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Happy Hundredth

With this issue, we begin to celebrate The Pennsylvania Gazette’s 100th year of publication. (Technically, as any close reader of the contents page knows, volume 100 started with the September/October issue, but it’s our party and we’ll celebrate when we want to.)

In my first issue as editor of the Gazette, October 1996, I remarked on the coincidence of returning to Penn 20 years after arriving as a freshman in 1976, and then added, “I am delighted to be back, and both humbled and excited by the challenge of building on the magazine’s rich tradition.”

I had no idea …

The bound volumes of the Gazette take up one eight-foot shelf and about a third of another in our editorial offices. Those are only the ones from 1917-1918 on, after the magazine’s name was changed from Old Penn. The earlier volumes are in Van Pelt Library and the University Archives and Records Center (the latter is the only place that has a copy of volume 1). For the past several months and more, we’ve been poring over those thousands of pages—for most of the magazine’s first 35 years, it was published weekly—collecting material for the six Centennial issues we have planned for 2002.

Some of those old volumes were pretty dusty (or something), and if you think this print is small, you should try looking at the type from the 1920s and 1930s. But from our perspective, the sneezing and eyestrain have been well worth it. We hope you’ll agree.

To start things off, we provide an overview of the Gazette and the University during the 20th century. That article is illustrated by covers and other graphic material from the magazine, showing its development over the years, and is accompanied by summaries of issues spaced at 10-year intervals (complete texts of the issues are available at our Web site, Also included is the first of six somewhat Gazette-centric University timelines, covering 1902 through 1918 (the Old Penn years).

In “Tweaking History … and Everything Else,” we pay tribute to the artist who created our birthday cover for this issue and has been a frequent, and funny, contributor to the Gazette for 30 years, the wonderful Arnold Roth, with a selection of some of his past work for the magazine. And, in “Finals,” a new miscellaneous department that will occupy the magazine’s back page, senior editor Samuel Hughes traces the development of the Penn seal and coat of arms—a subject not as dry as you might think.

I wrote the overview and, having surrendered it to our art director, Catherine Gontarek, at the last possible moment, am now most conscious of all that has been left out (despite the article’s considerable length). Some omissions will be remedied in future issues, which will focus more closely on specific aspects of how the magazine has reflected Penn’s history over the century, such as faculty teaching and research (up next in March/April), sports, campus development, Penn traditions and rituals, the changing student population, and the Penn of today and tomorrow.

We’ll be including essays by noted writers, shorter pieces, and excerpts from the magazine, all supplemented by additional material available only on our Web site.

During the year, throughout the magazine, we’ll also be drawing connections between current stories and the past. Those will be highlighted by our Centennial logo.

Even more than usual, I hope you will write and let us know what you think—and also offer your suggestions for people, places, and events that we should feature in future issues. It’s your party, too.

—John Prendergast C’80


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