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The Dobbertin Collection, a generous gift to Special Collections from John and Barbara Dobbertin, may be the largest collection of college humor magazines in the United States. John Dobbertin is a former editor of the Michigan Gargoyle — hence his deep affection for campus humor magazines and appreciation of their history.
The Dobbertin Collection ranges from the late 19th century to the 21st, and addresses 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 collection was showcased in a series of exhibits in 2008:
For more about these exhibits and the Dobbertin Collection, see
We are eager to broaden the coverage of the campus humor magazine collection, and invite additions to the collection from your own piles of college memorabilia, whatever your alma mater. For information about the collection or about making a gift, please contact the Curator of Special Collections by email or by telephone at (608) 262-2809. Although the UW-Madison Archives holds a set of the UW’s Sphinx and Octopus (and has digitized some of them), we in Special Collections would also welcome issues of those two titles for our multi-institution collection of campus humor magazines.
What follows is a lengthy list of the holdings in the Dobbertin Collection, arranged by institution and then date (or volume number):
Please note: The University Archives holds full runs of the Sphinx and the Octopus.