Earlier in the week, I found myself leafing through the 1892 Hawkeye yearbook in an attempt to answer a question for a caller to Alumni Records. The slim blue volume is bookended by advertisements for local businesses that made the era come alive for me. They include Frank & Tanner’s promotion of buggies, carriages, surreys, and phaetons for sale; a Boerners’ Pharmacy ad; and the Gardner Barber Shop’s half-page spread featuring drawings of popular haircuts, such as the Victor, Pikes Peak, Pompadour, and Long Branch.  Advertisements for other local  purveyors of trunks, valises, fancy vests, guns and ammunition, fine fruits, and fraternity badges fill the annual’s back pages.

In addition, there are full-page ads promoting the Great Rock Island Railroad route through Iowa, touting “magnificent vestibule express trains” and promoting travel to the west. Another ad markets the Iowa Route of the Burlington, Cedar Rapids, and Northern Railroad. It emphasizes a short-line route to “cheap homes” and thousands of choice acres of land in northwestern Iowa, southeastern Minnesota, and central Dakota, “where drought and crop failures are unknown”!

On the yearbook’s title page, underneath the State University of Iowa logo, old gold is listed as the university’s color and the yell is cited as “Hi! Hi! Hi! S. U. I. Giddy, giddy, uni, S.U.I.”  Among the faculty and staff listings was one for James Berry, who served from 1875 as the night watch and fireman.  He was born in County Cork, Ireland, in April 1832 and came in 1858 to Iowa City.  There were only eight buildings to house the university at that time.

But the best treasure I found in the yearbook was a full-page history of the University of Iowa Alumni Association (UIAA). Did you know that your association was founded formally on the 30th day of June 1869 in the University Chapel? That means that the UIAA will celebrate its 142nd anniversary this June. In 1892, you could become a member by signing the constitution and paying a one-dollar initiation fee. Your membership would continue during good behavior.

One of the many things I like about working for the UI Alumni Association is the organization’s dedication to the tradition of exceptional service to alumni and the university. The 1892 history notes that “the principal objects of the Association are to strengthen the social ties existing between graduates…and to work in every way for the general welfare of the University.”  The association’s current mission statement documents our continued commitment to that very principle—“to strengthen the university through alumni engagement.”  We do that every day through collaboration and development of strategic alliances; through education initiatives that support the UI’s teaching, research and service, as well as advance a culture of lifelong learning among alumni; through our commitment to excellence in our communications, programs, and services; through our being inclusive and welcoming of all members, alumni, students, and friends of the UI; and through manifesting the highest standards of honesty, fairness, respect, and professional ethics.

Looking back at the founding of the UI Alumni Association and paging through the 1892 Hawkeye makes me proud to be a part of an organization with a long tradition of service to our alumni and the university.  We promise to continue to be the trusted resource for all loyal Hawkeyes who want to remain actively engaged in the University of Iowa community.

Susan E. Sweeney
Alumni Records Manager


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