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And Finally...

Hey, Frosh!

Beanies and other freshman customs defined an era.
Photo courtesy Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah

The tradition of the freshman beanie at the University of Utah dates to November 1909, when the freshman class officers created a committee “to decide on a uniform, class cap, and tie.” The cap the committee chose was a green and white beanie, and by the 1920s the custom requiring every freshman to don one was well established. The 1921 U of U Student Handbook lists the wearing of the “distinctive class cap” as one of the “college customs” that all freshmen students should follow. The cap was to be worn at all times while on campus, and at all rallies and athletics events, until “U Day,” when the Block U was whitewashed in the spring. There were many other travails facing freshman students: The handbook also noted that new students “should not loiter about the lower floor of the John R. Park building,” men were not allowed to wear mustaches or “duffy hats,” and they were not to “fuss the ladies while on campus.” Freshmen were even supposed to step off the sidewalk when upperclassmen approached. Later editions of the handbook added that “Freshmen must not use the main steps to the Park Building,” and “The Freshman class will wax and polish the [Park Building] Seal at regularly specified times.”

Freshman beanie

One of the few surviving examples of a University of Utah freshman beanie, worn by James Douglas Moyle in 1921-1922. It hangs in the office of University President Michael K. Young.

The heyday of the beanie and other freshman traditions came in the decade following World War II, when all of these rituals were strictly enforced. But by the beginning of the more liberal Sixties, the requirement that freshmen wear beanies—along with many of the other freshman customs—seems to have died out.

—Roy Webb BA‘84 MS‘91, Multimedia Archivist, J. Willard Marriott Library



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