Authored by Elena Paparatto
In academia, a festschrift is a collection of writing in honor of a scholar usually presented during the lifetime of the recipient. In this case the festschrift is a collection of letters assembled by friends, students, and fellow workers of Mary Katherine Peters (“A Festschrift” 1934).
Mary Katherine Peters began her career at the New York State Institute of Agriculture in 1918 alongside her husband Clayton A Peters (Farmingdale State College 1918). Upon viewing the plethora of letters contained in the festschrift it is clear Mary Katherine Peters was a respected and valued member of the Farmingdale community. Both students and fellow co-workers referred to her endearingly as “Ma” or “Mother” Peters because of her nurturing manner and commitment to helping others (Farmingdale State College 1939).
In addition to teaching courses in entomology, English, and history Mrs. Peters was a councilor of the Corda Frates Association of Cosmopolitan Clubs of the Universities and Colleges of America (Farmingdale State College 1934, 89). Founded at the University of Wisconsin in 1906, the Cosmopolitan Club was an early international students’ group that aimed to encourage friendship, respect and understanding among men and women of all nationalities (“Cosmopolitan Club” 2010). Correspondingly, the club’s national motto was “above all nations, humanity” (Farmingdale State College 1934, 89). The State Institute of Applied Agriculture chapter was installed in 1923 and experienced years of high and low membership (Kowalchuk 1935). In the 1934 yearbook, The NYSSA, the Cosmopolitan Club boasts of having a successful membership campaign resulting in a “sizeable heterogenous membership representing nations between New Zealand and Mexico” and “nearly every foreign-born student at the institute” (Farmingdale State College 1934, 89). The club hosted many events and activities encouraging active participation by members. Typically, these clubs hosted events that allowed members to experience and understand different cultures through presentations, shows, music and food of a specific country (“Cosmopolitan Club” 2010). Among the events hosted at Farmingdale were “descriptive talks from foreign born members on their respected countries” (Kowalchuk 1935).
The Cosmopolitan Club was an organization that aimed to “. . .develop in the world, the spirit of human justice, tolerance, cooperation, and brotherhood and the desire to save humanity, unlimited by color, race, nationality, caste or creed by rousing and fostering this spirit in College and University students of all nationalities” (Farmingdale State College 1934, 89). As a dedicated councilor for the Cosmopolitan club, Mary Katherine Peters embodied the Venetian traditions of love and respect by “extending minds and hearts to nurture one’s own and another’s good. . .and awareness of and esteem for all individuals. . .” (Angel, n.d.) These traditions of love and respect are reflective in the cosmopolitan club’s objective to bring together people of all races and nationalities and foster a spirit of justice, tolerance, and brotherhood.
Angel, Christine. n.d. “Information Representation Through the Vincentian Lens of Transparency.” Google Docs. https://docs.google.com/document/u/1/d/1VkY3xbRv1Ikuny5LApVmVWmSiZ81OTtUyJ6aSl_I3xo/edit?usp=embed_facebook.
“Cosmopolitan Club: Above All Nations, Humanity.” 2010. Iowa State University: University Library. https://www.lib.iastate.edu/news/cosmopolitan-club-above-all-nations-humanity.
Farmingdale State College, The NYSSA 1918 Yearbook. Farmingdale State College Archives, Farmingdale State College, Farmingdale NY
Farmingdale State College, The NYSSA 1934 Yearbook. Farmingdale State College Archives, Farmingdale State College, Farmingdale NY.
Farmingdale State College, The NYSSA 1939 Yearbook. Farmingdale State College Archives, Farmingdale State College, Farmingdale NY.
A Festschrift for Mary Katherine Peters in honor of her retirement. 1939. Farmingdale State College Archives, Farmingdale State College, Farmingdale NY.
Kowalchuk, Michael. 1935. “Self Criticsism.” The Agazzette. January. https://cdm16694.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/collection/p16694coll78/id/120/rec/3.