Friday, March 9, 2012


A series of men walking along boards to avoid standing water on the ground.The Chinook-like wind that swooped in yesterday briefly made the Green "mud-luscious and puddle-wonderful," as e e cummings might say. But we are lucky: the Green now drains pretty quickly. It was not always so. For most of Dartmouth's history mud season turned the Green into a sloppy mess. To deal with the problem, every March from the 1880s until the 1950s, the College would lay down "duckboards" along the pathways on the Green. The narrow boardwalks kept students relatively dry and mud free on their way to class, but, if a particularly squirrelly student stomped hard, he could shoot water through the slats and soak anyone nearby. For a time there was even a dance, "The Duckboard Drag," held each March to celebrate the coming of Spring.

In the 1950s, the College installed a drainage system and the duckboards were retired, or should I say cremated, for they fueled at least one Dartmouth Night bonfire.

A photograph of men on The Dartmouth campus, walking along boards to avoid standing water.
To see more images, ask for the Photofile: Campus--Duckboards.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Nice Hats, Gentlemen - Play Ball!!!

A photograph of the 1866 baseball team.
1866 Baseball Team
Dartmouth first formed a baseball club in 1865, and the following spring fielded a team, the first one in any sport to represent the College in athletic competition. Beating two New Hampshire squads, Dartmouth was named the state champion. Luckily, Amherst College was in Massachusetts; that game we lost 40 – 10.

But, this is not going to be a chronicle of Dartmouth's baseball prowess!

Some years ago, while attending a Dartmouth football game with my family, my sister looked up from her knitting long enough to comment "I like Princeton's outfits better." Admittedly, Dartmouth's football uniforms probably have never been very fashion-forward, but the same cannot be said of Dartmouth's baseball attire, which, during the 19th century, was varied, creative and bold. Since it is the start of spring training, in those places where they actually have spring, and we're all packing away our winter clothes, let's take a look back at some of Dartmouth baseball's sartorial splendor.

A photograph of the 1880 baseball team.
Baseball Team ca 1880
A photograph of the 1884 baseball team.
Baseball Team 1884
A photograph of the 1888 baseball team.
Baseball Team 1888
A photograph of the 1890 baseball team.
Baseball Team 1890
Unfortunately, by the turn of the 20th century, the familiar gray flannel with DARTMOUTH arched across the chest became the standard - not very different (except perhaps in fiber content) from today’s baseball uniform…although the striped cap really makes the outfit!
A photograph of a baseball team from sometime in the 1890s.
Baseball team ca 1890s
Ask for the photo files on "Baseball" to see more.