The Chronicle of the 1970s

On September 23, 1974, a publication called The Chronicle reappeared on campus, resurrected as the voice of Vassar’s radical left by Michael Solow and Bill Hearon, '75. The choice of name was more of expedience than adherence to the original paper’s values: The Chronicle was already a "recognized" activity from its 1944 inception, so it could be immediately budgeted by the student government without the usual trial period for new activities. The 1974 version began with a typical newspaper format (published on a bi-weekly basis), but was transformed into a magazine by the third issue. The first issue included a wider variety of opinions and essays than the Miscellany News of that period, covering topics from tenure systems, women's studies, the existence of God, the value of college, the role of a teacher, and the importance of activities at Vassar in a global context. Faculty contributed editorials on a variety of topics: the Oct. 7, 1974 anonymous faculty editorial was "Ahh…Sex," discussing sexual liberation (a common theme in the magazine’s pages). The paper was immediately controversial – it’s "Correspondence" section never failed to contain a protestation or rebuttal of previous articles. Alongside articles that pushed conventional boundaries, like "Abortion: Where To Go and What To Do in Poughkeepsie," the paper ran poetry contests and printed fiction and nonfiction faculty and student works.

For four years the magazine sought to serve "the internal life of the community, its values, intellectual involvement, poetry and prose." However, by 1978 the opinion articles had steadily diminished, replaced by more literary submissions. The staff decided in February of that year to forgo further journalistic ventures and turn The Chronicle into a monthly literary magazine with the new school year. The final issue of The Chronicle magazine was published April 28, 1978, without so much as a goodbye editorial. Yet in the fall no literary magazine with that title appeared, and The Chronicle's name faded back into history.

The first Vassar Chronicle responded to a liberal bias in Vassar media. The second reflected the radical left who felt underrepresented in the Misc. Though they shared a name, and thus "recognition" from the Student's Association, the two papers articulated drastically different needs in the campus community. With its second incarnation, the Chronicle continued its tradition of dissent and challenging the Vassar status quo. One can only wonder whom the next version will represent.

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The Vassar Chronicle. 1974-1978. Vassar College Library.

SRH, 2007