'College girls'

College girlsPhoto credit: University Archives

When Charles Dana Gibson began drawing his “Gibson Girl” sketches in the early 1900s he intended the drawings—pictures of elite young women looking oh-so-haughty—to be a form of satire. Seems that some folks didn’t get the joke, though, because before long other artists picked up where Gibson left off and created similar images that, instead, idealized the upper class. The idea took hold, especially, at exclusive universities, where sketches of “college girls” (also called “football girls,” “college queens” and “university girls”) cheering on their school became popular postcard images. Among the artists who drew Penn college girls was F. Earl Christy, a native Philadelphian and graduate of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, whose work gained popularity with some assistance from his father, William B. Christy, who helped get the drawings published. Christy’s sketches, which had many imitators, reached their peak in popularity in 1906 and 1907.

For more on this and other notable moments in Penn’s history, visit the University Archives web site at www.archives.upenn.edu.

Originally published on October 19, 2006.

Originally published on October 19, 2006