2nd Research Log

Roxanne M. Ibinson, "Ruby Lee Norris flips through her yearbook." Alumni, Item #1 (accessed February 06 2012, 12:30 pm)

Ruby Lee Norris’ interviews the UMW Alumni Project are a very useful resource in determining what the classroom environment at Mary Washington was like during the 1930’s.  I found it interesting when I learned that she earned a third of her tuition every year through a working scholarship.  At the time, the school year was divided into three semesters and annual tuition was three hundred dollars.  Her working scholarship paid her one hundred dollars a year towards her tuition and she was able to pay for an entire semester on her own.  She mentions that she would not have been able to go to school without the help of this working scholarship and many of her peers were in a similar position.  She said specifically that “none of us had lots of money” and in her Junior year, Ruby Lee found out that her family was suffering economically so she prepared herself to leave school and begin working to help her family.  However, her family encouraged to finish her education which she had worked so hard for.

The Depression played a huge role in the environment at Mary Washington in the 1930’s because it affected the entire campus and not just a certain group of people.  The girls put so much effort into their education because so much was invested in it.  They realized that by getting an education they could create a better life for themselves and going to college was the best opportunity to bring the girls and their families out of the depression.  Also, because these girls shared such common and profound experiences with one another, the students at Mary Washington were very close with each other.  The students faced so much adversity during this time that they only way they could succeed was by being supported by their fellow peers.  Ruby Lee’s description of Mary Washington during the depression era allows us to visualize a campus that was united in the pride for their hard work as well as their shared experiences and similar backgrounds.

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