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The Glory of the Dorm Amanda Farley

For the students living on Marshall's campus in the 1950s, dorm life was a celebrated aspect to the college experience.

Living in the campus dormitories throughout the decade was not only glorified, but it unified students, due to the small number of residents, the lack of available luxuries at the time, and their involvement within the university.

Groups of friends crowd into tiny dorms to relax and gossip.

A New Family

A small number of students per dorm (100-200) led to strong bonds being formed. With overall enrollment less than 2,000, and a fourth of those being in dormitories, a student's best bet at making friends would be with the other occupants of their dorm. One such instance is the Freshman Women's Residence Hall. Built in the middle of the decade, the building was so new that it had no furniture for the girls who would be calling it their home for the next year. The girls were subjected to sleep on mattresses set up on the floor. Yet, instead of this experience setting a negative standard for the remainder of the school year, it worked as a bonding experience for its residents.

The women of the Freshmen Hall slept on the floor until beds arrived.

Available Technology

There was no Netflix in bed waiting for the exhausted college student in the fifties as he made his trek back to his dorm; he would have to join his brothers for another episode of “Howdy Doody” in the TV Room if he wanted to relax.

Groups of students gather together to enjoy TV and music.

With limited access to the technological advancements of today, the students had to befriend one another in order to reap these luxuries. There was one TV, four phones, and record players for those who could afford to bring one. To the students of the decade who knew no other way of life, late night television and lounging around while listening to the radio with the other residents of the hall likely proved to be some of their most exciting evenings.

Getting Involved

Being a part of a dormitory in the 1950's was more than just a living arrangement. With campus life came many activities.

Adding onto the glorification of dorm life, the residence halls were majorly involved with the lives of the students who lived there, and vice versa. Much like sororities or fraternities do, the residents of each hall would work together to put on shows and events.

Boys and girls mingle at a dance.

The dormitories offered many opportunities to become involved and mingle, such as semi-formal dances, holiday parties, and even a newspaper called The Hodges Haul. These activities helped make the residence halls much more than just a place to live, but a place the students felt like they were a part of, and could even take pride in.

Here are two photos from the Starlite Ball, as well as a young man reading the newspaper written by dorm residents.

The 1950s were an event-filled time for the campus residents of Marshall University. The students who were a part of the dormitories used their living arrangement to unify them in a way that turned living on campus from a potential bore to a lively experience. For the girls of the Women’s Residence Hall, given no choice but to sleep on the floor that fall, it was an adventure. The small population, and the way they were able to get involved in their halls without needing the luxuries of the present age, helped to make the dormitories much more than “Laidley” and “Hodges”. For the majority of those students, they became home.

Works Cited

Marshall University. “The Chief Justice 1953.” Marshall University. 33. http://mds.marshall.edu/yearbooks/33/

Marshall University. “The Chief Justice 1955.” Marshall University. 35. http://mds.marshall.edu/yearbooks/35/

Marshall University. “The Chief Justice 1956.” Marshall University. 36. http://mds.marshall.edu/yearbooks/36/

Marshall University. “The Chief Justice 1957.” Marshall University. 37. http://mds.marshall.edu/yearbooks/37/

Marshall University. “The Chief Justice 1958.” Marshall University. 38. http://mds.marshall.edu/yearbooks/38/

Marshall University. “The Chief Justice 1959.” Marshall University. 39. http://mds.marshall.edu/yearbooks/39/

Credits:

All photos from the Marshall University yearbooks. 

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