A look at campus legends, lore and traditions

Institutions that have been around as long as Penn has accumulate centuries of history, decades of traditions, and who knows how many lifetimes’ worth of legends.

The traditions link past to present in a tangible way. The history takes both solid and impermanent form. And the legends often arise to explain why unfortunate things happen.

In this special section, we look at the history, tradition and legends of Penn.

We could not have written these stories without the assistance of several Penn scholars, researchers and archivists who provided us with source materials and background information.

Our sources included two comprehensive histories of Penn and its campus, “Gladly Learn and Gladly Teach” by Martin Meyerson and Dilys P. Winegrad (Pennsylvania, 1978) and “Building America’s First University” by George E. Thomas and David P. Brownlee (Pennsylvania, 2002).

Some of the history of class fights and Rowbottoms comes from “Rites of Passage: Student Traditions and Class Fights,” by Andrew K. Becker C’90 and Michelle A. Woodson C’90, which appeared in “A Pennsylvania Album: Undergraduate Essays on the 250th Anniversary,” published by the University in 1990.

We also perused articles from The Daily Pennsylvanian, The Pennsylvania Gazette and the General Magazine and Historical Chronicle of the University of Pennsylvania.

One thing both the books and our own work rely on is the staff and materials found in the University Archives. Archives Director Mark Frazier Lloyd, Public Service Archivist Amey Hutchins and the rest of the Archives staff provided much valuable research assistance. For more about the Archives, see page 3.

— Sandy Smith

Articles in this special report:

Originally published on January 15, 2004