From at least 1872 until the early 1890s, when the Badger Yearbook seemed on pretty firm footing, most classes at the University of Wisconsin created a class album. All of the albums have photographs of students, and sometimes faculty members. Many of the albums also have autobiographical essays, which range from very short, basic facts to some which are more than a page with students obviously responding to a series of questions. Some also include a history of the class, usually written by the class historian.
These albums are invaluable sources for the early history of students on campus. As an example, in the album for 1874, the first year that women were admitted into the university proper (women had been on campus in the Normal Department and Female College since at least the mid 1860s), most students talk about whether they support co-education. Students often mention their political and religious affiliations, whether they are self supporting, what their future plans are, etc. The albums are also of obvious interest to genealogists.
Together, the class albums and the Badger Yearbook provide a nearly continuous history of students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
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