(Reader Alexis Abbey alerted us to the these videos of Dartmouth in the ’40s and ’50s, and with a little coaxing provided the commentary.)
A tour of Dartmouth College’s library in the 1950s, shown in the top video, sheds light on the school’s lifestyle and sartorial history. Male students seen hard at work wearing sweaters, flannels and thick trousers highlight two things: The lack of female students and a clear fashion sense unique to the college.
Dartmouth did not become coeducational until 1972, one of the last Ivy League schools to do so. In addition to the absence of female students, the clip shows that comfort and practicality seem to be preferred to more formal styles worn at other Ivy League schools.
The same reliance on comfort and practicality can be observed today on the Dartmouth campus. Located in New Hampshire, it is not unusual for Dartmouth winters to last from late October to early April. During these frigid months, dressing for warmth rather than style is the primary concern for students. Moreover, the college’s isolation from large cities and other universities creates a student body often indifferent to keeping up with fashion.
As much as the Dartmouth experience has changed over the last half century, its most unique characteristics remain unchanged. Due to the campus’s isolated and tranquil location, the Dartmouth experience stresses a special relationship between learning that occurs equally in classrooms and in nature. This is especially apparent in the second video, made by students in the late 1940s, which shows the many outdoor activities available to students. — ALEXIS ABBEY
Alexis Abbey is a native of Dallas and is a member of the Dartmouth Class of 2008. This fall he will begin graduate studies at the Cornell University Institute of Public Affairs.
Special thanks to Valet for plugging this post as “Take Ivy: The Movie.”