Humor Through the Archives

Molly Johanson

Just as The Pioneer has undergone many a transformation since its inception in 1896, so has its humor. From odd one-liners and random articles on the front page to dedicated April Fool’s Day issues and weekly humor sections, the Pio has come a long way in terms of making Whitman College students chuckle.

I had the opportunity to spend a lot of time in the archives, located in the basement of Penrose Library, last fall for a research paper about Whitman’s history. As I was pouring through copies of the Pio from the 1910s and ’20s, I was constantly surprised by how funny they all were. A big bulk of it was the sheer novelty that comes with reading things from the past, but mostly I was laughing at what (I hope?) was intended to be humorous.

What is most striking about the humor of past Whitman students is how true it all still rings today. Given that humor is one of the mainstays of dealing with everyday life, it seems that struggles of average liberal arts students haven’t changed much in the past hundred years. So here is a sampling of articles and comics that range from the silly, the accurate and the oddly morbid (when it comes to early April Fool’s issues anyway).