Scraps of Humor in the Archives: Stories from 160 Years of Wheaton College Pranks

While many of the records in the College Archives relate to the work of the administration, staff, and faculty at Wheaton College, the collections also hold documents from generations of Wheaton students, including biographical files, personal scrapbooks, student group papers, oral history interviews and student publications. Through these records, the College Archives preserves students’ experiences and traditions, from the serious to the lighthearted. One of the most enduring of the student traditions documented by the Archives is that of the college prank.

In a 1931 prank, senior jackets were strung on a clothesline during chapel. (College Archive Photograph #B8772)

Tales of Wheaton students’ antics appear from the very early days of the college. In A Minority of One, Clyde Kilby recounts one prank on the first president of Wheaton College, Jonathan Blanchard: On April Fool’s Day, students placed a goose on the lectern prior to Blanchard’s arrival. Upon entering Blanchard assessed the situation and left the classroom after exclaiming, “Well, students, I see you have chosen a new leader. Since he must be more to your liking, I will take the only course open to me. I will withdraw.”

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