Class of 2016, meet the Class of 1916

Welcome class of 2016, and all others who may stumble upon this post! My name is Karl Moll, and I am a rising Junior who works as the Archivist’s Assistant in the Haverford College Quaker and Special Collections in the Library, which houses the College Archives (and a great place to look for a job once you get to campus!). I thought it might be interesting to take a look at what incoming freshman at Haverford were experiencing 100 years ago when they came to campus. Now, the ‘Ford has undergone a lot of changes in the last century: for starters, we are no longer an all-male school, the class size was about 1/10th the size it is now (167 students at the school, 48 of them freshman), the Morris Infirmary was still under construction, and the college was officially Quaker.

When freshmen entered the college, they were given a handbook:

This book was designed to introduce the new students to the customs of the college, and was funded by the Y.M.C.A. (which was still very much the Young Men’s Christian Association). The main goal in publishing the guide was to “call…attention to an organized effort for the development of Christian character amongst us”. Though, since this is Haverford, the organization “lays no emphasis on creeds or dogmas, and in no way tries to exert sectarian influence”. To me this sounds reminiscent of the second part of the oft-quoted segment of the 1888 Commencement Speech by President Isaac Sharpless:

Every time I read this, I get chills

It seems to fit into the tradition of being one’s own person.

One of the more interesting sections of any of the class handbooks from years past are the Rules for Freshman. Unfortunately, 1912-1913 seems to have been a reasonable year, and there are only “Points for Freshman”. Most of these are still pretty sound advice, though many are outdated:

Some useful information for incoming freshman, plus advice

In other years, there are rules banning freshmen wearing mustaches and carrying canes. Freshmen were also required to move out of paths to make way for upperclassmen, and not lighting an upperclassmen’s cigarette could lead to a fine. Maybe this year the Officer of Hazing (yes, that was an actual title) decided to take it easy. The sophomores were traditionally in charge of Hazing (or teaching the school’s customs). To see some funny rules from earlier years check here or here (feel free to browse around the site that the link brings you to, these are the digitized images from Haverford Special Collections and the Archives of the College!).

One of my favorite parts of historical Haverfordiana are the songs that freshman were expected to learn and sing at sporting events (failure to learn the songs resulted in punishments which ranged from midnight head shavings to monetary fines to being thrown in the duckpond). The major sporting events on campus were soccer and football (“Undefeated Since 1972″), but many of the songs could be sung during alumni events, or seniors could just make the underclassmen sing in the dining hall if they felt like it:

Various publications on campus and College Songs


I wish we still had songs like these…


More Songs!


The rest of the handbook provided the new student with reference material to all the resources on campus. These range from train schedules, telephone and telegraph services, the various clubs on campus, student publications, secret societies, and more…

A listing of trains to and from Philly. Clearly they didn’t have the SEPTA app…
To let the freshman know what they were up against


Sure, none of these exist anymore…



Before we had these fancy “cellular phones”…
Customs and the “Honor System”:

College Customs and the Honor System


The Honor Code of today seems very similar to the Honor System of old, but at the same time very different. And while we still have a “Customs” period for Freshman like in the post above, it is far removed from what these old newspapers show us:


So a lot has changed over the years, but there is still that Haverfordian feel through it all

If you have any questions about this, or other aspects of Haverford History, feel free to shoot me an email at, or email Haverford Special Collections ( where you can get some more expert advice. If I were writing “Points for Freshman” for the incoming class of 2016, one that I would stress would be to stop in and visit Special Collections in the back of the Library. The collection is really one of the gems of the college. You can find the historical materials for the club you get involved in, genealogical records of famous Quakers, old sports photos, anti-slavery materials, maps,  yearbooks from years past, rare books (Copernicus, Darwin, Shakespeare… no big deal), records for the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, and much more.