While working with the Student Publications: Sunflower record group, I learned a lot of things from Emporia State University’s history. For instance, the yearbooks were not always called The Sunflower, there have been multiple beauty contests, the different content arrangement for each yearbook and the patriotic style or inclusion during times of war, especially the World Wars.
The yearbooks began in 1898 and were not always called the Sunflower. The first yearbook was named The Kodak (1898). Then A Days (1901), Class Year Book (1902), Class Book (1903), The Sunflower (1904), Class Annual (1905), Aureae Memoriae (1906), The Shamrock (1907), The Octagon (1908), and The Oracle (1909) followed and are the titles of the first 10 yearbooks published by Kansas State Normal School before the yearbooks were consistently named The Sunflower.
Beauty contests began 1918 with the Sunflower contest with featured three winners of various titles such as most popular, most athletic, and most beautiful and so on. These contests were featured under different names and were judged by various people, sometimes even famous people such as Richard Dix, a movie star. Other contests include Homecoming King and Queen, Peggy Pedagog (most famous on campus, male and female), Miss Emporia, Who’s Who and others of the same type with different names. Homecoming remains a tradition along with the King, Queen, and Royalty awards.
The arrangement of content has always been different from year to year. The earlier yearbooks were sectioned into “folios” or chapters and the classes were separated by year as well as clubs. As the years progressed, the students eventually stopped being separated by year although remained a separate section from the sports and clubs.
During war, I thought it was very patriotic for the school to base their theme for the yearbooks on the soldiers fighting overseas and to include the names of soldiers from the school who were away at war and to honor those who had died. In some of the yearbooks, it includes poems or stories from the soldiers about the war. Because of World War II, there was no yearbook published in 1945 because of money shortages.
The Sunflower record group truly holds a lot of information, not even limited to what I have shared with you. It holds over a century worth of history of not just the school, but Emporia and the United States. Hopefully you will find something that you had not known before, just from looking through the yearbooks.
Blog posted by Kyra Caldwell on August 9, 2016.