Pomp and Circumstance

Writer: 
August 1, 2004
The graduating class of 1915 passes the old Trinity College Library en route to Craven Hall

Old beginnings: In 1913, a car drives away from Craven Hall, the primary post-graduation gathering place on campus in the Trinity College era, below; Above, the graduating class of 1915 passes the old Trinity College Library en route to Craven Hall

 
In 1913, a car drives away from Craven Hall, the primary post-graduation gathering place on campus in the Trinity College era

Commencement at Duke's predecessor, Trinity College, was a more intimate affair in the early twentieth century. Usually held on the first Wednesday in June, graduation ceremonies began at 10:15 in the morning with the board of trustees, members of the faculty, alumni, and the graduating classes assembled in front of the library. They then processed to Craven Memorial Hall, a building that was removed when the campus we today call East was rebuilt (between 1925 and 1927).

Instead of a single student commencement speaker, senior orators competed the night before, with the winner receiving the Wiley Gray Medal. Like graduates of today, the class heard a commencement address delivered by an individual who had made outstanding contributions. In 1911, documentary photographer and social reformer Jacob A. Riis of New York was Trinity's speaker.

The last official act was the lowering of the class flag, at sunset on commencement day.