Category Archives: Historical

Penn Traditions: The Good, The Bad, and THE RED & THE BLUE!

Author: Nicole Svonavec GEd ‘09

Every college student takes part in traditions on their campus as part of a unifying undergraduate experience.  I’ve attended and worked at several colleges so far, and Penn’s traditions stand out for their uniqueness, mass appeal, and staying power.  Experiences like Hey Day, Spring Fling, and taking a photo with your boo at the LOVE statue, have stood the test of time.  Creative Class Boards, Penn Traditions students, and other student leaders are forming new traditions (shout out to Holifest!) every year.

On the other hand, some traditions have faded into history.  And let’s be real, I’m feeling okay about that.  While I love reminiscing with our Old Guard alumni about retired traditions from their Penn days, I see a few good reasons to keep these in the archives:

“The Bowl Fight”

Although these strapping young lads look quite happy in the photo (from 1905), The Bowl Fight stands as one of Penn’s most historic, but also most sketchy traditions.  I’m not sure which one of these students was elected to be shoved INSIDE that bowl by his peers, but I would cry seeing our fabulous freshmen and sophomore duking-it-out on College Green in present-day.  Final verdict: This tradition is one of Penn’s best (craziest) stories, but a happily retired one.

Photo courtesy of Collections of the University Archives and Records Center

Photo courtesy of Collections of the University Archives and Records Center

“The Poster Fight”

(Note how many of these old traditions include the word “fight.”  Thankfully the advent of Pottruck Gymnasium seems to have given students a more productive outlet for their pent-up energy).  1905 was a busy year for traditions, and The Poster Fight stands as another fine example of class rivalries at their best/most intense.  The poster below (located in Sweeten Alumni House – come visit!) shows how “no blow was too low” when asserting your eminence over other classes.  Hopefully they all hugged it out at the end of the day.

poster fight3

“Kissing the Boot”
Everyone loves a good freshman rite-of-passage, but the 1940s-50s tradition of kissing Ben Franklin’s boot outside of Weightman Hall strikes me as a bit unsanitary.  Good thing freshman carried this out in early fall, because kissing a metal boot in the winter seems like it could cause the same nightmare as getting your tongue stuck to the flagpole in elementary school (Note: this did NOT happen to me, whew).

Photo and facts courtesy of Collections of the University Archives and Records Center

Photo and facts courtesy of Collections of the University Archives and Records Center

The Penn Traditions program is currently working on a new event (to launch in fall 2014) aiming to teach current students about some of these hilarious/spirited/dangerous traditions of the past.  If you took part in a really fun tradition on campus during your time at Penn, email svonavec@upenn.edu so we can include it in our event!

*Thanks to the Penn Archives and Under the Button for inspiring this post!

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Filed under Alumni Perspective, Campus Life, Historical, Memories of Penn, Nicole S., Traditions, Uncategorized, yPenn

The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same

Author: Liz Pinnie

Yesterday a friend from Admissions stopped by the Interview Program Office for a cup of coffee during his break from sitting in committee (yes, it’s that time of year!).  As he melted into a chair and took a slug of his coffee, we started to chat about his impressions on reading hundreds upon hundreds of interviews.

What has recently struck J. about interview reports is the ability of interviewers- of all Penn class years and schools- to touch upon those certain qualities that makes Penn Penn, and a Quaker a Quaker.  Interviews took place via skype, phone, and in person conversation all over the world this year- from Dubai to Detroit, from Slovakia to Santa Monica- from alumni ranging in age from 22 to 85.

In 64 years, there have been a few changes at Penn- a transition from typewriters to computers to tablets, the conversion from Penn-specific building to community oriented growth in West Philadelphia, the evolution from weekly letters home to dorm hall phone calls to texts, the creation of Locust Walk as a pedestrian thoroughfare, the full integration of women to the University, and growth through eight different Presidents (among a few other changes- The Arch, anyone!?).

However, what we’re seeing from interview reports is that the more things change, the more they stay the same.  Throughout Penn’s past, a passion for activity both inside and outside of the classroom has remained, along with a desire for growth in knowledge, a hunger for integration, and excitement for innovation.

Over 12,000 of your fellow alumni are discovering students with these indelible Penn qualities from all over the world through interviews- if you’d like to help, join the Interview Program by clicking here, and share with us what you think makes a Quaker a Quaker.

 

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Filed under Campus Life, Historical, Interview Program, Liz P., Memories of Penn, Uncategorized, Volunteering

November 5, 1895

Author: Janell Wiseley

 

This may look like an ordinary trowel, but it is no such thing. This trowel was used to lay the cornerstone of the Dormitory Quadrangles on November 5, 1895.

 

trowels

Courtesy of the University of Pennsyvlania Archives and the Penn Facebook page.

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100 years with the Sphinx

Author: Janell Wiseley

Have you ever been to the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology?  Have you ever wondered about the Sphinx – a 15-ton single piece of red granite, the largest such stone sculpture in the Western Hemisphere and the sixth largest in the world?  How did it get there, and why is it at Penn?Sphinx-story1[1]

Wonder no more.  Check out the Penn Current for the full story of how the Sphinx arrived in Philadelphia in 1913.

1913 sphinx

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Filed under Historical, Janell W., Penn Museum, Philadelphia

Home Sweet Home

Author: Janell Wiseley

I have worked at Penn, more specifically the E. Craig Sweeten Alumni House for over 10 years, and every day I’m thankful that I do not work in your typical nine to five office building.   Sure, we have desks and a conference room, but we also have a fire place in the living room and comfy couches in the lounge.  It’s also been a part of the Penn campus for a long time…

In 1897 two events took place at the University of Pennsylvania which would culminate 85 years later in this building.

During that year the General Alumni Society filed its papers of incorporation with the County of Philadelphia, and the Delta Tau Delta fraternity established its Delta chapter at the University of Pennsylvania in a row house at 3533 Locust Street.

Woodland Avenue at the intersection of 36th and Locust Street

Woodland Avenue at the intersection of 36th and Locust Street

In 1914, Delta Tau Delta decided to rebuild its premises and acquired the two adjacent houses, 3535 and 3537, the latter having been briefly the home of the Lenape Club. The three structures were thrown together.  The firm of two young architectural alumni was retained for the new commission: Bissell, Sinkler &Tilden (E. Perot Bissell 1893 and John D.E. Sinkler 1898): the cost was $24,000. The house was occupied in May 1915.

The campus neighborhood in which the fraternity house stood was improved by the University’s post-World War II development programs.  The most dramatic change came in the mid 1950’s when the College Hall Green was created with the closing of Woodland Avenue and the construction of a subway system to carry the trolley cars that once crisscrossed the campus.

Further demolition in the area left the Delta Tau Delta House with a clear view of the Green, which was dramatically landscaped in 1979 as part of the Blanche Levy Park project.  In 1972 the office of the Dean of Students moved into the house when the fraternity closed its local chapter.

Nine years later the house was designated to be the new home of the alumni program.  The architectural firm of Dagit, Saylor, (Peter Saylor, AR’63) was commissioned to plan the renovations and refurbishing.

All of the funds for the renovation and refurbishing were contributed by Trustees, alumni, friends, classes and associations of the University.

E. Craig Sweeten Alumni House

E. Craig Sweeten Alumni House

On June 19, 1981, the Trustees approved a resolution naming the new Center in honor of Senior Vice President for Development and University Relations, E.  Craig Sweeten a member of the Class of 1937. On May 14, 1982, at the opening of the Class of 1937 45th reunion program, Mr. Sweeten raised the flag, officially opening the new Alumni Center at the University of Pennsylvania.

The alumni office had been one of the most peripatetic of the University departments.  Originally located in offices in downtown Philadelphia, the General Alumni Society moved to Irvine Auditorium on campus prior to World War II.  In the late 1960’s and early 1970’s there was a series of five moves that ended with the General Alumni Society and the Department of Alumni Relations in Eisenlohr Hall.

The new Sweeten Alumni House brings together under one roof the offices of Penn Alumni, the Regional Alumni Clubs, Multicultural Outreach, Classes and Reunions, the Alumni Interview Program and many other alumni programs.  It also provides facilities for alumni and student meetings and a reception area for returning alumni.

Text and pictures courtesy of University Archives.

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Filed under Historical, Janell W., Photos, Sweeten Alumni House, View from Sweeten

Hey Day 1993 – 21 Years Later

By Kiera Reilly, C’93  @KieraReilly

As the Junior Class celebrates Hey Day today, the Class of 1993 is busy preparing for our 20th reunion in just a few short weeks. But it’s also a good time to think back and remember our time as students. It’s hard to believe that twenty-one years ago, on April 24, 1992, we were strutting down Locust Walk about to become Seniors and officially begin our last year at Penn.

Remember the bookstore wall? Huntsman Hall now stands where this wall was. Hey Day is coming - buy your hat, canes and shirts!

Remember the bookstore wall? Huntsman Hall now stands where this wall was. Hey Day is coming – buy your hat, canes and shirts!

I asked my classmates to share their memories of Hey Day, but no one was willing to fess up and share anything on the record. So, here is Hey Day 1993…names withheld to protect the innocent.

Anonymous Classmate #1

OMG, Hey Day! I had 3 job offers and was deciding between them. Completely forgot that a rep from one of the 3 firms was coming to meet me that day to talk about his company. After many, many cocktails, I stumbled back to off-campus housing midday in my red t-shirt and broken hat to find him sitting on my front steps. I could hardly put 2 words together. Cheers to my housemates who saved the day and invited him into our filthy stinking apartment and got him completely wasted. Needless to say, I accepted the offer and stayed at that job for 12 years. It was so awesome. He was my first boss — we just had drinks together this past Tuesday!!

Everyone gathered in off-campus apartments and houses to start the celebration.

Everyone gathered in off-campus apartments and houses to start the celebration.

Hey Day Kiera Lisa

Hey Day Regan 2

Anonymous Classmate #2

First of all it was one of my best days at Penn – being with all my best friends on the Junior Balcony, hugging each other and laughing, while at the same time seeing – in one place – so many of our classmates that I had met during the 3 years before.

I remember after all the festivities started to die down, standing buzzed in the lightly falling rain in the middle of College Green listening to Jerry Brown give a campaign speech for President. I remember thinking, “Boy did his campaign staff really pick the wrong day to come to campus!” Everyone in the audience was a drunk junior – barely standing, cheering and not listening to him. It was a surreal experience for sure!

We made our way from Super Block, over the 38th Street Bridge.

We made our way from Super Block, over the 38th Street Bridge.

And then we headed to the Quad.

And then we headed to the Quad.

Hey Day Quad

Hey Day Lincoln

Hey Day Karen Jamie Deanna

Hey Day 2 friends

Hey Day girls college green

Anonymous Classmate #3

I remember I had a blast that day…smooched a couple people amid the hustle and bustle and had a great excuse to act silly and irresponsible all day. What I remember most though is how I ended the day…meeting class of ’92 friends on Locust Walk. One friend (Name withheld), W’92, took a bite out of my styrofoam hat and then drenched me in beer head to toe. He told me it was part of the Hey Day tradition and to this day I am not sure if his claim was true or just a sneaky opportunity to soak me :-)

And our class board led us down Locust Walk to College Green. L-R: Ed Miller, Elissa Laitin, Lisa Luther, Julie Berliner, Chrissy Bass, Mike Rosenband, Laurie Bieber, Brooke Hayes.  Not pictured Jennifer Spadano and Doug Rosenberg.

And our class board led us down Locust Walk to College Green.
L-R: Ed Miller, Elissa Laitin, Lisa Luther, Julie Berliner, Chrissy Bass, Mike Rosenband, Laurie Bieber, Brooke Hayes. Not pictured Jennifer Spadano and Doug Rosenberg.

Hey Day Regan

Hey Day Kathleen P Scoops

Hey Day crowd

Hey Day classmates

Congratulations to the Class of 2014 – we hope you have wonderful memories of today to share twenty-one years from now!

The Penn Archives shared the history of Hey Day.

See photos from today’s Hey Day on campus by following @UofPenn on Instragram or @Penn on Twitter. Hashtag is #HeyDay.

1993 Classmates – it’s only a few weeks until our 20th reunion

We can’t wait to see you on campus May 10-11, 2013!

93.Graphic

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Filed under 20th Reunion, Alumni Perspective, Campus Life, Class of 1993, Historical, Kiera R., Memories of Penn, Photos, Reunions, Traditions

Penn 1993 – Meet Me at the Button!

By Kiera Reilly, C’93  @KieraReilly

The countdown to Alumni Weekend continues, and before we know it we’ll be back on campus celebrating our 20th reunion. The Penn Class of 1993 reunion and gift committees are calling and emailing classmates, encouraging them to attend and to make a gift to The Penn Fund.

To get everyone in the Red and Blue spirit for Alumni Weekend, here are some buttons I’ve collected from when I was a student, the first few years after we graduated, and now as a staff member in alumni relations.

Buttons I collected while working for alumni relations.

Buttons I collected while working for alumni relations.

Homecoming 1998 and 2000, Penn's 250th Anniversary in 1990, and Ivy Champs in '92-'93.

Homecoming 1998 and 2000, Penn’s 250th Anniversary in 1990, and Ivy Champs in ’92-’93.

 

1992's South Street Strut, 1993s Walnut Walk and South Street Strut

1992′s South Street Strut, 1993s Walnut Walk and South Street Strut

Does anyone else have a Penn button collection?

We hope to see everyone from the Class of 1993 at THE Button in May!

For details about our Saturday parade and picnic, and BIG class Quad party, click here! Don’t forget to follow our Facebook and Twitter. Check out who is planning to come here. Go online and register now!

93.Graphic

 

 

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Filed under 20th Reunion, Alumni Perspective, Alumni Weekend, Class of 1993, Historical, Kiera R., Memories of Penn, Photos, Reunions