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Stover at Yale: Undergraduate Life a Century Ago

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 ten weekly installments through June 1910. Stover went on to become the hero of Stover at Yale, Johnson’s novel of student life in New Haven at the turn of the twentieth century. F. Scott Fitzgerald, who graduated from Princeton in 1917, called Stover at Yale the “textbook” for his generation. With contemporary letters, publications, photographs, maps, and memorabilia, drawn mainly from Manuscripts and Archives, and manuscript drafts from Johnson’s papers in the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, a new exhibition in Sterling Memorial Library’s Memorabilia Room looks at student life at Yale one hundred years ago through the lens of Johnson and Dink Stover.

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.

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. Sterling Memorial Library is located at 120 High Street.