Penn State’s Past in Student Yearbooks

Front Cover of La Vie in 1890.

Front Cover of La Vie in 1890.

This post was written by Linda Friend, Head, Scholarly Publishing Services.

La Vie, the Penn State University annual student yearbook, has been in production documenting student life continuously since 1890. La Vie is a student publication governed by an internal Board of Directors who manage and control the copy rights to La Vie publications.

The Libraries’ collection of La Vie student yearbooks includes digitized annuals from 1890-2000, searchable by keyword and browsable by decade, and is available thanks primarily to the efforts of Penn State’s University Archives and the Libraries’ Digitization and Preservation Department.

The collection has a wealth of photos and selected information about Penn State student activities. The Dance Marathon (‘THON) is particularly well represented, and was already in its 28th year in 1980 when this photo was taken:

The Dance Marathon (‘THON) in 1980

The Dance Marathon (‘THON) in 1980.

I had a question from someone preparing for Black History Month about whether the poet and Pulitzer Prize winner Gwendolyn Brooks had ever been a speaker at Penn State. While referring the requester to Special Collections for a more complete answer, I took a quick look at La Vie and found that she had indeed been at University Park at least once, in 1983.

Gwendolyn Brooks, 1983

Gwendolyn Brooks, 1983

La Vie is a good resource to provide a quick look at what kinds of Penn State accomplishments made it into the yearbooks. In 1983, the “Penn State Heart” received an entire page spread.

Artificial Heart

Artificial heart developed by Penn State researchers, 1983

Again, the Penn State Archives would be the place to go for more detailed information. Current information about La Vie can also be obtained by contacting the staff at their website:

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