Dear sunscreen appliers,
The Lazy Scholar is happy to return to these webpages after a protracted journey through the land of end-of-semester labor—paper grading and dissertation prospecting, to be precise. There are still some seniors milling (and drinking) around campus, biding their time until commencement. But so far, I haven’t spotted any yearbooks—that tried and true token of upward academic mobility.
If I remember correctly from my own bright college years, I didn’t get my yearbook until many weeks after graduation, too late to have friends fill up its pages with earnest remembrances and congratulations. I know I got more use out of my high school yearbook, but all I can think about right now is that weird color section inserted by the printers to commemorate all the important events and hit movies from the previous year. That color insert (here’s one energetic promo) also sadly exposes how generic most yearbooks actually are—they typically reveal less about any single place and time than they do about the art and sometimes artlessness of nostalgia.
To prove, and complicate, my point, the digital archive fortunately overflows with scanned yearbook collections. So, in classic yearbook fashion, I offer you this list of class notables.
Most Likely to Be Mistaken for a Leiber and Stoller Song
By 1901, University of North Carolina’s students renamed their yearbook from the stodgy Hellenian to the downright silly Yackety Yack. That sense of humor can also be detected in the 1911 volume, which features cartoons beneath every class photo. Herbert Ray Ray (yes, Ray Ray) was evidently something of a cad, to judge by his portrait (right), which features girls hollering to him from a seminary. Other students didn’t fare quite so well: Harry Meyer Solomon‘s entry imagines him as an aged and balding king, with a requisite hooked “Hebrew” nose. John Harris meanwhile is nicknamed “Fatty John,” weighing in at 185 pounds (apparently it was standard to list everyone’s weight).
Most Haunting Mascot
The eerie owl of the Hinakaga, yearbook of Carroll College, Wisconsin.
Duke’s 1950 Chanticleer features this photo of their famed blue devil. He would have no place in the trippy yearbooks of the 70s, edged out by artsy photojournalism and images of long-haired hippies. And don’t forget quasi-Buddhism. The 1975 Chanticleer features one spread devoted to Desire, one to Becoming, and another to Sensation.
The students pictured in The Aggie, yearbook of the University of Minnesota Northwest Agricultural School.
Most Likely to Excite Fans of The Office
University of Scranton yearbooks galore.
The Crispus Attucks school was founded in Indianapolis in 1927 as an all-black high school, but began admitting white students in 1967. The spread below comes from the 1972 volume.
The Owl and The Panther Prints, yearbooks of Western University of Pennsylvania and University of Pittsburgh.
The Key, high school yearbook of Marysville, Ohio.
There are more superlatives to designate, but I’m afraid my own search for lost time has come to an end. But if you have any other yearbook links to share, please add them to the comments section.
Yours in pomp and circumstance,