I seem to have a new-found knack for finding antique yearbooks from women’s colleges. I don’t “collect” them, but the illustrations are just so marvelous, and they add a lot to the types of information gathering I’m doing on women’s sportswear. My latest find is from Converse College, located in Spartanburg, SC, and founded in 1889. Converse is still open, and is still a woman’s college, though they do have a co-ed graduate program.
Y’s and Other Y’s is like other yearbooks I’ve seen from the early 20th century. It a mixture of a record of the school’s activities combined with a literary journal of sorts. It’s illustrated with both photographs and drawings, most of which are signed A.C. Coles.
A.C. Coles was Annie Cadwallader Coles, and she was a junior in the spring of 1901. After Annie graduated in 1902, she went to New York, where she contiuned to study art privately. She eventually took up permanent residence in her hometown, Columbia, South Carolina. She never married, and made her living painting portraits of prominent Columbia residents. Annie died in 1969.
For Y’s and Other Y’s, Annie drew a series of sports girls, featuring the athletics of Converse College.
At first glance one might think these drawings were made by Charles Dana Gibson, as they are so much in his style.
Interestingly, even in the drawings that depicted girls engaged in activities which would have required bloomers, there is not a single trace of them in any of the drawings.
At least the skirts were shown shortened.
The photographs of the sports teams also obscure whether or not the team members were wearing bloomers under those skirts. Please don’t miss the girl at the very top, holding the ball in profile.
Or maybe there is a tiny trace of a bloomered leg there in the front row.
I found an obituary for Annie Coles, thanks to the wonders of the internet. From it:
A small woman of spare frame, Miss Coles was an early advocate of healthy diets, some of which have recently come into vogue, and she was a believer in physical fitness. She walked almost everywhere she went in Columbia, and she attributed her ability to continue painting into her 80s to diet and physical exercise.