THE first of the annuals published by students was a pamphlet of four pages, The University Register, issued in June, 1857. This publication contained the names of the regents, faculty, graduates, students, and members of the literary and secret societies.
The University Register was shortly followed by The Palladium, an annual published by the secret societies, or fraternities as they are now called, which was to have a long and successful life before it was consolidated into The Michiganensian in 1897. The first number of The Palladium appeared at the end of the college year 1858-59 and for the first few years was only a four-page paper published semiannually. The Palladium contained lists of the members of the secret societies, each headed by a vignette, regents, faculty, and class officers, and during the years of the Civil War also published lists of the students serving in the Army. The annual gradually increased in size and improved in content until in 1896 it was a book illustrated with cuts and drawings and containing a considerable amount of literary material. In 1884 it acquired hard covers.
Seven fraternities co-operated in the first few issues of The Palladium and were listed in the book in the order of their founding at Michigan. These were Chi Psi, Beta Theta Pi, Alpha Delta Phi, Delta Kappa Epsilon, Delta Phi, Sigma Phi, and Zeta Psi. They were joined in 1865 by Psi Upsilon and, although more groups were added later until the editorial board at one time numbered representatives of fifteen different fraternities, these eight were known as the original Palladium group, a distinction which still has some influence on the campus today.
Dissatisfied with their treatment in The Palladium, a group of antisecret society independents published the first number of The University Castalia in the spring of 1866. This annual published only five volumes, the last in 1870.
In the meantime, in 1867, the sophomore class published the first of a long series of annuals, edited by second-year students, called The Oracle, under the heading, "I am Sir Oracle, and when I ope' my lips, let no dog bark." The first issue was a pamphlet of eight pages, but by the turn of the century it had grown to about one hundred pages. Devoted principally to activities of the sophomore class, The Oracle was early a champion Page 1907of coeducation. In the year 1882 Fred N. Scott, later a member of the faculty and long a successful chairman of the Board in Control of Student Publications, was the managing editor of The Oracle. The board of editors of the annual, originally five, was later increased to ten members, chosen equally from the fraternity and independent factions, and in 1895 it included two women students. In 1900 The Oracle was severely criticized in The Michigan Alumnus, which stated that it was "a sort of tumor on college journalism, it serves no end… Save its thirty years of troubled past, it has nothing to recommend it." It passed out of existence soon after.
The first Student Directory was put out in 1879 by the Student Christian Association, which continued to publish it until 1909, when it was taken over by the Board in Control of Student Publications.
The students of the Law and Medical departments of the University published an annual in 1873 called The Sapphire, of which there was only one volume. This had a cover drawing characterized as libelous. In 1883 the women students of the University tried their hand at an annual to defend their interests and produced The Amulet, of which there were no further issues.
The University Castalia was revived in 1890 by the independent group on the campus under the name of The Castalian, which lasted until 1897 when it too was merged into The Michiganensian. Published yearly except in 1893 when its cuts were destroyed by fire, The Castalian contained interesting literary material and illustrations and none of the anti-fraternity material which colored most of the publications of the time. The issue of 1896 was particularly praised by The Michigan Alumnus as "the finest annual ever published by the University."
In 1894 the senior class of the Law School published an annual devoted to the fraternities, societies, and activities of the law students. In 1894 the book was called To Wit, and the last two issues, in 1895 and 1896, Res Gestae. The juniors of the Homeopathic Department issued a booklet, Phials, in one number in 1899.
In April, 1897, the first issue of The Michiganensian appeared, the result of a consolidation of The Palladium, The Castalian, and Res Gestae, representing the senior literary, engineering, and law classes. It has remained ever since the official student yearbook. Control of The Michiganensian was vested in the Board in Control of Student Publications in 1908, and since that time all of the editors and the business manager of the publication have been chosen annually by the Board. It was suggested in The Michigan Alumnus in 1900 that The Michiganensian "should be given more the character of a yearbook, should be paged and indexed, and made the Michigan reference book of the year, giving the names of the winners of the various University contests, lists of society members, etc." These suggestions have been gradually followed by the editors of the book. The history of The Michiganensian has been one of slow evolution, rather than of any marked alterations from year to year. In 1930 there was finally settled a controversy which had disturbed the editors of the "Ensian" ever since it took over The Palladium. Beta Theta Pi and Chi Psi both laid claim to having been the first fraternity founded on the Michigan campus and consequently to the place of honor as the first fraternity to be listed in the yearbook. By a contract of 1930 it was agreed that the two fraternities would be entitled to the position in alternate years, but this arrangement was soon dropped in favor of listing all fraternities in alphabetical order.
At the present time The Michiganensian is usually a profusely illustrated Page 1908book of some five hundred pages bound in durable covers. It includes articles and photographs on various aspects of the Schools and Colleges, on the various campus activities, and a section recounting the athletic achievements of Michigan teams during the year. Each senior has his picture in the book, and there are group pictures of the members of each fraternity and sorority and of Residence Hall groups. It has in all respects been made the comprehensive "Michigan reference book of the year" which the writer in the Alumnus hoped for in 1900.