Colorful Crimson History Began with Off-Color Magenta...

Continual Process of Change Marks History of 73-Year-Old Crimson; Once Appeared as Bi-Weekly Literary Mag; Still Cambridge's Only Breakfast Table Daily

Crimson editors now fondly boast that they are the keepers of a record for the longest continuous publication of any college newspaper. But twice in the 73 years since The Magenta first saw the light of day, Crimson editors, oblivious of the tradition they had been maintaining, almost allowed a break in the line.

In debt in 1882 to the tune of several hundred dollars, the Crimson was forced to seek refuge under the wing of Mother Advocate (whom World War II has finally stunned). By a one vote margin of the editors assembled, the Crimson was continued. Instead of dropping its name in favor of the older publication, the fortnightly Crimson joined the fortnightly Advocate in printing on alternate weeks.

First War Threatened Continuity

World War I almost severed the chain again when the undergraduate editors, on October 4, 1918, formally announced their intention to close up shop for the duration. But the momentum of the presses had hardly petered out when a group of graduate editors, on October 24, seized the reins and boosted a weekly Crimson over the two-month hump until-returning editors could take over once more.

Today's Crimson occupies three times as much of the reader's first look as did the eight- by ten-inch front page of the first Magenta on January 24, 1873, but one of the greatest of the paradoxes to be explained is the banner head at the top of the page.


No One Had Named Color

Since the year 1810, various student attempts to get themselves into print had gone by the names of Lyceum, Register, Collegian, Harvardiana, Harvard Magazine, and, in 1866, the Advocate. The second group of editors to achieve a permanent success settled on the name of the College color.

The color standard had not yet been translated into words, so the pioneers were well within their rights in describing it as Magenta. The ensuing controversy was finally settled two years later, however, when the editors cheerfully attached themselves to the name "Crimson."

When it is going at full speed, the modern Crimson sports the informal slogan: "Cambridge's Only Breakfast Table Daily," and puts itself in the general classification of newspaper. The Magenta was not only a bi-weekly, but was a 16-page competitor with the Advocate in "notes and comments," short essays, and sports coverage.

Magenta Featured Editorials

Inside an outer wrapper of advertising similar to the Illustrated London News, the Magenta led off with its editorial comment first, while editorials have been relegated to page two since 1884 when the Daily Crimson emerged from another journalistic union.

Competition had been strong for the struggling paper. One editor admitted in later life that they "couldn't hope to compete with the Advocate in sports coverage." The daily Echo mushroomed in 1879, and the Daily Herald appeared on a four-page 14 by 11 format in 1882.

Became Daily in 1883

1883 marks a significant merger with the Harvard Herald which had already built up a reputation among the local press with its sensational extras. The Herald, however, needed financial as well as editorial reinforcement. Advocate ties were broken, and the Crimson president headed the new board, assisted by the Herald's managing editor and secretary.

By agreement, the paper's name remained the Herald-Crimson for a year, reverting to The Daily Crimson. It was at this stage that present order of the Crimson crystallized, except that University notices were to be found on page three instead of on the last page as now.