A New Challenge for the Scholar, June 14, 1922 (excerpt)


Miss Addams' Address.

"It is a great pleasure to attend the seventy-fifth anniversary of Rockford College," [page 2] said Miss Jane Addams. "There is something pleasing about milestones, and my own seventy-fifth milestone is not so awfully far away.

"Rockford College has known three distinct periods. We who knew the school during the first twenty-five years of its life under the direction of Miss Anna P. Sill, venerate her, for we have some perception of her wisdom and her courage.

"Miss Sill, whose title then was President of Rockford Female Seminary, was a pioneer. In 1847 she obtained the charter for the school, the first woman’s school for higher education in this part of the world. We who knew her later as a beautiful picture of serene old age carry away from this chapel something which the rest of you have missed.

"In the first twenty-five years, Rockford College reflected the denominational school whose students were mainly educated for teachers, preachers, missionaries. There was a strong missionary spirit in this school and there have been many missionaries among its graduates.

"In the second period, from 1872 to 1892, there was a spirit of restlessness. The students were no longer willing to accept only a seminary diploma. There was a stirring in the school to change its name to college and its standards to those of a college. In 1881-82 it was found that by the charter of 1847 a degree could be given if the school so desired. 

"We decided that if we prepared ourselves for a college degree and demanded it of the trustees, it would be the first step. Two graduates of '81 and two of '82 did this. Owing to property-right difficulties, the school name was not changed from seminary to college until ten years later.

"A growth in scholarship, attainment and equipment is seen in the period from 1892 to 1922. Now at the beginning of the last quarter of the college's first century a challenge is coming to educated women the world over.

"Research shows that the world is learning to use its mind and brain vigorously in a new and self-conscious way. One of the first manifestations of this is seen in the new religious and philosophical cults.

"Another manifestation is seen in the establishment of the psychopathic clinic when a child, accused of crime who cannot reasonably be accused of crime nor defended for crime, is under observation. The same sort of a clinic now exists in some courts for older people.

"A third manifestation of the new use of the mind was found in the mental tests given all soldiers during the world war. A popular manifestation is displayed by the large advertising agencies in the cities. It is interesting to note that many college girls are employed by the agencies which give them an opportunity to use their training and to develop a business insight. The advertisers are working out a practical psychology.

"Psychological advertisers, publicity departments, schools in salesmanship, afford a challenge to the new scholar, throwing him back upon his own judgment, to discriminate between the worth while and the worthless, to detect values. It is becoming necessary to find out what is correct, human, scientific, so that one may judge consciously upon real merit.

"Men have made a wonderful record in scientific achievement. Women haven’t had much in the past. They have not discovered the wireless, the north pole, but they may now have the chance to work out a way of making the world more united, to place it on a better-willed basis.

"Class of 1922, I congratulate you upon your alma mater. I wish Rockford College every good thing possible. I have heard that a class of fifty is hoped for two years from now. May it come right speedily!"

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