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Dormitory Life, 1940-1950

Sonia Johnson and Barbara Gray in their Purington Hall room, ca. 1954.

By 1940, Farmington State Normal School had two dormitories -- Purington Hall and Mallett Hall -- and all the residents were women. Purington housed mostly first year students and upperclass students lived in Mallett. Two smaller houses, Palmer Hall and the Home Economics Cottage, housed some of the juniors and seniors in the Home Economics program.

In the dormitories, students awoke to the sound of a “rising bell” at 6 a.m. On Monday through Thursday, a “house bell” at 7:25 p.m. warned students they had to be in their own dormitory. Study hour commenced at 7:30 p.m. and “quiet house” began at 9:30 p.m.

Student had to be in their rooms by “room bell” at 9:55 p.m. and settled for the night by the “retiring bell” at 10 p.m. They were expected to remain in their rooms until rising bell. There was a little more freedom on the weekend. Students did not have to to be in the dorm until 9:45 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, although quiet house was observed throughout the day on Sunday.

Students were permitted to have a radio on in their room until 11 p.m., for which they paid a monthly fee of 25 cents. The only other electrical appliance allowed in a student's room was a hairdryer. Use of electricity was limited by wattage and the number of lights in use and hours lights could be used were regulated by dormitory policies. Telephone calls from young gentlemen in town, if permitted by the matron, were limited to 3 minutes in duration.

Laundering of bed linens and towels was provided by the dormitory laundries. Students could hand wash personal items in the laundry room, but only during specified hours. Use of the dormitory clothes lines was also restricted. Running water for a bath was limited no later than 10PM.

Visitors and Dining

F.S.T.C. students Bill Gildart and Jay Darling outside Purington Hall, 1949.

Students were not allowed to entertain guests in their rooms. With permission of the house matron, gentlemen guests were allowed to visit on Saturday and Sunday afternoons and on week nights after dinner, but had to leave by the study hour bell. Out of town gentlemen visitors had to be approved by the matron and the dean. All visitors were restricted to the common areas of the main floor, such as the lounge, library or outside porch.

Meals prepared in the dormitory kitchens were served in the first floor dining rooms. Students had assigned seats during the week, which were set at the beginning of each quarter term. They could choose their own seats on Friday through Sunday nights. Men attending the college could pay to eat in a dining room, but were not permitted to linger in the dormitory after the meal. Freshmen men used the Purington dining room and were assigned seats (one or two men per table). Upperclass men ate in the Mallett dining room.

Dormitory rules for women also specified that kerchiefs were not allowed at evening meals or on Sundays, slacks could be worn only at breakfast and Saturday lunch, and afternoon dresses were required at Wednesday evening meals. There were at least three formal dinners held each year, at which diners were required to dress appropriately.


In addition to matrons who oversaw the general management of the dormitories, there was a House Government consisting of a president, vice-president, secretary-treasurer, house committee, proctors and house court. The president interpreted house policies and was chosen at the end of each semester. The vice-president assisted and filled in for the president as needed. The secretary-treasurer kept minutes of house meetings and was responsible for any money the house raised.

Betty MacDougall climbing out onto the Purington Hall porch roof, 1948.

The house committee included the matron, house president, and a first and a second year student chosen at the beginning of the semester. The committee planned the social affairs of the house, coordinated the electing of proctors and appointed the house court. Proctors helped enforce the house rules and served as fire captains. The house court handled infringement of house rules, the handing out of “black marks” for misbehavior and imposing restrictions on those who violated the rules.

Activities outside classes and the dormitory were also regulated. Attendance at chapel services was required and students had to have written permission to go home on the weekends. Students also could not attend dances or other social events that were not organized by the college. Even visiting downtown was limited under school policies.

By the 1950s, there was some loosening of dormitory rules. First year students had to be in the dormitory by 8 p.m. and all others by 10 p.m. Quiet hours started at 8 p.m. and continued to lights out at 10:30 p.m. during the week, but only extended to 10 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday mornings. The radio fee increased to 50 cent by the 1950s, but students were also allowed to use a record player in their rooms. There were still limits on number of lights in use in the dorm rooms, although not as stringent. Dancing and smoking were permitted in the student lounges, but smoking was not allowed elsewhere in the dormitories or on the porches.

Sources: The Constitution of the Student-Faculty Cooperative Government of Farmington State Normal School (ca. 1945). Dining Room Etiquette (ca. 1940), Our Daily Living, Social Training Committee, 1943. Purington Hall – House Regulations (ca. 1951). Dormitory Council Polices (ca. 1951) Farmington State Teachers College Handbook, 1940-1958.