Flashback: 1959

Flashback: 1959

current events

Alaska became the 49th state. The first Grammy Awards were held; Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, and Perry Como won awards. Cuba invaded Panama. Half a million steel workers went on strike and won higher wages. The Vatican forbade Catholics to voting for Communists.

art world

Premieres included Lorraine Hansberry’s play Raisin in the Sun, Dmitri Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No. 1, the film Some Like It Hot, and Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone. Frank Lloyd Wright died. William S. Burroughs published Naked Lunch.

taking a stand

In February, faculty expressed their opposition to the anti-Communist disclaimer affidavit of the National Defense Education Act of 1958, which required grant recipients to sign a loyalty oath. Faculty declared it a violation of academic freedom and recommended that President Harold Taylor and the Board of Trustees refuse to accept any federal funds issued under the act.

second-wave feminism

SLC hosted a conference on women’s education for East Coast universities. Discussions ranged from creating a curriculum that would engage a “busy but interested mother” to how to instill “religious and aesthetic values.” In a review of the conference, The New York Timespredicted a “behind the stove fate” for many alumnae, but The Campus disagreed, asserting that women’s colleges should be places where “women will not think of themselves as a minority race … but rather as men’s equals.”

electric youth

Sarah Lawrence students were invited to compete in a quiz show hosted by General Electric, but the Student Council requested that the College not participate. The Campus reported the explanation: “For a school stressing an education based on freedom, choice, and individual thought, it would not be in keeping with this philosophy to have representatives from Sarah Lawrence appear on a program which demonstrated only knowledge of useless facts.”

the graduate

In May, a 22-year-old Dustin Hoffman performed the lead in Gertrude Stein’s Yes Is for a Very Young Man for the Theatre Workshop in Reisinger.

cranberry crisis

In November 1958, the Department of Health warned that the year’s cranberry crop may have been contaminated by a chemical weed-killer. College dietician Martha Weismantel pointed out that SLC’s cranberry sauce had been in the storeroom for the past two years; however, students were still suspicious, and no cranberries were served with the Thanksgiving meal.