Celebrating Halloween, 1920s style

For Halloween in 1922, the “Y” Hut, one of the three dorms for female students at the time (along with Gerneaux Hall and the Practice House), hosted a party for all girls at the University, including “day dodgers.” As reported by the November 9, 1922 issue of the Diamondback, the dorm was decorated with black and orange “festooning,” colored lights, corn stalks, and pumpkin heads.  Activities at the party included jazz dancing and music, fortune telling by a “foul-looking witch,” bobbing for apples, and a “Snake Dance” throughout the campus.

The over 50 girls who attended dressed up in wide range of costumes, ranging from charming to funny to “just interesting,” including timeless choices such as devils, ghosts, and clowns, as well as “Pierettes and Columbines, flowers, and miscellaneous types.” A costume contest was held, with Dorothy Robertson winning for most attractive costume with her “lace bespangled Gypsy affair” and Anna Margaret Murphy winning for funniest costume as an “Oirish Lady.”

While we don’t have any pictures of Dorothy, Anna Margaret, or their classmates in costume, Maryland women’s long and varied history of dressing up in “interesting” and “miscellaneous” costumes for both Halloween and other events is documented in University AlbUM. Witness, for example, these six coeds dressed up as walruses for May Day in 1929 and, more recently, this woman dressed up as Smurfette for Halloween in 1986:

Six women dressed as walruses, University of Maryland, 1929Two women in Halloween costumes, University of Maryland, October 1986

(Additional information for this post from the 1922 Terra Mariae and 1927 Reveille yearbooks)


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