This Is Pennsylvania, 1957

Here’s a post that originally ran in the summer of 2012, and which makes for a perfect follow-up to yesterday’s post on a video from the University of Pennsylvania made in 1967. This is another school promo film, but from precisely a decade earlier.

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Recently I ran across a video for Penn that was created in 1957 and documents campus life for a full 30 minutes. There’s some really great footage in here, and you are able to see a lot of detail that’s not as noticeable with still-frame photos like you get in “Take Ivy.”

Here are some highlights:

• 1:10-1:30, 2:20-2:35, 11:20- 12:30 and 17:30-18:00 are scenes straight out of “Take Ivy,” except a decade earlier.

• Check out the classroom close-ups from 9:15 to 10:00. Great examples of three piece suits, repp ties, and tortoiseshell glasses.

• At the 14-minute mark there are several examples of midcentury women’s style.

• Check out the tennis players in all white at 21:25, track and field at 21:30, and rowers starting around 21:40.

• And for scenes of Ivy League football in its heyday, jump to 23:30. Fun fact: John Heisman, pioneer of the forward pass and namesake of the trophy, was a Penn alum and head coach. — MARK CHOU

29 Comments on "This Is Pennsylvania, 1957"

  1. World's End | June 6, 2012 at 6:55 am |

    What a great find. Fascinating stuff. But how DID they manage to dress without John Simons?

  2. Jim Kelleth | June 6, 2012 at 7:15 am |

    Absolutely great! And is that John Facenda doing the voiceover?

  3. OldSchool | June 6, 2012 at 9:01 am |

    @Jim Kelleth

    It very well might be. John Facenda was broadcasting out of Philadelphia in 1957. Here’s another sample of his voice and narrating style:

  4. OldSchool | June 6, 2012 at 9:24 am |

    One more example of John Facendsa’s voice and style:

  5. That was fun, thanks. Speaking of “tennis whites”, till the late 70s most tennis clubs in the mid-west would n’t allow anything but white.

  6. Roomy Khakis | June 6, 2012 at 8:31 pm |


    The decline and fall of civilization

  7. Damn, I planned to post it next week! Hahaha. Once again, you were faster. Great post anyways!

  8. Richard Meyer | June 7, 2012 at 3:07 am |

    The University Museum is a storehouse of great antiquities. I went to Wisconsin in early, pre-crazy 60’s, and we dressed mostly like that as well. Then it all crashed.

  9. @ MAC – in the northeast that requirement lives on. In general I think it’s a nice tradition that should be maintained, but at times it gets difficult to make your children understand why they can’t wear the latest shirt from their favorite ATP player.

  10. Green
    How true, the change pretty much followed the explosion of tennis popularity in the late 70s and the fashion of the ATP players. Also, the expansion of the clubs’ pro shops to jump on the trend to increase profits, which previously sold only basics, shoes , balls and rackets.
    Any remember the Ralph Lauren’s “tennis blacks”, many thought it was his protest to the rainbow trend in tennis fashion. He never commented on it, as far as I know, but maybe he was just co-opting the trend away from all whites.

  11. That was a nice treat! I loved how everyone dressed up. Now a days, people seem to dress so casually.

  12. Here is further evidence of our fall. The video, at 26:49 mentions “Logan Hall.” Thanks to the university’s venality, and Ron Perelman’s unchecked ego and matching checkbook, Logan Hall is now known as Claudia Cohen Hall after (one of many of) Perelman’s ex-wife.

  13. Dutch Uncle | June 12, 2012 at 8:33 am |

    How right you are, Repp Man.

    Logan Hall was named after this gentleman:

    and later renamed after a gossip columnist.

  14. This was a combination of lovely, nostalgic and sad. When did we as a society get away from this? When did we become a world of ‘Wal-Mart people’ dressers? I agree with Roomy Khaki’s comment: ‘The decline and fall of civilization.’

  15. Kathie
    Hello Mo. Girl, love the new do, but being an Ozark Hillbilly, you shouldn’t bad mouth Wal-Mart, just kiddin. Eldorado Springs, a thriving hamlet east of Nevada and they got a Triumph dealership. Nice blog, but I was confused, i’m old, do you live in D.C. or Mo.?

  16. I arbitrarily think of UPenn as the odd one out of the Ivies. I feel as though it’s the forgotten Ivy. Possibly because it’s name is generic and not names for someone.

  17. Philly Trad | April 28, 2017 at 3:28 pm |

    I am enjoying this, and thanks for posting. Am I the resident Philadelphian in this community? The resident Penn grad? Hopefully not. As far as bona fides go, allow me to point out that two Penn scholars contributed greatly to this theme we follow on the Ivy Style blog. The term WASP was popularized by E. Digby Baltzell in his 1964 book the Protestant Establishment: Aristocracy and Caste in America. However, the term originated in 1957. As a Penn sociologist he wrote some incredible books about the origins and longevity of the American class system. The other two well received tomes: the Making of a Philadelphia Gentleman and Puritan Boston, Quaker Philadelphia. And, don’t miss the one on the game of tennis. From comments I have read on this blog, many of you seem like you would enjoy the books he wrote, and the research he did. (As an aside, his nephew is Whit Stillman, chronicler of the upper east side in the independent films: Metropolitan, Barcelona and Last Days of Disco). When Digby passed the Times did a heck of an obit: His family is still active in Philadelphia circles, and setting a standard. And, Paul Fussell often gets mentioned on this blog for his book Class. He was a professor of English at Penn for many years, and a contemporary of Digby, and both men were campus icons. I can say that when I was a student, it was common to see prof. Baltzell ride up to campus from his Delancey Place town home (off Rittenhouse Square) on a fixed gear bike, in grey flannels, tweet jackets, and bow tie. He was text book trad, or shoe, as Mr. Press would say.

  18. Just to be clear, I did not mean to say that UPenn is not as fine an institution as the other Ivies but that I simply forget to group it in with the Ancient Eight. It is obviously a great school, even though it has only produced one president. 😉

  19. Philly Trad | April 28, 2017 at 4:01 pm |

    LOL. it’s true: just one president, who attended Wharton. And not a lot of rallying around that achievement here on campus. GS, in no way did I think you were minimizing Penn. It is such a common challenge for our university, to be Ivy but with a state name. We get confused with Penn State, which is four hours away from Philadelphia, and while a great public institution, is very different from UPenn. In the mid-60’s there was talk of changing the name to reflect our founder Benjamin Franklin. For some reason, the Board of Trustee passed on the concept of Franklin University, because people thought the potential abbreviation of Franklin University, F.U., was not attractive. Wonder why?

  20. I heard that they weren’t too pleased about Trump being the first UPenn grad to become president. It is what it is. President Harrison attended but, ultimately, dropped out. I sympathize with the University in that its generic name doesn’t do the historic institution justice. They should have named it Benjamin Franklin University, like Sarah Lawrence College or Emil Faber College, if you will. It could have been called “Franklin” in passing and would have been B.F.U. technically.

  21. Mitchell S. | April 28, 2017 at 7:09 pm |

    @Philly Trad: I used to confuse Penn with Penn State. Also confusing is the name “University of Pennsylvania.” One assumes it is public, when in fact it is private.

    Franklin Univ. (F.U) is an interesting story that reminds me about a story I heard while taking a tour of Harvard. So, undergraduate “houses” are named after the earliest presidents of Harvard, except for one president: president Hoar. The story goes that university officials didn’t want a Hoar (sounds like “whore”) House on campus.

  22. That reminds me of the story of the naming of Yale, which was originally called by an even more generic name; Collegiate School. The school’s first true benefactor was a man with an unfortunate name called Jeremiah Dummer. For obvious reasons the board did not want to name the school “Dummer College” so they contacted Elihu Yale who helped build the school’s first buildings. This gave the board the opportunity to show their gratitude and rename the school in his honor.

    Funny thing is, John Harvard gave up his worldly possessions to the school that bears his name while Eli Yale had to be asked to contribute to his.

  23. For those readers of Ivy Style who have never tried Wal-Mart:
    It is still possible to find long sleeve oxford cloth button down shirts, chinos, knit neckties and penny loafers online there.
    That’s where this stylish pensioner gets his.

  24. Don’t worry PhillyTrad you’re not the only Philadelphian here (Proper or otherwise)

    I think it was Baltzell that noted the Quakers had very little to do with the founding of Penn, both because of a lack of trained clergy and being convinced that with strong primary education (at a Friends school of course) the Inner Light would guide man without any added education. Franklin, being an uppity New Englander, was convinced otherwise.

  25. PhillyTrad | April 29, 2017 at 2:43 pm |

    DCG, glad to know we have a city in common. You are correct in that the founding of Penn was achieved without the help of the Quaker establishment. Ironic that our mascot name is the Quakers. Philly had a very strong German community starting in the 1850s, and they were particularly focused on education and in business as they were successful in engineering and the sciences. This led to the Industrial Age being very impactful in creating wealth for the city. These people built big big companies and created generational wealth as industrialists. This had an indirect impact on penn becoming a stronger school and health system. That said, when Penn comes into its own it is in the 1950s. First, it agreed to joined the new athletic conference, the Ivy League, and agreed to do away with athletic scholarships so to focus its resources more on elite academic research. Second, The ENiAC is created at Penn, and the computer age is born but which explodes in Boston and San Francisco and not Philly. Ironically, it resulted in more money coming in for all types of other elite research. And third the GI bill brought in scores of young men who, by the 70s and 80s, were very successful and became philanthropic; thus creating a virtuous cycle that has continued to this day. Digby used to tell an anecdote: at a Manhattan party the introductions are made with a question of “so where do you work?” And At a party in Boston it would be: “Where did you go to school?” And the Philadelphia cocktail party it was always “so who are your parents? “

  26. It’s funny how “so where do you work?”, “Where did you go to school?” and “who are your parents?” matter so little these days. Ben Franklin would rejoice that nowadays American meritocracy has much more to do with industriousness and good taste than anything else. And, perhaps to the distress of some, probably good looks. On occasion you’ll hear “So, what do you do?” But not as often as one did way back in the 80s.

  27. PhillyTrad | April 30, 2017 at 2:57 pm |

    Amen to that!

  28. PhillyTrad: great mentions of Baltzell’s works; all of which sit in my library (save the sporting gent). His work on the “Protestant Establishment” is a particularly painful read as I’ve read it twice now. Sad to see our “dereliction of duty” (another good book) and the ubiquitous consequences which hem us in on all sides today. Rightfully so, he clinically excoriates WASPs for, what I refer to as, a going out of business strategy.

  29. Having begun Penn in 1957, it was a kick to revisit the times and places–I even found an old fraternity brother parking cars 😉 Lots of sugar coating though, like the intimate seminars with high profile professors. Many of us complained that the undergraduate classes were often in large auditoriums and headed by indifferent graduate students. But, I do remember a fine class in Culture and Psychology with about a dozen young enthusiastic students and a great anthropologist!

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