1955 Yearbook Highlights

DIY Yearbook Highlights, The Seminole, 1955

Marsha Bryant, Professor of English & Distinguished Teaching Scholar

Ready to try your hand at highlighting UF Yearbooks? Click on this 1955 Seminole to get started. Here’s the assignment we used to do these Highlights from our Spring 2021 class (Desperate Domesticity: The American 1950s), along with other resources. We hope you enjoy your time travel to the Gator 1950s!

The table of contents page from the 1955 yearbook

UF Yearbooks from the 1950s usually have these sections:

  • Front Matter
  • UF Administration, Student Government, UF Colleges
  • Classes of students (Freshman to Senior, Graduate students)
  • Military, Beauty
  • Student Leadership, Student Publications
  • Fine Arts, Features, Activities
  • Varsity Athletics, Intramural Sports
  • Pan-Hellenic governance, Fraternities, Sororities
  • Advertising

To write our 1950s Yearbook Highlights, student groups selected from this list of categories, drawing insights from the yearbook as a whole:

Campus Pride
Career Paths
Florida Environment
Gender Roles
International Relations
Physical Fitness
Popular Culture
Social Life

Individually, students selected their Highlight categories and focused on what most compelled them, including the featured images. Collaboratively, the groups wrote their yearbook’s Overview and determined their order of Highlights.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What Highlight categories would you add to our list?
  2. Where might you fit into the UF campus culture this yearbook depicts?
  3. Are there ways you think you would not fit in?
  4. What aspects of student life do you find missing in this yearbook? Who is missing?
  5. What are key ways your life would change if you attended UF in the 1950s?
  6. How might we account for images that would be out of place in today’s campus culture, such as the sole female administrator (UF’s Dean of Women), or the student waving a Confederate flag at a Gator football game?
  7. If UF still had yearbooks, would you order one? Why or why not?
A man and a woman in front of a bookshelf. The woman is crouched on the floor looking at an open book while the man stands behind her selecting one from the shelf

Writing Prompts:

  1. Imagine yourself as an International student at UF in 1955.
  2. Imagine yourself in the campus ROTC during the Cold War, or attending UF as a military veteran in married student housing.
  3. Write a short story or sitcom episode from the perspective of Pat Keezel (sole woman on the Student Government Cabinet), Esther Jorolan (sole woman in UF’s chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers), or Ann Richardson (the yearbook’s Managing Editor).
  4. How would you update the 1955 yearbook Editor’s Foreword, which speaks of collegiate license to “be a little wild – come up with fantastic ideas – utter radical statements,” and “be different from normal people”?
  5. Write an editorial urging UF to bring back the Cavaliers, Cavalettes, or Swimcapades.
  6. In a virtual addition to the yearbook’s Advertisements section, pitch your invented personal care product (or other miracle product) that would make UF students’ lives easier in 1955.

More Resources:

In addition to digitized UF yearbooks, the University Archives page also has a photograph collection and links to archives for UF’s student newspaper, The Independent Florida Alligator. You can find historical contexts such as UF course offerings, information for prospective and international students, the cost of room & board and other fees in the University Record (Catalog part); see link at the bottom of this University Archives page.