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College yearbooks change, fold

Jenna Johnson

CampusOverload.jpgI wrote a story for today's paper about the death of the University of Virginia's yearbook, "Corks and Curls," after a nearly 120-year run. It's not the first college yearbook to fold in the last few years, as students get wrapped up in their digital lives and budgets get tighter. corks_curls.jpg

When I started reporting, I sent out e-mails and tweets, asking for information about college yearbooks. Of course, I got way more information than I could fit into the story. So, here are some yearbooks I learned about (and feel free to add more information in the comments section):

* Purdue University, "Debris"
The last edition of the yearbook was printed during the 2007-2008 school year because of "decreasing sales, reserve funds and student interest," according to the yearbook's Web site.

American University, "The Talon"
The Talon has been growing the last several years, even as Facebook gains in popularity. Last year the staff of more than 30 put out a 300-page book that featured more context-giving, magazine-style stories than in past years, said editor Ashley Kemper, a senior journalism major. The book tracks things happening on campus, along with events in the District, like inauguration and the cherry blossoms. The book gets its funding from student activity fees and ad sales, and last year it sold for about $65.

* Virginia Wesleyan College, "Sandpiper"
The Sandpiper yearbook was set to close in 2008. The Virginia-Pilot reportedd that Old Dominion University in Norfolk killed its yearbook two years before, and Norfolk State University had switched to a digital yearbook. Christopher Newport and Virginia Commonwealth universities, and the University of Richmond dropped theirs long ago.

* George Washington University, "The Cherry Tree Yearbook"
In honor of The Cherry Tree Yearbook's 100th anniversary in 2008, the university planted 10 cherry trees on campus and marked each with a plaque marking a decade. Funding comes from the Office of Alumni Relations, Student and Academic Support Services, parent ads and yearbook sales to underclassmen. In 2008, the yearbook cost $75 but was free to seniors, thanks to the Alumni Association, according to its Web site.

* Georgetown University, "Ye Domesday Booke"
In April 2008, The Hoya editorial board urged students to step up and save the yearbook from a "figurative Armageddon of its own." At that point, the book cost $95 before taxes. Apparently the yearbook is still operating.

* Towson University
Towson has more than 20,000 students but last year sold only 27 or 28 yearbooks. Part of the problem was that the editor-in-chief had just graduated, but there has also been a general decline in interest. Towson has a more diverse student body and many students graduate in four and a half years, five years or after many years of attending class part-time, so students don't always feel part of a specific graduating class, according to Associate Vice President for Campus Life Teri Hall.

* The College of Wooster in Ohio
The director of alumni relations recently became the yearbook adviser because the university wants to continue producing it and sees "considerable value in preserving this type of publication, particularly in regard to alumni relations and development," said spokesman John Finn.

* St. Michael's College in Vermont
The yearbook stays alive with the help of student activity fees that cover the cost of the volumes, so all seniors get one without question, according to yearbook adviser Sarah Gabriele. Right now, six students are working on the 2010 version and creating their own "book of days."

* Earlham College in Indiana
The yearbook has been released solely on disk for several years.

Other college yearbooks:
* Washington and Lee, "Calyx"
* Gallaudet University, "Tower Clock"
* Johns Hopkins University, "The Hullabaloo"
* Trinity University, "The Trinilogue"

By Jenna Johnson  |  January 27, 2010; 12:06 PM ET
Categories:  Campus Media  | Tags: Campus Media, Yearbooks  
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