Pin Pals

By Lawrence Goodman / July/August 2009
July 22nd, 2009

Today, when alumni dress for the Commencement march, many recent grads wear shorts and T-shirts, and even older Brunonians and Pembrokers sport unisex ball caps emblazoned with their graduation year. It wasn't always so informal.

Just a decade ago, class tam-o'-shanters and Panama hats dotted the parade route. And in the early twentieth century, alumni pinned tailor-made badges and medallions to their lapels. The pin with the bear cub shown here is from the class of 1908; the other is from the class of 1918. In the University Archives are several of these pins—some made of brass and enamel. One dangles tiny animal charms: a terrier, an elephant, and an Afghan hound.

Raymond Butti, of the John Hay Library, says the archives have no record of the pins' precise use or provenance. He suspects they came in "gift boxes" of memorabilia donated by alumni. Although the contents have been catalogued and the librarians certainly know where to locate the items, their use remains a bit of a mystery.

Can you help? Perhaps you have a similar pin in an old jewelry box—do you know when or why it was worn? Brown archivists would welcome the information, and we at the BAM would love to solve the mystery.

Send a note to "Finally" at the address on page 52 or an e-mail to

Photo by Erik Gould

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July/August 2009