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Julia Harned Pardee letters


Held at: Bryn Mawr College [Contact Us]Bryn Mawr College Library, 101 N. Merion Avenue, Bryn Mawr 19010

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Bryn Mawr College. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

Julia Pardee (nee Harned) was born in Philadelphia, but was raised in New Haven, Connecticut. After graduating from Hillhouse High School, she attended Bryn Mawr College. While at college, she was highly interested in all campus dramatic activities, and was also involved in Glee Club and the creation of the yearbook. She graduated from Bryn Mawr in 1939. Post-graduation, she attended Yale University Drama School, attaining a MFA in Drama Production. During World War II, she was a member of the American Red Cross. After the war, she became a member of the faculty in the Department of Theatre and Dance at SUNY-Buffalo, where she taught from 1946 until her retirement in 1984. She was especially interested in women in theater and created the first curriculum at SUNY-Buffalo to center on this subject. Pardee died December 9th, 1989.

The Julia Harned Pardee letters house the personal correspondence of Julia Harned (later Pardee), Bryn Mawr College class of 1939. The bulk of these letters, often addressed to her mother or father, are from her first year at Bryn Mawr (October 1935- May 1936). One letter from her sophomore year and one undated letter whose contents suggest it is likely from February 1938 are also included. This collection provides a personal view into the concerns, interests, and hobbies of a first year student at Bryn Mawr during the late 1930s.

The collection is composed of fifteen letters. These letters are all arranged by date, from newest to oldest, with the exception of the first letter which is the oldest.

In these letters, Pardee describes her coursework, professors, choosing a major, the College's 50th anniversary celebration, and auditioning for school plays. She also writes about college traditions, including Lantern Night, the Freshman Show, and May Day. She often laments about her school fees, such as the price of textbooks, new tennis equipment, and laundry services. She also details her many trips to Philadelphia to catch theater productions such as Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night's Dream, and The Three Musketeers. One letter of particular interest describes a trip she and her peers took to Philadelphia to meet Governor Alf Landon on his campaign trail during the 1936 presidential election. An additional letter from September 1940 is addressed to Myrtle Niccolls, Bryn Mawr Class of 1939, where Pardee reflects upon her summer, tutoring French and volunteering for the British Refugee Committee. She also looks forward to her courses at Yale University School of Drama.

Pardee's correspondence provides an overview of undergraduate life during the 1930s, and her letters would be of general interest to those curious about on-campus activities, classes, and the social experience of a Bryn Mawr student during this time. Her interest in theater both on and off campus and her detailed descriptions of these theatrical events make these letters especially valuable to those studying professional and student theater productions in the 1930s.

Arranged chronologically, except for first letter

Bryn Mawr College
Finding Aid Author
Cassidy Gruber Baruth, Julia Moss
Finding Aid Date
November 6, 2018
Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

Standard Federal Copyright Laws Apply (U.S. Title 17)

Collection Inventory

Letter to Mother, 1935-10-05.
Scope and Contents

Julia complains about the prices of text books and how she cannot buy used copies for several of them. She is particularly annoyed about the many French books she must buy. She says that no one has any time to do anything at Bryn Mawr except eat, sleep, and study. She adds that it is "strenuous, but sort of fun." This letter also contains a description of Lantern Night. She also tells her mother about playing tennis.

Letter to Mother, 1935-10-05.
Scope and Contents

Julia discusses her classes and professors, noting that she does not have any "wonderful" professors, but that classes will be interesting. (She has Dr. Michels for physics, Dr. Gilman for French, Miss Palphrey for English, and Dr. Leehr for mathematics.) She writes about her money use, laundry, and studying French and English.

Letter to Mother, 1935-10-16.
Scope and Contents

Julia writes about her classes. She discusses a meeting with her English professor, whom she is beginning to like. She is enjoying math, but is having trouble with physics. She thinks French is getting better. She also writes about going into Philadelphia to see a movie.

Letter to Mother, 1935-10-19.
Scope and Contents

This letter primarily concerns Julia's money concerns. Julia begins the letter with, "I'm not writing to you because I like you or anything; this is a request letter." She goes on to say that she needs a new tennis racket. She also asks when she is getting her allowance, because she has to pay monthly and college dues at the beginning of the month. She writes about a fire alarm going off outside her room at 6:30am, her classes, and subscribing to the College News.

Letter to Daddy, 1935-10-23.
Scope and Contents

Julia continues to discuss her classes. She writes that she will have to take her oral German exam soon, and about a diction class she has to take until Christmas. She notes that students at Bryn Mawr have a lot of freedom, but no time to do anything because of the workload. She also talks about seeing Romeo and Juliet in the city.

Letter to Mother, 1935-10-23.
Scope and Contents

Julia gives a list of her best friends at the college and asks for $15 for next pay day. She explains her laundry predicament of trying to properly wash and iron dresses as the college. She also expresses her excitement at going to see Romeo and Juliet on Friday.

Letter to Mother, 1935-10-20.
Scope and Contents

Julia decides to write about Mozart for a paper and asks her mother to send her a book she already has about him at home. She discusses lantern night and how nice it was, but she got tired standing on her feet for so long. She is going to have tea with her lantern girl tomorrow. They have to wear their caps and gowns all day tomorrow and upperclassman tip their hats if they like a freshman. She went to Philadelphia with her friend, Martha Van Hosen and saw A Midsummer Night's Dream; she thought it was beautifully done. She also writes of her plans to see Romeo and Juliet next week.

Letter to Mother, 1935-10-27.
Scope and Contents

Following up on the previous letter, Julia writes that Romeo and Juliet was incredible, and she tells her mother all about the cast. She gushes about her friend Gwen visiting, and getting to ride in Gwen's car, as she has not ridden in one for a while. The college is celebrating its 50th anniversary and author and actress Cornelia Otis will be coming to speak. She also gives her opinion about Shipley School, saying that it is full of "little snobs."

Letter to Mother, 1935-11-03.
Scope and Contents

Julia writes about the speeches and lectures at the college's 50th anniversary celebration. She left the celebration early to see the Three Musketeers in the city. She describes the play and her thoughts about it to her mother. Later, she gets dressed up to hear President Park give a speech.

Letter to Mother, 1936-02-15.
Scope and Contents

This letter sheds some insight on Julia's attitude towards death. Julia notes that Dr. Smith, a popular history professor on campus, has passed away. Additionally, the mother of a student died by suicide. On a different note, Julia writes about Valentine's Day and how one her friends received flowers from a mystery person.

Letter to Mother, 1936-02-16.
Scope and Contents

This letter addresses theater at Bryn Mawr. Julia attends the Freshman Show, which was about seniors getting married to foreign potentales. She notes that the play was very popular. She writes that she is trying out for the play The Deluge, although she is not confident about getting the role she wants. If she does not get that part, she hopes to be a merry man in Robin Hood. She attaches a copy of the Freshman Show program.

Letter to Mother, 1936-04-16.
Scope and Contents

Julia discusses May Day plans. The gym is full of paper flowers for the May Pole and music is heard throughout Goodhart. She also talks about her classes and still hates physics, but thinks French is interesting. She has a meeting with her dean in a week to discuss classes for next year, but she does not know what to major in. However, she is thinking of French. She mentions a renovation to Dalton Hall.

Letter to Mother, 1936-04-27.
Scope and Contents

Julia goes to Philadelphia with her aunts Ethel and Margie, and discusses some family matters. Next year she will be taking second year French, required English Literature, required elementary German, experimental writing, and hygiene. She discusses talking to a professor about majoring in French and that the department thinks she could get a scholarship to study abroad. She talks more about May Day preparations including the three rehearsals that she has in two days. She has been practicing for the May Pole dance from 8am-9am every day for a week. She wishes her mother could see May Day.

Letter to Mother, May Day, 1936.
Scope and Contents

This letter details the May Day events of 1936. Julia writes the May Day song at the beginning of the letter. The sophomores sing to the seniors at 5:30am and give them May Day Baskets. The seniors have a special breakfast, and then go in cap and gown to President Park's house to sing to her. She and her friends help put up the May Poles. The sophomore class president crowns the senior president May Queen with a wreath of pansies. All of the classes perform the May Pole dance and sing To the May Poles. Later, President Park announces scholarships in chapel, and Julia receives one. Seniors roll hoops down Senior Row while the other students sing May Day and class songs. Julia describes how wonderful it is to see 500 people all dancing in white on the green while wearing flowers.

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