« Back to Collection Exhibits

Exploring the Private Past of Passmore

Life at the Mawr: Laughing with Thomas

Photo Album of Frances Passmore Lowe, Class of 1908, Page 3

A formal portrait of M. Carey Thomas is the first picture in Frances Passmore's scrapbook.


Martha Carey Thomas is still a huge part of Bryn Mawr’s history, culture, and conversation. She is responsible for helping to mold the image and structure of Bryn Mawr through her strong, persuasive character as well as her familial connections to members on the Board of Trustees. She worked herself incredibly hard for the students of Bryn Mawr and was so passionate about women’s rights to education. Thomas first served as the Dean of the college before she was the second president for about 20 years and had quite the charismatic presence on campus, she was a beloved figurehead for Bryn Mawr. She was responsible for writing the pamphlets to advertise Bryn Mawr, refering to it as a place with very high standards "and warning of the severity of examinations."2

Evidence for this can be seen in Frances Passmore’s choice to introduce the viewer of her scrapbook with a portrait of M. Carey Thomas. This is so different from many of the other scrapbooks, which tend to have pictures of the creator in the first few images. But, Thomas’ face is one of the few recognizable faces throughout the entire scrapbook. Passmore obviously held her in very high regard and enjoyed her company. At Senior Receptions, which made other students nervous, a classmate Sarah Goldsmith described Frances:

“engaged in a lively conversation [with the President] and several times Miss Thomas threw back her head and laughed heartily as Fanny did…All I heard was Fanny’s closing remark: ‘Well, I shall see you next Saturday. I hope it will be as pleasant an occasion as this,’” (82).

Thomas served as a role model to many Mawrters and Passmore was no exception. Frances regarded President Thomas as a large part of her time at Bryn Mawr, commemorating her in a personal scrapbook and mentioning her in yearbook poems.

Photo Album of Frances Passmore Lowe, Class of 1908, Page 109

Thomas Great Hall, one of the most beautful buildings on campus.


2 Pumroy, Eric. Bryn Mawr College. Scarecrow Press, Inc. 2007. p 152.