100 Years Ago at Beaver College

Andrea Walls

The year was 1920.

After a decades-long fight for women’s suffrage, the U.S. Senate passed the 19th Amendment, granting women the right to vote in elections. A committee of social justice-minded citizens, which included Helen Keller and Jane Addams, founded the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to protect freedom of speech and to decrease racism and discrimination. Prohibition took effect with its nationwide constitutional ban on the production, importation, transportation, and sale of alcoholic beverages. The Roaring Twenties ushered in an age of cultural upheaval and artistic expression.

Beaver College—Arcadia University’s founding institution—counted more than 170 students enrolled in a combination of liberal arts, household economics, music, fine arts, and expression. Charges from room and board varied from $325 to $450, and tuition was $100. Located 26 miles northwest of Pittsburgh, the campus in Beaver, Pa. consisted of three adaptable buildings: the expansive mainstay, College Hall; the modern, convenience-filled Household Economies Hall; and the comfortable, well-furnished Residence Hall.

Outside of the classroom, students participated in a wide variety of activities, clubs, and organizations on campus. The Athletic Association provided students with opportunities to play basketball, tennis, and outdoor games. Receptions were hosted by the faculty, YWCA, and Senior Class. The Beaver College community embraced celebrations that became traditions, including Halloween, Valentine’s Day, Washington’s Birthday, and May Day. The student-led Idler’s Club coordinated holiday parties, theatrical performances, and social events across campus.

Before they graduated, seniors had to complete 120 semester hours during four years of attendance, among them electives in Expression, English, Philosophy, History, Geology, Mathematics, and Astronomy. 

20s