Though life looked different at the College in 1930—all-male with fraternities on the rise—athletics were, just as they are now, a central part of the Bowdoin experience. Roughly 560 students were enrolled at the start of the 1930-31 academic year, and many played more than one sport, leaving some teams, such as football, with a lack of players for off-season training.
Football, cross country, track, baseball, tennis and ice hockey. In 1920, almost all of these Bowdoin athletic teams were funded by a committee outside the College’s budget—the Bowdoin Athletic Association (BAA)—without direct support from the College.
This afternoon, Professor of History Patrick Rael and Geoffrey Canada Associate Professor of Africana Studies and History Brian Purnell will kick off a four part discussion series inspired by the New York Times Magazine’s “The 1619 Project.” The series, sponsored by the history department, was inspired by the social and political movements that swept across the United States after George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police officers in May.
Even a cursory glance around campus reveals the ways in which the College has changed since its founding. Buildings, in a range of architectural styles across various time periods, reflect not only the College’s evolution, but also the changes in its leadership.
Pete Seeger stood on the stage of Pickard Theater in front of a single microphone. He picked the strings of his signature long-neck banjo and whistled a gentle harmony, his foot tapping out the beat. After a minute, he stopped playing and began to explain the history of the long-neck banjo and the folk music he played on it.
Hanging on Associate Professor of History Sarah McMahon’s wall, tucked between letters from family members and images of the Maine landscape, hangs a quote from former President of the College Robert Edwards: “These colleges, this one in particular, grew until 1970.
Fifty years ago, Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination was a fresh wound in American public memory, and white institutions across the country were beginning to confront major gaps in their course offerings and their woefully homogenous student bodies.
“How do you get students in this age to talk about controversial materials and controversial issues?” asked Khalid El-Hakim, the curator of the Black History 101 Mobile Museum. At the heart of the touring museum is this question, which El-Hakim tackles using artifacts in an educational setting.