There were class albums and annuals published before the first volume of The Wolverine made its appearance in 1900, but it was this annual that set precedent for what the Michigan State Yearbook would become. The University Archives has class albums dating back to 1877, but the early albums merely contain photographs of seniors, faculty, and a few campus photographs. There were three issues of The Harrow produced, but while these were filled with textual information, there were no photographs.
The Class of 1901, who produced The Wolverine of 1900, made it their goal to produce a literary annual, not merely a handbook of classes, clubs, and athletics. To make this annual different, the editors added photographs throughout the volume and published detailed articles about societies and organizations. Also featured in the Wolverine are poems and other contributions from both students and faculty. The editors dedicated this first Wolverine to Robert Clark Kedzie, who was professor of chemistry and well-liked by both faculty and students.
The literary style of the annual stuck, as did the name Wolverine, and the tradition of the yearbook continued using both formats for many years. It is important to remember that at the time the first Wolverine was published that there was not the athletic rivalry between Michigan State and the University of Michigan that exists today. Michigan State, or Michigan Agricultural College, as it was known in those days, did not have an official football team until 1896. At that time, most of the athletic teams were known as the Aggies. The Spartans nickname did not come about until 1925.
While Michigan State still produces a yearbook today, the name is no longer the Wolverine. In 1976 the first issue of the Red Cedar Log appeared. Editors of that yearbook conceded that the University of Michigan’s football team held a stronger claim to the name. Red Cedar Log was a title that editors felt was more appropriate and identifiable to Michigan State University.
Names of Michigan State University Yearbooks:
Harrow: 1887, 1888, 1889
Gluck Auf: 1904
Jubilee Wolverine: 1907 (This was the year of the college’s Semi-Centennial celebration)
Red Cedar Log: 1976-present