Yearbook Highlights for The Seminole, 1950
Mindjina Courage, Justin Levy, and Gillian Joyce
The 1950 publication of the University of Florida’s yearbook, The Seminole, acts as a catalog of the school year. The yearbook is nostalgic for those who attended the university, but it also serves as an introduction to students who know little about UF. The yearbook features many pages with Greek life, sports, and fashion. It portrays the importance of these organizations and clubs (especially Greek organizations), highlighting the effect they had on the Gator community. Social life, UF sports teams, and different types of events and activities provided camaraderie and sparked campus pride. One thing that is very notable is how nicely dressed everyone is. No matter what page you go to, there is someone wearing a buttoned shirt or a skirt and blouse with neatly-kept hair. Students who are dressed up for a special function or picture look like they’re modeling for a magazine. Almost all of the students and faculty in the yearbook are wearing full suits and ties or dresses and skirts and blouses. However, there are several themes that are missing from the yearbook. For instance, there seems to be no mention of politics even though the 50s are filled with a lot of social movements. There are few photos of the professors and staff. Ultimately, the yearbook is lighthearted and student-centered.
Aesthetics (Mindjina Courage)
The 1950 Seminole features creative displays that highlight the school year. Enlivening some of the 400 black-and-white photographs are the red accents used to highlight headings and small drawings. Each page features several pictures accompanied by captions and text. The text on the pages is small and short to keep the primary focus on the photographs. If a page features more than one photo, rarely are they aligned with one another uniformly. Instead, photos are slanted, rotated, and are uniquely shaped in the yearbook. This results in an engaging aesthetic that makes the yearbook feel more informal and exciting.
Most of the images in the yearbook are motion photographs that show students engaging in activities, but there are also sketches and artwork. The photograph above introduces the “activities” section (it does not have a credit). While a white page with the words Student Activities would have been sufficient to introduce this section, this particular page design presents half a music record with the image of a woman’s leg repeated on it. The image also features a squawking bird and clock with red accents. These three apparently random images were placed in the magazine with the sole purpose of looking cool and fun. Today we might call this yearbook’s aesthetic vintage chic, but the intention of the initial design team was to create an inviting book full of memories.
Fashion (Justin Levy)
In the 1950 copy of The Seminole, fashion is on almost every page that has someone in it—we see not only what the people were doing, but also what they were wearing. What is most notable in the majority of the students in the yearbook is how grown-up the students dress compared to the current student body that attends UF. It is also interesting to see the different groups of students and how their wardrobe varies across Greek organizations and other clubs. The young men in this yearbook pretty much all have their hair greased and slicked back or in a combover. Most of them sport a nice suit and tie or have on button-down shirts tucked into their slacks; there are a couple who stand out and almost have a rockabilly look with leather jackets. The women in the yearbook for the most part all have their hair curled and falling toward their shoulders. Their outfits change a lot throughout the different sections of the yearbook. For example, every “girl of the month” features an image of her showing off her legs in a short skirt or short shorts (See page 43 with Pam Wheeler as September’s Honey Lamb.) This is different compared to the way other women dress in the yearbook because most of them have skirts that go down to their shins, or they wear slacks and a blouse. The girls in the yearbook even have a dedicated beauty section pages 130-141 with many princesses and a queen. They all have a portrait of themselves nearby and are posing at different locations across campus. Overall, the students in the yearbook have a sophisticated look in the way that they dress that is very “1950s” with the suits and dresses and hairstyles.
Physical Fitness (Gillian Joyce)
The 1950 Seminole depicts physical fitness as a point of pride as well as a social activity. Evidently, the main goal within the sports section is to showcase a high level of masculinity, toughness and victory. The yearbook portrays this theme across every sport, in a variety of ways. In particular, the football team’s pages display the ruggedness of the men on the team by showing the players sprinting through muddy terrains and tackling each other. The caption under the picture states, “ignoring hurricane weather, Hussinger looks goalward,” proving UF players’ masculinity and forbearance. The captions under the photographs make the players seem invincible and miraculous, furthering the assumption of their immense strength. These curated images of the players continue to fuel Gator pride, reminding the students of the team’s incredible effort of the team. Some of the captions use the terms “gallop” and “torpedo”, which makes the players appear as though they are not just men, but wild acts of nature and even animalistic. To further, the captions also use hunting and war-like metaphors to capture strength and power. The caption, “Don Brown spears TD as Plainsman prays”, uses the term “spear” to showcase the destructive and war-like way the men play football, in hopes to strengthen Gator football pride.
While we expect to see a high level of fitness within the sports sections, we can also identify it throughout the entirety of the yearbook. Many of the social activities and fraternity events include some type of games and physical fitness tests that crown winners. For example, the picture of several women playing tug-o-war on Derby Day notes that the sorority Alpha Omicron Pi was the winner. We see the theme of physical fitness throughout the year book, proving how reliant the social events were on such activities. Overall, physical fitness was a source of camaraderie and pride for UF.
Gender Roles (Mindjina Courage)
The 1950s were far from gender inclusive, and the 1950 edition of The Seminole offers insights about common gender roles during that time. The quantitative representation of men and women in the yearbook appears to be fairly equal. But though both genders appear in the yearbook, they are showcased doing different gendered activities. The yearbook often displays men in positions of power (athleticism, leadership), while women are more likely to appear as entertaining (fashion, dance, and posing). For example, all the members of student government are male. Considering that women had only attended UF since 1947 it isn’t surprising that only men were voted to govern the school in 1950. On leadership page in this yearbook, there are three males shown and one woman. The caption for the one woman mentions that she is a secretary and that she was never without a smile. It speaks volumes that the woman’s appearance (her smile) is mentioned in a paragraph discussing her work and leadership roles. The yearbook has a beauty section that features only pictures of women. Under the athletics portion in the yearbook, the focus is on the male players who participate in sports like football, baseball, and basketball. Though approximately 40 pages were devoted to displaying men’s physical activities, the co-ed sports receive only three pages. Professional sports teams for women were not common during the 1950s. While men were expected play physical sports and be in leadership positions, women were supposed to focus on more domestic activities and their appearance.
Campus Pride (Justin Levy)
Besides watching the game itself, school spirit and campus pride are what make going to Gator athletic events so much fun. In the 1950 Seminole, it looks as if there was campus pride all day, every day. Freshmen got their first taste of campus pride by receiving their “F” book and “rat caps” we see on page 43. The yearbook is in black and white, but the caps were bright orange and royal blue with the freshman’s graduating year on the front; rat caps distinguished them from the other classes. The freshmen in the yearbook look like they had a really good time; a caption at the bottom of page 44 says “WHO HAS MORE FUN THAN PEOPLE? Florida Rats.” Throughout the yearbook, there are a ton of pictures of the many dances and parades that were held at school and away, especially in the “activities” and “sports” sections. Most of these were organized by the Sororities and Fraternities, and we see their members playing games and sitting on decorated floats that were in contests. In the sports section, there are pages with pictures of the players during the games as well as all the scores and schedules from the year. We also see the fans in this yearbook. Page 56 shows a pep rally in Jacksonville before the Florida-Georgia game; there is even a car that was fully decorated with a “Go get em’ Gators” sign on the grille.
Social Life (Gillian Joyce)
The entirety of the yearbook presents UF’s social life in several ways. First, it is clear the large impact that the Greek life community had on the school’s social life and culture. The majority of documented social events were hosted by fraternities, and they include different games as well as beauty contests. Several parts of the yearbook show which sorority had won a particular event. To emphasize Greek life, there were two float parade winners: one for a fraternity, and one for a sorority. Additionally, many of the yearbook’s beauty queens were members of sororities. Each Greek organization had a minimum of one full page in the yearbook, emphasizing their importance to the school. Clearly Greek life had a large impact on the UF students’ social lives.
Secondly, the yearbook shows that there is an intentional division of men’s and women’s social activities. The co-ed social activities appear to be extremely planned out and monitored. They almost always occur in an auditorium, during a parade, or in any location within the public eye. The women are always dressed appropriately, and maintain proper distance with the men. The men, however, are portrayed with more options in the nature of the event and attire. On page 55, for example, there are two photographs of student activities. The first is “winners of sorority skits,” which shows women dressed up and posing beautifully on a stage. The second, “Phi Gam clowns search for sober people”, shows fraternity members wearing only grass skirts, masks, and body paint. The differences in images provides a clear understanding of what was acceptable for the respective genders. Additionally, male students are seen joking around and roughhousing with each other in several of the photos. There is one photo in particular where the men are staring at the women in front of them and making comments (see right). From what we know about the 1950s and what we see in this yearbook, going about a social life was a much different experience for women than it was for men.