1920s

In the Beginning …

The Undergrad is first published

The first issue of The Undergrad, the first student union publication, is released for the Michaelmas Term of 1921. They include a collection of correspondent letters from other such publications from different Welsh universities, submitted poetry and literature, and a round-up of society news. Rather than the newspaper format we see in today’s publication, The Undergrad was more like a magazine, perhaps due to its bi-yearly publication schedule.

Source: Richard Burton Archives, Swansea University

The Undergrad becomes Dawn

The Undergrad evolved into Dawn, published for the first time in the Michaelmas term of 1925. In preparation for the change they introduced a competition to design the front cover, which was won by Mr. J. R. Daymond. As part of his prize he would receive free copies of Dawn for five years.

Source: Richard Burton Archives, Swansea University

The Varsity Ball: what people wore

The Varsity Ball – Lent term, 1927: Much like the way todays magazines like to criticise the way people dress, Dawn featured an article reporting the styles and fashions of the attendees at their annual Varsity Ball. Here are a few of their observations:

Miss Marion Sweet wore a mask (at least, we hope it was).

Dr. Mary Williams’ dress was a creation of tomato embossed georgette, Miss Bliss’ a calamity of tose taffetas.

Mr. Sid Davies wore trousers, a very gratifying sight.

Mr. Dick Morris and Miss Una Williams – well, I don’t think it mattered much to them what either    wore.

The Ginger Club

The students of the 1920s were not as serious as perhaps we would expect them to be, as demonstrated in the creation of ‘The Ginger Club’ in the Michaelmas term of 1924.

The Problems of the 1920s Student (Undergrad, 1921)

Source: Richard Burton Archives, Swansea University

Society Events of the 1920s

The Metallurgical and Engineering Society was one of the first societies to be established at the university. As stated in The Undergrad, the ‘society commenced activities in true student-like fashion’, and they included tea with the President of the society, Professor C. A. Edwards followed by an impromptu concert ‘where much talent was discovered’. Furthermore, the society set homework for its members where the attendance to meetings was dependent upon whether one had done the necessary reading beforehand. A lot has changed since then …

***

Researching for interesting stories/facts from the 1920s proved a little difficult. The Undergrad and Dawn were less like the student newspapers we recognise today, but more like a literature magazine. Short stories and poetry were the primary type of article, however they would also include correspondence from other university publications, society and sports news, and the occasional piece of gossip from the common rooms. What I hope to have shown within these selected short stories is that the Students’ Union and the Swansea students, whilst different in many ways, also share some recognisable similarities, such as the not-so-serious societies and the importance we place on what people wear.

[Emma Davies]

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