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July 12, 2016

Candid Vintage Photographs Capture Daily Life of Kansas Girls at Their State University in 1939

Kappa Alpha Theta House boasts classic pillars.

The girls who go to the University of Kansas are as different in their looks and backgrounds as the buildings in which they live. The buildings are sometimes classic, sometimes Tudor, sometimes Georgian. Some of the girls are dull and some bright, some pretty and some plain, some grinds and some “jivers.”

Their State University is at Lawrence, perched on the highest hill in eastern Kansas. It is a surprising town to find in the most middle of the Midwestern States. Settled by New Englanders, it is very much like New England except that the wind blows all the time. The streets are lined with spreading elms and some of the houses have captain’s walks.

In regular session, 1,500 girls attend the University, which is co-educational. For the most part they have a very good time at college, often living better than they do at home. A fourth of them occupy sorority houses; less than a third, dormitories. The rest board out around town. Their college life is heartier, more social and much more frankly concerned with boys than it is at an Eastern women’s college.

Some cook and clean to save expenses.

Entertainment at Theta is provided by the girls themselves. The violinist is Edna Givens.

The House Mother, Mr. Klinkenberg, has been given 5-lb box of candy in which are Dorothy's and her fiance's pins. Mrs. Klinkenberg gives them to Dorothy's best friend.

Just before bedtime a Theta girl posts time she wants a freshman pledge to call her in the morning - a typical pledge chore.

Dorothy Jean Roberts get her engagement pin.

(Images © Time Inc. Alfred Eisenstaedt, via


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