The Gown Laid Aside

THE YALE BICENTENNIAL CELEBRATION OF 1901

The Participation of Yale Officers and Teachers, Graduates and Undergraduates in the Religious, Social and Civic Life of New Haven.

“It has been said that the Bicentennial of the founding of Yale marked substantially the beginning of the breaking down of the walls between Gown and Town. It seems as well to have brought to the leaders of Yale, because of its emphasis of the fact that New Haven and the college were destined for each other from the first, because of its new revelation of the unity involved in John Davenport’s plan for a church-state-college, a consciousness of their oneness with the community…

-Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Chronicling America, Richmond daily palladium (Richmond, Indiana), October 21, 1901
-Image courtesy of the HathiTrust Digital Library, Princeton University, Yale Alumni Weekly, “The bicentennial: issue of commemoration. An illustrated account of the celebration of the two hundredth anniversary of the founding of Yale … October [20-23] 1901,” Yale University, 1902
-Image courtesy of the HathiTrust Digital Library, Harvard University, “Bicentennial calendar, 1701-1901,” Yale University, 1901
-Image courtesy of the Internet Archive, University of Toronto, The literary digest, November 2, 1901
-Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Chronicling America, The San Francisco Call, October 21, 1901

Whether we regard Yale as having been founded at Branford or Killingworth or Saybrook, there is no getting away from the fact that the date is 1701. For October of 1901, then, Yale prepared an impressive celebration. It was to be the great feast of Yale history, and to it many were bidden. They came in thousands. Considering how much smaller was the number of Yale graduates even as recently as that — the number increases now at the rate of almost a thousand a year, taking no account of deaths — it meant much that nine thousand came from near and far to attend the exercises of some part of the four days, October 20 to 23, inclusive. Over nine thousand, graduates and undergraduates, took some part in those exercises. From other collegiate institutions and learned societies, from America, Europe and Asia, came three hundred and thirty-one representatives. Yale granted, to members of this group and others, more than sixty honorary degrees. It was by far the most distinguished group ever to receive Yale degrees, including John Hay, Horace Howard Furness, John La Farge, Archbishop Ireland, Charles Eliot Norton, Thomas Bailey Aldrich, Samuel L. Clemens, William Dean Howells, Marquis Ito, Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson.

Sunday, October 20, saw a notable group of church recognitions of the occasion. In Battell Chapel the Rev. Joseph H. Twichell of Hartford, distinguished, loyal and favorite son of Yale, and a member of the corporation, preached a historical sermon, and there were special services in Center, Trinity and United churches in honor of the anniversary. At 3 in the afternoon there were services, and later an organ recital, in Battell Chapel.

There were many special services at various points on Monday the 21st, but the central event of that day to most Yale visitors was the torchlight procession, in which five thousand Yale men participated, from the campus through the streets of New Haven. All were in costumes representing the historic ages of the university, and carried torches and colored fire. The classes participating ranged all the way from 1905, then freshmen, back to the veterans of 1844. The campus itself was alight with orange lanterns, and all about it great bowls filled with burning rosin lighted up the night.

Tuesday night the undergraduates assumed command, and presented for the delectation of the graduates, on a stage in a specially built amphitheater, scenes from the history of Yale. Open air performances of this sort were much less common than they have been since; in fact, the distinction of having been the first to so present historical scenes is claimed for Yale on this occasion. ‘Neath the Elms’ in very truth they gathered in the bright October night, and sang the good old songs of their times the while they waited for the preparations between the scenes. The finale of the occasion, when the 9,000 stood and sang the Doxology while the rockets and bombs burst overhead, caused one witty observer to remark that it was a typical Yale combination of ‘praising God and raising hell.’

Wednesday was the last, the great day of the feast, when such as were elected, either by being first at the doors or by some other means, attended the formal commemoration exercises. Woolsey Hall was not completed, and had it been, it could not have accommodated more than a third of those who participated in the other exercises. It was necessary to fall back on the Hyperion Theater, dear to many Yale men, whose capacity was much smaller. Thither at 10 o’clock went from the campus a distinguished academic procession.

In it were a President of the United States and a President to be, a secretary of state, a justice of the Supreme Court, a premier of Japan, the presidents of nearly all the important American colleges, and eminent scholars, scientists, preachers, writers and legislators from all parts of the world. These were on the stage when the others reached the theater. Such of the gathering as could entered at the doors and found seats. Others, a fortunate few who knew the stage door, witnessed the sight and heard the exercises from the wings. It was on that occasion that Theodore Roosevelt said he had never yet worked at a great task in which he did not find himself ‘shoulder to shoulder with some son of Yale.’ This was in response to President Hadley’s happy characterization of him as ‘a Harvard man by nature, but in his democratic spirit, his breadth of national feeling, and his earnest pursuit of what is true and right, he possesses those qualities which represent the distinctive ideal of Yale, and make us more than ever proud to enroll him among our alumni.’

In the light of events since, President Hadley’s utterance to Professor Woodrow Wilson, as he was about to make him Doctor of Laws, has a lively interest. ‘On you,’ he said, ‘who like Blackstone have made the studies of the jurist the pleasures of the gentleman, and have clothed political investigations in the form of true literature, we confer the degree of Doctor of Laws.’

It was in the course of these Bicentennial exercises that many of Yale’s distinguished graduates presented addresses and literary and musical contributions to make the occasion one memorable in literature and art as well as in history. Donald G. Mitchell’s classic dedication of Woodbridge Hall, to be the university’s executive building among the Bicentennial group, was one of them. This veteran graduate of Yale (1841), ‘Ik Marvel’ to two generations of the lovers of letters and nature, to be beloved of other generations to come, was near the close of his earthly career, but his contribution lacked neither force nor merit. Then there were Edmund Clarence Stedman’s poem, ‘Mater Corona,’ read by himself. Professor Goodell’s Greek ode, the singing of Professor Parker’s ‘Hora Novissima,’ and a concert by the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

Professor Canby, in his excellent article in the Book of the Pageant, sees the moral effect of all this as a great service to Yale, and he is right. But as he puts it, the manner of that great service proved the awakening of the men of Yale to a sense of their actual relation to New Haven. The form of it, in his words, has a definite bearing on the entrance of these men of Yale, in the period immediately following the Bicentennial observance, into the life of the community. ‘The great service,’ as he puts it, ‘was not the mere assemblage of national leaders in New Haven, nor a reunion of college classes on an unprecedented scale, nor the dignified Bicentennial group of buildings then dedicated as a lasting monument, nor even the splendid impulse toward development along true university lines thus given to Yale and renewed continuously since. It was rather the realization of the historic past of Yale and her associated dignities, the opportunities and the responsibilities thereof, which then came first with emphasis to the college generations in whose hands the future of the University was to rest. Beneath the excitement of the Bicentennial week, and beyond its pomp and ceremony, was the consciousness of an institution that was more than stone and mortar, more than endowment, more even than men; a trust of inestimable dignity, a heritage of ideals, and a name commanding veneration as well as love. Much of what Yale seemed to demand of that generation has been realized; much more remains to be achieved. But the sense of historic continuity once aroused is powerful upon the future. It tempers pride by responsibility; it makes loyalty self-confident, yet modest because aware of the high examples of the past. Yale has been less provincial, less tamely conservative, more earnest and more mindful that lasting tenure comes from enduring service to the state, since the awakening of the Bicentennial.'”
-Excerpt courtesy of the Internet Archive, Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center, “A modern history of New Haven and eastern New Haven County,” Everett Gleason Hill, 1918. (top) Image courtesy of the HathiTrust Digital Library, Harvard University, “Bicentennial calendar, 1701-1901,” Yale University, 1901

“NEW BUILDINGS PLANNED FOR YALE.” -Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Chronicling America, The Seattle post-intelligencer, February 18, 1900
-Image courtesy of HathiTrust Digital Collection, The independent v.53, Sept.-Dec. 1901
“Woodbridge Hall under construction.” -Image courtesy of Yale University, Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University buildings and grounds photographs, September 26, 1901
-Image courtesy of the HathiTrust Digital Library, Princeton University, Yale Alumni Weekly, “The bicentennial: issue of commemoration. An illustrated account of the celebration of the two hundredth anniversary of the founding of Yale … October [20-23] 1901,” Yale University, 1902
-Image courtesy of HathiTrust Digital Collection, Harper’s Weekly, Vol. XLV, No. 2341, November 2, 1901
-Image courtesy of the HathiTrust Digital Library, Princeton University, Yale Alumni Weekly, “The bicentennial: issue of commemoration. An illustrated account of the celebration of the two hundredth anniversary of the founding of Yale … October [20-23] 1901,” Yale University, 1902
-Image courtesy of the HathiTrust Digital Library, Princeton University, Yale Alumni Weekly, “The bicentennial: issue of commemoration. An illustrated account of the celebration of the two hundredth anniversary of the founding of Yale … October [20-23] 1901,” Yale University, 1902
-Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Chronicling America, The New York Tribune, Wednesday, October 23, 1901
-Image courtesy of the HathiTrust Digital Library, Princeton University, Yale Alumni Weekly, “The bicentennial: issue of commemoration. An illustrated account of the celebration of the two hundredth anniversary of the founding of Yale … October [20-23] 1901,” Yale University, 1902
-Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company photograph collection, “Hendrie Hall, Yale Law School, New Haven, Conn.,” between 1900 and 1915
-Image courtesy of the Internet Archive, Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center, “A modern history of New Haven and eastern New Haven County,” Everett Gleason Hill, 1918
“Transverse section plan of Memorial Dining Hall, looking east.” -Image courtesy of Yale University, Manuscripts & Archives, Pictures of buildings constructed for Yale University’s bicentennial in 1901, undated
-Image courtesy of HathiTrust Digital Collection, The independent v.53, Sept.-Dec. 1901
-Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Chronicling America, The New York Tribune, June 15, 1902
“Longitudinal section plan of Woolsey Hall and Memorial Hall.” -Image courtesy of Yale University, Manuscripts & Archives, Pictures of buildings constructed for Yale University’s bicentennial in 1901, undated
-Image courtesy of the Internet Archive, americana, unknown library, “The World’s work … a history of our time,” by Walter Hines Page, 1900
-Image courtesy of the Internet Archive, americana, unknown library, “The World’s work … a history of our time,” by Walter Hines Page, 1900
-Image courtesy of HathiTrust Digital Library, Harper’s Weekly, Illustrated Section, Saturday, September 13, 1902
-Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Chronicling America, The New York Tribune, June 15, 1902
-Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Chronicling America, The New York Tribune, June 15, 1902
“Woolsey Hall, interior. Notes on the back of the photo suggest that it may have been published in the Yale Alumni Weekly.” -Image courtesy of Yale University, Manuscripts & Archives, Pictures of buildings constructed for Yale University’s bicentennial in 1901, photographic print, 1902/1937
“Sectional plan of the stage area of Woolsey Hall, looking south.” -Image courtesy of Yale University, Manuscripts & Archives, Pictures of buildings constructed for Yale University’s bicentennial in 1901, architectural drawing by Carrere & Bastings
“Woolsey Hall and Newberry Memorial Organ.” -Image courtesy of Yale University, Manuscripts & Archives, Pictures of buildings constructed for Yale University’s bicentennial in 1901, undated
-Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Chronicling America, The New York Tribune, Sunday, June 14, 1903
“Woolsey Hall along College Street, Memorial Hall (center domed area), and University Dining Hall (The Commons) along Grove Street. Designed by Carrere & Hastings, the Bicentennial Buildings consist of Woolsey Hall, Memorial Hall, and University Dining Hall. Located at College and Grove Streets. Erected between 1901 and 1902.” -Image courtesy of Yale University, Manuscripts & Archives, Pictures of buildings constructed for Yale University’s bicentennial in 1901, photographic print, circa 1902
-Image courtesy of ctpostcards.net, “Woolsey Hall, Yale University, New Haven, Conn.,” undated
“View of Woolsey Hall on the corner of College Street and Grove Street. One of the Bicentennial Buildings, it was designed by John Carre and Thomas Hastings, and completed in 1902.” -Image courtesy of New Haven Free Public Library, “Postcard – Woolsey Hall, Yale University, New Haven, Conn.,” by Elm City Post Card Co., circa 1921
-Image courtesy of the HathiTrust Digital Library, Princeton University, Yale Alumni Weekly, “The bicentennial: issue of commemoration. An illustrated account of the celebration of the two hundredth anniversary of the founding of Yale … October [20-23] 1901,” Yale University, 1902

“New Haven was never a boom town. It developed slowly, it grew steadily, not spasmodically. Conservatism became characteristic of it. Conservative it has remained until now. All through the nineteenth century, while steadily growing in strength and substance, it never outwardly startled the beholder. Those who really knew the city came to love it for its ‘parts’ rather than for ostentatious prosperity. It was a city of traditions and history, a city content to have intensive rather than extensive growth…

Such, in more material particulars, was the New Haven which woke on the mourn of its 264th year when it celebrated with Yale the completed two centuries. The opening of the twentieth century had seen a different New Haven, if it had but known it. Things had come to it to make it different. The telephone had come. In 1878 New Haven had been the place of the establishment of the first telephone exchange in America…

The electric railway had come. When, in 1892, the first electric car, unloaded from a freight at the New Haven station, came by its own power from the station to the Green, horses drew all the cars on the few street railways of New Haven…

The electric light had come. New Haven by 1890 was well lighted, as cities went. Arc lights made its streets, according to the standards of the time, conveniently navigable even on a rainy night. But electric lights for interiors were still rare…

Shore expansion had come… But it is more to the point that expansion has come to New Haven itself, centrally…

Industrial expansion had come. The ‘important factories’ which in 1890 could almost be counted on the fingers of two hands, if one’s memory were good enough, had become over half a hundred major concerns, well known abroad, if not in New Haven…

Most important of all, New Haven had startlingly changed in population… The 40,000 foreign born, and the 43,000 native born of foreign parentage, which were found in 1910, had been coming…

The date of the renaissance is difficult to set. It began gradually, probably about the time of the Yale Bicentennial. New Haven got some of its new vision from that. Leaders in thought and vision followed up the advantage. Yale’s policy of participation helped. The Chamber of Commerce came out of its century’s dream, and that helped more than anything else. The Civic Federation, the Business Men’s Association, the Publicity Club, all joined in the effort. New Haven had come into a new era.”
-Excerpt courtesy of the Internet Archive, Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center, “A modern history of New Haven and eastern New Haven County,” Everett Gleason Hill, 1918

“‘The Passing of Old Yale.’ From the Yale Banner. Upper right: Treasury Building (first known as the Trumbull Gallery). Upper left: unknown building. Lower pictures show North College.” -Image courtesy of Yale University, Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University buildings and grounds photographs, 1901
“YALE UNIVERSITY – THE GROWTH OF THE GREAT SCHOOL WHICH WILL CELEBRATE ITS BICENTENNIAL NEXT WEEK.” -Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Chronicling America, New York Tribune, Illustrated Supplement, October 13, 1901
“YALE UNIVERSITY – THE GROWTH OF THE GREAT SCHOOL WHICH WILL CELEBRATE ITS BICENTENNIAL NEXT WEEK.” -Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Chronicling America, New York Tribune, Illustrated Supplement, October 13, 1901
“YALE HAS FOUR LARGE BUILDINGS IN COURSE OF CONSTRUCTION, AND A FIFTH WILL SOON BE UNDER WAY.” -Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Chronicling America, New York Tribune, Illustrated Supplement, June 15, 1902
-Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Chronicling America, New York Tribune, Illustrated Supplement, November 2, 1902

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