In commemoration of the College’s 120 years, The Chicago Maroon releases its Historical Issue today, reviewing some of the most interesting events in the University’s storied history. This year is also an important one for the Maroon itself—2012 marks the 120th anniversary of the student newspaper, which traces its founding back to the first day of classes at the University of Chicago. To honor the event, today’s paper will reprint historic content from the Maroon’s archives.
The University of Chicago Weekly, the precursor to the Maroon, was founded in 1892. Although there were several attempts by students to create a daily newspaper, only the Weekly brought in enough advertisements to survive. Ten years later, with the University’s prominence firmly established, the editors of the Weekly decided that a daily newspaper would thrive and presented a proposal to President Harper.
That proposal, which is documented on this page, marked the beginning of The Daily Maroon. As the University grew into a football powerhouse, developed the Core Curriculum, dabbled in the Manhattan Project, and became one of the world’s premier institutions of higher education, The Daily Maroon served as its paper of record and marked the unfolding history on its pages.
As World War II escalated, the draft left the University with few students and an ominous outlook. The Maroon was edited and published primarily by women and younger students, and ultimately came out of the war reshaped as a bi-weekly. Since then, the student newspaper has been called The Chicago Maroon, and publishes every Tuesday and Friday of the academic year.
On some occasions, the Maroon published daily—when the Administration Building was occupied in 1969, as it is recounted on this page, the Maroon filed special editions and kept students and faculty informed of the unfolding demonstration.
At other points, the Maroon, as the largest student organization, was itself the campus news. In 1951, the paper became highly political and its Editor-in-Chief was ousted by the Dean of Students. A University-wide election replaced the editor, but the paper remained highly factious. Political adviser and writer David Axelrod (A.B. ’77), a Maroon associate editor, recently said, “The politics of the Maroon were even more intense than the politics of the City of Chicago.”
One thing that has remained consistent over the years is the Maroon’s function as a keeper of records for the University. To compile the Historic Issue, which used to be published on a regular basis in the 1970s, editors and writers researched 110 years of Daily Maroon and Chicago Maroon archives, and flipped through the pages of all books dealing with the history of the University of Chicago.
What was discovered is a unique chronology of a University with a changing character. Every decade has brought a sea-change of culture clashes, scientific discoveries, and building expansions. While the University of Chicago today is a far stretch from the University in 1969, 1942, 1905, or 1892, it shares a common path that students have walked for 120 years, and will continue to walk for years to come.