100 Years Ago

A quick scan of Wisconsin newspapers from September 1923 reveals that UW-Madison has always been newsworthy and that reporting from one hundred years ago may sound familiar to readers today. Enjoy  articles from a century ago. Click the images for a newspaper scan of the complete article. 

Jump to articles: Student With Car Bad Combination | Says Boys Stole Scores of Liquor Bottles at Frats | Prexy is 72 today | First Tier of Badger Stadium is Completed | Dean Card-Indexes Woman’s Room List

STUDENT WITH CAR BAD COMBINATION” – University of Wisconsin Seeking Some Way to Forbid the Practice Says Dean Goodnight. Madison, Wis., Sept. 8 – Officials at the University of Wisconsin are trying to find some means of combatting popularity of coming down to school with a large motor car in which to ride back and forth to classes. Authority to forbid students at the university the right to own or drive cars while in school is not vested in university authorities, according to Dean Scott H. Goodnight. An attempt is being made through the board of regents, however, to secure such rights. Dean Goodnight declares that it greatly reduces the scholastic efficiency to have a car while in school. “We have always realized the evils that go with the possession of an automobile while in school. Students spend too much of their time in riding about on ‘parties’ in their cars, “ Dean Goodnight said. Last year the problem of finding parking space for the three or four hundred cars owned by students while they were in class was extremely formidable. At last the university employed a traffic policeman and roped off almost an acre of ground in the rear of Main Hall to provide parking space during class hours. Signs directing traffic were posted on all university drives. Student drinking is another problem which is giving the dean of men no little worry with the opening of school so close. “I believe that drinking has increased in the last few years,” he said. “We cannot employ enough detectives to ferret out all the offenses.” — Stevens Point Daily Journal, Sept. 8, 1923


An excerpt from Dean Goodnight’s statement declaring that boys who recently entered fraternity houses, found scores of whiskey bottles, follows: “Our fraternities still violate the few fair and simple rushing rules we have. The conspiracy of silence is no myth on our campus. Some fraternities are not only unwilling, it seems, to clean house effectively, but they also cover up and protect, so far as they are able the guilty from the effects of their misdeeds. It is true that some fraternity men here at Wisconsin, a minority, I trust, but nevertheless a considerable number, are ardent supporters of the booze traffic. Only two or three days ago I received the following letter:

Superior Court of Dane County, Wisconsin, Madison, Wis.
September 21, 1923

Dean S. H. Goodnight,
University of Wisconsin,
Madison, Wisconsin.

Dear Sir:

Last week I had four or five juvenile cases. The boys involved were from 13 to 16 years of age. The charge against them was that they had broken into several fraternity houses and stolen a number of articles.
It developed during the examination that the reason that the boys first went in was to pick up empty whiskey bottles which they intended to sell to bootleggers on the west side. Their testimony is that in one place they found more than 50 empty bottles. At another place 19, and at a third place they found a whole sackful [sic?]. The houses entered were located on Langdon street and in the neighborhood of Langdon street.
I am sure that you will be interested in getting these facts.
Yours very truly,
O. A. Stolen,
Juvenile Judge

— Madison Capital Times, Sept. 27, 1923

““PREXY” IS 72 TODAY – President Edward Ashael Birge, president of the University of Wisconsin, and one of the oldest active university heads in the United States, is 72 years old today. Dr. Birge spent the day quietly, attending to his regular executive duties at his office in Bascom hall. Dr. Birge was born in Troy, N.Y., on Sept. 7, 1851. The close of the school year last June witnessed the completion of nearly a half century with the University of Wisconsin by Dr. Birge, and with the reopening of that institution late this month, will begin his forty-ninth year here. It was in, 1875, after his graduation from Williams college, that he came to Madison as an instructor in zoology. He later went to Germany to study. After his return he became a professor of zoology and in 1891 was elevated to the post of dean of the college of letters and science. Dr. Birge received his first taste of the presidential office in 1900 when he was called upon to fill out the term of President Charles Kendall Adams who left the university because of failing health. He held that post for three years until the election of the late Charles R. Van Hise. Dr. Van Hise died during the war period, and Dr. Birge was elected the university’s chief executive Dec. 11, 1918. — Madison Capital Times, Sept. 7, 1923

““FIRST TIER OF BADGER STADIUM IS COMPLETED” – 36,000 Can Be Seated in 24 Sections of Horseshoe At Camp Randall. The first tier of the concrete stadium at Camp Randall, 28 rows high, has been completed making it possible for the University of Wisconsin to seat approximately 36,000 people for the Home-Coming football game with Minnesota on Oct. 27. The massive concrete structure in the shape of a horse shoe, comprises 24 sections with twenty entrances and twenty-four exits, making it possible to handle the immense crowd in record time. Wisconsin is the only state university in the country which has built its permanent concrete stadium entirely from the receipts of the football games. The first unit was constructed in 1917, on the west side of the gridiron, and by a coincidence it was built by George Nelson, Madison contractor, who completed the first tier this year. Because of the war, when football was abandoned for two years, no seats were added until 1921 when the south half of the east stand was constructed of concrete, adjoining the old wooden, covered stand. The old wooden stand, which was destroyed by fire in June 1922, was replaced last fall by concrete and this year the east and west stands were connected by the completion of the horse shoe enclosing the north end of the field. Despite numerous delays by rain, Contractor Nelson kept plugging away and the last concrete was poured on Sept. 22, according to the contract, and seats will be installed immediately so that everything will be in readiness a week before the first big game. While several other conference schools constructed their stadiums from funds raised by popular subscription or, appropriations from the legislature, not one cent from taxation has gone into the Wisconsin stadium, which, when completed will seat 70,000 people. — The Eau Claire Leader, Sept. 27, 1923

““DEAN CARD-INDEXES WOMAN’S ROOM LIST” – An elaborate card index file of rooms available this fall for women students at the University of Wisconsin, has been prepared in the office of Miss P. Louise Nardin, dean of women. The cards are filed according to streets as this makes it easier for the women to find rooms in the districts which they prefer. Each card gives the number of rooms available at that particular house, the name of the landlady, the telephone number, and the prices of the rooms, single or double. Each landlady is called at short intervals, in order that the cards may be kept strictly up-to-date. Rooms which have been rented are checked off so that women students need not waste their time in inquiring for rooms in houses where vacancies have been filled. The number of rooms for rent this year is about the same as at this time last year and no shortage in [sic] anticipated. Every room for undergraduates listed in the office of the dean of women is inspected carefully by a member of the staff. Special attention is paid to the size of the room in relation to the number of occupants, sanitation, number of windows, price, and distance from the main university buildings. Rents are about the same as last year. Rooms price for each person by the semester are as follows: one half double, $50 to $100; single $70 to $120. — Wisconsin State Journal, Madison, Sept. 2, 1923

If you would like to explore historical Wisconsin newspapers further, the database NewspaperARCHIVE is available through the UW-Madison Libraries to anyone (faculty, staff, student) with a valid NetID. 

This feature was compiled by Pamela O’Donnell for the Cornerstone newsletter.