Sterling Library Exhibit Looks at Student Life at Yale 100 Years Ago

A novel that author F. Scott Fitzgerald once described as the “textbook” for his generation is the focus of the exhibition “‘Stover at Yale’: Undergraduate Life a Century Ago,” which will be on view through May 31 in the Memorabilia Room of the Sterling Memorial Library, 120 High St.

In 1910, Yale graduate Owen Johnson introduced the world to John Humperdink Stover in the April 9 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. “Dink,” as Stover was known, was a student at Lawrenceville School and his prep school misadventures were chronicled in 10 weekly installments through June 1910. He went on to become the hero of “Stover at Yale,” Johnson’s novel of student life in New Haven at the turn of the 20th century.

“Stover at Yale” was first published serially in McClure’s Magazine, beginning in October 1911, with illustrations by Frederick R. Gruger. The novel follows Stover and several of his classmates through the first three years of self-discovery.

“While there is much about football and college high jinks, Johnson’s writing indicts the American university and the social system that encouraged conformity over individuality, an opinion he made clear in his writing as a student for the Yale Literary Magazine,” say the exhibit organizers.

The Sterling Library exhibit looks at student life at Yale 100 years ago through the lens of Johnson and Dink Stover. It draws on a range of materials, including contemporary letters, publications, photographs, maps, and memorabilia, drawn mainly from Manuscripts and Archives, as well as manuscript drafts from Johnson’s papers in the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.

The exhibition is free and open to the public Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. The Memorabilia Room is closed weekends and after 4:45 p.m. during the week.

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