A Grinnell College yearbook that was banned from publication in 1966 is now on display a the colleges Faulconer Gallery. Gallery director, Leslie Wright, says the photos in the yearbook were considered too controversial at the time.
She says the students who put the yearbook together were led by longtime Grinnell resident Harry Wilhelm, and took a very realistic look at campus life in 1966. “So they portrayed classes, they portrayed homecoming, they portrayed the student body, but they really pictured everything that students really do, and that was an era when the college still had a lot of control over student life,” Wright says.
College administrators exerted their control to prevent the publication of the yearbook out of concerns it would be bad for public relations. “They showed what kids were really doing, and the overall picture that they painted of the college, was not one the college really wanted the parents to see at the time,” according to Wright.
It would take 20 years before the college agreed to publish the yearbook and its many photos. “It looks pretty tame to us now, but at that era when things were just on the cusp of change, it seemed like an incendiary book to release,” Wright explains. “So the administration asked for changes, the editors said they wouldn’t and the book was not publish in 1966. It was eventually published under George Drake’s presidency in 1986 by the college. The college did finally do the right thing.”
The gallery has over 100 photographs from the yearbook on display. Wright says the photos will be of interest to all Grinnell residents.
“There’s lots of images of the community, the editors really wanted to place the yearbook within a wider context, so there’s lots of pictures of downtown Grinnell as it used to look, central park, the motels outside of town, Interstate 80 when it was brand new in 1966. So it gives more than just the yearbook, it gives a feel and look of Grinnell 46 years ago,” Wright says.
Photographs in the exhibit will be available for purchase. The exhibit “1966 Yearbook Project” will be on display through June third. The gallery in the Bucksbaum Center for the Arts is open Tuesday through Sunday from noon until 5 p.m. Admission is free.
By Chris Johnson, KGRN, Grinnell