1916: Inconsistencies of College Life series

In the spring of 1916, Mr. Collins, illustrator for the Iowa State Student, drew a 13-part series titled “Inconsistencies of College Life” for the newspaper. It covered various contradictions within the typical student life, such as dating, academics, and coursework. Despite being more than 100 years old, not that much is too far removed from the modern era.

Iowa State Student, “Inconsistences of College Life” from 19 Feb 1916

“No girl can cut a date with me and get by with it. Why I’ll never speak to Mabel again.”

But in two weeks

“‘Lo Mabel, whatta you going to do a week from Friday evening”

Iowa State Student, “Inconsistencies in College Life” from 26 Feb 1916

“Father, I want you to send me to college so I can learn to make a living for myself.”

And yet here’s what we found on his study (?) table at college.

Note that the student has an issue of Cosmopolitan and the sheet in the lower left is from Twin Star Theater, which was one of the popular downtown movie theaters.

Iowa State Student, “Inconsistencies of College Life” from 4 Mar 1916

We call this work

We call this play

Iowa State Student, “Inconsistencies of College Life” from 9 Mar 1916


“Yessir Dad. Elliott’s right. He sure made me realize the difference between right and wrong.


Iowa State Student, “Inconsistencies of College Life” from 18 Mar 1916

“Why I’m sorry Mr. Jones, but I’m going to be busy next Friday evening.”

30 minutes later

“I’d be glad to have you come over next Friday evening, Mr. Smith.”

Iowa State Student, “Inconsistencies of College Life” from 25 Mar 1916

“No I can’t see it myself. Some fellows do it but I never make a date over a week ahead.”

1 hour later

“Why I have a date for next Sunday George.”

“Well! Can I come over two weeks from this evening.”

Iowa State Student, “Inconsistencies in College Life” from 1 Apr 1916

We hear this all thru our college courses

“Sanitation, young men and women, is one of the essentials that must be considered in caring for the welfare of any great body of people”

And yet at the all college dance tonight a great percentage of us drink from the same drinking glass

Basics such as water treatment and sewage were still new things to the neighborhoods adjacent to the Iowa State campus in 1916. After years of waiting and slow growth, most houses were finally being put onto a grid approved by the city – and the sewage was no longer being dumped into College Creek. On the other hand, Iowa State was far ahead of the city, having established treatment plants years earlier.

Iowa State Student, “Inconsistencies of College Life” from 8 Apr 1916

“Young women, remember that modesty is the one essential which must be observed in modern dress”

And yet

-On the campus
-In the ballroom

FYI: A women’s clothing store was still not located in Campustown in 1916. A men’s clothing store, Jameson’s, opened earlier in the year. The first women’s clothing store wouldn’t arrive for a few more years. By the 1960s and ‘70s there four could usually be found in Campustown.

Iowa State Student, “Inconsistencies of College Life” from 15 Apr 1916

“Yes Parson, I certainly agree with you, Sunday is a day of rest and should be kept as such.”

But he’s as inconsistent as the rest of us.

“Now the assignment for Monday is to study over and outline the next three hundred and five pages.”

Iowa State Student, “Inconsistencies of College Life” from 29 Apr 1916

March 19th:

“Nope no girl will ever wear my fraternity pin. I don’t believe in such things”
“Come on Bob. Quit kidding”

May 19th:

“I see Mary’s wearing Bob’s pin”
“Yep, the moonlight got him night fore last”

Iowa State Student, “Inconsistencies of College Life” from 6 May 1916

“Goodnight Mr. Jones[.] I certainly have enjoyed myself this evening”

“Have a good time this evening?
“Well I should say NOT, the most miserable I’ve ever spent”

Iowa State Student, “Inconsistencies of College Life” from 13 May 1916

“Well It’s 8:30. I gotta go up stairs and write a million work theme on ‘a liberal education’”
“I gotta study too”

“Come on, let’s go down and see Theda Bara.”
“Wait till I get my smokin’”

Theda Bara was one of cinema’s first sex symbols. The guys were going to go downtown to a movie theater and see one of her films. In 1916, movie theaters were banned from operating from near campus.

Iowa State Student, “Inconsistencies of College Life” from 27 May 1916

“No more of this school for mine. I’m goin’ to some other school next year.”

Sept. 8

“Why I thot school didn’t start until the 18th”
“I know dad but I just can’t wait till then to go back”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s