Quips and Cranks: The organization behind Davidson’s yearbook

Emma Brentjens-

Editors-in-chief Mariah Clarke ’18 (left) and Hayley Atkins ’18 look through copies of their publication, Quips and Cranks, on 4th Union. Photo by Elayna Daniels

Davidson’s yearbook Quips and Cranks is a 123 year-old tradition, dating back to 1895. It takes much hard work to make this book come together, something the editors-in-chief Hayley Atkins ‘18 and Mariah Clarke ‘18 know all too well. The pair has worked together on the yearbook for three years.

Quips and Cranks has changed tremendously since its first issue, but “its primary purpose remained the same: to be a souvenir of a loved college experience”.  For example, today “there’s not as much copy, it’s more of a visual thing,” Atkins said.  However, older editions of the book, even up until the late 1990s, include more print.   

The books have also changed on the exterior.  The earliest books were more square in shape, taking on their current form in 1899—except for the 1967 and 1970 editions, which seem to be anomalous.  Older yearbooks also incorporated drawings, but photos later began to largely replace illustrations.   

College Archivist DebbieLee Landi commented, “In 1895, the first year for Quips and Cranks, Davidson students published the Davidson Monthly, but there were few other outlets for students’ work. In the early twentieth-century, yearbooks contained histories, stories by and about individual students, and even original artwork.  Archivists as well as researchers and family members have found these resources invaluable.”

When Atkins and Clarke were first-years, a senior reached out to the pair for help finishing that year’s book. Since then, “it’s only been [Clarke] and I,” Atkins said. Before diving into the commitment of making the yearbook, the two had not met. Both had contributed to their high school yearbooks and “work really well together,” according to Atkins.   

As they soon discovered their first year, making the yearbook is a laborious task. Atkins and Clarke started by making numerous connections which were not left to them. These connections include the school photographer, Patterson Court Council organizations, the sports information office, and the Union Board. They also contact new campus organizations to make sure the yearbook is representative of the student body.

The process of creating the book begins the year prior when Atkins and Clarke decide on a cover. Next, they reassess the ladder, which is the order the pages are in, and adjust it as needed.  Then, and most importantly, they gather photographs.

“Honestly, the compilation of everything has to deal with a lot of communication,” Atkins said.  They contact fraternities, eating houses, and the school photographer twice a year to ensure they get a good mix of photos from the fall and spring events. They also have access to a Dropbox where photos of sports events are uploaded as they happen.

Throughout the process, the two meet with the representative from Jostens, the yearbook company, at least three times. “We’re in constant contact with her via email,” said Atkins.  She and Clarke do not meet face to face often as the yearbook is made with online templates.

When asked about the future of Quips and Cranks, Atkins responded, “I’ve been asked that a lot.” While she thinks the organization would function well as a larger group, Atkins said, “I don’t know that I see it growing, but I definitely think as long as people value that book on their shelves, I think it will at least remain consistent.”

Despite the minimal involvement in Quips and Cranks, she does not worry about losing the book “as long as the ATC still sees the value in it.” Each year, the organization meets with the Activity Tax Council to negotiate the budget. “We don’t have to fight too much for it,” Atkins said.  However, this year, first years will not receive their books for free like they have in previous years along with seniors.

“They ask the same question,” Atkins said of the ATC. “Like if we see a future in it.”  To Atkins, the answer is clear. “I do, but I hope that that sentiment is not just mine,” she said.  She recognized, “I seem to value yearbook more than a lot of others do.”

Clarke, too, feels that they “often come across the struggle of trying to articulate the importance of the yearbook and making sure it’s something that stays alive.” She continued, “Many don’t really see the value in it until it’s their senior year, they become an alum, or their parents start asking for it.”    

Despite what is, in Atkins’s words, a “big what if” of the future of Quips and Cranks, as of now the organization has two sophomore successors, Haley Fullerton and Emily Bassett. Atkins and Clarke have been trying to increase participation in Quips and Cranks since they started. “We’ve been at every activity fair,” Atkins said.  They usually get about ten sign-ups each year, but “it’s hard for people to carry through.” She said, “it involves almost having to shift your responsibility.”

Atkins and Clarke want to make the job easier for the sophomores than it was for them.  “We’re just going to pass on the connections that we worked hard to make,” said Atkins.

As they are about to graduate, Atkins and Clarke have reflected on their contributions to the yearbook and the legacy they hope to leave. “I definitely think our legacy was to make it re-known that we have a yearbook, and I think it has worked,” Atkins said. She thought about the overall awareness of the yearbook her first year, saying, “I had a lot of people question me like ‘Wait, we have a yearbook?’”  She does not “ever get that question anymore.”

Clarke has similarly “enjoyed having the opportunity to capture Davidson’s annual moments.”

Running Quips and Cranks has come with its share of struggles for Atkins and Clarke, but they have enjoyed working on the publication nonetheless. Atkins feels that the book looks “much better than it looked our freshman year coming in.”  She continued, “I think the fact that we both are striving to make it something we’re proud of is really what has contributed to its success in our eyes.”

[4] https://davidson.lyrasistechnology.org/islandora/object/davidson%3A1301?page=5