While looking through the 41-20’s at the
Student Archives, I came across the Jane Hayes-Rader Papers. She was a
student from 1950-1954, and she was involved in Star Course, which I was
involved in last year. I was interested in seeing what it was like to be
a member of this organization 50 years ago. This also would have been the
time that my mom’s oldest
brother Jack was a student here. In addition, the only information I have
about the 1950’s is from TV shows, and my perception of this era
is that it was a total age of conformity. I was anxious to see if Jane
Hayes lived the same type of college lifestyle as me, or if her existence
was only bobby socks and fraternity dances. What I found was very surprising.
Although her life was like mine in many ways, there were some major differences.
For instance, she was very involved in extra-curricular activities, being
a member of a sorority, part of Star Course, and she did volunteer work.
She also traveled a lot during her time as a student, saving all her receipts
from trips to New York City and Washington, D.C. She collected matchbooks,
which I thought was interesting. Even though it was the 50’s, Jane
and her roommate Jo Ann obviously went out a lot. These were the only things
that were similar to my life. Her family had a lot of money, which mine
does not, and all of her friends were getting married, even as early as
her freshman year! One of her friends even cancelled her wedding, even
though no reason was mentioned. Jane’s time in Star Course was nothing
like my own. They had quartets come to perform, and singers such as Billy
Eckstine and George Shearing. There was even a comic opera put on by Star
Course. I’m sure this type of entertainment is a far cry from the
Nappy Roots show that was here last fall.
Although Jane Hayes went to school here fifty years ago, I feel like her college experience was more like mine than some students’ may be now. Her life is more like mine than a male engineering student, for instance, who will graduate with me. Seeing that she emerged from her time here presumably happy and with tons of memories made me really appreciate the few years I have spent at the University. Even fifty years ago, there were many organizations that students could be involved in, and Jane was a perfect example of a student that balanced schoolwork, extra-curricular activities, and a social life. Peering into her life allowed me to see that in the time that has separated us, nothing truly fundamental has changed about the young adult’s need to feel involved, have close friends, or go out and have fun on the weekends. I never thought this was the conclusion I would come to at the end of this assignment, but this was an interesting look into the past of the University, and into the life of a young woman with has her life archived in a building on the south end of campus.