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Willamette University Freshman Glee records

Identifier: WUA007

Scope and Contents

The Freshman Glee records consist of planning and publicity materials, artifacts and sound and visual media dating from 1914 to 1997, and 2007. The collection includes: committee correspondence and meeting minutes, budget summaries; sheet music and lyrics categorized by class, souvenir memory books; programs, tickets, copies of newspaper articles, publicity fliers and posters; Photographs, sound and visual recordings in various medium; material glee patches by year; and also full lists of Glee managers, song names, winners and dedications compiled by the Tabularium historical society during the early 1990s. There are no records from the early years (1909 – 1913), though the Wallulah yearbook recognizes the event.


  • 1911-2007
  • Majority of material found within 1914-1997


Language of Materials

Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open to researchers.

Conditions Governing Use

Library acts as “fair use” reproduction agent.

For further information, see the section on copyright in the Regulations and Procedures of the Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library.

Copyright Information: Before material from collections at Willamette University Archives and Special Collections may be quoted in print, or otherwise reproduced, in whole or in part, in any publication, permission must be obtained from (1) the owner of the physical property, and (2) the holder of the copyright. It is the particular responsibility of the researcher to obtain both sets of permission. Persons wishing to quote from materials in any collections held by University Archives and Special Collections should consult the University Archivist. Reproduction of any item must contain a complete citation to the original.

Biographical / Historical

Begun in 1909, the annual tradition of Freshman Glee at Willamette University started out as a simple singing competition between classes. The competition developed over time to become a major event with elaborate choreography, stage backdrops and numerous traditions.

The early years of Glee included a class singing competition that took place in Cone Chapel. Freshman Glee was, according to the 1918 Wallulah, “one of the most important and interesting affairs of the school year… Each spring the freshman challenge the other classes to a song contest i n which each class shall sing a Willamette song the words and music of which shall be original within the class.” The tradition endured through the Great Depression and both World Wars, and saw nearly 100% participation by the 1930s. The 1939 Wallulah describes the event as “Cheering and color, excitement and jubilation, crashing yells and the voluminous rise of countless voices pitched to unity in a rousing class song – that’s Freshman Glee.”

The 1950s is perhaps the “Golden Age of Glee” and by this time Freshman Glee involved extensive planning committees, larger budgets, and more elaborate lighting, decoration and choreography. Faculty and alumni judges were invited to the performance in the Gymnasium and determined class winners based on criteria such as quality, performance of composition and formations. Glee traditions by this time were in full swing, including the notorious walk of the losing class down the mill stream and outrageous glee bets paid on “Blue Monday”. Women sitting in the bird bath, men in dresses, and other Glee payoffs were part of Glee memories for every Willamette class of the day. Alumni from this era frequently remember Glee as the highlight of their college years.

The 1980s and 1990s saw decreased numbers in Glee participation and an increase in outrageous bets between the classes. An effort by the Glee planning committee after 1997 attempted to revitalize the event with new policies, but the performance was cancelled during the rehearsal process due to low participation. Consequently, 1996 was the final performance of Glee for a decade.

In 2007, the tradition was revived and performed in Sparks’s field house, but was not repeated for 2008 primarily due to low participation and attendance.


9 Linear Feet (13 boxes)


The Freshman Glee Records consist of planning and publicity materials, artifacts and sound and visual media dating from 1914 to 1997 and 2007.


These records are arranged in four series based on chronology. Within each series, files are arranged by year and subject matter. Each series contains materials related to committee meetings, sheet music, souvenir memory books, program tickets, and lists of Glee managers.

Physical Location

Mark O. Hatfield Library


Further accruals are expected


Guide to the Willamette University Freshmen Glee records, 1911-2007
Finding aid processed by Megan Delph.
© 2008
Description rules
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Willamette University Archives and Special Collections Collection Descriptions

Mark O. Hatfield Library
900 State Street
Salem Oregon 97301 United States