The University of Michigan, an encyclopedic survey ... Wilfred B. Shaw, editor.
University of Michigan.


ALTHOUGH not properly a literary magazine, the first student venture into the field of literary composition was the "Sibyl" of the Alpha Nu society, one of the early campus organizations. Handwritten because there were no available means of duplication and no necessity for it, the "Sibyl" was read aloud at the meetings of Alpha Nu. It contained poems and essays written by the members of the club. So far as can be ascertained from the University records, it lasted from May 24, 1844, until November 2, 1866.

During the year 1861 a literary magazine was edited by a board consisting of four editors, two from each of the two societies, Adelphi and Alpha Nu, the leading campus literary groups, which was called the University Quarterly.

The first number of The Michigan University Magazine appeared in June, 1867. A pamphlet of some forty-four pages, it was published monthly as an expression of student thought. While it lasted it was one of the best college reviews in the country. In order to avoid the factionalism marring most of the college publications then in existence, the board of editors of the magazine was equally divided between fraternity men and independents, chosen from the junior class on the Saturday before Class Day. It was merged in The Chronicle in 1869.

The next publication to set itself up frankly as a literary magazine was The Inlander, which was first published in the fall of 1890 by the seniors of the class of 1891 at the beginning of their senior year. In the first issue, the editors of The Inlander stated: "The Inlander, accordingly, Page  1912will make its sole and only end the bringing forth results of literary ability of a high order, and the fostering and encouragement of talent…" Having set themselves a high goal, the successive editors of The Inlander proceeded to live up to it remarkably well, and many works of merit were published in it before it finally succumbed from lack of support in 1907. During this incarnation The Inlander was published monthly. In 1903 control of The Inlander was put in the hands of the Quadrangle Club with faculty representation on the staff, and in 1905 it was made a biweekly Sunday supplement to The Daily.

Five years after the death of The Inlander the first number of a new campus literary magazine appeared, called The Painted Window. Taking its name from a poem printed as a prelude to the first number, The Painted Window carried on the cover of its too few issues a drawing of a Gothic stained glass cathedral window. In addition to poems, essays, and short stories, each issue carried a reproduction in black and white of some work of art. Edgar Ansel Mowrer, then of the Chicago News Bureau in Paris, was the business manager of the little monthly. The Painted Window was first published in March, 1912, and the last issue is dated March, 1913. In 1916 The Inlander was revived, subsidized by the Board in Control of Student Publications, but was discontinued again in 1918.

In the second semester of the college year 1920-21, a mimeographed paper entitled Whimsies made its bow on the campus. In an introductory essay headed "The Why of Whimsies" the editors explained that they would like their magazine to be to the campus what the Atlantic Monthly was to the country at large: "Whimsies makes no attempt to assume literary high-priesthood, or to pose as a defender of literature against barbarism." After the first few issues the magazine was printed and assumed a cover. In his report of the Board in Control of Student Publications for 1921, Professor Scott said of it: "Obviously, however, so spontaneous and unpretentious a magazine, especially when it is also of so high a grade of literary excellence, deserves to be encouraged." The editors included Yuki Osawa, Stella Brunt (Osborn), Dorothy Greenwald, and Halsey Davidson.

In 1924 the name of the magazine was changed to The Inlander, thus becoming the third incarnation of that Michigan tradition, although its tone continued to be that of the magazine of the early 1920's which it had succeeded, rather than that of the more ambitious magazine which first carried the Inlander name. In 1930 this latest attempt to revive The Inlander failed. Included in the last few issues of the magazine were reproductions of works of art.

Contemporary was the name of the next literary magazine to be published on the campus. It was authorized by the Board in Control in May, 1935, and publication was started the following fall. It lasted for only two years.

Campus, the first summer-session magzine began and ended in 1938. It contained short stories, cartoons, and photographs. A year later Perspectives made a short-lived appearance as a literary magazine.

The most recent student literary magazine is Generation. It is dedicated to the arts. Music, literature, drawing, and photography are presented and analyzed in its three issues a year.

Student Humor Magazines

The first attempt at a student humor magazine was Wrinkle, a biweekly which first appeared on October 13, 1893, under the heading, "Enjoy life while you live, for you will be a long time dead." Published by a stock company, Wrinkle soon lost its pretentions to being a biweekly Page  1913and frankly admitted that it was "published by the students every little while during the college year." Wrinkle, a highly successful magazine while it lasted, contained many excellent cartoons and much really humorous material. Of the special J-Hop edition of 1899, the managing editor of the Yale Record remarked that it was the best humorous college paper he had ever reviewed. Wrinkle died of inanition in 1905.

In December 1908, the Board in Control of Student Publications authorized Lee A White to publish a literary magazine and take 60 per cent of the profits of the first issue. The result of this permission was the first issue of the Gargoyle, which came out with a special J-Hop edition in February, 1909. For its first few issues Gargoyle considered itself a literary magazine, containing stories, articles, and pictures, and only the back part of the magazine was filled with humorous articles and jokes. By a process of evolution, however, Gargoyle soon became the campus humor magazine and has remained such up to the present time.

During Gargoyle's life as a publication there has occasionally been trouble because of the publication of questionable matter. The quality of the magazine has varied from year to year, depending on the ability of the managing editor. Although in some years it has been merely silly, in others it has followed the lead of good national publications and made a place for itself on the campus. In some years it has added sections on men's and women's clothes for campus wear and has had a music section devoted to the merits of dance orchestras.

Journals of Opinion

Before the turn of the century most of the student publications, lacking the specialization which appears today, were in a sense journals of opinion as, no matter what the form, the editors were not slow in voicing their views. Most, however, also served some other function. In November 1861, as an outgrowth of the feeling between the independents and members of the secret societies, a bitterly antisecret society magazine, The University Independent, was first issued. Only four numbers were printed before the name was changed in March, 1862, to University Magazine, of which there was only one issue.

In 1916, the Board in Control of Student Publications authorized the creation of a new magazine of student opinion on the campus to be called Chimes. The first number was placed on sale in November, 1919, and contained, among other things, a debate on the respective merits of the Washtenaw and State street fraternities and a criticism of the campus honor societies. Each number contained a dedication to some member of the faculty whose photograph was reproduced. In his report of the Board in Control of Student Publications for 1921 Professor Scott points out that Chimes had failed as a purveyor of pure literature but accomplished a useful purpose as an organ of opinion. In March, 1925, Chimes was changed to a Sunday supplement to the Daily, and in 1926 it was discontinued; Sunday supplements have been revived since World War II at various times.

In 1922-23 appeared the short-lived The Tempest, which adopted a truculent tone toward the University administration and was much influenced by H. L. Mencken.

In 1931 two journals appeared, both lasting for only a short time. One, Diagonal, proclaiming that "this is not a literary magazine," and taking a belligerent attitude toward campus affairs in general, severely criticized campus politics, pep meetings, and the "paternalism" of the University administration, but took time out to praise President Page  1914Ruthven. The other, The Student Socialist, was published by the Michigan Socialist Club with the avowed purpose of stimulating "student interest in the unsolved problems of American social life, stressing the new thought embodied in socialism." Adopting a radical platform, it attacked impartially the Daily, the R.O.T.C., Detroit millionaires, the American Red Cross, the American Medical Association, and the federal government.

Pictorial Publications

Two different attempts have been made to bring to the campus pictorial publications showing the students to themselves. Both were very short-lived. One, the Michigan Optic, was authorized in the fall of 1922. The other, Panorama, patterned after Life magazine, started publication in the fall of 1937 and lasted through five issues.

The Michigan Technic

The history of the Michigan Technic goes back to 1887, although a bound volume of "papers presented before the Engineering Society of the University of Michigan in 1882-1883" gives rise to the claim of the year 1882 as the date of founding of the publication. In early days every student was a member of the Engineering Society. This society published the Technic as an annual, containing the program of the society for the year, biographies of various faculty men, and authoritative technical articles written by faculty and students. These articles were from papers which had been presented before the society.

The magazine filled a real need in those days, which were before the advent of the numerous professional journals now published. Many papers which appeared were reprinted, to be used as reference material in courses then being taught. It was read by faculty, students, and alumni with great interest. Even today the contents of some of the old magazines are very valuable. As the College grew, the activities of the society increased, and the magazine grew also. From an annual, it became a semiannual, then a quarterly, and finally a monthly publication. It was published by the Engineering Society up to the time of the death of the society, in 1923. Then an independent student staff with a faculty Advisory Board took over the work of publication.

The organization of the Engineering Society provided for a chairman of the Technic Board, who was managing editor of the magazine. With the help of an editor, a business manager, and a small staff, the magazine was published. No faculty Advisory Board was listed until 1906, when Dean Mortimer E. Cooley, Professor George W. Patterson, and two alumni, Walter L. Stebbings and Ralph R. Tinkham, were appointed. A new board was appointed every year until a more permanent body was set up in 1914. This permanent board has continued to function up to the present.

The early staffs struggled along from year to year, keeping no permanent records. Continuity of policy was carried on by word of mouth and whatever experience could be transferred during the period of apprenticeship served by each member of the staff. If any attempts were made to bind the organization together or to record procedure, they must have met defeat, for there are no records.

The formation of Engineering College Magazines Associated, in 1921, was of importance to the Technic and to engineering college publications in general. This association, of which the Technic is a charter member, was formed for the purpose of improving the editorial quality, make-up, and appearance of the member magazines. The page size of the magazines was also standardized, as an Page  1915aid to securing advertising from nationally advertised products. Standards of quality were set up and awards were given as incentives to work toward better editorial content and attractive appearance. The great contribution of E.C.M.A. was in the securing of large advertisements for each magazine. These advertisements were handled through a commercial agency and entailed little work on the part of the staff of the individual magazine. A large amount of the revenue for the publication of the magazine came from these advertisements.

The Technic ran along in about the same way, growing in size and prosperity, until 1929 when the business depression ended most of the advertising. Circulation fell with advertising, leaving the Technic with very seriously curtailed revenues and, as a result, it operated at a loss for several years.

In a desperate attempt to stave off financial collapse, the staff of 1932-33, in composing the Articles of Management which were adopted February 21, 1933, took the first step toward binding the organization together. The Technic is now guided by a faculty Advisory Committee and a Student Publication Board.

The loss of revenue in the depression focused attention on the low student circulation, and ultimately on the editorial content of the magazine. Concentration on editorial quality brought the Technic several awards in different years in the E.C.M.A., including the awards for the best covers and for the "Best All-around Magazine."

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