Still Clucking

Duke's "Chanticleer" adapts in the age of Facebook.
April 1, 2012

What does a yearbook wish for on its hundredth birthday? Well, mostly just to keep on going.

In an era when many universities have cut their yearbooks or put them online, The Chanticleer—which celebrates its centennial anniversary this year—remains committed to its thick, glossy form. The small team of students and advisers who assemble the annual edition argue that the permanence of a printed book remains important, even—and perhaps especially— given the rise of social media sites like Facebook.

“Everyone has had personal photos, pretty much since The Chanticleer was invented. But this isn’t a personal archive—this is your class experience,” says Kristin Oakley ’12, editor-in-chief of this year’s book.

[Credit: University Archives]

Creating that experience, however, has proved increasingly difficult. With many high schools abandoning yearbooks, fewer students come to Duke with experience assembling a book. Staff shortages have brought The Chanticleer close to disbanding in recent years.

Oakley is hoping alliances with the Duke Marketing Club and other student groups will help raise the profile of the yearbook among potential staffers and readers. The staff also worked with University Archives to post old yearbooks online.

“In the1960s and ’70s, the yearbook was text-heavy, like a manifesto. It speaks to the times,” says Oakley (who is also an intern for Duke Magazine). Today, The Chanticleer includes experiences from studyabroad initiatives such as DukeEngage that highlight the evolving character of Duke and its students.

“There are people who wrongly think that yearbooks are a thing of the past,” says staff adviser Brian Crews, of Student Affairs. “And I tell them, yes, they are a thing of the past—they are the history of your university told every year.”