SDSU Yearbooks

Pushball game January 7, 2014

Really?!  An SDSU yearbook?

Yes, the last yearbook was published in 1984 and the earliest way back in 1902.

Paper bulletin boards, no smart phones, the old Aztec Center (student union); that last 1984 yearbook was just 92 pages long and had room for little more than photos of seniors and group shots of student organizations, deans, and sports, a few iconic buildings, a few pages on Homecoming.  But earlier yearbooks are full of fascinating photos and commentary.  With cartoons, jokes, politics, important visitors like John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, Jane Fonda and loads of musical groups with great drawings interspersed, the yearbooks are truly representative of their times. 

Earlier yearbooks show how, from the 1930s to ‘60s you could drive up and park right in front of Hepner Hall.  The yearbooks also illustrate what it was like on campus during World War II when there were scrap drives for metal and the memorial to SDSU students killed in WWII got larger and larger.  The late 1960s and early 1970s feature protests, picket signs and lots of wild hair.  From the 1950s into the 1960s the yearbooks have a cool, mid-century graphic vibe and are full of photos of campus happenings, beauty queens, organizations and student antics. 

Take a look at a photo of a "Beauty Queen" from 1961, a poem and photos about "Hair" from 1971, and a cartoon of campus from 1936.

Check out the entire collection at

Postcards as Time Machines

San Diego State College November 15, 2013

Those little images on pasteboard can transport you back to a time when El Cajon Boulevard was unpaved and you had to pull your car over for horse-and-buggy traffic.  Or a time when the 2nd exterior glass elevator ever built was operating on the front of the El Cortez Hotel.

Maybe that’s why SDSU professor Dr. John Adams and his wife Jane collected thousands of postcards, along with cookbooks, trade cards, and other historically interesting materials that they donated to SDSU.  Yes, that Dr. Adams, the one whose name was given to the Adams Humanities Building.  Special Collections has nurtured them carefully, and the originals, all 250,000 of them, can be seen there in their original form.  The postcards so far digitized span the years from the early part of the 20th century into the 1970s.  Here are a few, but there are many more to come!  Check out the “identifier” field “PC-000” under “Advanced Search” at or search for topics that interest you.

The Full Montezuma

Montezuma sculpture with Hardy Tower in the distance March 29, 2013

Artist and sculptor Donal Hord envisioned and chiseled the beautiful sculpture known as ‘Aztec’ out of a single 2.5 ton block of black diorite and dedicated it to the graduating class of San Diego State College (as our University was then known) on May 2nd, 1937. The sculpture quickly became an iconic symbol to students and faculty and is emblematic of the Aztec Warrior who appears currently at SDSU sporting events.

‘Montezuma’, as the placard on the sculpture now reads, is currently located in the Prospective Students Center. This is the sculpture’s third distinct home on campus. The first home was on the main quad, and this series of incredible images show a crane raising all 4,650 pounds of Montezuma in the Fall of 1984 and moving the sculpture to the South Entrance of the campus next to the Adams Humanities building. Construction of the trolley line servicing SDSU in 2002 saw Montezuma moved yet again, finally out of the elements, to his current home.
Many more images and information on this wonderful sculpture can be found online at:

El Palenque: Student Literature From 1927-1948

Cover of the 1941 Spring Issue of El Palenque December 5, 2012

The digital collections recently published El Palenque, a collection of literary journals published regularly by the Associated Student Body between 1927 and 1948.

Many students submitted items to The Aztec (San Diego State College’s student newspaper) but lack of space made it difficult for stories to be published.  El Palenque was created as a forum for the creative overflow of San Diego State College students.  The Mayan civilization of El Palenque served as the inspiration for the title and scope of the magazine—it was referenced as the Athens of the ancient Mayans.  Submissions were also accepted from faculty and alumni.  Interestingly, President Hardy submitted articles in two issues, in Volume 3, Issue 4 and Volume 4, Issue 2.   After a three-year break in publishing due to WWII, the Spring 1945 issue included submissions from former students serving the military in the South Pacific.

The editors sought to create a magazine representative of the student body and El Palenque was often a source of discussion and controversy.  Comments were solicited in each issue and opinions about the magazine were published in The Aztec.  Because El Palenque was financed by the Associated Students with funds collected by way of student fees, some students disliked that their money was supporting a publication they had to pay for and others did not think it was an accurate representation of the student body.  The biggest controversy surrounding the magazine occurred after the Spring 1941 issue was printed with a cover photo depicting “Monty,” the school’s iconic Aztec sculpture created by Donal Hord, with a cigarette hanging from his lips.  The Aztec (see Volume 20, Number 62) chronicles student outrage, including a call for Editor Edward Reese to be fired and for all remaining issues to be purchased and burned.

After a steady decline in sales and much polling of the student body, El Palenque was laid to rest in 1948.  Please note that this collection lacks the final issue, published in March 1948.

Photos of the El Palenque staff can be found in corresponding SDSU year books and The Aztec can be consulted for articles discussing the activities of the magazine.  The entire collection can be viewed at or on SDSU's DSpace Institutional Repository website.  

This blog post was written by Digital Collections intern and San Jose State MLIS candidate, Danielle Owens, as part of a professional experience project for the Fall 2012 semester.  Danielle digitized this collection and created the metadata for the entire project.

Historic Homecomings in Digital Collections

1980s Homecoming Bonfire October 12, 2012

In honor of Homecoming 2012, Digital Collections is rounding up some historic photographs from the SDSU archives.

Homecoming as an October tradition started at San Diego State College in 1933. Campus had been largely constructed in 1931 and student activities such as Homecoming and the lighting of the "S" on Cowles Mountain were just starting to catch on with students.

In the 1930s Homecoming consisted of a parade, a dance, and a weekend of social activities for both alumni and current students. Homecoming activities at San Diego State have waxed and waned throughout the decades, specifically a lapse during the forties due to World War II, and another lapse in the late sixties and early seventies due to changes in student attitudes.

Nevertheless, University Archives photographs document much of the Autumn fun. Highlights include plentiful documentation of the marching band and colorful parade floats with themes including Disney characters, science, mythology, and art. The 1980s bonfires and football enthusiasm are also a significant part of our collection. And of course, documentation of alumni returning home to State to celebrate past and current traditions including the crowning of the Homecoming Queen.

While we do our best to research dates and identifying information for University Archives photographs, which were preserved largely without such information, we certainly welcome any help or corrections. Just send us an email at and we will update our records ASAP!

For more information about the history of homecoming at San Diego State, check out Looking Back at Homecoming on the SDSU NewsCenter blog, or view all of the newspapers and photographs concerning Homecoming at

1969: San Diego State Aztec Football's Perfect Year

Aztecs defeat Boston University Terriers at the Pasadena Bowl in 1969 October 5, 2012

In 1969, the San Diego State Aztecs football team accomplished one of the most rare feats in NCAA football: An undefeated season.

Under the unshakable guidance of Head Coach Don Coryell, the Aztecs had a perfect record of 11-0. The Aztecs outscored their opponents 492-194 with an average of 44.7 points per game that season.

The numbers get even more astounding: of the 54 players on the team, nine went on to stellar careers in the NFL, including Pro-Bowler Brian Sipe, Dennis Shaw, and Carl Weathers. Three of the six Aztec coaches also went on to the NFL, most notably the San Diego Chargers legendary Head Coach Don Coryell. Coryell's aggressive form of offense, which would become famously known as 'Air Coryell', undeniably helped shape professional football as we know it today. 

Five players and three coaches from that glorious year have since been enshrined in San Diego State Aztec Athletics Hall of Fame. One of the players from the team, Linebacker Carl Weathers (#50) went on to a very successful acting career. He starred with Sylvester Stallone in the original 'Rocky' movie, playing Rocky's adversary Apollo Creed.

The excellent season culminated with a victory over the Boston University Terriers in the Pasadena Bowl on December 6th, 1969. The final score was 28-7, a score indicative of how the Aztecs had smashed their way to the top all season long.

For more coverage of the game, visit our Digital Collections database.

This blog post was written by Digital Collections student assistant, Neil Kavanagh. Both Neil and alumnus B. J. Nystrom have provided us with immeasurable assistance identifying and describing our large collection of unlabeled sports photographs, and came across this wonderful group of photos from the 1969 Pasadena Bowl. Stay tuned for more historic Aztec athletics finds!

Mystery Photos: SDSU Facilities Services

An unidentified man in facilities services. Source: University Archives. September 14, 2012

Can you help us identify historic photographs related to San Diego State Facilities Services (formerly the Physical Plant)?

These "mystery photographs" appear to be related to the Physical Plant at San Diego State. Although in July 2012 the Department of Physical Plant became known as Facilities Services, the department has been providing custodial, landscaping, maintenance, and construction services to the San Diego State campus throughout its history.  In fact, the original power plant building was one of the first campus buildings (constructed in 1930), was extended in the 1940s as part of a Works Progress Administration project, and is still standing today.

Before we publish these photographs to our Digital Collections website, we would love to be able to provide detailed and accurate information about the photos. We currently do not have any date or identifying information for any of the photographs but have made a set of the photos available on our Mystery Photos Flickr page. Could you help us out by providing any dates, corrections, or names for these photos? Anyone can comment on the Flickr photos, or if you'd prefer, you can email Digital Collections with any information.

Even more digital resources related to Facilities Services, including original photographs and historic issues of The Daily Aztec, are available on the Digital Collections website. Many other historic SDSU mystery photographs are also on our Flickr site, awaiting your help!


More mystery photos!

Unidentified people in a San Diego State laboratory June 15, 2012

Several weeks ago, Digital Projects published a few dozen University Archives Photographs on our Flickr site in the hopes that members of the SDSU community could be of assistance in identifying people and events in the photos.

It has been a great success, and we are thrilled to have so many enthusiastic participants in our little experiment!

We are delighted to announce that there are still several thousand photographs that have limited identifying information, so if you'd still like to play the Mystery Photo game, come on over to Flickr and give it a go! We are swapping out photos and adding new batches every few days.

If you'd visited the Flickr site previously and are wondering where a certain photo went, chances are we obtained correct identification information for that photo. In the case of these solved mysteries, we keep the photo on Flickr but just move it to the SDSU Photo Mysteries - Solved! set.

Digital Projects would like to extend a hearty thank you to everyone who has provided us with information about photos. Any questions or comments can be directed to

A Visual Index to the Vince Meades Sheet Music Collection

Cover selections from the Vince Meades Popular American Sheet Music Collection May 3, 2012

Through a collaboration with the library's Special Collections and University Archives department, Digital Projects is digitizing and uploading the illustrated covers of the Vince Meades Popular American Sheet Music Collection. The Library has housed this amazing collection for many years, and despite the collection's continued growth, it has remained hidden to students and patrons. By showcasing this collection on our database and on the Vince Meades Flickr area, we hope to change that!

As well as being fantastic examples of early graphic illustration, the covers themselves help us to understand the cultural environment of the past in a proper context. While some of the topics depicted on the covers are controversial today, they are primary source images that reflect the very real issues of our country's political and cultural past.

On our Flickr page, we have opened the collection to commentary and tagging. We have included minimal information about each cover, but are encouraging users to submit topical tags and information about each cover or song. We add one to two hundred new images each week, so check back often. So far, over 2,000 images are uploaded and waiting to be viewed, shared, tagged, and commented on!

Help us identify these mystery University Archives photographs!

Two students sit outside of the "Answers" trailer May 3, 2012

SDSU University Archives has a very large photograph collection, which includes photos covering the entire span of the school's history: from SDSU's start as the State Normal School on Park Boulevard in University Heights to photographs from recent years at our current location.

You may have noticed we've been a little quiet on the blog, and it's because we've been pretty busy with these photos. We are currently in the process of digitizing the entire collection, but we need your help! Most of our photographs have no date or identifying information.

A selection of the photographs have been made available on Flickr, the popular photograph sharing website, where you are able to add comments, tags, or tag people to help us identify important people and events in the history of the university. We are adding more every week in the hopes to solve some of our many mysteries, and we hope you'll join in the sleuthing!

Over 19,000 photographs are currently uploaded to our database, with thousands more coming soon. While we don't have the ability to let you tag directly from our site, if you drop us an email ( with the "identifier" field of the photograph and a correction or clarification about the photograph's content, we will be more than happy to update our records! We've attached a small sample of our unidentified photos to this entry; thousands more still need information!

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