A History of the UCLA Daily Bruin, 1919-1955
by George Garrigues
Printed edition © 1970, 1997
Internet Edition © 2000, 2001
All rights reserved, but you are welcome to download electronic copies, send e-copies to your friends or make printouts for yourself.
Go to the Front of the Book
Preface, Contents, List of Editors, Bibliography and Index
THE PREDECESSOR (1864-1920)
In one way, the Daily Bruin can be traced back in time to 1864 -- Civil War days -- but only a romantic would try to make an organic connection. Yet . . . let's give a bow to romanticism and note that the forerunner of UCLA was actually the State Normal School at San Francisco, founded in 1862, and an early account mentions a school newspaper being published on that campus in 1864-65 (Johnson, 1948, p. 114).
This paper and subsequent ones -- if there were any -- died out with the passage of time, and it was not until 1911 that the newspaper that later gave place to the Daily Bruin was founded.
The State Normal School -- an anglicized rendering of the French ecole normale, a teacher-training school -- was moved to San Jose in 1870 (where it later gave rise to San Jose State College) and, in 1882, successful Southern California pressure brought about the opening of a branch in Los Angeles at Fifth and Olive Streets -- the present site of the Los Angeles Central Library.
Five years later, the institution became independent. In 1914 the Los Angeles State Normal School moved to a new campus on Vermont Avenue. That campus became the home for the Southern Branch of the University of California in 1919 and is now the site of Los Angeles Community College.
In 1911 -- when still at Fifth and Olive -- the campus felt the need for a school newspaper.
We know this because sixteen years later, in April 1927, upon the occasion of the Daily Bruin's receiving a "distinguished" rating in a National College Press Publication Contest, Bruin reporter Albert Shershow looked back to the beginnings of the Normal Outlook in a four-part series. Here's part of what he said:
It was at a time when William Forbes, present editor of the Daily Bruin, was still in his cradle, or perhaps just getting out of it, that the story first began.
It was in 1911. The University of California at Los Angeles had not yet come into existence; its very site [on Vermont Avenue] was perhaps a waste expanse of grass; its predecessor, the Los Angeles State Normal School was a little college -- a very small one indeed. [In 1911 enrollment was 1,074; in 1927 it was 6,723.]
It was then that the Normal Outlook, the father of the California Cub [sic], the grandfather of the Daily Grizzly, and the great-grandfather of the Daily Bruin, came into existence.
Great enthusiasm was shown . . . when . . . the paper first appeared. It had been a long-felt need; it made the students quite proud and elated about their college. We quote from the preface to this paper:
"'THE NORMAL SCHOOL OUTLOOK'! That looks good; it sounds good; it is good.
"An 'Outlook' has been a long-felt want of the Normal School . . . With eagerness, then, the Faculty of the Normal School has awaited through the years the establishment of an outlook whose watchful scrutiny will not permit any matter of importance to pass unnoticed and whose shrewd interpretation of affairs, past, current and future, will be both instructive and interesting . . .
"What the inauguration of such an enterprise as a school periodical, planned by students, managed by students, edited by students, ultimately may mean for the Alma Mater, it is impossible to foresee.
"The Normal School Outlook! Semper vivat, crescat, floreat!"
Twenty three [sic] pages, of the size of an ordinary magazine, containing one short story, a few club notices, a few class notes, a few exchange jokes, two editorials, eleven small advertisements -- such was the first issue of the Normal Outlook. Clarence Hodges was editor, and there was a staff of 15 students, 14 of whom were girls. [Not surprising. The student body in 1911 totaled 1,037 women and only 37 men.]
. . . We can imagine the difficulties which lay before the inexperienced staff: to get the news, to edit it, to make up the paper, to secure advertisements they had their hands full. But somehow or other the embryo journalists must have pulled through, for the next issue of the Outlook which we have been able to locate that of March 3, 1911, shows signs of improvement.
[These and most other issues mentioned by Shershow in his series had disappeared from the UCLA Library by 1969. Only the bound volumes for 1915-16 and 1916-17 remained. I examined the volume for 1917-18 in the ASUCLA Publications Office.]
Shershow next tells of the Normal Outlook's plea for a staff to help edit the paper a plea that was to be repeated many times during the history of the Daily Bruin. He cites this story from the March 31, 1911, issue:
There is an erroneous idea prevalent in most schools, that the staff of a school paper is some kind of a grinding machine in which it is only necessary to press a button, and presto! material appears . . .
Candidly, the management is disgusted. The students . . . undertook this enterprise. Apparently all feeling of responsibility has fled. The Outlook staff is held responsible for the paper -- and is then criticized by the students who have failed to meet the obligation they have imposed upon themselves . . .
By 1913, the paper had become more magazine-like, so much so that Shershow noted:
. . . it was rather hard to find a news item . . . However, as if to make up for this, there were more jokes in the paper -- some of them quite good. For example
Before History X
Lord God of Hosts be with us yet
After History X was over:
Lord God of Hosts was with us not
For we forgot, for we forgot.
Shershow found a sole copy of the Outlook for March 1915, in which there was printed an article entitled "evilushun of an Outlook, written by the Office Boy." It was illustrated with photographs of the staff, of corrected galley proofs and of the dummy editors. The schedule of work was:
Monday and Tuesday the reporters would go out on their beats and "search" for news. Sometime they received special assignments.
Tuesday morning the reporters would be excused from assembly to write copy. In the afternoon they would go at it again. At this time also, the editor corrected copy:
"De boss sits at her desk wid a blue pencil behind each ear and marks up de copy wich she reads wid her left hand. Sometimes dey is copy when she begins but dey ain't when she quits."
Then the copy was given to head writers. But, as it became dark around this time, and there were no lights in the office, they would move to the faculty room. When everything was corrected, the night watchman would come and light the staff's way to the print shop. [Located, in 1917 at least, at the Standard Printing Co., the same firm that later printed The Cub Californian. ]
By 1915-16, the paper was a five-column tabloid, printed on glossy paper which faded not at all through the years. On Nov. 5, 1915, it headlined the news that "Thomas A. Edison Pays Flying Visit to Normal." And it was sold as a bound volume at the end of the year as a school keepsake. It had a letters column entitled "What Mary Thinks." The staff was allowed college credit for working on the paper -- "a maximum of 3 units for one term, 5 in all" (NO, 6/16/16). [Only in 1952 did UCLA begin to offer academic credit for journalism in a non-summer session.]
Nothing can more clearly illustrate the difference in attitude of the women (and the few men) at the Los Angeles State Normal School and the college students of later years than this editorial:
Has anyone stopped to think why dancing is allowed at all in school? It is not allowed in most high schools. It is allowed at very few college affairs. Why do the authorities in Normal School kindly allow us to continue in this privilege when it is opposed by so many?
. . . Let us remember that the people of this school (i.e. the faculty) give us many things which they are in no way obligated to give. One of these is the privilege of using the club rooms for dancing. Let us be grateful and make the most of this privilege, which is also an opportunity. (NO, 6/15/17.)
Clyde S. Johnson, who wrote a history of the ASUCLA in 1948 as his doctoral dissertation, reports that the Normal Outlook suspended publication during 1918-19 because of an influenza epidemic ravaging the city, forcing closure of public schools from mid-October to January. [But the Normal School did succeed in graduating a class in December 1918. (BOT, 7/10/19)]
There is strong indication, however, that the Normal Outlook was published during at least part of that year, even though no copy of it survives, especially when it is remembered that work on the Outlook carried academic credit. The second issue of the Cub Californian (CC, 10/3/19), after all, did feature a cartoon in which the old Normal Outlook was shown buried beneath a tombstone reading
"Taken From Life 1919."
undertook the task of changing the spirit of the paper . . . In the Normal School, the "Outlook" was more like a bulletin than a newspaper, but when the college atmosphere began to pervade this institution, a real newspaper was needed. (CC, 1/16/20.)
It is to this "real newspaper" that we next turn.
Go to the Next Chapter
Beginnings and Early Growth (1919-1924)