Collection Scope and Content Summary
The Barnard College Mortarboards are bound volumes depicting life at Barnard and honoring the graduating classes. Volumes contain pen and ink sketches done by students. Photographs (in black and white, and later, color) are of student activities as well as formal portraits of students and staff. Mortarboards contain histories of the College, histories of academic departments, retrospectives looking back on the events at Barnard of that year, and letters from the Dean of the College. Mortarboards also contain student directories, lists and photographs of faculty and administrators, photographs of the graduating class, photographs from various events and clubs, and advertisements by local businesses. A highlight of the Mortarboard Collection is the Centennial Mortarboard from 1989, which offers a look back at Barnard through the years as well as standard Mortarboard content.
- Creation: 1894-2018
Language of Materials
This collection has no restrictions.
Permission to publish material from the collection must be requested from the Barnard College Archives. The Barnard College Archives approves permission to publish that which it physically owns; the responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.
Reproductions can be made for research purposes.
The first Barnard College Annual was released in 1894 by a group of students eager to give the public "an illustration of the life at [Barnard]" highlighting aspects of both academic and social life. It was also intended as a keepsake for members of the graduating class to remember their time at Barnard. The yearbook name later changed to Mortarboard from 1898 onwards. Mortarboards were produced by a group of students overseen by a faculty member; they were known as the Mortarboard Staff and had a dedicated page at the start of each volume. Each Mortarboard was put together when the class was in their junior year, and released at the end of their senior year—this is why the Mortarboards are often referred to as Junior Class Mortarboards. Mortarboards also include histories of the college and, occasionally, histories of certain departments. Mortarboards are dedicated to prominent members of the faculty and administration, or to members of the Barnard community who have recently passed away. The Mortarboards are currently produced by the Office of Student Life.
The first Annual established the Mortarboard tradition of listing members of the Board of Trustees, Committees, faculty members, and graduate students. It also marked the introduction of each class having a representational symbol. Initial classes were represented by various flowers and colors. In the 1910s, classes adopted mascots (a dragon, a bulldog, and a lion), including problematic appropriation of Native American imagery depicting an "Indian" mascot—the incoming freshman class would have the same mascot of the senior class which had left the year previous.
Finally, classes were represented by the colors blue, yellow, red, or green. Early Mortarboards contained delicate pen drawings, poems, and satirical works which placed the subject matter of life at Barnard within the scope of a well-known literary tract. In 1914, the Mortarboard for the 25th Anniversary of Barnard was built around an "Alice in Wonderland" theme, depicting Alice as an incoming freshman attempting to make sense of the confusion of undergraduate life. The Mortarboards first incorporated photographs in 1903, and photographs came to replace the drawings in the early publications. As the Mortarboard became a more established tradition at Barnard and was given more funding, content and scope expanded. The volumes were divided into further sections, offering detailed information about dramatics, clubs, field day/special events, and athletics teams.
10 Linear Feet
This collection consists of the Barnard College Annual and Mortarboard yearbooks, which are bound volumes depicting life at Barnard and honoring the graduating classes. Volumes contain pen and ink sketches done by students, photographs of student activities, formal portraits of students and staff, histories of the college, histories of academic departments, retrospectives looking back on the events at Barnard of that year, and letters from the Dean of the College. Mortarboards also contain student directories, lists and photographs of faculty and administrators, photographs of the graduating class, photographs from various events and clubs, and advertisements by local businesses.
Bound volumes are ordered chronologically, from 1894-present. Loose issues are also ordered chronologically in the Archives and Speical Collections Reading Room.
This collection is located in the Barnard Archives and Special Collections, Barnard Library. To use this collection, please contact the Barnard Archives and Special Collections at 212.854.4079 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Copies of Mortarboards from 1894-present are also located in the Archives and Special Collections Reading Room and can be accessed during opening hours without an appointment. Information about the Reading Room hours can be found here: https://archives.barnard.edu/research
Transferred to the archives from the Library and other offices at Barnard. Other sources include donations from alumni and relations. Christine Frank Green '70; Mary Waterman; Mary E. Lord (Dumm) '07; Greta H. Hersch (Granet) '50; Edwina Levy '05; Eleanor J. Holden (Stoddard) '06; Elizabeth Mills '02; Marguerite Hoffman '37.
Additions are expected.
Alternative Forms of Material
Digital surrogates of copies of the Mortarboard held by the Archives, from 1894 through 2014, are available online at: http://digitalcollections.barnard.edu/yearbook.
This collection was processed by Martha Tenney and Shannon O'Neill, and the finding aid written by Johana Godfrey in 2011. This finding aid was updated by Hilary Wang in October 2019.
- 2018, 1976, 1975, 1974, 1970, 1969, 1968, 1931, 1925, 1924, 1923, 1922 (two copies), 1915.
- Guide to Mortarboard
- In Progress
- by Hilary Wang
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Code for undetermined script
- Language of description note