It’s that time of year again, when warm spring weather signals the end of classes and brings on graduations. This week is finals week here at Iowa State University and it will end with commencement ceremonies. We scanned many of the earliest commencement programs from our archives and made them available online in our Digital Collections. http://cdm16001.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/search/collection/p16001coll27
Over the years, there are a variety of styles of printing and constructing the programs, with one even being held together with yarn. Besides the programs, some include a list of commencement week activities. It can be interesting to look back and see how things were done long ago compared to today. You can see what kinds of music was played, the guest speakers and what they spoke about, and names of graduates and their areas of study. One program from 1880, shown below, has an entry which reads “Shall We Encourage Irish Immigration” which is an interesting look at how some topics of popular concern have evolved over time.
Here is the front cover of a program from 140 years ago and a page of another program from 1880 tied with yarn.