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A Brief History of Homecoming

This coming weekend, September 20-21 marks the 2019 edition of Homecoming and Family Weekend. Like many academic traditions, Homecoming has a long and rich history at Ursinus, with origins stretching back to the early years of the 20th Century. Even before “homecoming” became an annual autumn event, Ursinus alumni returned to campus each spring for Alumni Day activities during Commencement week. In the very first volume of the Ursinus College Bulletin, published in 1885, the Board of Directors note that Alumni Day will be held on Wednesday, June 24th and include an annual meeting, alumni address, and evening reception.

As for Homecoming itself, you may be surprised to know that it was originally called Old Timers’ Day! The first such gathering was held November 5, 1921 as reported in the college newspaper, the Ursinus Weekly:

Ursinus Weekly from November 7, 1921 discusses the first Old Time...

The initial gathering was a luncheon attended by a small group of alumni athletes and organized by L. Dale Crunkleton ’1907. The assembled listened to a number of speeches and enjoyed a football-themed meal, with such well-named courses as “Field Goal”–sweet potatoes, “Touch Down”–ice cream, and “Gridiron Mud”–coffee. The alumni present voted to hold “Old Timers Day” in coming years, and a tradition was born.

Over the years this autumnal gathering of alumni became an annual tradition and grew to include more people and activities outside of football. In 1961, Ursinus officially abandoned the Old Timers’ Day moniker and began calling the event Homecoming Day. The Ursinus College Bulletin from July 1961 relays the news:

An excerpt from the Ursinus College Bulletin, July 1961, discusses the official adoption of Homecoming Day. An excerpt from the Ursinus College Bulletin, July 1961, discusses the official adoption of Homecoming Day.

In 2018, Homecoming was combined with Family Day to form a single Homecoming and Family Weekend. This new tradition continues this year with a weekend of events spanning the academic, social, athletic, and artistic life of the college. College Archivist Carolyn Weigel has created a wonderful display in the Myrin Library foyer featuring artifacts, photographs and memorabilia of Homecomings past. You’ll especially want to see the t-shirt showcasing all the incorrect ways to say Ursinus! For all the alumni, family, and friends visiting campus this weekend, welcome back. Go Bears!

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Stephen Buss ’08
Web & Systems Management Librarian

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