Courtesy of the Washington City Paper‘s Sexist blog (yes, that’s its name) comes this look back at life in Cambridge at the turn of last century. A New York Times article from July 1900 titled “The Cubans at Harvard” is not about the school’s new smoking club, but a large group of Cuban girls spending the summer in Boston in order to learn English. And like most articles from the time, it’s absolutely ridiculous.
Blog author Amanda Hess does a good job ripping the unnamed Industrialization-era Times writer so we won’t run through the entire article. Here’s our favorite part:
The traditional beauty of the Cuban women has not been exaggerated by travelers. In the party now in Cambridge are numerous types of pure beauty; indeed most of them are above the average in looks. Among them is at least one girl with red hair, although the prevailing complexion is brunette.
It’s comforting to know that even back in 1900, the most important news on campus was, “Did you see the new hot chicks?” The article also stated that the showering of attention upon the young women was due in part to “their ignorance of our language”. That’s the same reason Valley Girls were so popular.
Sure this article is sexist and it’s slightly embarrassing for Harvard. But is it any more sexist or embarrassing than Larry Summers? You need to put these things in perspective.