About The Smiffenpoofs
Then & Now
The Smiffenpoofs originated in 1936 after a group of Smithies attended a Yale picnic where the Whiffenpoofs performed. The Smithies were so impressed by the Whiffs' camaraderie and musicality that they decided to form the first women's collegiate a cappella group in the nation, modeling it after the Whiffs and adopting a similar name in their honor. As the story goes, it was on November 23, 1936, that Smith College President William Allan Neilson gave his official approval of the group, gifting them with a leather-bound journal in which to record their history.
The first group of Smiffenpoofs consisted of four seniors and four juniors who were hand-picked from campus choirs by the group's co-founders, Sue Becton ('38) and Jeanne Thayer ('38). They frequently performed with the Whiffenpoofs, along with other growing a cappella ensembles, until WWII, when the groups drifted apart owing to the Whiffs going off to war and the Smiffs joining the war effort as Red Cross nurses. Contrary to popular belief, though, the Smiffenpoofs did not disband during this period. In fact, they regularly visited area hospitals to bring music and good cheer to soldiers who were forced to return home from overseas.
Now, over seventy years later, the Smiffenpoofs have seen numerous changes, but the aim of the group's founders remains in tact - to become as integral to the history and life of Smith College as the Whiffs have been to Yale. Today the "Smiffs" are affectionately called the "Poofs," and their repertoire has expanded to include old favorites and contemporary hits alike. The oldest song in the group's repertoire is "Manhattan," and the song that remains a rallying call for Smiffenpoofs alumnae of all generations is "Softly."
The current Smiffenpoofs are honored to continue the a cappella tradition with as much pride and joy as the group's original eight and thank you for your interest and support!