October 15, 2012

NYU Heights, WSC & CAS Yearbooks Get Digital

In 1887, members of NYU’s graduating class appeared in the University’s first yearbook, The Lyre. Published by the junior class, The Lyre was primarily a tribute to members of the University’s secret fraternities. Since then, NYU yearbooks have taken on a variety of names and identities, including The Album (1922-1973), The Violet (1891-1973), and most recently The Torch (1977-2005). Tisch School of the Arts (TSOA) published yearbooks inconsistently during the 1980s and 90s. Other versions such as The Medical Violet, The Dental Violet, The Education Violet (originally called Prometheus), and The Commerce Violet existed during various times between 1908 and 2009.

Though the college yearbook ceased publication in 2005, perhaps a testament to students’ preference to reminisce via Facebook, tens of thousands of NYU alumni are preserved in the pages of these various incarnations. Hard copies of each book are housed within NYU’s archives, located on the tenth floor of the Bobst Library. University Archivist Nancy Cricco says that the University archives, which also houses historical records such as athletic clippings and student newspapers, processes about 1,000 transactions each year; requests that come from students, administrators, faculty, alumni, genealogists, and researchers. Those specifically interested in the yearbooks are often looking for a photo of a friend or family member.

Now, alumni looking to revisit the faces and places of NYU’s history can also do so electronically. Thanks to the generosity of Jeffrey S. Gould (WSC `79), all yearbooks from the Heights campus, 1891-1973, and Washington Square College (WSC)/The College of Arts and Sciences (CAS), 1924-2005, have been scanned. The digitized yearbooks are available for viewing in the lobby of the Jeffrey S. Gould Welcome Center located at 50 West Fourth Street and are completely searchable, allowing visitors to look up specific class photos and/or information from a specific year.

When asked why he thought this was an important project, Gould shared that he hopes the digitized yearbooks will serve to reconnect alumni while also promoting President John Sexton’s vision for an engaged alumni community.

As many alumni return to campus for Alumni Day on October 20, the digitized yearbooks offer yet another way for alumni to indulge their nostalgia for NYU.

One of the ways in which the various yearbooks are united is through the inclusion of the New York University seal, which bears the University motto "Perstare et Praestare"—to persevere and to excel. Each year on Alumni Day, members of the 50th anniversary class are inducted into the aptly named Perstare Society, which honors alumni who have celebrated at least the 50th anniversary of their graduation. As a tribute to this year’s inductees, the Class of 1962, we’re sharing some photos from The 1962 Violet and 1962’s The Album.

Alumni are welcome to stop by to browse the yearbooks at The Jeffrey S. Gould Welcome Center. The Center, located at 50 West 4th Street, is open 9 to 5 PM Monday through Friday and from 10 to 4 PM on Saturday. The New York University Archives located in Bobst Library, 70 Washington Square South, 10th Floor, is open 9:30-5 Monday through Friday.