At first thought, a yearbook seems a very simple entity, merely to showcase particular students or to provide a blank slate for meaningful signatures at the end of a long year, but these books provide so much more to their possessors. They are referred to in later years for many reasons, whether to help you remember the name of the girl who sat beside you in your Economics class or to experience the sweet nostalgia of the pages filled with memories once more (VOA English Service). Simply opening the book opens the floodgates to memories of a specific year and time. In May of 2008, NPR did a special call-in program asking whether old yearbooks “ever come down from the shelves, or… just collect dust?” As said by a radio caller named Suzanne about her sentimental use of her yearbooks, “Those times are never going to come again, and I’m so glad I’ve got them” (Conan). A yearbook strives to paint a picture of a year in the life of the people at a university. It permanently stores their opinions, ideas, dreams, and habits in a medium that will never be inaccessible due to rapidly advancing technology. In the first edition of Corks and Curls, the editor said, “Be it successful or unsuccessful, let us hope that it will at least be permanent, and serve as a foundation on which to base successful and creditable productions in years to come” (Spivey).
As the University of Virginia’s yearbook has been around for such a long time, it has captured in its bindings many historical events, not only for the University but also for the country. Whitney Spivey, a UVa 2005 graduate, compiled many of these events for the rare books school. (See our History page to learn more) Comics depicting fear for the admission of women to the University can show exactly how the students felt, and depict a time in which attending a University as a woman was no easy feat (Spivey). In fact, one comic in particular shows the writer wondering, “Maybe the professors will keep them in after lectures. Maybe some of them will be vampires. Maybe it is all a dream. Maybe the Rotunda will fall down. Maybe this page will scare them away” (Corks and Curls). These pages are both amusing and informative. In the 1972 edition of Corks and Curls, these changes and the issue of overpopulation are addressed in a much more serious manner, reflecting the change in attitude about them (Corks and Curls).
Also in the 1972 Edition, Editor-in-Chief Bruce Armistead closed the book with an essay on why the Yearbook is dead, or moreover why the yearbook as an index of student pictures is no longer effective.
THE YEARBOOK IS DEAD. The term ‘yearbook’ denotes a chronological volume based on the format of picturing as many students as possible amidst flowering copy relating each interaction within the community. In this sense, the Corks and Curls is not a yearbook. With a population of over 12,000 students plus faculty and administration, logistics prevent a dedication of only 432 pages to each and every individual. But then this book is also not an art form. Its design incorporates the best of the past and hopefully, direction for the future. This ‘yearbook’ is intended for the students and faculty of the University community, not for their parents or prospective applicants for admission. It is a record of the important moments of the past year, both good and bad, from the student viewpoint. While it is improbable that each picture relates to all students, for some individual every picture tells a story.
-Bruce armistead, corks & curls 1972
Most importantly, a UVa tradition would not be lost. The vitality of books to a University is something largely underestimated by a young academic community. The yearbooks are neglected as a historical reference point. In the 1890 edition of “Corks and Curls,” the editor closes with the statement, “And now with due modesty we submit Corks and Curls, for ’90, to the critical world, trusting this Love’s Labor will not be lost.” This love’s labor has been lost, and it is our duty as knowledge-seekers, members of the University community, and scholars under the influence of Thomas Jefferson to rediscover the yearbook and to revive it to its fullest potential. The 2014-2015 Staff of Corks & Curls is thrilled to be a part of this moment in the University's history. Order your copy today and be part of the tradition.