First Baby Party

Baby parties, the first of which occurred in 1912, celebrated the rise from Junior to Senior status. They provided a chance to literally “let down one’s hair” and be silly one last time before becoming a more sedate and serious senior, expected to provide an example to the younger classes. Seniors took a more prominent role at the dinner table, encouraging conversation, wore caps and gowns to all formal occasions, such as May Day and Founders’ Day and passed on the Wheaton Spirit to lower classes.

During this period, although trolleys provided transportation from the center of Norton to Taunton and Mansfield and trains ran frequently to Boston and Fall River from the station only a mile east of campus, student activities were largely restricted to the campus and Norton. They took advantage of every opportunity to dress up and have a party, including political rallies, vaudeville, Halloween, George Washington’s Birthday, Valentine’s Day and May Day. Baby parties were another such student-organized activity.

Baby parties are an example of many sister class (first-year/junior or sophomore/senior) traditions born when Wheaton became a college. Although the four-year curriculum had been in place for many years, relatively few students graduated and received the Seminary certificate. With college status came increased pressure to graduate and earn the Bachelor’s degree. The promotion of connections between sister classes helped to create a strong and lasting sense of belonging both to the class and to the College.