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Residing in the Past: Space, Identity, and Dorm Culture at Bryn Mawr College

Dorm Culture and Domesticity: Room Selection

Letter from Frances Arnold to Midge

Dorm affiliation was a core facet of students' undergraduate identities. As seen in the illustrations from "The Bryn Mawr Alphabet," a series in the student publication Fortnightly Philistine, each of the dorms is represented as having its own characteristics and attributes. These caricatures provide a window into the ways in which students created and embraced the dorm culture.

The process of selecting a room was one of great importance. Students underwent a process called room draw: on the day of room draw, students would line up outside of the College Secretary's office to secure the room they desired. Rooms were assigned on a first come, first served basis.

In a letter home to her mother (featured on the left), Frances Arnold describes the frenzy that overwhelms the campus during the room draw process. Arnold recounts being awakened in the early morning hours and climbing out the window in order to secure a choice spot in line at the Secretary's office. She mentions that some students spent the night in Taylor Hall in order to be first in line.