• The Blue and White Magazine

The Magazine of Old

How The Blue and White came to be

By Gaby Edwards

The very first issue of The Blue and White dates back to 1890 when it was founded as a weekly journal to compete with the then biweekly Columbia Spectator. The first 14 issues of the magazine appeared much like a newspaper; it was not until the 15th issue that The Blue and White adopted its signature journal size and Columbia blue ink. But after three years of publication, The Blue and White disappeared. Not until 1997—when Ilan S. Salzberg, CC ‘99, discovered a stack of old Blue & White copies in the Columbiana Collection, the University archive located in Low Library—would The Blue and White’s presence be resurrected. The first publication, 105 years after its disappearance, in 1998, was issued with the help of Editor Noam M. Elcott, CC ‘00.

Editor Sydney Treat, CC ‘1893, stated in an issue dated March 4, 1891, that the mission of The Blue and White was: “to give 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 each week. We thought that, if by concerted effort and a spirited display of College feeling we could extend the influence of Columbia in any way or raise her to the position which she owns by right of the associations clustered around her name, our work would be accomplished.”

The 19th century magazine featured sections such as “Blue J,” which was devoted to complaining about Columbia University; “Curio Columbiana,” which reproduced a primary document from around the campus; “Told Between Puffs,” a witty column always written by the elusive Verily Veritas, “Measure for Measure,” which presented occasionally humorous poems; and the always-popular Campus Gossip. The 21st century publication still includes many of the original sections from 1891: Measure For Measure, Verily Veritas, Campus Gossip, and Curio Columbiana. The magazine to this day continues to intersperse its written content with hand-drawn illustrations, some of which come from the original 1890 issue.

When the magazine was resurrected in the late 1990s, its editors sought to capture, much like the earliest editions did, “an intangible Columbia spirit … a slice of Columbia always present but rarely seen by all.” We continue to pursue this lofty ambition set before us, and we hope to do so for generations of Columbians to come.

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