Considering how long students have been coming through the walls of our historic university, it goes without saying that we have a rich and varied history of extracurricular, student-run activities. At Florida State University, many of these long-standing traditions and activities were established during our time as an all women institution, between 1905 and 1947. Campus-wide extracurriculars were an extremely important part of student life during this time. Students felt taking part in events with peers built pride and appreciation for their alma mater. For this year’s Women’s History Month, we’ll be looking into the early years of recreation at Florida State College for Women (FSCW): how our peers of the past made friends, garnered school spirit, and just passed the time.
Two of the earliest student organizations were the Thalian Literary Society and the Minerva Club, founded and run by our female predecessors. These organizations were formed with the goal of “enabling the girls to speak more fluently in public,” but they did much more for the student body (Talisman, April 1906, Pg. 26). They were an expressive outlet for students and encourage peer-to-peer discourse and connection.
In 1906, just one year after our transition to a women’s college, the Thalian Society and Minerva Club began publishing the first college literary periodical in the state of Florida, The Talisman. (The Book Lover’s Guide to Florida, 1992) It served as a recreational avenue for students to express their thoughts and to learn about campus happenings. The Talisman went on to become the Florida Flambeau newspaper in 1915, still run entirely by women.
From the first five years of the establishment of FSCW, our women students were establishing recreational sports teams of all kinds. By 1906 our small campus had facilities for tennis, basketball, field-hockey, croquet, a swimming pool, and a full gymnasium! (Talisman, April 1906, Pg. 30)
Student organizations are a crucial part of university life and this has been the case at our university for over 100 years! The 1910 and 1911 yearbooks from FSCW show us that students were forming all sorts of clubs for a wide variety of interests and commonalities…
Scrapbooking was an extremely common practice between students at Florida State College for Women. Here at Heritage & University Archives, we have over 30 of these student-made scrapbooks and they give us endless insight as to how they chose to spend their free time.
Many of these records are available online at DigiNole. For more information about our University related collections, please contact Sandra Varry, the Heritage & University Archivist.