The Collegian centennial feature story: The first issue

The Collegian published its first issue on Feb. 8, 1922 as a student-run newspaper. (Edward Lopez/The Collegian)

This story is a continuation of The Collegian series in celebration of its centennial anniversary, which looks back at historical moments in the publication’s history.

The First Paper

The first issue of The Collegian, published on Wednesday, Feb. 8, 1922, appeared in a broadsheet format, mirroring that of The Fresno Bee and the art deco simplistic, uniform and formal style of the 1920s.

The Collegian was initially a four-page, bi-monthly paper that covered all news relevant to Fresno State, at the time called Fresno State College, students, faculty and staff. 

It featured a range of content including news, feature stories, sports, cartoons, society (now considered arts and entertainment) and a jokes section known as The Giggler, which featured jokes from the campus community.

The managing team consisted of editor Henry J. McFarland Jr., associate editors Richard Heflebower and Viola Jacobsen, business manager Jenness L. Hudson and associate business manager Edith Frame.

The section editors consisted of feature editor Elsie Kaljian, sports editor John Palstine, organizations editor Effie Austin, society editor Mildred Moore, staff cartoonist Arthur Danks and jokes editor William Peters.

The staff reporters were Beryle Bollinger, Roy Crawford, Velma Damron, Velma Fleischner, Velma Harris, Bernice Hudson, Helen Dailey, John Kazanjian, Daniel Mainwaring, Majorie Parker, Cornelia Richert, Harond Kesparian and Doris de Lacy.

While today The Collegian is offered for free, at the time it cost 10 cents per copy, roughly  $1.70 in 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Individuals could also purchase a semester-long subscription for 75 cents ($12.76 in 2022), or 90 cents ($15.31 in 2022) to get it mailed.

The Fresno Bee at the time was published every day except Sunday at a weekly subscription price of 18 cents ($3.06), which equated to $1.80 ($30.62 in 2022) per semester.

The Content

The stories featured in the paper were written as briefs, or short articles, designed to inform the reader of the most important information directly with an average word count of 30 to 250 words.

Much like newspapers today, the front page served more to inform the reader of the most pertinent news, much like a notice board.The very top of the page, next to The Collegian logo, was dedicated to important news or notices briefs. 

One such newsworthy story featured on the frontpage was a secret marriage between two Fresno State College students, which was ordained by Rev. E. Martin with friends and onlookers in attendance. 

The ceremony would not last long, as the school bell rang to signal the beginning of class and sent the newlyweds hurrying along to make it to class on time.

The newlywed couple planned to enjoy their honeymoon at a local ice cream parlor and stop at a local movie theater.

The inside fold, Pages 2 and 3, concerned themselves with arts and entertainment, sports and the jokes section, with advertisements beginning to appear on the lower part of the pages.

The society section published poems by local poets, fun facts about the month of February and student reactions to spring fever. 

Fresno State College student Byron Hukins was seen resting across the table in the library with the caption commenting how Hukins appeared to be suffering from lovesickness, a terrible hunger and spring fever all at once. 

The Giggler featured a variety of jokes, with one particular joke titled “Which PROF., Johnny?” featuring an exchange between two students about how one of their professors fell sick. The punchline was there was no complaint as they now had the day off.

Page 4 would be dedicated to sports, alongside advertisements dedicated to Valentine’s Day sales across Fresno for items such as sweets, jewelry and formal apparel.

The sports section discussed the conclusion of the Fresno State College men’s basketball team’s season, which ended with four wins and four losses. 

In one article, Fresno State College men’s basketball coach Arthur W. Jones called on the local community to show greater support for men’s basketball after seeing a low turnout at their game against UC Davis.

 Both Jones and The Collegian said that, despite the 36-28 loss, the game was one of the hardest-fought of the season and worthy of praise from the campus community.

The Collegian Today

Today, The Collegian still shares the same name as it did 100 years ago, with much of the content remaining the same.

Unlike the paper’s predecessors 100 years ago, The Collegian publishes an eight to 12-page newspaper on a weekly basis with lengthier  articles, with word counts ranging from 500 to 1,ooo words.

The Collegian is now formatted tabloid-style, with the main sections such as news, sports and arts and entertainment remaining.  The current opinion section and special supplements were added to the publication over time. 

The Giggler unfortunately did not make the cut over the years.

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