CUL Digital Collections
Southern Methodist University Rotunda Yearbooks
The Rotunda is Southern Methodist University’s student yearbook. Named in December 1915, the Executive Council of the Student Association voted for this evocative nameafter seven different students suggested it. Senior students voted to wear their cap and gowns for their portraits. The staff vowed to use only Dallas printers, engravers, and photographers. The first issue was 256 pages. Like most college annuals of its time, Rotunda included photographs of students in each class group, but focused on Seniors. Other sections included campus organizations, fraternities and sororities, sports, professors, photographs of campus, and advertisements.
The Rotunda digital collection currently covers the years 1916 through 2005.
In 1921, the Rotunda cost $5. In Fall 1921, the Rotunda was bundled as a part of the student activities fee or “blanket tax,” which also included funding for the Daily Campus, entrance to all intercollegiate games, and gymnasium privileges. That fee was $7.50 per semester.
From 1916 to 1940 Saddleburr, a humor section, was featured at the back of the book. The humor section so offended SMU President Selecman in 1927 that he ordered all copies of the Rotunda confiscated to have an offending page cut out of the book.
From 1916 through 1983, the Rotunda included a “Campus Beauties” section that had photos of the prettiest girls on campus. Some years, the women were selected by special elections. In 1952, celebrities Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis selected the lovely ladies.
The Rotunda followed larger national trends—both in design and content. In the earliest days, much of the artwork were illustrations, often drawn by students. As the price of photography went down—and printing processes changed, photography overtook illustrations.
Individual portraits were, of course, always photographs. There was a hierarchy of picture size, with Seniors having larger images than anyone else. At least in the first several years, the Freshman class only had a group shot. Interestingly, also in those early years, clubs were represented by each member’s individual photo—instead of a group pose. Color photography started in 1949 for the Beauties. With each decade as the cost went down, more full color was used. In 2003, the yearbook was in all color.
To see, touch, and browse copies of the actual Rotunda, please visit the Fondren Library. The call number for the books is LD5101.S3655. Several other libraries on campus also have copies of the Rotunda.
Scanning and original hosting of the 1916-2005 Rotundas was made possible by a generous gift from Richard Ware, SMU class of 1968. The project was done for the SMU Centennial Celebration, 2011-2015. During the campaign, the Rotundas were used by alumni, SMU students, alumni, faculty, staff, and genealogists from 2012 to 2017.
In the summer of 2017, the SMU Archives, the Norwick Center for Digital Solutions, Central University Libraries, and the Student Media Company worked together to update the collection and move it to ContentDM.
About the SMU Archives
The Southern Methodist University Archives serves as a research repository for the official administrative and historical records of the University. In addition, the Archives serves as the collective memory of Southern Methodist University.
Material in the SMU Archives consists of non-current university records, regardless of medium, generated by faculty, staff, and students while conducting the business of this institution. This material includes office files, minutes, photographs, films, correspondence, artifacts and memorabilia, publications, scrapbooks, blueprints, oral history tapes, and manuscript collections.
Digital Collections Policies and Procedures
Items in Central University Library Digital Collections are digitized following the SMU Central University Libraries Digitization Guidelines and Procedures. Digital collections are created under the guidelines of the CUL Digital Collections: Filenaming, Workflow, and Metadata Guidelines, or through specialized metadata profiles tailored for the collection.
Southern Methodist University Rotunda Yearbooks is one of a growing number of digital collections on SMU History.
For more information, see:
All materials published on this web site, The Rotunda, or its affiliates and/or partners are protected by copyright law under U.S. copyright and other international laws. All materials appearing on this web site are the property of the Student Media Company, Inc. You may not copy, reproduce, distribute, publish, display, perform, modify, create derivative works, transmit, or in any way exploit any such content, nor may you post nor distribute any part of this content over any network, including a local area network, sell or offer it for sale, or use such content to construct any kind of database.
The Student Media Company owns these materials, and they are sharing them with the SMU campus community. To reprint materials that were published in 1923 or afterwards, please contact: Jay Miller, Executive Director of Student Media Company, Inc., and Rotunda adviser, firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about the collection, please contact email@example.com.