Month: November 2017

IRENE CASTLE

A letter from the Archives:

“Dr. Cummings [sic] said:

Back in 1902 one of our students at C.C.I. was Irene Foote who was and is a splendid athletic girl fond of sports including swimming. She liked to take a plunge in the finest swimming pool at C.C.I. The only trouble she had was to take a swim and get her hair dry for the next recitation. One day she said “I am going to fix that!” So she took a big pair of shears and cut off her beautiful long hair, then took her swim and when she came out she shook her head a couple of times and was ready for recitations – all but dressing. And if the styles of 1902 had been like those of 1927 her bathing suit would have been just about the right thing without any change at all, although the skirt might have been longer.

The next day six other girls who liked to swim cut off their hair, and the vogue of bobbed hair was started and has been going ever since. It spread in this way.

The next year Miss Foote married Mr. Castle and became Irene Castle Foote (that you have all heard about). These two, Mr. and Mrs. Castle, danced their ways into the hearts of every body here and abroad.”

This letter was dictated by Mrs. Annie Blair (Titman) Cummins in May 1950, regarding a story from her late husband, Dr. George Wyckoff Cummins. To learn more about them, click here.

There are some discrepancies about dates in the letter; Irene Foote was a student here in 1906, not 1902. Born in 1893, she was thirteen when she attended Centenary Collegiate Institute. At that age, she was probably a member of the high school academy and also a member of the Diokosophian Society. The other discrepancy is that Miss Foote married Mr. Castle the following year – they actually met in 1910.

These slight variations in time bring into question the validity of the letter; a recollection told by a husband to his wife and written down almost a decade after his death may contain some errors. We still enjoy the mystery this item brings and are very pleased to have found it.

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THE SOCIETY

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the charter of Centenary University! To celebrate, the blog will be highlighting past posts about Centenary’s history.

Literary societies are one of the oldest student organizations in America, and the forerunners of modern-day fraternities and sororities. Traditional literary societies were founded to promote scholarship through literary exercises and debate. Centenary Collegiate Institute had five literary societies in its early years; the first society was formed within the school’s first week! Centenary’s first president, Dr. Whitney, fostered ideas of social training that were quickly adopted by all four societies. Utmost in importance to all societies was the inclusion of earnest, purposeful young men and women.

Whitney Lyceum was the first literary society to be formed at Centenary in September 1874, a chapter of the Alpha Omega fraternity. The ‘Whits’, as they were called, disbanded in 1910, when the school became an all girls school.

The Philomathean society was the second fraternity to be founded in the school’s first year. After a decade, the ‘Philos’ resigned from their fraternity, and joined the Alpha Phi Fraternity, Zeta chapter. This literary society also ceased to exist after the men left in 1910.

The Diokosophian Society was founded in 1875, and was Centenary’s first female literary society. The ‘Dioks’ were members of the Sigma Epsilon Phi sorority.

The members of Diok were so many that students decided to form a second sorority in 1880. This society was called The Evergreens, but was soon renamed the Peithosophian Society. It was a chapter of the Theta Epsilon Nu sorority.

Callilogian Society was a latecomer to Centenary, having been brought over by students and teachers from a school that had become an all boys school in 1910. Its Greek letters were Delta Sigma Sigma.

These societies have all disappeared over the years, with new ones taking their places. Currently, the university has one fraternity, Alpha Phi Delta, and one sorority, Alpha Theta Psi.