EDITORS DAILY CRIMSON: In looking over old volumes of the Nation I find some correspondence about the Harvard cheer, which raises the question of its origin, but, unfortunately does not throw much light on it.
In August, 1869, the Times in its account of the Harvard-Oxford race, spoke of the "Ah! Ah!-Ah!" of the American college men. A letter to the Nation comments on this, and attacks the college for its abandonment of the "fine old lung" cheer (Hurrah), and its adoption of this "mouth-cheer, without either force or dignity." This brings out better several answers in strong support of our present cheer. The arguments or impressions of the writers are hardly interesting, except from what they say of the origin of the "Rah!" cheer, as follows: "In 1864 the college turned out, probably for the first time, in the campaign torch-light procession in support of Lincoln. On that occasion, in order to have a designating cheer, the 'Rah!' was adopted. Probably it had been known in college before, much as the CRIMSON cheer is known here now. Perhaps it originated in the custom of cheering the name of every man in the class when his name was read in the old 'commencement part' lists. Well-known fellows got a full 'Hurrah!', but the cheering was perfunctory in the case of most men and naturally was abbreviated to 'rah!'" If this was the origin the cheer was, most likely, somewhat known before the war. The college cheer has never been used as the recognized cheer at a commencement dinner, but it is noteworthy that at the celebration dinner it took the place of the old cheer. In future it stands to be the recognized cheer at commencement, as of course it is the college cheer for every man who has graduated in the last twenty years.
The simple form of this cheer is given both here and at Yale. Other colleges have copied and varied it. The question as to how and when it originated seems interesting.
J. P. '84.