Samiksha Jaiswal (Editor)

The Yale Record

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Humor magazine

First issue
September 1872


Year founded
1872, Yale University

Based in
New Haven, Connecticut

The Yale Record

Edward Anthony Bradford James Heartt VanBuren Samuel J. Elder E.H. Lemis Henry Ward Beecher Howard

The Yale Record is the campus humor magazine of Yale University. Founded in 1872, it became the oldest humor magazine in the world when Punch folded in 2002.


The Record is currently published eight times during the academic year and is distributed in Yale residential college dining halls and around the nation through subscriptions. Content from the magazine is made available online and entire issues can be downloaded in .pdf form.


The Record began as a weekly newspaper, with its first issue appearing on September 11, 1872. Almost immediately, it became a home to funny writing (often in verse form), and later, when printing technology made it practical, humorous illustrations. The Record thrived immediately, and by the turn of the century had a wide circulation outside of New Haven—at prep schools, other college towns, and even New York City.

As Yale became one of the bellwethers of collegiate taste and fashion (especially for the younger universities looking East), so too The Record became a model—F. Scott Fitzgerald referred to the magazine as one of the harbingers of the new, looser morality of collegians of that time. But it wasn't just laughs The Record was serving up—during the 1920s, The Record ran a popular speakeasy in the basement of its building at 254 York Street (designed by Lorenzo Hamilton and completed in 1928).

Early 20th century

Along with the Princeton Tiger Magazine (1878), the Stanford Chaparral (1899), and the Harvard Lampoon (1876), among many college humor magazines, The Record created a wide-ranging, absurdist style of comedy which mixed high-culture references with material dealing with the eternal topics of schoolwork, alcohol, and sex (or lack thereof). Comedy first published in the magazine was re-printed in national humor magazines like Puck and Judge.

In 1914, J.L. Butler of The Yale Record and Richard Sanger of The Harvard Lampoon created the first annual banquet of the College Comics Association, which drew representatives from 14 college humor magazines to New Haven. The college humor style influenced—or in some cases led directly to—the Marx Brothers, The New Yorker, Playboy, Mad magazine, underground comics, National Lampoon, The Second City, and Saturday Night Live.

The character "Whit" (pronounced "wit") in the Sinclair Lewis story Go East, Young Man drew caricatures for the Yale Record.

Mid-20th century

From the 1920s to the 1960s, The Record placed special emphasis on cartooning, which led many of its alumni to work at Esquire magazine and especially The New Yorker. Record cartoonists during this time period included Peter Arno, Reginald Marsh, Clarence Day, Julien Dedman, Robert C. Osborn, James Stevenson, William Hamilton and Garry Trudeau.

From 1920 through the 1940s, many Record staffers and alums contributed to College Humor, a popular nationally distributed humor magazine. Additionally, comedy first published in The Record was re-printed in national humor magazines like Life and College Humor.

By the late 1940s, the magazine's ties to The New Yorker were so strong that designers from that magazine consulted on The Record's layout and design.

By the 1950s, the Record had established the "Cartoonist of the Year" award, which brought people like Walt Kelly, the creator of Pogo, to New Haven to dine and swap stories with the staff.

In the early 1960s, cartoons and comic writing from the magazine were regularly re-printed in Harvey Kurtzman's Help!, a satirical magazine that helped launch the careers of Monty Python's Terry Gilliam, R. Crumb, Woody Allen, John Cleese, Gloria Steinem and many others.

In the late 1960s, the magazine played an integral role in editor-in-chief Garry Trudeau's creation of his epochal strip Doonesbury. Trudeau published the pre-syndication Doonesbury collection Michael J. (1970) through The Yale Record. In addition to editing the Record, Trudeau (and Record chairman Tim Bannon, basis of Doonesbury attorney T.F. Bannon of Torts, Tarts & Torque) organized Record events such as a successful Annette Funicello film festival, a Tarzan film festival (with guest Johnny Weissmuller) and a Jefferson Airplane concert featuring Sha Na Na.

Recent years

The 1970s and 1980s are known as the "Dark Ages" amongst Record staffers. Economic conditions in New Haven were abysmal and despite its impressive pedigree, The Record sputtered along, self-destructed and was revived numerous times throughout this period, much like a Ford Pinto (coincidentally, Henry Ford II, CEO of Ford when the Pinto was released, served on The Record's business staff in the late 1930s). Boards were convened and issues were published on an intermittent basis, with issues released in 1971, 1972, 1973, 1976-1981, 1983, and 1987.

Then in 1989, Yale students Michael Gerber and Jonathan Schwarz relaunched The Record for good. Their more informal, iconoclastic version of The Record proved popular, and a parody of the short-lived sports newspaper The National garnered national media attention. Gerber also created an ad hoc advisory board from Record alumni and friends, including Mark O'Donnell, Garry Trudeau, Robert Grossman, Harvey Kurtzman, Arnold Roth, Ian Frazier, Sam Johnson and Chris Marcil. While The Record continues to publish paper issues, the magazine began publishing web content in 2001, well before many of its contemporaries. Alums from recent years have gone on to write for many publications and entertainment companies including The New Yorker, McSweeney's, Saturday Night Live, The Late Show with David Letterman, The Onion and The Onion News Network.

Themed issues

Each issue of the current magazine features a particular theme. Aspects of the magazine include:

  • Snews - One-liners in the form of headlines.
  • Mailbags - Humorous letters to the editor, historical figures, or inanimate objects.
  • The Editorial - Written by the editor in chief of the magazine each issue, giving a brief overview of the contents and making of the issue.
  • Cartoons - Captioned, "New Yorker style" cartoons that hail back to the magazine's early beginnings.
  • Lists and Features - Staff generated content pertinent to the magazine's theme.
  • Parodies

    From time to time, The Record publishes parodies. These include (but are not limited to):

    Master's Teas

    Throughout the year, the Record invites notable figures from the world of comedy to "Master's Teas", informal interviews hosted by the Record in conjunction with residential colleges, at which tea is, in fact, not even served upon request. While residential colleges frequently organize Master's Teas, The Yale Record is known for its humorous ones. Guests have included:

    "Old Owl"

    For over a century, the mascot of the Record has been "Old Owl", a congenial, largely nocturnal, 360-degree-head-turning, cigar-smoking bird who tries to steer the staff towards a light-hearted appreciation of life and the finer things in it. Sometimes he succeeds.

    Recently, the cigar that our fluffy feathered friend smokes has been deemed 'unsuitable' by the committee that governs Yale apparel. It is unclear when, if ever, this decision will be reversed.

    "Old Owl" is a Cutty Sark connoisseur of some repute and enthusiasm. In artists' sketches, he is often portrayed as anthropomorphic, naked and lacking in any identifiable genitals, possibly the result of an old Cutty Sark injury.

    As a nod to this lovable old coot and his off-the-wall antics, former chairpeople, editors-in-chief, and publishers are referred to as "old owls".

    Documenting the birth of American football

    The Yale Record of the late nineteenth century chronicled much of the birth of American football:

    Coining the term "hot dog"

    According to David Wilton, author of Word Myths: Debunking Linguistic Urban Legends (2009), The Yale Record is responsible for coining the term "hot dog":

    There are many stories about the origin of the term hot dog, most of them are false. Let us start with what we know. The first known use of the term is in the Yale Record of October 19, 1895...The reason why they are called hot is obvious, but why dog? It is a reference to the alleged contents of the sausage. The association of sausages and dog meat goes back quite a bit further. The term dog has been used as a synonym for sausage since at least 1884...


    Bladderball was a game traditionally played by students at Yale, between 1954 and 1982, after which it was banned by the administration.

    It was created by Philip Zeidman as a competition between The Yale Record, the Yale Daily News, The Yale Banner and campus radio station WYBC. It was eventually opened to all students, with teams divided by residential college.

    Notable alumni

    Notable Yale Record alumni include (but are not limited to):

    Guest contributors

    Guest contributors to The Record have included:


    The Yale Record Wikipedia

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