The Full 132-Year Story
Everything you need to know about The Blue and White, in a nutshell.
In 1890, The Blue and White burst into existence “with the distinct and only purpose of giving bright and newsy items, which are of interest to all of us, combined with truthful comments on the same, in order to show clearly the exact tone of the College.” So wrote Editor Sydney Treat, CC ’1893, who did just that until his beloved weekly paper folded the same year he graduated.
Costing five cents, volumes one through three of The Blue and White were filled with short “Notes” on college life, snippets from interesting lectures, markedly disappointed meditations on Columbia athletics, columns like “What are they doing at Barnard,” small poems, and ads for Worcestershire sauce (“bottled in England”!). Though based in the College, the periodical’s scope was expansive, and the gossip it divulged extended into the School of Mines, Law School, and beyond. “The students generally like this form of Journalism … Columbia students are a thoroughly literary set,” declared a self-satisfied Treat in the spring of 1891. “It is well known that most men are unreliable on the subject of horses. We would add to this equivocal characterization—college journalism.”
Decades came and went. Columbia endured, somehow, without a regular compendium of “bright and newsy items” as we took a century-long hiatus. But there was a lingering lack; a lacuna, as it were, in the realm of campus publications. In 1998—as a belated centennial of sorts—The Blue and White endeavored to revive itself. We fashioned ourselves after our three-volume progenitor with its “light feel and weighty goals,” wrote Editor Noam Elcott, CC ’2000. “Delivered with wit worthy of frothy beer and intellection worthy of good discussion, THE B&W provided a forum of College conversations of all kind.” We like to think that for the past two decades, we’ve executed and expanded upon Elcott and Treat’s continuous vision of a publication that gives voice “to an intangible Columbia spirit.”
Since our revival, the Magazine has been responsible for award-winning reportage, a handful of Varsity Show programs, and the birth of Bwog. Now published in print and online three times a semester, our dozens of writers, illustrators, and editors come together from all pockets of the undergraduate student body to trace the contours of this institution. Our college experiences are necessarily finite, even fleeting, but the Magazine’s decades-long existence reveals a communal continuity that our individual four years each bears upon.
Our columns today are the product of years of evolution. We’ve retained Treat’s “Blue Notes” as pithy, personal dispatches of college life, and we’ve more recently immersed ourselves in long-form features and essays. Since 1999, we run long-form conversations with professors and alums in The Conversation, and we profile interesting, emblematic seniors in our Campus Characters column. Columbia’s creatives are represented in our poetry column, Measure for Measure, and in our prose column, The Shortcut, and our humorist duos duke it out over contentious questions in At Two Swords’ Length. We’ve morphed from weekly newsprint to monthly magazine, but we’ve held the same values across mediums and centuries: bright prose, truthful comments, wit, intellection, and discussion.