(Note: Starting today, I will be posting on a “two Tuesdays” schedule, with new posts coming on the 1st and 3rd Tuesdays of every month. I’m getting this one in just under the wire!)
On August 18, 1919, 18-year-old Ursula joined the ranks of more than 3,000 new students entering the University of California, Berkeley. That morning in the campus’s outdoor amphitheater, president emeritus Dr. Benjamin Wheeler welcomed the largest freshman class ever to enter the state university.
“The peril of coming to college is the peril of liberty and freedom,” he admonished the students, as reported in that evening’s Oakland Tribune. “…You can go back to Oakland and speed along the boulevards if you wish and attend gay parties in San Francisco, but you will pay for it later. Americans must have hard work. If they have not, they go to seed under it. You had better leave college if you cannot do things with a zest.” Such serious words for the incoming “Freshies”!
I can’t wait to tell you about Ursula’s college years—I have found a trove of information and photos online in a few of the university’s “Blue and Gold” yearbooks from that period. We’ll start with a tour of the Berkeley campus, as Ursula surely did before enrolling. All of the black and white photos below are from the 1922 yearbook.
Sather Tower, aka “the Campanile”
Completed in 1914 as a centerpiece for the UC Berkeley campus, the Campanile is the third-tallest bell and clock tower in the world, according to the UC Berkeley website. Visible for miles, this designated City of Berkeley Landmark is 107 feet tall and houses a carillon of 61 bells, on which you can still hear concerts played today.
Home to the English department, Wheeler Hall was opened in 1917, just two years before Ursula entered the university. She surely took classes there as a student of drama, and perhaps gathered with friends under “Wheeler Oak,” a tree that once shaded a portion Wheeler Hall steps and was a favorite meeting place for students back then.
Doe Library, built in the Classical Revival style and completed in 1911, was (and is) the main undergraduate library.
The Greek Theatre
A stage for many student productions (including some in which Ursula appeared) as well as professional actors, the Greek Theatre was built in 1903 on the site of a rough outdoor bowl already in use as an amphitheater since 1894. Modeled on architecture from ancient Greece, the theater was gifted to the university by William Randolph Hearst. Today, the Greek Theatre hosts The Berkeley Jazz Festival, pop, rock, and world music concerts, UC Berkeley graduation ceremonies, occasional addresses by noted speakers, and other events.
Stay tuned for more from Ursula’s UC Berkeley days, coming Tuesday, July 15…