understand the larger social system Mount Holyoke girls were creating and participating in. Students during this time period found admiring and pursuing their most out-going peers to be great fun and worthy of much of their time and attentions. This practice reveals that the students of Mount Holyoke relied upon a distinct social structure to understand their relationship among the women with which they must live. Marion Osborne was the belle of the class of 1909; her popularity is carefully preserved in the letter journal of Edith Grace White (1912), while her numerous activities are evident in her Senior yearbook. Grace wrote fondly about Marion throughout her first year of college (Marion’s Senior year). Through three brief excerpts from different letters that Grace wrote home and the depiction of Marion in the yearbook and classbook Marion’s role at Mount Holyoke becomes clear. Standing at the top of the school’s social pyramid, Marion demonstrates how this self-made and uneven configuration of the students is vital to the school’s character. For further discussion of Marion and analysis of the Social structure at Mount Holyoke click here.

Atlas Home Page Marion as the commanding center of her 1909 basketball team Marion, the leader, in her senior classbook Read the full text that analyzes Marion's social position. Return to friendship homepage
This page was created by Chloe Martin '06 in History 283, Fall Semester 2003 -