The sun is shining, the campus is in glorious bloom and everyone is working very hard – signs of spring to be sure – also signs that Pan-Hel week is here…

A student was in last week looking for information on Pan-Hel as it once was…While looking through the file, I saw this beautiful dance card. It is such a lovely piece that I wanted to share it.

As I told the young researcher, the most important thing to understand about Pan-Hel is how it has changed over the decades. As with so many things at a place as dynamic as Wabash, Pan-Hel has evolved over the years to reflect the times.

This program from the 1903 Pan Hellenic gives us a look at this tradition as it was at the turn of the last century when there were only five fraternities. This would have been the tenth year for this event as the first Pan was held February 9, 1893. There is a listing of the 20 dances for the night…Old Wabash played first and as a two-step dance. Old Wabash was still a very new song as it had its public premier in 1900. The next page is a listing of patronesses (chaperones) for the evening…. These women were responsible for the young ladies and it was their charge to see that order and decorum were maintained. Young women would travel to Crawfordsville from all over the country. The girls arrived in town on the train and these good women had charge of them. Many were lodged in homes locally, some of the better heeled dates might have reserved a room at the Crawford Hotel, but these were under close scrutiny as well.

Here is one more image of Pan-Hel – it is not dated but I might place it in the late 30’s or early 40’s.

What a great shot – the formal dress, bandstand and as we can see, all on the gym floor! More tomorrow when I will post additional pictures, including several shots of that fabulous Pan of 1965 – complete with luau…

Beth Swift
Wabash College