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Senior Mountain Day

Seniors on the way to spend the night on Mount Holyoke. courtesy MHC Archives
Members of the class of 1915 in their Senior Mountain Day nighties. courtesy MHC Archives

The Last Mountain Day One important tradition for Seniors was their Senior Mountain Day. It's origins are lost, but it probably dates back to the Seminary period. Usually during Commencement week, Seniors would travel to a mountain to spend the night. There are recorded excursions to Sunderland and Buckland, but most went to Mount Holyoke's Summit House. Helen Mower, class of 1903, describes the activities that took place at her Senior Mountain Day. Seniors would spend the night dressed in nightgowns made for them by underclasswomen, reminiscing about their years at Mount Holyoke and discussing their hopes for the future. After the night was over, the young women kept the nighties as treasured mementos, not to be used until their wedding night. In 1952, alumna Florence Clement '14 mourned the the changes in Senior Mountain Day:

  Senior Mountain program has been greatly abbreviated. My campus scout - Helen Voorhees... says nightgowns -for seniors or any other class - are practically extinct. The popular night garb is a man's shirt. The seniors have a picnic with their honoraries on the top of Mount Holyoke late Thurs. afternoon. They take along home made lunches, toast their honoraries and give them little homemade bouquets. Then they rapidly bid them farewell - sweetly tho promptly - and rush to hold their last class meeting with that still all important guilty - not guilty roll call. Many answer guilty, some are already married, and some even pregnant. Gone also - with the nighties - are the Mountain Day notes and kimonos. Not since 1929 have the seniors spent the night on the mountain top.

Senior Mountain Day was gradually scaled back over the next decade until it was finally lost, remaining only in the memories of alumna and the files of the Mount Holyoke College Archives.


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This page was created by Jennifer Loomer '04 and Katherine Underwood '05 in History 283, Fall Semester 2003 and