“Exceedingly Improper” Student Behavior, 1840

For a number of years, student absences and instances of misconduct were recorded in ledgers by University administrators. Several of these ledgers, dating from 1838 to 1847, have survived in the Records of the Office of the Registrar (#40131) and provide an fascinating (and often entertaining) view of student life on campus in this period.

Students were frequently cited for eating, talking, sleeping, or being generally “disorderly” during class or prayers, answering for other students during roll calls, and bringing the wrong books to class. Other offenses were more unusual. We’ve rounded up a few of the most interesting from the October-November 1840 ledger below.


“Webb – Playing on the flute in study hours (not the first time)”


“Bruce – patting Hawkins on the shoulder during Rec[ication] in such a manner as to produce a laugh”


“Barnett – throwing water over the bannister at a retreating student”


“Lucas – persisting in cutting and eating sassafras”


“Battle Freshman – pouring water on Mitchell Sunday evening. Mitchell making an outrageous noise thereupon.”


“Daniel – calling out ‘snap’ as he came to Rec[itation]”


“R Tate – putting finger into his mouth, then making ugly noise on withdrawing it”

ivyetal“Ivy, Manly, McIlhenny, Shorter, Taylor – Exceedingly improper conduct at Sunday Recitation.”

[From Volume 9, the Records of the Office of the Registrar (#40131), University Archives]


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