Then & Now

West Point cadets and the sex-and-drug ’60s; IBM, Luckey Platt, and ice harvesters; airports, bridges, and those famous ferries. Join us for a look back at the last 100 years of Valley history


(page 10 of 20)

Vassar ladies in one of the college's loungesPhotographs courtesy of Special Collections, Vassar College Libraries

The Young and the Restless

Then: Although their blueblood backgrounds were easy to discern in the 1950s (left), Vassar students didn’t refrain from participating in the 1960s counterculture. In March 1968, hallucinatory drug advocate and onetime Millbrook resident Timothy Leary (below; top right) waived his usual $1,500 appearance fee to give a lecture at the school entitled “Conflict of Men and the Use of Drugs in Modern Society.” That same year, students protested alleged police brutality during drug raids on Dutchess County colleges. “We’ve got the sheriff surrounded by youth, love, and beauty,” Leary said at the time. “Vassar on the east; Bard, Marist, and Dutchess on the north; and New Paltz on the west, so we ought to win out.” In 1969, Vassar fomented a revolution that was smaller and more peaceful in nature, but — at least locally — equally as astonishing: the famously all-women’s college officially became a coeducational institution. Those members of the class of 1973 were not the first men to call themselves Vassar boys, however: About 170 veterans attended the college on the G.I. Bill after World War II.

Timothy Leary walks from Vassar
Vassar students paticipate in a protest outside the campus
Now: current Vassar students work together on an outdoor project

Now: Vassar College is now 40 percent male. The students are still very politically active, although many of the causes have changed since the ’60s: Amnesty International, the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance, and the Queer Coalition of Vassar College are three of the student groups currently on campus. Last September, the college invited environmental journalist Elizabeth Kolbert to speak on the perils of global warming, a topic many consider to be today’s most urgent issue.

Next: The Orange County Fair Speedway


Click on any image below to view more historic photos from 'round the Valley


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