With freshers’ week in full swing and semester one having officially begun, a hive of student activity has returned to the University after the summer break. We would like to welcome all new and returning students! With this in mind, this week’s blog post looks at examples of early student publications from the University Collection, a number of which have been digitised and are currently available to view on the Internet Archive.
The earliest student publication in the University Collection is the first issue of the Hartley College Magazine from March 1901. The editorial to the issue notes that:
On February 27th, a General College Meeting determined by a unanimous resolution to start a Magazine. It was decided that the General Editor should be a member of the Staff, and that the different sections of the College should each choose two representatives to serve upon the Committee, power being given to add to its members by co-option. […]
It was resolved to publish once a Term in the first instance, and to issue the first number without delay. The size of the Magazine, colour of cover, title, price, and general character of the contents were next discussed, and agreed upon. The result of the deliberations may be seen in the first number of “The Hartley College Magazine.” [Hartley College Magazine, vol. 1, no. 1, March 1901]
The magazine ran under various titles between 1901 and 1939, all the while maintaining essentially the same format found in the first issue: an editorial (covering recent news and events); columns on a range of topics contributed by members of staff and students; along with reports and updates from societies and sports clubs. Later issues also included contributions of prose, poetry, songs, and reviews, as well as columns by past students. The past students society, known as the Society of Old Hartleyans, would eventually have their own publication in the form of The Gobli (later The Gobli Minor and The Hartleyan), first published in 1923.
The title of the college magazine was changed to reflect the transition of the institution to a university college in 1902, becoming the Hartley University College Magazine. Shortly thereafter, more elaborately designed covers began to appear, including a series of issues displaying a photograph of the old Hartley Institution building on the High Street. June 1914 saw the grand opening of the renamed University College of Southampton at its new Highfield campus. Six weeks later the country declared war on Germany. As a result, the move to Highfield was postponed indefinitely with the College offering the buildings to the War Office for use as a hospital.
The editorial to the first issue of the renamed Southampton University College Magazine reflects on the situation:
In troublous times, amidst wars and rumours of wars, when the spectacle of the desolate, the wounded and the dead is ever present with those of us who have hearts and homes, the periodical of the old Coll. which still, thanks to those grim and grey spectres keeping watch and war along our coasts, in common with the rest of our land retains its blissful serenity undisturbed by the turmoil of the outside world, once again makes its appearance. It would be out of place to make more than a passing reference here to the conditions in which we find ourselves placed to-day, and we must be content merely to wish God-speed and a safe return to those of our number-good and true comrades all-who are devoting their lives to the service of their country, whether at home or abroad, in the barrack-room or on the field of battle. [Southampton University College Magazine, vol. 16, no. 42, Winter Term 1914]
Despite the setback for the institution, the college magazine continued through the war years with issues from the period providing details of staff and students in active service, including lists of those injured, missing, or killed in action. Meanwhile, the first issue of the University War Hospital Gazette was published in October 1917, intended as “a monthly magazine of humour, verse and interest by the patients and staff” at the Highfield site.To support the movement for a University of Wessex, the college magazine adopted a new title of the West Saxon in 1926. The editorial to the Christmas term issue notes that:
In view of the movement which is on foot to make this College the University of Wessex, we deemed it essential to adopt some name which had some connection, historical, geographical, or literary with the area which this College serves, the area which once comprised the kingdom of Wessex. The adoption of such a title would, we thought, have a two-fold, and possibly a three-fold, value. In the first place such a title would be of value in showing the university world of this country (and others) what this College is and hopes to be; secondly, it would kelp to keep before the minds of present students the ideal at which we are aiming; and, thirdly, it would ensure the continuity of the future history of the Magazine, if we could choose a title suitable for use by the University of Wessex. [West Saxon, vol. 27, no. 68, Christmas Term 1926]
Two years later the first issue of Wessex was published. Edited by V. de Sola Pinto, the chair of English, the annual was “a record of the movement for a University of Wessex”, to which members of staff contributed learned articles. Wessex survived for ten years, by which time the plan for a University of Wessex had foundered. By now enthusiasm for the West Saxon was also on the wane. Burdened by the weight of tradition, editorials from the 1930s highlight the struggle faced by the editorial staff. Despite the promise to be both enterprising and efficient, the editor to the Spring issue from 1939 confesses that:
This magazine should be the highest expression of representative literary work, or representative opinion, of the members of the Students’ Union […] We were financed by, and were appointed by, the Students’ Union to produce West Saxon, a magazine with a traditional tone and format, and not the magazine that we might in our heart of hearts desire to provide. And even this traditional West Saxon, could not be what we wanted it to be: we could have lino-cuts, photographs, and gay illustrations-but alas!-the financial position of the Students’ Union has demanded us to exercise the most rigorous financial stringency. Indeed, this traditional magazine seems to be fighting for its very existence. [West Saxon, vol. 39, no. 1, Spring 1939]
The number of issues published each session had decreased over the previous two years with only one (final) issue appearing during the 1938/9 session. A new magazine arrived in the form the Second Wessex in Christmas Term 1944. Maintaining a format similar to the previous publication, the preface to the first issue states that:
This Magazine is an attempt to preserve and foster the writings of the student of University College, Southampton. It includes the work of members of any Faculty, and thus realises the idea that the Undergraduate is concerned with wider education than the mere absorption of his own subject.
Its name is a connection with an older tradition, but the publication has no actual descent, and is indeed entirely separate from that tradition. It is concerned entirely with the culture, the ideas and the affairs of the student. [Second Wessex, vol. 1, no. 1, Christmas Term 1944]
The latest issue of Second Wessex in the University Collection dates from 1968.
Issues of Hartley College Magazine, Hartley University College Magazine, Southampton University College Magazine, and West Saxon are available to consult in the open access area of Special Collections on Level 4 of the Hartley Library. Issues have also been digitised and are available to view on the Internet Archive.
The first issue of Wessex News was published in 1936. Its front page contains a statement by K.H. Vickers, Principal of University College, Southampton, outlining the aim of the publication:
Very often it has been borne in upon me how difficult it is for various members of the College to know what is going on in departments of activity with which they are not intimately associated, and, indeed, I think very few have any appreciation of the large amount of valuable and interesting work that is done on behalf of the College as a whole, and the student body in particular, and of the extent and range of these activities which have all played their part in building up a sound esprit de corps, and a real basis of university life. I hope very much that from week to week “Wessex News” will be read by all those who are taking part in the activities of the College, and, further, as time goes on, by those who are interested in the College, but not closely associated with its work; it should bring home to them how many and various are the aspects of its life. [Wessex News, vol. 1, no. 1, 25 February 1936]
Published by the Southampton University Students’ Council (now the Students’ Union) the format of the publication was closer to that of a newspaper than the student magazine had been. Since its creation, the paper has provided students with regular news, reviews, and opinion pieces and remains the oldest student news provider at the University.
Wessex News became Wessex Scene in 1996 in order to reflect on the broader range of content being fed into the paper. It has evolved over the years and now takes the form of an online news site as well as a monthly printed magazine, available across the University’s campuses and Halls of Residence. Over the years the paper has also included supplements, including Small Wessex and The Edge. Individual issues of Small Wessex focus on specific topics, ranging from fashion, music, and books to rag, societies, and graduate careers. The Edge, a more recent supplement, was first published in 1995. Focusing on entertainment news, it has been published independently since 2011.
Editions of Wessex News (and Small Wessex) available in Special Collections date from 1936 to 1994. Issues of Wessex News from 1936 to 1940 are currently available to view on the Internet Archive.
Rag has been part of University life since the 1920s. Rag day, traditionally held on Shrove Tuesday, consisted of a variety of activities aimed at raising money for charity, including the Rag procession and Rag ball. Other activities included the publication of a ‘Rag Mag’, a small booklet traditionally filled with politically incorrect humour sold in the lead up to Rag Day. The earliest Rag Mag in the University Collection is a copy of Rag Bag dating from 1927. Over the years Rag has been abolished and revived on a number of occasions. Its revival in 1948 was followed by the publication of Goblio, the longest running Rag Mag in the collection, with copies dating from 1949-64.
From 1967 the University’s Rag Mag took on a range of titles, including “Son of Goblio” or; Babel; Southampton City Rag; Flush; Dragon; and Southampton Students Stag Rag. Copies of the Rag Mags are available to access in the open access area of Special Collections.
The magazines mentioned above are just a sample of the publications available in the University Collection. They are a key resource for understanding the development of the institution, providing student perspectives on life at the University as well as insights into significant events in the history of the University and its region.