Pioneers of Periodization

Stanford Juniors of the class of 1896 publish The Stanford Quad, the university’s first yearbook. These writers’ sense of history is already palpable in their opening editorial: “Just as our fathers and grandfathers in the days of ’49 carved out settlements with vigor and energy, to prepare the ways for those that were to follow, so a body of students, in the days of ’91, broke ground near Palo Alto to form a new settlement peculiar in itself; for it was to be a college settlement. The men of ’49 will pass down through the history of California with the noble epithet of Pioneer engraved with their memories. It has been the happy lot of the Class of ’95 to be so associated with the establishment of this institution as to be placed upon the records of the Leland Stanford Junior University as the class to receive first the benefit of a full four years’ course, and bear the proud name of Pioneer..

Frontispiece inscribed with names of editors, 1895 Quad


…The publication fills a peculiar place in college life. It calls forth resources which no other college publication can affect. It combines in one volume a complete record of University affairs, literary, social, and athletic, connected by the best artistic sense of the University. This publication has been christened The Stanford Quad (the plan on which the University is built).  The name was chosen: firstly, because it is peculiar to this institution only; secondly, for its snap and vigor;  – a marked contrast of the University; thirdly, because in it is embodied the nucleus of the University settlement and sentiment – the quadrangle.”

Illustration and musical notation for the Junior Hop, 1895 and 1896 Quad


The Stanford Quad not only archives monumental and quotidian aspects of campus life, but also memorializes and champions artistic achievement.  From the dustiest of its pages, readers learn about Stanford’s oldest literary societies, which cultivated the arts of oration, debate, and creative writing.  Early issues of the Quad provide evidence for the Alpha Literary Society (founded in October, 1891), the Philolexian Literary Society (November 1894), the Euphronia Literary Society, of which the late President Lyman was a member (January 14, 1893), the Nestorian Literary Society (September 1894).  Numerous student endeavors in journalism and publishing are likewise given special attention, particularly the Stanford Press Club and The Stanford Sequoia.

Illustration for Philolexian Literary Society, 1897 Quad


A multitude of arts organizations and activities in music, drama, visual arts, and dance are likewise rendered a significant component in Stanford students’ experiences.  Indeed, by vocalizing the students’ perspectives, the Quad intensified the pioneering power of student creativity which is today apparent in the cover designs and editorials of The Leland Quarterly and the poetry of Literary Laundry.  And in 2007, student Galen Panger (class of 2007) created The Unofficial Stanford Blog, a digital publication that highlights the authentic expression of Stanford voices and perspectives.

Featured image: cover of first issue of The Stanford Quad, 1895