Past St. Patrick’s Day Celebrations! #TBT

In 1922, Iowa State College (University) combined their St. Patrick’s Day Celebration, along with other spring celebrations into VEISHEA. But before then, St. Patrick Day was celebrated on its own. In the 1894 Bomb (pictured below) St. Patrick’s Day was described as:


1894 Bomb p. 146


“Now on the 17th day of this season it did happen that there fell a certain church day, none other than St. Patrick’s Day. And this day was made green in the sight of man for each did enhance his own greenishness with yet more color, and on the eve of the same day did several and many of the students get themselves to the opera and there did laugh and sing and the sound of tinkling symbols was in the ear. Egad.”


How many people think of St. Patrick’s Day as a “church day” today I wonder? Time (magazine) posted an online article yesterday on the history of St. Patrick’s Day and the March 17 celebration was originally established as a feast day honoring St. Patrick in 1631.

In 1920, St. Patrick’s Day at Iowa State College (University) was celebrated on March 25 and on that day

“…began the greatest celebration in the history of our college, for on that night the engineers threw open their doors to welcome the college, in the great open house which marked the beginning of the St. Patrick’s day celebration which was to create history on the campus of Iowa State College. After an evening of good fellowship and entertainment for the visitors wherein they were shown the manner in which the engineers live and go about their work, guests and hosts retired to their couches to dream of the greater things which were to take place on the morrow.”

You can read more about that celebration in the 1921 Bomb pages below.

1921 Bomb pp. 60-61

1921 Bomb pp. 60-61

Drop by the reading room and peruse the entire run of the Bomb! We’re open Monday – Friday 10 am – 4 pm. Or browse selected issues online!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

St. Patrick’s Day at ISU 100 Years Ago

One hundred years ago today, the engineering students celebrated their first organized St. Patrick’s Day here at Iowa State College (now University).  Why were the engineers celebrating St. Patrick’s Day?  Not because ISU engineering students were all Irish, but because St. Patrick is the patron saint of engineers.  In addition, as the Iowa Engineer (call number TA1 Io9) of April 1910 explains, the Civil Engineering Society had been concerned about the safety of the money in their coffers, so they decided to spend it on a St. Patrick’s Day celebration. The 1910 festivities included a parade which stopped at Central Hall on campus and in the “village” of Ames, a ball game, roller skating, and finally a banquet late in the evening.  The engineers continued to celebrate their patron saint’s holiday on March 17 through 1921, when the separate spring festivals of Iowa State College’s Divisions were combined into VEISHEA in 1922.

“All for the Sake of St. Patrick” from the 1911 yearbook the Bomb

The information the University Archives has on the St. Patrick’s Day celebration mainly comes from written descriptions in publications such as the Iowa Engineer, the Alumnus, and Iowa State’s yearbook the Bomb.  Photocopies of these articles have been pulled together into a subject file under RS 22/7/0/1.  We also have photographs of the March 17 celebrations, as well as the traditions of the Division of Engineering’s St. Patrick’s Day celebrations which continued into VEISHEA, in our University Photograph Collection.  In addition, the Special Collections Department has an online exhibit on VEISHEA, including a brief history, with images, of the St. Patrick’s Day celebration.

Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona Daoibh (Happy St. Patrick’s Day – to all)!