NU Archives feature rich 100-year history of The Guidon

While a time machine might be far off from creation, the archives allow viewers to achieve a snapshot of Norwich’s past. The Guidon serves as the photographer, capturing photos of campus history.  

“Archival documents and materials are essential for modern historical study. They provide… the foundation upon which historical analysis is built.” Dr. Steven Sodergren, Chair of the Norwich History and Political Science Departments.  

October 28th, 1922, witnessed the initial publication of the Guidon, a student-run independent news organization. The first published issue covered a football loss to Middlebury, campus calendar, construction on a modern observatory, and the finalization of a Dodge Memorial. Within four pages and full of articles, advertisements, and insights from another time, the digital archives provide an opportunity for contemporary audiences to glean the writing and observe what was newsworthy.  

Hundreds of students have dedicated time, effort and energy to provide coverage for The Guidon, creating thousands of articles showing how the campus has changed over the years. Overall, the Norwich Archives maintains 635 digital copies of The Guidon here, spanning from 1922 until 1981, containing a wealth of knowledge about a plethora of topics.  

The Dec. 10, 1941 edition covers a speech from the President Thomas after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor 

“Our country is entering the most intense and… most devastating war in all history” President John Martin Thomas said. “We must get to our duty with all the intensity of effort… we command.”  

With hundreds of Norwich graduates serving in World War II, this served as Thomas’ motivational message for the young men about to experience combat.   

Another publication near the end of the war showed the Norwich student body reacting to victory in the European theatre, observing that “the gigantic job is just half done and… celebrating can wait until the task is completed.”  

Sadly, there is no digital record yet of a Guidon story covering Victory over Japan Day, also known as V-J Day. 

The finalized digitalized edition in the archives is a May 22nd, 1981 edition. The readings would be more relevant to the modern audience, with an advertisement for Trombley’s Flower Shop in Northfield, an article about the success of the rugby team, and an announcement about the Vermont Governor speaking at graduation.  

While The Guidon provides valuable insights, it also contains comments deemed completely unacceptable. Some pieces in a 1946 edition called a woman “one of the weaker sex”; had a date scorecard with numerous misogynist and degrading comments, and an article entitled “the chemistry of women,” which stated women aged rapidly, was a great income reducing agent, and the accepted atomic weight (read, actual weight) was 120.  

It is important that when considering the past, even the problematic parts ought to be shown to “[celebrate] how much progress we have made,” as stated by Dr. Emily Gray, Professor of History at Norwich. She also commented that “having access to archives is essential. That’s how we figure out who we are.” 

Students, staff and all interested parties are encouraged to visit the archives website or visit the archives on the fifth floor of the Kreitzberg Library to read The Guidon’s past coverage. As noted by Gail Wiese, who serves as the Archivist for Education and Access Services, “Without the Guidon, our understanding of… our larger history would be incomplete. What makes the NU Archives special is… [preserving] and [making] accessible content like the Guidon for current and future generations.”