A Look at the First Twenty Years of the Barnard Bulletin

What better time than this to think about the past and the Bulletin’s history?

Where has the Barnard Bulletin been? As a former first-year, that was one question I had while coming to campus at the height of a global pandemic. Here and there, I would sometimes spot a physical copy of the Bulletin tucked away in a corner of Sulz lobby, or piled up at the reception desk on the first floor of Diana. Every time, I would take a few minutes to flip through the glossy pages of the magazine, appreciating the articles surrounding hot takes, advice, and the overall authenticity of the Bulletin’s student journalists. In my opinion, the Bulletin has always served as an accurate indicator as if it were a moodboard of community sentiments of the Barnard community. Now, I am a junior and writing for the Bulletin — a publication in the midst of a revival as it contends against other prominent sources of on-campus news. 

In other words, we’re making a comeback, and what better time than this to think about the past and the Bulletin’s history? 

The Bulletin has been around for a while. Founded in 1901 as a weekly student newspaper, the Bulletin began less as a space for student reflection and more as a no-nonsense information hub for students and faculty alike. Printed on gritty newsprint paper and disseminated around campus for five cents a copy, the Bulletin covered all things campus-related. From the construction of the Barnard gymnasium, to the coverage of Barnard’s active theater community, to the records of student wedding engagements and changes in offered courses, the Bulletin did it all

As an Information Science and English double major (or, well, a nerd), I wanted to see how we started and take a closer look on the topics from the Bulletin’s first few issues.. Thankfully, the Barnard Archives and Special Collections department has digitized the majority of our issues—all of which are publicly available on the Barnard Digital Collections website (so you, too, can geek out over historical student publications!). Taking the first issue printed every year for the first twenty years of the Bulletin, I hunkered down and got to reading.

Although there wasn’t a set-in-stone format to the early issues of the Bulletin, articles could be roughly organized into five categories: Campus Life, Notices, Academic News, Student Opinion, and Alumnae Life. We can argue about these categories, especially because they overlapped at times, but call me after you finish reading this article.

Campus Life covered a wide variety of topics, but it generally entailed news that affected the entire student body (e.g. the building of  new facilities, on-campus talks or events,  student plays, national events):

Notices tended to be much shorter articles, and they were…well, notices:

Academic news tended to focus on lectures given by professors or course changess:

Student Opinion was always opinionated. Often much longer in format (usually spanning across an entire page), opinions served as a good reflection of on-campus thoughts at the time:

Finally,  Alumnae Life served as a way to update the student body on the exciting lives of alumnae:

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