Dancing Through the Great Depression

In the Classroom

a humorous look at science class in leconte college
A humorous look at
science classes in the
original LeConte
College (now Barnwell).
By 1932 Carolina had to take drastic steps to deal with its plummeting budget. Faculty salaries were cut in half, tuition fees were raised, and special scholarships and funding for summer school were eliminated.

Carolina's situation was worse than that of Clemson or Winthrop, because the University had pledged its tuition fees in advance to pay for a loan to furnish the new education building. Restrictions were placed on the admission of women, and female day students had to pay an extra $10 per semester; presumably, this was done because the female graduates were believed to be less likely to seek employment.

havilah babcock
Havilah Babcock
Certain faculty members stood out as student favorites, and are still remembered fondly among the graduates of the 1930s.

English professor Havilah Babcock was one of the most popular professors in USC history. Babcock's love of the outdoors occasionally disrupted his teaching schedule, especially during hunting and fishing season.

History professor Yates Snowden cut a striking figure as he walked across campus, with his snow white hair and characteristic black cape. His wit, charm, and appearance earned him the nickname, "The Incarnation of the Old South."

Students learned to take notes very quickly in Guy Lipscomb's chemistry classes. As he wrote on the blackboard with his right hand, he erased what he had just written with his left hand.

caricature of mckissick, 1939
Caricature of McKissick
from the 1939 yearbook.
Yet another well-known figure on campus was that of journalism dean J. Rion McKissick, who became president of the University in 1936. A former newspaper man, "The Colonel," as students dubbed him, was instantly recognizable walking across campus, with his slouch hat and ever-present cigar. He was also well known for his formal speeches, which usually began, "Men and women of Carolina," as well as his impromptu speeches at the Maxcy Monument or while standing on a table in the dining hall, when some disciplinary infraction had occurred.

female student fasion from 1931
An example of female student
fashion from 1931.
male student fashion from 1929
An example of male student
fashion from 1929.
Students dressed far more formally than those of today. Women were expected to attend classes in skirts or dresses. Women's coats were frequently trimmed in fur or faux fur. Although the shorter hemlines and garter belts of the flappers in the Roaring Twenties had raised some eyebrows, female student fashions returned to a more demure style in the 1930s. Men were expected to wear suits or slacks and a sweater. Hats were a popular accessory for both genders.


Columbia Departments Campus Libraries
Columbia Libraries and Collections