The Bertrand Library’s Special Collections/University Archives fall exhibit Bucknell features a multitude of student publications that have appeared over the Bucknell University’s 170-year history. The sheer diversity of student publications produced by Bucknell students is staggering; each period in the University’s history has its own distinct types of publications, each with a unique history, temperament, and audience in mind.
Early student publications tended to be very academic or have specific uses in relation to students. The first was the College Herald which was a literary magazine published between 1870 and 1880 by the Euepia and Theta Alpha Literary Societies—focusing on campus news, as well as local and national stories that related to college life. Many of the publications that immediately followed tried to resurrect the same kind of style of this original magazine, resulting in the short-lived publications Que Vive and the University Mirror.
Journalism has had a much stronger history at Bucknell. The first purely journalistic publication was Commencement News, published between 1887 and 1936, which was published daily during the three days of commencement for graduating seniors—covering the speeches, addresses, and activities. The Orange and Blue was the University’s first weekly newspaper—starting in 1897—covering a variety of campus-related topics as well as carrying some local news. It was renamed the Bucknellian in 1915 and established as the University’s official newspaper, continuing to be published to this day. A few other newspapers popped up during the last few decades—most notably a six-year run by the University Merchant as an “unestablished” alternative to the Bucknellian starting in 1985.
Bucknell also has a rich history of humor publications. As many universities around the country began publishing in the same vein as Harvard University’s Lampoon and University of Pennsylvania’s Punch-Bowl, Bucknell students contributed to the effort with the Belle Hop in 1923. The Belle Hop and its successor, the Antic, mostly published cartoons and humorous short stories, providing students with a less serious alternative to the other publications on campus. One of the more odd publications in this respect was the Woodpecker, a small pamphlet published for twenty years beginning in 1907. Written and published by students in the English department, it was known to be “mysterious and irregular” and featured many contributions that reflected the burlesque style of comedy that was popular at the time.
The collection also has its share of unique aspects of American history. Et Cetera Magazine, as we have covered on this blog before, featured Philip Roth as editor-in-chief for two years where he published numerous short stories and editorial pieces that predate most of his well-known writing. The issues that he was featured in are some of the more interesting and irregular pieces in the university archives collection.
Though each period has its own distinct style of publications, the history of student publications at the University shows the desire by many to create something of their own outside the confines of the regimes of the classroom. To the extent at which this has occurred at Bucknell, it has led to years of provoking, interesting, funny, and creative material that continues to be driven by students today.