Inside Spencer: The KSRL Blog

Throwback Thursday: Peace Pipe Edition

May 11th, 2017

Each week we’ll be posting a photograph from University Archives that shows a scene from KU’s past. We’ve also scanned more than 34,500 images from KU’s University Archives and made them available online; be sure to check them out!

Commencement is this Sunday, and we join others in congratulating all graduating Jayhawks and wishing them the very best. This year’s graduates will follow the footsteps of previous classes by participating in the KU tradition of walking down the hill. But, they may not know about earlier commencement customs that are no longer practice. One such such tradition – smoking the peace pipe – is the focus of this week’s photograph.

Photograph with four KU graduates with pipes, 1928

Five KU graduates sitting in front of Strong Hall
with peace pipes, 1928. University Archives Photos.
Call Number: RG 0/17 Negatives 1928:
University General: Commencement (Photos).
Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

Additional information about the pipes can be found in a Commencement vertical file located in the Spencer Reading Room. One untitled and undated document describes the tradition this way:

The smoking of the Peace Pipe by all members of the Graduating Class had its beginning with the very earliest classes of the University in the 1800s. Records show that the Class of 1893 gathered on graduation day to smoke the Pipe of Peace, symbolizing the elimination of all past feuding on the part of Class Members — dissolving differences between the Laws and the Engineers, the Greeks and the Independents, and all other possible fractures of solidarity.

In the old days, a single pipe was passed around from one graduate to another. Today we are much more sanitary (and perhaps more wealthy); we can afford a pipe for each of us.

Now it is the time for all of us, men and women alike, to lift the pipe and light it signaling the complete and harmonious unity of the K.U. Class of 1967.

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

Melissa Kleinschmidt and Abbey Ulrich
Public Services Student Assistants

Throwback Thursday: Commencement Edition

May 14th, 2015

Each week we’ll be posting a photograph from University Archives that shows a scene from KU’s past. We’ve also scanned more than 5,000 images from KU’s University Archives and made them available online; be sure to check them out!

Congratulations to the Class of 2015! We wish each of you all the best in your future endeavors.

Photograph of KU graduates walking down the hill to Memorial Stadium, 1950s

Photograph of KU graduates walking down the hill to Memorial Stadium, 1950s

KU graduates walking down Mount Oread to Memorial Stadium, 1950s.
University Archives Photos. Call Number: RG 0/17 1950s Negatives:
University General: Commencement (Photos). Click images to enlarge.

Author and former KU chemistry professor Robert Taft provides a wonderful description of the KU graduation tradition shown in these pictures in Across the Years on Mount Oread (1941):

For the graduate of recent years and for many spectators, no Commencement sight has been more impressive than the long line of graduates marching down over Mount Oread from Strong Hall to the Stadium in the glory of a June evening [or, now, a May afternoon] for the Baccalaureate and the Commencement exercises. This striking feature was initiated in the Commencement of 1924, and has – weather permitting – been carried out annually since that day. Many and bitter have been the tears of the girl graduates who have been denied this privilege by the vagaries of the weather, and even the prosaic and matter-of-fact males must have felt some twinge of regret, when the same favor was withheld (104).

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

Melissa Kleinschmidt, Megan Sims, and Abbey Ulrich
Public Services Student Assistants