Velma Graduates: Convocation!

Velma Jane Brown, Dalhousie University, Class of 1918

Velma Jane Moore, Dalhousie University, 1918

My grandmother Velma Jane Moore was awarded a Bachelor of Arts degree from Dalhousie University in 1918. Excelling at her studies, she earned the honor of graduating “With Distinction.”1 Velma’s graduation would have been a very proud day for her and her parents. Oddly, although our Family Archives include photographs of Velma posing with various friends, there are no photographs of the graduate with her parents. I would be very surprised if Baxter and Martha hadn’t been there.

Convocation

Convocation for the Class of 1918 was held on May 9, 1918 in the Studley campus library.2 I was thrilled to find a first-hand account in the Dalhousie Gazette of Velma’s graduation day. Here are the highlights:

Because of the war the programme was necessarily of the simplest, but nevertheless the room was filled to overflowing with friends of the graduates and of the University. . . . At the eastern end of the building a platform was erected upon which the senate and the guests of honor were seated. Above this dais was hung a long white banner bearing the names of the twenty-seven Dalhousians who have been awarded military honors in the present conflict.

. . . .

Promptly at three o’clock, those who were to obtain degrees marched down the aisle to the places reserved for them in the four front rows. The co-eds looked particularly charming in their white frocks and black gowns. There were no bouquets this year, but each girl wore a single daffodil at her corsage. The guest of honor and the professors followed.

. . . .

The awarding of prizes and diplomas . . . followed [the University president’s address]. Although the platform was narrow and the candidates nervous, none of them fell off as they made their parade across it.

. . . .

The programme was closed with a talk to the graduates by Dr. T. Stannage Boyle of King’s College. Dr. Boyle spoke strongly and sincerely, and kept away from the platitudes which usually flow so freely at convocations.3

Velma’s Major

Our family always assumed that Velma had majored in English because she was such an avid reader throughout her life. However, decades later the Nova Scotia provincial records would prove our assumption to be false. In fact, she graduated with a major in Biology and a minor in English.4

In my next post, I will answer the question of what Velma did in the year after she graduated from college, as the provincial records prove another family assumption to be incorrect.


1“Convocation,” Dalhousie Gazette L, no. 10-11 (June 18, 1918):10.

2“Convocation,” Dalhousie Gazette L, no. 10-11 (June 18, 1918):11.

3“Convocation,” Dalhousie Gazette: 10.

4Province of Nova Scotia, “Pass List, 1918: University Graduates’ Testing Examinations,” in “Being the Semi-Annual Supplement to the Report of the Superintendent of Education for Nova Scotia,” supplement, Journal of Education, 3rd ser., IX, nos. 1918-19 (April 1918): 85, https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uiug.30112106949099;view=1up;seq=239.

 

 

 

13 thoughts on “Velma Graduates: Convocation!

    • Thanks for your comment, Brad! I’m working on putting some more pieces together. (The fiction-writer in me wants a coherent narrative with clear causality–not always possible in the nonfiction world ’cause you can’t just make stuff up.)

      Liked by 1 person

    • According to my mother, Velma was named after the heroine of a novel her mother was reading when she was pregnant. No, it wasn’t usual for girls to go to university in Canada at that time, particularly those from poor rural communities as Velma was. Higher education for their children was very important to Velma’s parents.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. A woman receiving a bachelor’s degree in 1918 is quite an accomplishment. And that photo is just gorgeous! Such a cool story. I like that she choose to study biology over English but kept her love of books throughout her life.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Laura! The specific curricular information I was able to find in the Nova Scotia provincial reports and the Dalhousie University online archives makes her achievement all the more remarkable to me.

      Like

  2. Not only was your grandma beautiful, she was smart. How wonderful for her to achieve a Bachelor’s degree in 1918, and what an incredible example she set for those to follow in your family. I love reading stories of women in education. Bravo! Great post, Liz.

    Liked by 2 people

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