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UND's 1926 Yearbook

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Around this time in 1925 at the University of North Dakota, the editorial staff of the 1926 Dacotah yearbook would have been hard at work. January 15 was the deadline for the mock-ups for each section. January 15 was also the deadline for student organizations to reserve space. Balloting for the Who's Who's section was set for January 19.

The Dacotah's staff had started work on November 12. Work progressed quickly through December.

The Dakota Student, UND's student newspaper, reported, “For the first time in the history of the university, the Dacotah, University of North Dakota annual, will have a definite art theme, which will be carried out in every part of the book, according to Ralph Curry, editor-in-chief. The theme of the book is Indian lore and although other books have had dedications and the like, which were partly in evidence through the book, this is said to be the first time that an entire book based on one art idea has been attempted.”

Ralph Curry was desk editor when the paper ran an editorial praising UND's sophomores for electing him in May to edit the 1926 yearbook. “They … voted for the best interests of the year book of the University. They voted for the candidate of their choice because they thought him best fitted for the job. It was an election upon the merits of the candidates rather than a campus political test and according to the majority of the voters, the best man won.” We're guessing Ralph wrote that one himself.

Ralph Curry wanted to “ensure the best Dacotah ever published.” As part of that effort, the yearbook popularized the idea of using Indian mascots ... typifying the cultural insensitivity of the times.

Future yearbooks would also adopt overarching artistic themes. For example, the 1927 Dacotah had a Renaissance theme, the 1931 Dacotah had a Old West theme, the 1932 Dacotah had a theme of arctic aviation, and the 1942 Dacotah had a theme of escape. That yearbook introduced the character “Sammy Sioux,” who was possibly inspired by “The Adventures of Hi Hyah” from the 1926 Dacotah. Characterizations like that would get a yearbook editor dismissed these days.

Ralph Curry would be inducted into Iron Mask, a secret society of men at UND who would, in the words of the 1940 Dacotah, “band together for secret activities to coordinate the student body and the administration to the advantage of both.”

Dakota Datebook by Andrew Alexis Varvel

View references for this Dakota Datebook here.

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