In Honor of “Our Funny University”

September 19th, 2014

In honor of today’s event, “Our Funny University,” we have installed a modest exhibit on the first floor of Memorial Library entitled “Campus Humor Magazines Near and Far.” These cases highlight extensive and lively collections of campus humor magazines in the University Archives and the Department of Special Collections. The magazines on display include UW’s own Sphinx and Octopus as well as campus humor magazines from other American colleges and universities.

These magazines address topics both light-hearted and controversial: some of the humor stands well the test of time, while other jokes and cartoons make today’s readers cringe. The University Archives holds the Sphinx and Octopus (and is seeking more issues); Special Collections holds a large collection of campus humor magazines from other institutions as assembled and donated to the Libraries by John and Barbara Dobbertin.

Most of the editors of such magazines were well aware of counterpart publications at other institutions. Indeed, “exchange” issues and columns admitted to the common practice
of raiding other campus humor magazines for material. The Dobbertin collection yields, among others, an issue of Pitt Panther from the University of Pittsburgh for October 1923, containing “Have You Heard This One?” Its sources included the Octopus (and be forewarned — the sentiment is both dated and sexist).

The “exchange issues” for the Stanford Chaparral for April 1949 
and April 1950 also drew on the Octopus
We invite your additions to these collections: issues of the University of Wisconsin Octopus and Sphinx to the University Archives and issues of campus humor magazines from other institutions to Special Collections. Cheers!