History of Eastern’s homecoming queens

Elizabeth Taylor, Associate News Editor

Homecoming has been a rich tradition on Eastern’s campus since 1915, just 20 years after the school was founded.

The first issue of the Normal School News, a precursor to The Daily Eastern News, was published on the first day of that Homecoming.

In the earlier years, there was no Homecoming Court; there was only a Queen and her “maids of honor” or attendants.

In 1930, the Teachers College News, which followed the Normal School News but still preceded the DEN, reported on Homecoming in the first issue which is in online archives

At that time, the newspaper was actually running the competition for Queen, but the qualifications were a bit different than the ideals that similar events promote now.

“Who is the most popular girl in school? Who should reign over the campus during the Homecoming festivities this year? The News is sponsoring a contest to select this person,” the announcement reads.

The rules had a lot of adjustments through the years, like deciding if women had to be upperclassmen to be Queen or if freshman were even allowed to vote.

For quite a while, candidates did not have to be put forward by an organization. Any woman could be nominated, as long as she was an upperclassman.

Organizations still got involved in coronation events, though, like in 1934 when Sigma Delta provided the parade float for the Queen and her court.

The paper followed some Queens after their graduations, sharing anecdotes that the reporters learned about somehow.

In 1935, the Teachers College News shared a story about Katherine Hall, who was Homecoming Queen in 1934 and then began her teaching career immediately after graduation.

“A deluge preceded the first day of school, leaving the country roads in a muddy and somewhat precarious state,” the column says. “Four times Miss Hall started to drive to her school. Four times she got stranded and had to be towed out. Despairing of reaching her school by motor, she got out, doffed hose and slippers and negotiated the last half mile afoot.”

Some controversy surrounding Homecoming “elections” came up later on, like in 1971, when some candidates’ signs were getting taken down.

Notably, a cloth banner for Julie Taylor was hit by a triple-decker bus and carried away.

“Sources indicate that the banner may be anywhere between Charleston and Chicago since the bus was traveling to Chicago,” the Eastern News reported.

Two years later, the Homecoming football game came close to being cancelled as Black football players called for a boycott in support of a candidate for Queen.

Diana Williams, a Black student, had the majority vote before a third of the votes were removed due to an alleged election violation; due to the controversy, there was no Homecoming Queen in 1973.

 

Elizabeth Taylor can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]