Posts with the tag: alumni

The Archivist’s Nook: CUA Bulletin Chronicles Catholic U

CUB chronicled an illustrious visitor, newly elected President Franklin D. Roosevelt, v. 1, n. 5, July, 1933. CU Bulletin, Special Collections, The Catholic University of America.

Since the nineteenth century American colleges and universities have published annual reports, yearbooks, newspapers, and other promotional materials chronicling their institutional related events and accomplishments to faculty, students, alumni, and other interested parties. Many of these, such as yearbooks and newspapers, while sanctioned by administrators, are produced by students. Others, generally targeted at alumni and other potential donors, are official institutional publications, often citing institutional archives. The award winning CatholicU magazine, published since 2017, is the latest incarnation of The Catholic University of America’s official publication. Earlier versions include The CUA Bulletin, First Series (1895-1928), CUA Bulletin, Second Series (1932-1968), Envoy (1971-1990), and CUA Magazine (1989-2017).

CUB reported on CU Physics faculty and their new “atom smasher” obtained with assistance from The Carnegie Institute, v. 8, n. 6, September 1941. CU Bulletin, Special Collections, The Catholic University of America.

Previous blog posts have featured the early years of Catholic University’s yearbook The Cardinal and student newspaper, The Tower, both digitized, while this one is focused on the CUA Bulletin, Second Series, and its recent in-house digitization. The first manifestation of the Bulletin was more of an academic journal in format and content, though including newsworthy items. It is largely scanned and online in several places due to the lack of copyright. There were 34 volumes in a 6” x 9” format. There were 4 rather thick issues per year through 1908, then 9 more slim issues 1909 through 1925, then back to 4 issues for the final three years, 1926-1928.  The pages were consecutively numbered for all but the last volume when each of the four issues begin pagination all over again.

CU students, like so many others in wartime America, support War Bonds, v. 11, n. 2, September 1943. CU Bulletin, Special Collections, The Catholic University of America.

The second series, the subject of this post, was published in 36 volumes, 1932-1968, but in the glossy magazine format more recognizable in similar and later alumni focused publications at Catholic University and elsewhere. As historical objects, such publications reflect the customs and perspectives of their time and may seem offensive to contemporary views. We have chosen to retain the digital content intact for historical accuracy though we do not necessarily endorse views depicted in this online archive now available to the research community and broader public.

CUB details Mullen Library expansion to address the annual addition of over 14,000 new books, bound periodicals, and pamphlets, v 24, n 1, July 1956. CU Bulletin, Special Collections, The Catholic University of America.

Regarding the original print format, individual issues of the first seven volumes, November 1932-August 1939, were 14 pages each and sized 7.75 x 9.75 inches.  The remaining issues through 1968 were sized at 8 x 10.5 inches, though the number of pages per issue rose to 16 for volumes 31-34, 1963-1966, but was reduced to 6 pages for the last two volumes in 1967-1968. Oddly, the last two volumes are numbered 1 and 2. A particularly erratic feature of this otherwise very professionally produced publication was the number of issues per volume, ranging from 4 to 6 for the majority of publication, but with only 2 for volume 34 but 7 for the second volume 1 for 1967. Future plans in Special Collections include digitization of the aforementioned successor publications Envoy, CUA Magazine, and Catholic U.

The last issue of the C.U. Bulletin, May 1968, v 1, n 2, reports on the Commencement address of D.C native, Senator Edward Brooke. CU Bulletin, Special Collections, The Catholic University of America.

Future plans in Special Collections include digitization of the aforementioned successor publications Envoy, CUA Magazine, and Catholic U. For more on Special Collections see the folowing post and our web site.

The Archivist’s Nook: All Dressed Up – On Turkeys and Tuxedos

Sorry, Mr. Turkey, but it would a social faux pas to decline the invitation this late.
Sorry, Mr. Turkey, but it would be a social faux pas to decline the invitation this late.

Over the next week, the campus will become rather quiet. Most students and staff will hop on various planes, trains, and automobiles on their way to family and feasts. Many readers may even have their own Thanksgiving traditions from watching football to volunteering at a soup kitchen. But would you spend Turkey Day attending a formal soiree after the big game? If you were a student at Catholic University in the 1920s, and had remained in DC, you may very well have. In fact, if you found yourself on the campus in the 1930s, you may also have witnessed bonfires and parades.

One of the earliest CUA social traditions often centered on Thanksgiving – the Utopian Club Annual Gala. Founded on March 14, 1923, the Utopian Club was one of several men’s social organizations that existed in the early twentieth century at CUA. Among its peers were the Senators Club, the Abbey Club, the Dod Noon Club, and (by 1935) the Cave Dwellers. All these organizations acted as fraternal and alumni societies, organizing formal galas and casual gatherings known as “smokers.”

Students posing at one of the 1930s galas.
Students posing at one of the 1930s galas.

Within its first year of life, the Utopian Club inaugurated a tradition of hosting an elaborate ball for its alumni and active members, as well as invited guests from the campus community. What began as a simple event in 1923, soon became one of the most anticipated social occasions of the academic year. The student press closely followed the announcements of the Utopian Club’s social engagements, waiting for its elected head, the “Supreme Utopian,” to announce the Ball’s date, venue, and ticket availability.

While these soirees technically had no fixed date, they were traditionally held in the ballroom of a local hotel on Thanksgiving evening following a CUA football game. Other events, such as the Abbey Club’s Tea Dance were often held the following Saturday. These activities were originally intended to liven up the moods of students who were unable to spend Thanksgiving back home. These dances, as the December 1, 1926 Tower put it, “officially [close] one of the most brilliant weekends that will be written into the historical archives of the C.U.  Thanksgiving weekend is always anticipated by those ‘left behind’ for the holiday. Days stuffed with sparkling dances, ardent music, a rousing football game, and dazzling girls, everything to make the existence of the stay-at-home a little easier to endure.”

Conga Line at the Homecoming Dance, ca. 1950s
Conga Line at the Homecoming Dance, ca. 1950s

The Senators Club, an alumni organization, soon began to hold its own Thanksgiving gala alongside the Utopian Club in 1928. By the 1930s, the Thanksgiving galas became closely associated with the Homecoming football game, held during the holiday weekend. Thus, the various social events of Thanksgiving weekend became ever more lively affairs as the 1930s wore on, with celebratory bonfires, jitterbug contests, freshmen pajama parades, and votes to determine the “handsomest man” and the man with the “biggest feet.” With the Tower also reporting multiple visits by motorcycle-bound police and impromptu parades through the Brookland neighborhood, the student population often clashed with the administration and alumni community over what forms of Homecoming spirit were acceptable.

Homecoming royalty was first selected in 1949. Pictured: 1967 Homecoming Queen and court.
Homecoming royalty was first selected in 1949. Pictured: 1967 Homecoming Queen and court.

By the 1940s, the Thanksgiving traditions of the previous decades began to fade. The dates of the dances and the Homecoming game itself eventually became movable, though soirees continued for years (and the Homecoming dance never fully vanished). The original founder of the galas, the Utopian Club, continued to thrive well into the 1980s, albeit under a new name. In 1956, in honor of its long-time mentor, Fr. Ignatius Smith, O.P, it adopted the name Sigma Pi Delta. A collection of the organization can be viewed in the Archives.

Outstanding CUA Alumni in Mullen Library’s May Gallery

Come and learn about notable figures from the Catholic University of America’s history in our “Outstanding CUA Alumni” exhibit located in the May Gallery of Mullen Library. The exhibit will be up from October through December of 2014. Outstanding CUA Alumni include: Jon Voight, Julie Nixon Eisenhower, Martin O’Malley, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, Venerable Fulton J. Sheen, and Paula A. Vogel.