From the warm and welcoming reading room to the frigid ground floor stacks, the Special Collections Research Center offers a wealth of historical resources, right at the heart of campus. I am grateful to have the opportunity to take a behind-the-scenes look at the SCRC and explore many of its treasures this summer through Swem Library’s Mosaic Internship Program.
If you’re a senior at the College, you may know the Colonial Echo through their emails reminding you to get your portrait taken. If you’re an underclassman, perhaps you’ve seen the Colonial Echo up for grabs around campus at the end of the Spring semester. For those still unfamiliar, the Colonial Echo is William & Mary’s student yearbook; it’s a record of the events throughout the year and the students who matriculated. The Colonial Echo was first published in 1899, and has been published every year since then except for 1900 and 1904. That means there have been over 100 editions of the yearbook, and Special Collections has a copy (or multiples) of every edition. While physical copies are available, you don’t have to actually come into Special Collections to view the Colonial Echo – the 1899-1995 yearbooks have been digitized. To give you a glimpse into W&M’s history, we pulled the 1917 Colonial Echo. Exactly 100 years from the current academic year, this yearbook is a great example of what has – and has not – changed on campus since its publication.
This image of female students of the K.O.B. ribbon society surrounding the Botetourt Statue appeared in the 1931 Colonial Echo yearbook. Shortly after William & Mary became a co-ed in 1918, “a certain group of girls who found each other’s company congenial, decided to form a ribbon society.” As a precursor to the current sorority system, selected William & Mary female students formed the G.G.G. club and others the K.O.B. club. K.O.B. members “wore a yellow ribbon on their wrists once each month and on special occasions” as a mark of their membership in the ribbon society.