The Wheaton ties of Anna Ivy ’11 reach back 150 years. Anna’s great-great-great-grandmother, Anna Barrows, graduated in 1861, the year the Civil War began. Her great-great-grandmother, Sarah Foster, was in the Class of 1885, the year the Statue of Liberty arrived in New York. And her grandmother, Elizabeth (“Betty”) Greene Ivy, graduated in 1947, two years after the end of World War II.
Betty Ivy recounts: “My great-grandmother, Anna Barrows, attended Wheaton when it was a seminary. There were about six or eight girls in her class, and at graduation, each girl gave a speech about the subject she had studied.”
By the time Betty attended, Wheaton had been an official college for more than 30 years, but it still offered an intimate learning environment.
“I enjoyed the smallness of Wheaton,” she says. “I really learned to study, and I learned a great deal. When I was at Wheaton, there were about five hundred girls. It was wonderful for me, because the girls did everything—and we perforce didn’t have the distraction of boys, because of the war.”
The college closely sheltered its students back then. Only the juniors and seniors could attend the dances with the soldiers from Camp Miles Standish, Betty says, and when students went off campus for the evening, they had to be back by 11:30 p.m. If they spent the weekend in Boston, there was only one college-approved hotel where they could stay.
Betty majored in English with a minor in French. One of her first jobs out of college was teaching English in Brunswick, Maine. It was there she met Robert Ivy, her future husband.
“A group of us teachers went to Miss Holbrook’s Boarding House for dinner at noon—that was the main meal of the day,” Betty recalls. “Elegant ladies would come in their hats, and so did the bachelor professors from Bowdoin.” One of them was Robert Ivy, who taught French at the college. Betty also became a French teacher, working at the junior high school level.
When it came time for her granddaughter Anna to choose a college, Betty recommended Wheaton, and Anna discovered that the college met her criteria.
“I was drawn to Wheaton by its admissions policy of looking at each student individually and encouraging a personal portfolio,” Anna says. “Additionally, my grandmother shared with me her own fond memories of Wheaton, which significantly influenced my final decision. She cherished her relationships with her peers and professors—relationships that marked her own intellectual maturity during her college years.”
Anna has forged the same kind of close relationships with her own Wheaton professors. “I took introductory courses in several departments,” she recalls, “but it was not until I took ‘Arts of the Western Tradition’ that I discovered my passion and connection to the field of art history. The professors in the department go out of their way to engage each student. My advisor, Professor Evelyn Staudinger, encouraged me to apply to a study abroad program in Rome that she herself had attended as an undergraduate, an experience that deepened my love for art history and my passion for Renaissance art.”
Anna has also helped out with the management of Wheaton’s art objects under the guidance of Leah Niederstadt, curator of the college’s Permanent Collection. Anna, who hopes to work in the museum profession, says, “Professor Niederstadt has shared much time with me, teaching me about how collections are managed and handled. These are skills I hope to carry with me to a career in the art world.”
As the college celebrates its 176th Commencement, the legacy tradition is going strong. About 50 members of the Class of 2011, or roughly 13 percent of the graduates, have relatives who attended Wheaton before them. Here are a few of their stories.
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