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Hammer and Coffin National Honorary Society, Chaparral Chapter, Records
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Collection Details
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  • Custodial History note
  • Information about Access
  • Ownership & Copyright
  • Cite As
  • Associated Materials
  • Chronology

  • Language of Material: Undetermined
    Contributing Institution: Department of Special Collections and University Archives
    Title: Hammer and Coffin National Honorary Society, Chaparral Chapter, records
    creator: Hammer and Coffin National Honorary Society
    creator: Hammer and Coffin National Honorary Society. Chaparral Chapter
    Identifier/Call Number: SC0228
    Physical Description: 11 Linear Feet
    Date (inclusive): 1906-1987

    Custodial History note

    Administrative transfer, Hammer and Coffin Society, 1980; Gift of Tristan Navarro, 2016.

    Information about Access

    The materials are open for research use.

    Ownership & Copyright

    Property rights reside with the repository. Literary rights reside with the creators of the documents or their heirs. To obtain permission to publish or reproduce, please contact the Public Services Librarian of the Dept. of Special Collections and University Archives.

    Cite As

    Hammer and Coffin National Honorary Society, Chaparral Chapter, Records (SC0228). Department of Special Collections and University Archives, Stanford University Libraries, Stanford, Calif.

    Associated Materials

    Original issues of the Chaparral from the first publication on October 5, 1899 to the present are housed separately in the Stanford University Archives. Issues are both bound and unbound. Articles in Stanford publications relating the history of the Society can also be found in the archives.


    Missing Title

    1899, October 5th. Chaparral
    1905. Delmar Reynolds, editor of the Chaparral and president of the Press Club, has the idea to form a society to be known as the Hammer and Coffin Society. He purchases a sledge hammer in San Francisco which he has silver plated. A ring is carved in the handle and the names of the Chaparral staff are engraved. A tradition is born.
    1906, April 17th. The Society is officially organized on the eve of the great San Francisco Earthquake by Morris Oppenheim and the staff of the Chaparral. The purpose of the society is to embody the eternal spirit of "the Farm's" literary and artistic talents and to record the wit and humor of the campus. The motto of the society, "we outta sock'em with a hammer, toss'em in a coffin and seal'em away," predicts hard times ahead for students at the University of California at Berkeley.
    1918, April. The Chappie goes overseas as Le Chaparral with a blue background cover featuring the "Old Boy" with hammer over shoulder wandering through the trenches. Le Chaparral was delivered to the Stanford soldiers at the front.
    1914-1918. The Hammer and Coffin Society goes national. The society creates a national collegiate humor organization. Twenty-five chapters in the United States and Canada are begun with names such as the Cal Pelican, the Arizona Kitty Kat, the Northwestern Purple Parrot and the Duke Duke n' Duchess.
    1930. Chaparral editor Barney Gould and Ram's Head (the student drama group) President Paul Speegle organize "Theatre Fund Follies" a gaietes-review to raise money for the Memorial Auditorium. $5000 is contributed, part of which came from the review.
    1935. Chaparral published a special "Celebrities Issue," collecting material such as a drawing from Walt Disney, an insulting article from Robert Benchley, a sweet letter from Shirley Temple, and a formal reply from Mrs. Roosevelt's secretary explaining why she couldn't contribute.
    1935-1940. The "Now That" club composed of Chaparral and Pelican alumni is organized by Stanford alumnus Milt Hagen. The most memorable meeting is addressed by Somerset Maugham who is made an honorary member. World War II terminates the club's activities.
    1941, October 2. The Hammer and Coffin Society's 35th Anniversary is celebrated by current members and alumni at the San Francisco Press Club.
    1943, Feb. The Chaparral Staff contact alumni family about delivery of the special "Serviceman's Issue." "...to a Stanford man in the service, this Chaparral will be mighty welcome...like meeting an old roommate or fraternity brother...be sure and send this copy to him today..."
    1943, Spring. The Chaparral magazine is suspended and the charter for the Hammer and Coffin Society is revoked for business malpractice on the part of a staff member and an alumnus. The society, the charter, and the magazine are restored the following autumn.
    1951, May. The Chaparral is again suspended for one issue, the "Purple Ape Crash Comics," for its similarities to Playboy Magazine. The University requires that the staff submit a list of conduct rules for determining good taste in editorial matters for approval before permission to publish again is granted.
    1954, October. Chaparral editor Tom Timberlake contacts Hammer and Coffin Trust Fund Member, Northcutt Ely, about funds available for construction of a Chaparral Building.
    1955, May. The Arizona Kitty Kat contacts the Chaparral about reactivating the Hammer and Coffin Society national organization established in 1914.
    1958, April 30. The Chaparral spoof's Sports Illustrated with their version of the national magazine Sports Frustrated.
    1961, May. The Chaparral and editor Brad Efron are suspended for the rest of the academic year for the Chaparral's Playboy parodie "Layboy" (Brad Efron later returns to campus Professor of Statistics and wins the MacArthur Award).
    1966, April. The 60th Anniversary of the Hammer and Coffin Society is celebrated at the Leopard Cafe in San Francisco by current members and alumni.
    1967, December. The Chaparral format reflecting changing interests of the student body. Additions to the magazine include articles featuring political and social issues, interviews, political cartoons, poetry, and film reviews.
    1968, September. The Chaparral special election issue includes an article describing the Chicago Democratic Convention and the anti-Vietnam War protests held during the summer and an interview with Black Panther Eldridge Cleaver. This is the last Chaparral to print the copyright statement "published for and officially acknowledged as the humor magazine for the Associated Students of Stanford University."
    1970, March. Michael Sweeney, editor of Chaparral and president of the Hammer and Coffin Society, tells an audience in Dinkelspiel Auditorium, "we'll never be able to drive ROTC from the campus if we just sit and talk about it. We have exhausted the normal procedures. You can't have an ROTC program if you don't have an ROTC building."
    1971, September. The Chaparral breaks tradition as Tina Swent becomes the first woman editor and the monthly magazine becomes a weekly newspaper.
    1973, September. The traditional Chaparral returns with an advertisement stating "the Old Boy is back. The satirical scourge of the Stanford scene is rising from the dead."
    1976, April. The 70th Anniversary of the Hammer and Coffin Society is celebrated once again at the Leopard Cafe in San Francisco. Alumni and current members attend as new members are initiated.
    1978, April. Leslie Mintz becomes the first woman to be initiated into the Hammer & Coffin Society. The initiation results in a schism among alumni, some of whom feel the organization should remain fraternal.
    1980, May. Seven members of the Hammer & Coffin Society plant a fake photograph of themselves holding bowling balls and trophies on the front page of the Stanford Daily. The caption under the photo reads "Tragedy Strikes Bowling Team...None Spared." The hoax results in outcry from the Stanford Community.
    1981, April. More than 115 Chaparral alumni attend the Hammer & coffin 75th Anniversary Reunion at the San Francisco Press Club.
    1982, October. The Chaparral reacts to the bankruptcy of the campus concert program by bringing the Grateful Dead to Stanford. The two sold-out shows in Frost Amphitheater result in the birth of a new concert program (The Concert Network) and in an annual tradition of Grateful Dead concerts.
    1985, April. A slate of four members of the Hammer & Coffin Society is elected to the ASSU Council of Presidents. Three of the four Presidents, Michael Collins, Leslie Leland, and Tim Quirk, donate their entire salaries to the establishment of the Bristow Adams Trust, an endowment for the Chaparral magazine.
    1987, March. The Stanford Chaparral collaborates with the Harvard Lampoon to release an 80-page joint issue on both coasts. It is the first collaboration of the country's two oldest humor magazines.


    Hammer and Coffin Society Records, 1906-1987, document the development of the society from a humor society to a national student organization. The materials are arranged in nine series by type of document and include correspondence, minutes, reports, records, scrapbooks, photographs, and prints. The majority of the collection concerns the period between 1944 and 1965. Whenever possible the collection was arranged according to the order in which it arrived.
    The correspondence includes business and personal letters which are arranged by in-coming and out-going sub-series. The reports include documents from the auditor, the business manager, the circulation manager, and the editor. These are separated by type and arranged chronologically. There are also financial records including bank and budget statements which are arranged chronologically. The business records include statements of copyright and drafts of the society constitution. The scrapbooks contain the society's minutes (c. 1940-1960), newspaper clippings and correspondence of importance. The photographs describe staff and alumni and are arranged chronologically. The miscellaneous papers include materials from anniversary banquets, plays, programs, scripts, and sketches.
    The collection provides an excellent view into the workings of a student magazine. Issues concerning copyright, distribution, production cost, and accountability to the administration of the university are documented. The materials also reflect the student body as their attitudes and concerns change over time.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    College wit and humor.
    The Chaparral.
    College student newspapers and periodicals -- California.
    Hammer and Coffin National Honorary Society
    Pfeifer, Jules.
    Hammer and Coffin National Honorary Society. Chaparral Chapter
    Hammer and Coffin National Honorary Society
    Steinhem, Gloria.