The Junior and Senior Speaking exercises grew out of commencement activities, when representatives of the two literary societies would present orations as part of the ceremonies. Members of the junior class would give a series of orations, punctuated by musical performances on topics ranging from “Liberty vs. License” to “The Preservation of Democracy” and from “The Victorian Era” to “Elements of Noble Character.”
Over time the number of speeches and the number of days devoted to commencement diminished. Senior speaking became a part of Maxwell Chambers Day usually held in April or March. Senior speaking moved in 1914 to November. In 1920, the Senior class began presenting a minstrel show in the place of senior speaking. The Junior speaking exercises moved from June to February. By the early 1920s, Junior Speaking became more of a variety show and a social weekend. In the 1930s, Junior Speaking became a dance weekend with no actual speaking or public performances.
Junior Speaking Programme (1902). RG 6/14.71. Junior & Senior Speaking. Davidson College Archives, Davidson, NC.
Author: Jim Harris
Date: 5 March 2012
Cite as: Harris, Jim. “Junior Speaking.” Davidson Encyclopedia, 5 March 2012 <http://libraries.davidson.edu/archives/encyclopedia/junior-speaking/>