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From the Archives - Homecoming

Wednesday, October 2, 2013  
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As Homecoming 2013 approaches and the Fall season is upon us, I would like highlight the University’s Homecoming traditions. These traditions have contributed to the University’s culture and history.

Homecoming started in the Fall of 1921. They played against Des Moines University and lost 7-0.

Here are other fun facts about the Homecoming:

-A former homecoming tradition was a bonfire. In the past, UD students took wood from the firewood stash at Loras College, and Loras did the same to UD. For this reason, "freshies” at UD were tasked with watching UD’s wood pile. Safety concerns have prevented the use of bonfires in recent years.

-In 1939, the first homecoming queen was selected at UD. At the time, she was known as the "football sweetheart” and in the earliest years was chosen by the football team or the "D” Club.

-A Homecoming parade took place in downtown Dubuque from the late 1930s

– 1957. Greek organizations designed floats, which were judged. Winners were announced at a Homecoming banquet.

-According to the 1931 Key, each class/grade level in years past was in charge of decorating a different area of campus for Homecoming. The administration would award the "winning” class a silver loving cup. The 1930 Homecoming winners were the Juniors for their decoration of the gymnasium.

-According to the 1938 Key, the 1936 Homecoming game was held at the Dubuque Municipal Athletic Field.

-The Spartans tied the Luther College team with a score of 6-6 at the 1935 Homecoming game.

-According to the 1961 yearbook, the Homecoming Queen traditionally gave the first slice of Homecoming cake to the football coach at the Homecoming dance.

-According to the 1961 yearbook, fall house cleaning of student rooms traditionally occurred around Homecoming time.

-2001 Homecoming week events included a Twinkie eating contest.

-2007 Homecoming week events included a pumpkin carving contest, a fireworks display, and a trip to Crystal Lake Caves.If you are attending the Homecoming festivities this year, please look at the Straatmeyer History Display at the Heritage Center. This is a wonderful display that highlights the university’s history.

If you have any additional questions or like to share your favorite Homecoming story or tradition, please feel free to contact me or Meghann Toohey, Archives Assistant, at

Jonathan Helmke
University Archivist

A special "Thank-You” to Meghann Toohey, Archives Assistant, who contributed all of the "Fun Facts” and photographs about Homecoming.

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