A Brief History of The Gustavian Weekly

This week, we are taking a look back in time. Everytime we engage in an activity (like reading the paper!), we interact with a little piece of history. The Gustavian Weekly is no exception—the first publication of a college paper was in 1891, released at the commencement of that year’s graduating class. Published with help of the “Literary Circle” of Gustavus, the paper was called The Annual Messenger.
In the Messenger, the editors wrote about Gustavus as an institution, from sports to “A Day of College Life.” Interestingly, on the fourth page, the College published an overview of their finances. If you run the numbers through an inflation calculator, and divided by the 289 students that attended Gustavus in 1891, you’ll find that students paid just over $1,100 per year for their education!
This first ever paper wouldn’t have been possible without the help of one student, C.L. Trabert, who had his own miniature printing press in his room. Living in South Hall, he would often do printing jobs for fellow students, and even for faculty. At the time, a professor’s family lived in South Hall, and suggested that he help produce The Annual Messenger for commencement. Trabert liked this production so much that he took it upon himself to publish another paper at the beginning of the following school year.
This Vox Collegia, however, made many on campus feel a little bitter. An 1898 publication of the paper reveals why: “…it appeared that one person, on his own responsibility and without consulting any one, should have the audacity of voicing the whole College.”
Yet the need for college news remained, and students continued the paper, but now under the name of the Heimdall. This is the name of an important god in Norse mythology, calling to mind Gustavus’ Scandinavian heritage. Yet this name would not do for some because of the connection to mythology, and so it again changed, this time to the Gustaviana. This was the name up until 1902, when the monthly publication took on yet another name: The College Breezes. The Breezes published monthly, speaking about campus life, students, and work that the College was producing.
However, in 1920, the student newspaper reached another turning point: an alumnus had sent a letter to the editors requesting a weekly publication. Monthly was simply not enough—the community wanted to know what was occuring on the Hill each week!
The first ever Gustavian Weekly, as we now know it, was published on Saturday, September 18th of 1920. Remarking that “Gustavus is at a turn in the road when it is a matter of life to fulfill a larger purpose,” this first ever paper committed to give all the news of the Hill and share topics of vital interest to the college family—something we still do today. With a $2 ($25 today) yearly subscription, community members were sure to get “the latest—the keenest—the zestiest—the zippiest—The Gustavian Weekly.”
Next time you pick up the Weekly to get a taste of our current latest, you’ll also be picking up the Breezes, the Messenger, and everything in between.

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