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 27,000 images from KU’s University Archives and made them available online; be sure to check them out!
If you’ve seen the recent proliferation of dandelions on Mount Oread, you might think KU needs to bring back a short-lived springtime event from the 1940s: Dandelion Days.
Several people pulling dandelions on the lawn in front of Old Fraser Hall, 1940s.
Seen in the photo are Dyche Hall and, beyond, the Union. Kansas Alumni photo.
University Archives Photos. Call Number: RG 71/3 1940s Prints: Student Activities:
Dandelion Days (Photos). Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).
Pulling dandelions in front of Strong Hall, 1940s. University Archives Photos.
Call Number: RG 71/3 1940s Negatives: Student Activities: Dandelion Days (Photos).
Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).
Pulling dandelions in a grove of trees, 1940s. Green Hall (now Lippincott) is
seen in the background. University Archives Photos. Call Number: RG 71/3 1940s Negatives:
Student Activities: Dandelion Days (Photos). Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).
An article in Kansas Alumni (1999, volume 97, number 3) describes what Dandelion Days were all about:
The University’s first Dandelion Day took place April 23, 1941, amid the hype of reporters and photographers, students and University dignitaries. The mission? Eradicating the pernicious yellow pests that littered the Hill and kept Buildings and Grounds workers fighting a losing battle for green grass. In all, 3,400 students and faculty, including Chancellor Deane Malott and his wife, Eleanor, turned out to battle the baneful blossoms, collecting 93,000 pounds of dandelion debris in a mere three hours. The Lawrence Journal-World reported that “it was a total war against the yellow flower with a hey-nonny-nonny and a rah-rah-rah.”
Despite the roaring success of the first Dandelion Day, which was sponsored by the Men’s Student Council and featured picking teams, carnival concessions and a street dance, the day’s durability was doomed. Within months, Pearl Harbor was attacked and World War II enveloped KU. In 1946, Dandelion Day was resurrected, complete with a Dandelion King and Queen and photographers from Life and Look magazines on hand to capture the merry moments of postwar college life. However, the return of the fight against the yellow flowers was short-lived. The next years were ruined by bad weather and, by 1949, the erstwhile diggers had so thoroughly eliminated the difficult dandelions that the day was declared defunct (60).
Check out more Dandelion Days photographs online.
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