Fall 2011

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Northwestern is the quarterly alumni magazine for Northwestern University.
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Campus Life
Purple Parrot
With “Fresh Meet” on the cover, the October 1922 issue focused on the freshman experience. Courtesy of University Archives

Collections: One Funny Bird

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When Wildcats of yesteryear wanted a good laugh, they turned to the Purple Parrot. A campus humor magazine that published from 1921 to 1950 (and again briefly in the mid-1970s), it featured student writing, cartoons and photography, illuminating the tastes and trends of a vibrant era.

The Parrot parodied all things Northwestern: Greek life, faculty personalities, college romance and even the Daily Northwestern (lampooned in the Parrot as “The Dilly”).

But the Parrot’s humor did not always amuse the higher powers. University officials suppressed the April 1931 “religion” issue. In 1948 the Student Publications Board asked two female editors to step down because of concerns about the magazine’s perceived fixation on liquor and sex.

In May 1950, with subscriptions declining, the Purple Parrot ended its flight. “The old bird did not always live wisely,” said the farewell statement, “but it shall die with dignity.” The following fall, the Parrot was absorbed by the Profile, a campus fiction magazine, which lasted until 1959.

The original copies (from 1921–50) held in University Archives have been digitized, thanks to the nonprofit Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Illinois, and are now available on the Internet Archive.