Category Archives: University Traditions

Devil-Goat Rally – Be There!

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It’s the Thursday before the last day of classes in the spring, and at Mary Washington that means only one thing – it’s Devil-Goat Day! The day when graduates from odd years go head-to-head in contests against their classmates from even years.  On Ball Circle today, there will be free food, entertainment, and friendly sports competitions.  It’s a single day event now, but back in the early years at Mary Washington Devil-Goat events spanned across the entire year. There were snowball fights in winter and the hiding of Devil and Goat flags in October.

Devil-Goat Rally Tonight!, Bullet, October 21, 1938

Devil-Goat Rally Tonight!, The Bullet, October 21, 1938

Interested in learning more about Mary Washington’s infamous tradition? Check out UMW photographs and publications, like the student handbooks and newspapers. University Archives has print copies in the library as well as digitized copies at Archives@UMW.

Egg Toss at Devil-Goat Day, 1983, Centennial Image Collection, Special Collections and University Archives

Egg Toss at Devil-Goat Day, 1983, Centennial Image Collection, Special Collections and University Archives

You can learn all kinds of fun facts. The March 20, 1944 Bullet article even provides details of the “real live goat” brought on campus by the Goats, and the Devil students who dressed in red flannel and carried traditional pitchforks! The Goats did triumph that year, but the Devils won the all important pie-eating contest, producing “from their midst the two girls with the biggest mouths.”

Not a photo of the real goat brought to campus in 1944, but a later attempt by a student dressed in a goat costume. Centennial Image Collection, Special Collections and University Archives

Unfortunately not a photo of the real goat brought to campus in 1944, but a later attempt by a student dressed in a goat costume. Centennial Image Collection, Special Collections and University Archives

University Archives also houses Devil-Goat Day memorabilia – T-shirts, felt green Goat insignias, and a Devil pin from 1981. These are currently on display this week in the Simpson Library lobby cases. So stop by the Library and check out your University traditions!

April 27, 2017

A Feast from the Archives

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Seacobeck Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is absolutely one of my top holidays. The principal objective of the day is to eat all of the foods, and I am only too happy to participate. This is the one delightful day where there’s no judgment if you go back for a third helping of mashed potatoes; overindulgence is encouraged! So let’s all have another slice of pie and dig into some archival memories of mealtimes at Mary Washington.

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Student eating hot dog. 1956.

As I was researching something to highlight for this holiday’s celebration of all things culinary, I started discovering a few things about the history of dining here. We all know the UC, and many of us have fond memories of Seacobeck, but how many of us know that the dining hall used to be on the first floor of Willard?

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Buck Studio. Willard Hall dining room. 1915.

Back in the early days — the Fredericksburg Teacher’s College days — there were stringent dining hall regulations that the young women were expected to follow (there were stringent regulations for most things, as you might expect for a women’s college in Virginia in the early 20th century, but we’ll save that for another time). Dean Edward Alvey’s book, History of Mary Washington College, 1908-1972, gives an impression of what dinnertime looked like around 1928:

“Students were seated at tables of eight. Each table included some members of each of the four classes, with a junior or senior presiding. All meals were served family style, with student waitresses carrying the heavy trays to and from the kitchen. Students were expected to dress neatly for meals. Anything like slacks or hair curlers would be unheard of” (143).

No pants at dinner, ladies.

Alvey also mentions the student waitresses. From the earliest years of the school, waitressing was one of several positions students could work to earn financial assistance. Seacobeck opened as the new dining hall in May of 1931, and as the student body grew, more students sought employment here.

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Student Waitresses. 1952-55.

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Students sit around tables while waitresses take their orders.

Before the college moved to buffet-style service, waitresses provided table service during mealtimes. They were affectionately known as “slop girls”, and the work was not easy. Alvey describes the position as it would have been sometime in the early 1950s:

“The most numerous and the most remunerative were the positions of waitresses in the dining hall and college tea room. […] Hours for waitresses in the dining hall were long, and their duties were demanding. Waitresses ate before or after the rest of the student body. Heavy trays of food and dishes had to be carried for the table service, which was provided before the later change to a cafeteria form of operation. Waitresses worked seven days a week, with one weekend a month free when a substitute took over for them. They earned approximately sixty-five cents an hour” (335).

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Students dine in Seacobeck. 1964.

However, by 1971, Seacobeck had been transformed into a largely self-service operation, and the slop girls were on to new things.

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Students at Seacobeck Dining Hall.

And as I’m sure we all know (and appreciate), the “all-you-care-to-eat” buffet model carried over to the excellent new dining facilities at the University Center after      Seacobeck ended its 84 year run in 2015.

Make more memories (and eat more stuffing), Mary Washington friends! Happy Thanksgiving!

November 22, 2016

Happy Halloween!

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As the newest staff member in Special Collections and University Archives, I’ve spent my first few days here doing some exploring and getting better acquainted with some of our terrific digital collections. With Halloween just days away, I started searching in that direction and I was not disappointed. I pulled together a few things I think you’ll like, and I’m pleased to share a festive insight to past Halloweens here at Mary Washington.

If you don’t have your costume yet, look no further than our fashionable alumni for some inspiration! A search for “Halloween” in our Centennial Image Collection turns up about a dozen excellent hits, but take a look at some of my favorites:

Students pose for their photograph in their Halloween costumes on the front porch of Willard Hall.
Halloween, 1938. Centennial Image Collection, Special Collections and University Archives.

Two people dressed up as Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy pose for a picture at the very popular
Halloweens party in Goolrick, 1982.
Centennial Image Collection, Special Collections and University Archives

Smiling students in costume pose for a group photograph, dressed as a Pabst Blue Ribbon six-pack, 1983.
Centennial Image Collection, Special Collections and University Archives

(Since I know I’ve piqued your interest with these classic ensembles, go ahead and dig deeper in the Centennial Image Collection. It’s visual documentation that Mary Washington has been awesome for more than 100 years.)

Perhaps you’re more the type who prefers to stay in on Halloween? The UMW
archives has something for that too. Grab that big bowl of candy and prepare to
reminisce. The Theatre Poster Collection displays posters created for plays and
musicals dating back as far as 1958 produced by UMW’s Department of Theatre and Dance. Maybe some of our spookier offerings will spur you towards watching that scary movie.

Dracula. 1984. Theatre Poster Collection, Special Collections and University Archives.

Sweeney Todd. 1998. Theatre Poster Collection, Special Collections and University Archives.

And if you’re looking for something completely different, check out this article from the Nov. 5, 1973 issue of The Bullet about a former car salesman-turned-pumpkin and his journey back to humanity. You can zoom in on the article and page through the
entire issue.

October 28, 2016

Welcome Back Students!

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This week, UMW welcomed both new and returning students to Fredericksburg.  As classes begin and the University community settles in for another semester, we thought we would share some throwback photos of students returning to campus from previous years.  We wish everyone, especially the new freshmen, a wonderful year!


A student and his mother carry belongings into a residence hall during Move-In Day, 1990s


Students decorate their dormitory room with pictures and pennants, 1960s


A staff member shows two new students how to open their mailboxes, 1960s

These photos and many more of life at Mary Washington during the past can be found in the Centennial Image Collection in Archives@UMW!

August 31, 2016

2016 Alumni Reunion Weekend

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This past weekend, hundreds of alumni ventured to Fredericksburg for the annual Reunion Weekend celebration. This year’s gathering was specifically for alumni who graduated from Mary Washington in years ending with 1 or 6. We hosted a History Harvest and Pop-Up Exhibit table in the University Center where visitors could browse through photos and artifacts from the University Archives and also donate physical and digital items to be added to the permanent collection.

Alumna trying on a beanie from the University Archives

Alumna trying on a beanie from the University Archives

During the event, we spoke with many alums who shared touching and funny stories about their past experiences as students at Mary Washington. Specifically, we had the pleasure of meeting many members of the Class of 1966, as it was their 50 year reunion.

Members of the Class of 1966 find their pictures in the Battlefield Yearbook

Class of 1966 alums locating their pictures in the Battlefield Yearbook

One generous member of this class brought in her treasured scrapbook created over four years as a student at Mary Washington, and donated it to the University Archives’ collection where it will be preserved for current and future students and researchers of University history.

Class of 1966 Scrapbook

Class of 1966 Scrapbook

Attending Reunion Weekend is a special experience for us, since we always learn something new about student life at Mary Washington from the alumni perspective. We look forward to talking with the graduates from years ending with 2 and 7 at next year’s event!

June 6, 2016

Student Handbook Collection

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This post was written by Grace May, our Digital Archives student aide. Thanks Grace!

I started working in the Digital Archiving Lab in the Fall of 2015 and had an ongoing project of digitizing all of the Mary Washington student handbooks. The handbooks contain rules and regulations that govern the student body as well as conduct policies, campus traditions, and information for incoming freshmen. In 1935, the name of the handbook changed to The Bayonet, but returned to its earlier title, Student Handbook, in 1957.

Digitizing the handbooks was a long project that lasted about 5 months, and required great attention to detail. Throughout the scanning process I started to notice some peculiar traditions that were implemented at Mary Wash and thought about how current students like myself might view them. As a senior History major, these interesting historical tidbits intrigued me. For example, a tradition that lasted for about 20 years was called “Peanut Week,” which began in 1933. A description of the tradition from the 1943 handbook says:

A week before the Christmas Holidays peanut shells are distributed in the dining halls. Within the shell is to be found the name of some student or faculty member to whom one is secretly to “play peanut.” The object of the game is for everyone to see how nice she can be to her “peanut” without the latter finding out just who is the thoughtful person. The culmination of the fun comes in the night of the “Peanut Party” when everyone learns who her heretofore unknown benefactor is.

It would probably be impossible to bring back Peanut Week in 2016 with our growing student body and campus, but it is a nice thought and a good reminder to show kindness to fellow classmates and professors.

Another tradition at Mary Wash that I had heard of is Devil-Goat Day. However, who would have known that there were songs for the Devils and the Goats? Bringing these songs back to campus might be easier than implementing Peanut Week! The words to the songs, from the 1938 handbook, can be seen below:

On page 87 from the 1938 Student Handbook.

I hope that researchers who are interested in what is now the University of Mary Washington and its history will find these tidbits as intriguing as I have, and will check out the digitized collection of student handbooks!

Editor’s note: All 85 volumes of student handbooks within the University Archives, from 1929 to 2016, can now be searched, browsed, and downloaded from the Internet Archive collection.

April 11, 2016

High on Marye’s Hilltop

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Earlier this year, we were delighted when the Alumni Affairs office contacted Special Collections and University Archives to see if we would be able to digitize an old record that had been mailed to them.  They weren’t quite sure what was on the record, but it had the name of Irene Taylor and a date in 1947 written on one side of it.

Image of audio transcription disc

Image of audio transcription disc

After doing a little digging in the University Archives, we determined that Irene Taylor was a well-known alumna from the class of 1947.  A music major, Taylor, along with her friend Jean Crotty, entered an annual song competition between Mary Washington’s dormitories during their senior year.  Taylor and Crotty’s song, “High on Marye’s Hilltop,” was so well-liked that it sparked a movement by students who wanted to make the song the official alma mater of the college.  Ronald Faulkner, the school’s band director, drafted a sheet music copy of the song that was sent to all alumnae chapters.  The chapters overwhelmingly approved of the song, and “High on Marye’s Hilltop” became the official alma mater in 1952.

Irene Taylor

Irene Taylor

Once we knew the background of this mysterious record, we had to figure out how to digitize it.  After further research, we determined that the record was not an LP, but a transcription disc.  This type of media was commonly used during the mid-20th century for recording music, before being replaced by magnetic tape, cassette tape, and eventually optical disc technology. Transcription discs must be digitized with elliptical cartridges, which are made by only a few remaining companies.  After the correct cartridge was procured, the real work could begin.

This disc was in relatively good shape, so after a thorough cleaning, it was ready to be digitized.  After the initial digitization process, additional static was removed to make the song more pleasant to listen to.  The resulting digital file is a wonderful time machine back to the spring of 1947, when Irene Taylor sat down at the piano and recorded the music to “High on Marye’s Hilltop,” the song that would become the soundtrack to student life at Mary Washington.  Please visit Archives@UMW to take a listen!

October 14, 2015

Finals Week at UMW

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This week, students across the country are gritting their teeth and putting in long hours to study for finals before the beginning of summer.  Here at Mary Washington, Finals Week began yesterday and will end on Friday evening.  Afterwards, seniors will have a blissful week of relaxation and fun before graduation on May 9th.  To get through the next few days, how about some inspiration by way of past UMW students coping with Finals Week on their own terms?

An always-popular place to study is the campus Library.  Nowadays, students can take advantage of the tree houses on the third floor of Simpson Library or use the computers on the first floor to work on their final papers.  Back in the 1920s, students prepared for exams in Virginia Hall, the original location of the campus Library.

Students gather around tables to study in the library in Virginia Hall, 1923

Students studying in the Virginia Hall Library, 1923

Another great way to study for final exams is with your friends.  Group studying can keep you going when you’re not sure if you can memorize one more date or complete one more math equation.  These students know that when it comes to studying, there is strength in numbers!

Five students studying together in a dorm room, 1965

Five students studying together in a dorm room, 1965

If you want to take advantage of the nice weather, why not try studying outside?  This student from the class of 2000 was able to get her work done while also enjoying the beauty of UMW’s campus in the springtime.

Suchi Mohanty, class of 2000, studies on the UMW campus

Suchi Mohanty studies on the UMW campus

If being outside, in the crowded Library, or with friends is just too distracting, you could truly sequester yourself in a private place where no one will bother you like this student.  If it worked for her, it could work for you!

A UMW student reads in a bathtub, 1958

A UMW student reads in a bathtub, 1958

No matter how or where you choose to study, we wish you a successful Finals Week.  Good luck!

April 28, 2015

Devil-Goat Day

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The Thursday before the last day of classes in the Spring marks the oldest of Mary Washington’s traditions, Devil-Goat Day. Inspired by faculty member and junior class sponsor, Eileen Kramer Dodd, the tradition began in 1926 with juniors wearing a felt green goat symbol on their sweatshirts to breakfast one morning. Not to be out done, the seniors countered with a red devil as their symbol and thus began the Devil-Goat rivalry.

Bullet Subscription Competition, Bullet, November 2, 1931

Bullet Subscription Competition, Bullet, November 2, 1931

The celebration is now held on Ball Circle for a day of tug of war and fun competitions between classes, but earlier in Mary Washington’s history it was a multi-day event. In 1930 there was a snowball fight in February between the Devils and Goats, and in 1944 the Bullet reported, students raced from their dorms at 6 AM to “raise the team flags on the front doors of the important buildings on campus. If a Goat flag is hung on the front door of a building, the Devils must use another entrance. All traitors to the cause will be reported to the team captains and the number will be taken into consideration in determining the winner of the Devil-Goat Rally.”

How do you know if you are a Devil or a Goat? The year you graduate determines your designation – “Goat” if you graduate in an even year and “Devil” if you graduate in an odd year.

So as a proud “Devil” alumna, I’ll close with this shout out for the Devils, as they tackle the Billy Goats tomorrow on Ball Circle.

We’ll fight, fight, fight
For the Devils tonight;

Image of a devil from the front cover of the Bullet student newspaper

Bullet, February 13, 1930

Look out, you Goats, we’re coming on,
And where’er we go,
We want the world to know
That the Devils are fighting along.


April 22, 2015

The 25th Anniversary of the Multicultural Fair

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This post was written by Kayleigh Barbee, the spring 2015 Special Collections and University Archives student intern.  Thanks Kayleigh!

The Official Flyer for the 25th Annual Multicultural Fair

Flyer for the 25th Annual Multicultural Fair

A project that I worked on and completed during my internship in Special Collections and University Archives this semester is an exhibit celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Multicultural Fair.

I spent the first days of my internship looking through print and online collections in the University Archives to find materials relating to the Multicultural Fair, such as school newspaper articles and Fair schedules. I then visited The James Farmer Multicultural Center to see what items they could loan us and obtained past programs, a beautiful quilt, and T-shirts to use in the exhibit.

The next step was narrowing down the objects I would use in the exhibit and sketching a mock display. The final stage of this project was to select physical objects out of the Special Collections and University Archives, organize them into the display case, and create text labels. This project was fascinating, because I was able to learn so much about one of the most popular events held on campus and about the wide range of objects stored in Special Collections and University Archives.

This exhibit is located in the Simpson Library second floor display cases in front of the central stairs and will be on display through the middle of June.

April 10, 2015