Students at the University of Sydney

Commem Days in the 1920s

On this webpage:


Briefly

New arrangements for the Students' Festival (also referred to as Commem) were introduced in the 1920s:
– the procession now went from the Domain through the city to the University, followed by a festival at the University in the afternoon (1921)
– the Proctorial Committee laid it down that no men in the procession were to appear in women's clothing - however, this does not appear to have been implemented (1921)
– the procession began to be censored (1922)
– Festival Day became Festival Week (1923)
– the new President of the Undergraduates Association, James Gosper, announced that the Festival would be organised and controlled by a committee which would be representative of all phases of University life, consisting of members of University staff, Undergraduates Association, women undergraduates, evening students and the senior students of every college (1929)

By the mid-1920s, the "battle" between the engineering students ("greasers") and the medical students ("butchers") had become an regular part of the Festival.

However, the students were not allowed to have a procession at all in 1925, and from 1926 were only allowed to process within the University grounds. In 1929, while Senate had granted permission for the first city procession since 1923, it and the Festival were cancelled following allegations that students had desecrated the Cenotaph in Martin Place.

Gallery

1920

Festival Day, Saturday 19 May 1920:
– The students' procession through the city was watched by many thousands of people but complaints were made about the throwing of flour and putrid, fish, dead cats and kittens, the squirting of water at and the lassooing of people along the route of the procession, and bad conduct in hotels. The entertainment in the Town Hall which followed was mostly lost in pandemonium, with more throwing of flour and alleged damage to the organ, a piano and a number of chairs. Apologies were made to the Lord Mayor and the Governor, and three students were suspended by the Professorial Board.

1920

The students' procession down Bridge Street, photo G3/224/0724, University of Sydney Archives.

1920

As usual there was much that was humorous and ingenious, but also as usual 'a few of the tableaux were in very questionable taste, and some of the placards, intended to be funny, were inexcusably vulgar' (The Sydney Mail, 14 May 1920), photo G3_224_0843, University of Sydney Archives.

1920

Satire on the bricklayers' demand for a 44-hour week, photo, Sunday Times, 16 May 1920, National Library of Australia.

1920

One of the lorries with a political significance. Mr D R Hall and Mr Daniel Levy MLA come in for satire, photo, Sunday Times, 16 May 1920, National Library of Australia.

1920

The Prince of Wales, who was on a visit to Australia, was represented in a variety of forms in the procession. This one was by Engineering students, photo from The Sydney Mail, 19 May 1920, Google News Archive.

1920

Another Engineering students' float in the procession, photo from The Sydney Mail, 19 May 1920, Google News Archive.

1920

The Law School tableau, photo G3_224_2683, University of Sydney Archives.

1920

A 'Hospitals overcrowded' tableau, photo G3_224_1586, University of Sydney Archives.

1920

Skit on a Sydney Hospital nurse being attacked by 'Weary Willie' in the Domain on her way to the proposed new nurses' quarters in Wooloomooloo, photo, Sunday Times, 16 May 1920, National Library of Australia.

1920

Another 1920 float, photo G3_224_0965, University of Sydney Archives.

1921

Festival Day, Friday 20 May 1921:
– The students were allowed to hold a procession but with supervision by the Undergraduates' Association and with new arrangements. Instead of starting at the University and ending at the Town Hall, it began at the Domain at noon and proceeded through the city to the University and was orderly throughout. A festival was then held at the University, beginning with a parade along the terrace in front of the Quadrangle which the Governor-General viewed from a stand. Then there was the usual Song Festival in the Quadrangle in which at least 5,000 visitors and undergraduates were assembled. All buildings were open to visitors, there were dances and a mock trial and lectures, the students' commemoration ceremony and presentation of 'blues' in the Great Hall, the Metropolitan Band playing in the Quadrangle and a sports program, including the Athletic Club championship and a tennis tournament, held on the Oval. There were also chocolate wheels and side-shows during the afternoon to held raise funds for the Blind Institution's appeal.

1921

'The street procession, which illustrated in more or less humorous fashion some of the topics of the day, and was free of the objectionable features of last year, was witnessed by an immense crowd. The leading tableau alludes to the time taken in the construction of the cruiser Adelaide at Cockatoo Island.' The next was a reference to the new North Shore rail carriages, photo from The Sydney Mail, 25 May 1921, Google News Archive.

1921

The skit on Cockatoo Island, photo, The Australasian, 28 May 1921, National Library of Australia.

1921

The procession passing through Hunter Street in the city, photo, The Australasian, 28 May 1921, National Library of Australia.

1921

'The students did not forget to illustrate their own delinquencies', photo from The Sydney Mail, 25 May 1921, Google News Archive.

1921

'That the students have not forgotten their alleged wrecking of the Sydney Town Hall (in 1920) is shown here', photo, The Australasian, 28 May 1921, National Library of Australia.

1921

A skit on the Lord Mayor, photo, The Australasian, 28 May 1921, National Library of Australia.

1921

The Guyra 'Ghost' and all the actors in the 'Poltergeist' drama were included in the procession, photo from The Sydney Mail, 25 May 1921, Google News Archive.

1921

Tableau representng the Jews returning to Palestine, photo, The Australasian, 28 May 1921, National Library of Australia.

1921

Undergrads burlesquing the Maori footballers, photo, Referee, 25 May 1921, National Library of Australia.

1920

"Among the many amusing skits prepared by the undergraduates for today's city display was one dealing with cricket. The 'tableau' was designed to show 'John Bull' vanquished by the Australians, photo, Evening News, 20 May 1921, National Library of Australia.

1921

The Governor-General opening the Students' Festival carnival in the University grounds. From left: Lady Forster, Lord Forster, Mr W Freeborn, President of the Undergraduates' Association. Behind them are Lady Cullen, Sir William Cullen and Miss A Ferguson, and on the steps, Captain Traill DSO and Mr H E Barff, University Registrar, photo, The Australasian, 28 May 1921, National Library of Australia.

1921

Another view of the opening of the carnival, photo from The Sydney Mail, 25 May 1921, Google News Archive.

1921

The Chancellor the Hon Sir William Portus Cullen KCMG (seated, centre) watching Students' Festival activities at the University following the procession, photo from 'Hermes', University of Sydney Archives.

1921

Five thousand visitors and undergraduates assembled in the Quadrangle to hear the commemoration speeches, which were punctuated with cheers, comment and laughter, photo from The Sydney Mail, 25 May 1921, Google News Archive.

1921

Women students watching the proceedings, photo, The Australasian, 28 May 1921, National Library of Australia.

1922

Festival Day, Friday 19 May 1922:
– Commemoration Day: Thursday 18 May
– Friday 19 May: For the students' procession through the city, 45 lorries assembled in front of the Medical School and, after receiving their official number, proceeded to the Domain. The procession through the city moved off at noon. On arrival at the University, the procession was inspected by the Governor and the Lord Mayor. The Governor as judge awarded the prize for the best turnout to the second year engineers for their burlesque 'The Sam-Owen Millionaire'. At 2.15pm there was an assembly in the Quadrangle, with addresses, students' songs and a mock trial by the Law students. At 3.45pm the students' commemoration ceremony was held in the Great Hall followed by a farce by the students. In the evening there was dancing and a program by the Cheerio Girls.

1922

The program for the 1922 Commemoration Day ceremony and the Students' Festival, University of Sydney Archives.

1922

Undergrads giving a song recital for the benefit of an "Evening News" cameraman on 11 May 1922, photo, Evening News, Thursday 11 May 1922, National Library of Australia.

1922

The Undergraduates' Association representatives made up the Commem Committee, which organised the festivities, photo from Sydney Morning Herald, 18 May 1922, National Library of Australia.

1922

Running Commem for the undergraduates: from left, J Flynn (president), J Garner and W Freeborn (vice-presidents), W Matheson (conductor) and K Barry (pianist), photo, Evening News, 11 May 1922, National Library of Australia.

1922

'Dressing the bride', photo, The Sydney Mail, 24 May 1922, Google News Archive.

1922

'Making up', photo, The Sydney Mail, 24 May 1922, Google News Archive.

1922

Studies in makeup, photo from 'The Capricornian', 2 June 1922, National Library of Australia.

1922

The procession in Macquarie Street as it moved through the city to the University, photo, The Australasian, 27 May 1922, National Library of Australia.

1922

The State 'Squawkestra' float, from which emanated an orgy of weird noises under the baton (a saveloy) of a conductor with a wild growth of hair, photo from The Sydney Mail, 24 May 1922, Google News Archive.

'Canberra grows' float
Canberra grows' float satirising the construction of the national capital, photo,
Evening News, 19 May 1922, National Library of Australia.
The Sydney Mail, 24 May, described the float: "This was one of the outstanding
 features of the 'Commem' procession. A trolley bore cranes, imitation brickwork,
 foundation-stones, and a shanty of wooden cases, with a roofing of kerosene-tin,
 to illustrate Federal Parliament House. 'Canberra Grows' ran one poster;
'Speeding Up Work'. A foundation stone bore this inscription: 'This stone was laid by
Billy 'Use' '. 'Sh! Don't Wake the Workmen!' was another sign. The university
at Canberra was thus pictured: 'Lectures will be held under shady trees.
Mercenary faculties will be unknown, and degrees will be given for sport' -
MA, for example, for Master of Angling, and so on."


1922

A float in the students' procession, photo, Mitchell Library, State Library of NSW, Digital order number: bcp_02428, and reference in The Richmond River Express and Casino Kyogle Advertiser, 31 May 1922.

1922

This float satirised beauty competitions, photo, Evening News, 19 May 1922, National Library of Australia.

1922

A skit on the Commonwealth Steamer Service: the union domination of the Government steamers was satirised in the form of a trolley representing a vessel, and the crew, usurping the function sof the passengers, having a merry time, photo from The Sydney Mail, 24 May 1922, Google News Archive.

1922

A reference to the Mormon Revival, photo, The Sydney Mail, 24 May 1922, Google News Archive.

1922

The Sistine Choir burlesque, photo, The Sydney Mail, 24 May 1922, Google News Archive.

1922

Part of the procession, photo, The Australasian, 27 May 1922, National Library of Australia.

1922

A mounted trooper whose horse is wearing "trousers", photo, The Sydney Mail, 24 May 1922, Google News Archive.

1922

A caveman, photo from The Sydney Mail, 24 May 1922, Google News Archive.

1922

After the procession, the students and their friends assembled in the Quadrangle where entertainment was provided, photo, The Australasian, 27 May 1922, National Library of Australia.

1922

Following the judging of the tableaux and speeches, the Governor Sir Walter Davidson was 'arrested' and charged with ‘having violated the Australian principle of one man one job, as laid down in the Constitution and the rules of golf’. He was sentenced to serve ‘seven days hard’ but was released under the provisions of the ‘Fish and Oyster Leases Act’, photo, The Sydney Mail from 24 May 1922, Google News Archive.

1922

The crowd amused at the mock trial, photo from The Sydney Mail, 24 May 1922, Google News Archive.

1922

Amusement, photo, The Australasian, 27 May 1922, National Library of Australia.

1922

Leading the singing, photo from The Sydney Mail, 24 May 1922, Google News Archive.

1922

The songs contained many witty allusions to uni life and public questions, photo from The Sydney Mail, 24 May 1922, Google News Archive.

1922

The girls graduates and visitors joining in the group singing, photo, The Australasian, 27 May 1922, National Library of Australia.

1922
1922

More photos of group singing, photos, The Sydney Mail, 24 May 1922, Google News Archive.

1923

Festival Week, 14-18 May 1923:
– Monday 14 May: An evening smoke concert was held by the University Scouts.
– Tuesday 15 May: There were a dinner at the University Club and a smoke concert for evening students in the Union Hall.
– Wednesday 16 May: A conversazione in the Great Hall for graduates was given by members of Senate and members of staff individually in honour of Commmemoration.
– Thursday 17 May: 10.30am, the official commemoration of benefactors and conferring of degrees ceremony in the Great Hall; 2pm, a sports program at University Oval, including athletic championships and tennis exhibition matches; 7.45pm, a theatre night at Her Majesty's Theatre.
– Friday 18 May: The students' procession through the city, the last for 13 years, was followed by the Students' Festival in the afternoon.
(SMH, 17 May 1923)

1923

Students leaving after a rehearsal of their Commem songs on 10 May 1923, photo, Evening News, 10 May 1923, National Library of Australia.

1923

Theatre night was held on Thursday 17th at Her Majesty's Theatre. Students invaded the dressing rooms and actors Miss Josie Melville and George Lane assisted in making up two students, photo, The Australasian, 26 May 1923, National Library of Australia. Among various festivities, at the end of act II of "Sally" a deputation of students appeared on the stage and invested Miss Melville with cap and gown.

1923

A comment on Commem Day, Evening News, 14 May 1923, National Library of Australia.

1923

"A little nonsense now and then", sketch, The World's News (Sydney), 26 May 1923, NLA. "The yearly rag of the University students of the various States is timely and wise. If their noses were kept to the grindstone without revelry they would be become a set of goggle-eyed misanthropes. As it is, they let off steam, throw care to the winds and have a jolly good time... Here's a 'cheerio' to the Undergrads, and may their merriment never lessen not their versatility grow less."

1923

The Ku Klux Klan display in the procession on 18 May had the sign 'All murders strictly cash', photo from The Sydney Mail, 23 May 1923, Google News Archive.

1923

Another view of the Ku Klux Klan display, photo, 26 May 1923, National Library of Australia.

1923

The students' idea of the Davis Cup selectors, and some of the prospective players, photo, The Longreach Leader, 8 June 1923, National Library of Australia.

1923

"Is your face worth a trip to America?" and "Fairy feet and film faces"- a take-off on competition for films, photo, 26 May 1923, National Library of Australia.

1923

From above display, photo from The Sydney Mail, 23 May 1923, Google News Archive.

1923

'Three sweet damsels' in the procession, photo from The Capricornian, 9 June 1923, National Library of Australia.

1923

A motley group. Weird and wonderful costumes were worn even by those who did not take part in the special stagings, photo from The Sydney Mail, 23 May 1923, Google News Archive.

1923

The medical students, like students in other faculties, made good use of the Tutenkhamen boom in the procession, photo from The Sydney Mail, 23 May 1923, Google News Archive.

1923

"Toot" and "Tootsie" having their morning ride, photo from The Sydney Mail, 23 May 1923, Google News Archive.

1923

Another Tutankhamen effort, by the Architecture students. The Governor selected the Veterinary and Architectural displays as the best, photo, 26 May 1923, National Library of Australia.

1923

Another view, photo from The Sydney Mail, 23 May 1923, Google News Archive.

1923

A grand opera star. A feature of the procession was the large number of students dressed as females, photo from The Sydney Mail, 23 May 1923, Google News Archive.

1923

"I don't want work! I want a job on the undermanned snailway!" He thinks the men employed on the City Railway works have a soft time, photo from The Sydney Mail, 23 May 1923, Google News Archive.

1923

This group, representing Princess Mary (only daughter of King George V and Queen Mary) and her husband Lord Lascalles and their recently-christened son George, caused a lot of amusement, photo from The Sydney Mail, 23 May 1923, Google News Archive.

1923
1923

Students watching the proceedings following the procession, photos, The Australasian, 26 May 1923, National Library of Australia.

1923

The Governor, Sir William Davidson enjoys the show at the University, photo, The Australasian, 26 May 1923, National Library of Australia.

1923

Following the procession - after addresses by the President of the Undergraduates Association, the Governor and the Chancellor, and a mock trial of the Governor, the undergraduates lustily shouted their songs, photo from The Sydney Mail, 23 May 1923, Google News Archive.

1924

Festival Week: 26 - 30 May 1924:
– Monday 26 May: The week opened with a memorial service for those who had fallen in the great war. In the evening, the evening students held their annual smoke concert in the Union Hall.
– Tuesday 27 May: The annual University Club dinner was held at the club in Castlereagh Street, Sydney.
– Wednesday 28 May: The lnter-varsity athletic championships took place at University Oval.
– Thursday 29 May: 11am, the commemoration of benefactors and conferring of degrees ceremony in the morning, and later the senate and staff conversazione in the Great Hall.
– Friday 30 May: instead of the usual procession, the undergraduates held a gala fete in the Quadrangle with sideshows and stalls, to raise funds for the Carillon War Memorial at the University.
(SMH, 6 May 1924)

1924

The fete, photo from The Sydney Morning Herald, 31 May 1924, National Library of Australia.

1924

The Governor-General, Lord Forster addressing the gathering, which was broadcast over the grounds by means of the Western Electric public speaking apparatus, photo, The Australasian, 7 June 1924, National Library of Australia.

1924

As above, photo from The Sydney Mail, 4 June 1924, Google News Archive.

1924

The scene at the opening of the fete by Lady Forster, photo from The Sydney Mail, 4 June 1924, Google News Archive.

continued

1924

Announcing the events, photo, The Australasian, 7 June 1924, National Library of Australia.

1924

The students singing from the University song book at the fete, photo from The Sydney Mail, 4 June 1924, Google News Archive.

1924

The students' mock trial of Lord Forster, photo from The Sydney Law School Reports newsletter, October 2005.

1924

Around the flower stall, photo from The Sydney Mail, 4 June 1924, Google News Archive.

1924

Lord and Lady Forster at the fruit stall, photo from The Sydney Mail, 4 June 1924, Google News Archive.

1924

Science students selling flowers, photo from The Sydney Mail, 4 June 1924, Google News Archive.

1924

Buying a ticket in a raffle, photo from The Sydney Mail, 4 June 1924, Google News Archive.

1924

Raffling a radiator at the fete, photo from The Sydney Mail, 4 June 1924, Google News Archive.

1925

Festival Week, 25 -29 May 1925:
– Monday 25 May: 11am, a memorial service in the Great Hall and address by Vice-Chancellor Professor McCallum; 5pm, annual Sports Union Ball at Sydney Town Hall.
– Tuesday 26 May: 8pm, the annual evening students' smoke concert at the Union, and graduates reunion dinner at the University Club.
– Wednesday 27 May: 10.30am, conferring of degrees ceremony in the Great Hall; annual track and field championships of Athletics Club; Senate coversazione in the Great Hall where Senate entertained the graduates from 1911-1920.
– Thursday 28 May: 8pm, undergraduates entertained their parents and friends at a theatrical performance at Her Majesty's Theatre.
– Friday 29 May: Senate did not grant the Undergraduates' Association permission to hold a procession. However, an undergraduate rally was held at the Town Hall in which an address was given and students sangs their songs, the organist gave a recital on the organ and other performances. This was followed by various events at the University - dancing in the Medical School and Union Refectory, a smoke concert at night in the Union and a grand concert in the evening at the Teachers College (SMH, 21 May 1925).

1925

"Youth must be served. Never was that apt phrase more fittingly illustrated than in the difference between the University Senate and the "undergrads". These youthful demonstrators, with all the exuberance which characterises the cap and gown, wanted a procession. The Senate didn't, and the "undergrads" turned their attention elsewhere .. it was only to be expected that the students would get level somehow .. Youth must be served," sketch, The World's News (Sydney), 6 June 1925, NLA.

1925

'Uni students' rag: Sydney undergrads after showing what they would like to do to the Senate for banning the Commem procession in 1925', photo, The Horsham Times, 2 June 1925, National Library of Australia.

1925

Although a procession was banned, a long single column of gowned young men tramped through the city at noon on Friday 29 May 1925 in a caterpillar fashion holding up tram and motor traffic, photo, Evening News, 29 May 1925, National Library of Australia.

1925

One student in a tattered gown rode a horse with rope reins, photo, Evening News, 29 May 1925, National Library of Australia.

1925

Girl undergraduates making their way to the Town Hall for the rally at noon on Friday 29 May, photo, Evening News, 29 May 1925, National Library of Australia.

1925

Some of the student revellers at the Town Hall on Friday morning, photo, Th eSydney Morning herald, 30 May 1925, National Library of Australia.

1926

Festival Week, 24-28 May 1926:
– Wednesday 26 May: 2.30 pm, the annual championships of the Sydney University Athletic Club were held at the University Oval. The undergraduates held a theatre party at the St James Theatre; festival songs will be sung at 7.45 pm, and also during the Entractes; the theatre was specially decorated for the occasion, and a gala performance was given.
– Thursday 27 May: included the committee dinner of the Undergraduates' Association at Adams at 7.30 pm and a concert by the Glee Club at 8pm in the withdrawing room of the University Union.
– Friday 28 May: Senate granted the undergraduates permission to hold a procession but it added some stern provisos: all lorries would be strictly censored, the procession must remain within the University grounds (for the first time in its history), fireworks were prohibited and undesirables must be excluded (Evening News, 7 May 1926). A parody on Amundsen's trip to the Pole won first prize. However, the Polar bears and the horde of monstrosities which the display asserted to exist at the Pole, behaved in a boredom and lassitute more apt to the tropics than the Arctic Sea. The veterinary scientists wore more amusing, but they lacked originality. Those horrible animals - cross between elephant and tiger - that usually make their distorted appearance at such festivals, screamed frightfully under the knife on this lorry. lorry. They were fed in the usual absurd way with baby bottles, and suffered the usual excruciating tortures, but one felt the protagonists were enjoying themselves more thoroughly than anyone else in the procession. They gained a second prize (SMH, 29 May 1926). The architects strove to attain a quiet satire on senatorial restrictions - they exhibited the senators' 10 commandments: "Thou shalt not 'chuck' flour; thou shalt not go outside, etc". They certainly deserved their third prize. The students lost interest in the event and it was distinctly less original, as well as less hilarious, than usual (The Sydney Mail, 2 June 1926). Later, the men abandoned their lorries and joined the women in the Quadrangle to sing songs. The Chancellor, Sir William Cullen, encouraged them from the dias. He declared the festival open and the signing resumed. At 3pm, a large audience had assembled in front of the Great Hall to hear an organ recital and at 3.30pm the blues for 1926 were announced. Professor Charteris then delivered the festival address in which he referred to the apathy to various phases of University work which the song book expressed. The huge crowd then absorbed itself in the side shows and in the evening was entertained at dances in the Union Refectory and the Union Hall, and at a smoke concert.
(SMH, 20 and 29 May 1926)

1926

The Faculty of Agriculture's float, which parodied Amundsen's trip to the North Pole, won first prize, photo, The Sydney Mail, 2 June 1926, Google News Archive. However what 'it gained in orginality it lacked in spontaneity, for the Polar bears and the horde of monstrosities which the display asserted to exist at the Pole, behaved in a boredom and lassitude more apt to the tropics than the Arctic Sea.' (SMH)

1926

The Veterinary Operating Theatre float, which won second prize, photo, The Sydney Mail, 2 June 1926, Google News Archive.

1926

The Faculty of Architecture float won third prize, photo from The Sydney Mail, 2 June 1926, Google News Archive. The diplay satirised restrictions by the University Senate. 'On the lorry stood half a dozen angelic and placid undergraduates, their trenchers surmounted by haloes, posed to represent the senators' idea of a perfect Commemoration Day. On poles they exhibited the senators' 10 commandments: "Thou shalt not chuck flour; thou shalt not go outside, etc.' (SMH)

1926

The workers' paradise float as seen by the students. Utopia had been reached and, having nothing further to fight for, the workers had resolved to spend their time in the doldrums, photo from The Sydney Mail, 2 June 1926, Google News Archive.

1926

The 'blew-bird' gang - a skit on the night patrol, photo from The Sydney Mail, 2 June 1926, Google News Archive.

1926

Four merry muskateers: medical students dressed for Commem, photo, Evening News, 28 May 1926, National Library of Australia.

1926

The demonstration in the Quadrangle after the procession, with the President of the University Union, Mr Saxby, addressing the undergraduates, photo from The Sydney Mail, 2 June 1926, Google News Archive.

1927

Festival Week, 16-20 May 1927:
– Monday 16 May: Commencement of the boxing tournament, and a treasure hunt at night.
– Tuesday 17 May: The eveing students' smoke conert.
– Wednesday 18 May: The inter-colllegiate athletic championships at University Oval, followed by the Sports Union Ball.
– Thursday 19 May: The finals of the boxing, the Undergrads' Association Dinner at Adams, and the annual undergraduates' theatre party at the performance of "Sunny" at the Empire Theatre. However, the last was marred by conduct which led to several members of the audience leaving and demanding their money back. After the performance ended, over 100 students paraded in George and Pitt Streets and Martin Place, hooting and discharging small fireworks.
– Friday 20 May: The procession, which was again confined to University grounds, was allowed to travel along a part of St Paul's Road, Newtown and City Road, entering the University by the Medical School gates. It was one of the shortest on record. It was followed by speeches and songs in the Quadrangle, an organ recital in the Great Hall, a commemoration address, lecturettes, cinematograph entertainments, a dramatic performance and sideshows, a Court of Injustice and dancing sessions which continued until midnight.
(Evening News, 13 May 1927, The Mercury, 20 May 1927)

1927

A view of the procession through the University grounds, photo from The Sydney Mail, 25 May 1927, Google News Archive.

1927

The Faculty of Agriculture won first prize with this float which satirised the Labour Party's "Hands off China" policy, photo G3_224_1613, University of Sydney Archives.

1927

Skit on the royal progress in Sydney, photo, The Sydney Morning Herald, 21 May 1927, National Library of Australia.

1927

Satire on the situation in China, photo, The Sydney Morning Herald, 21 May 1927, National Library of Australia.

1927

A tilt at the civic garage, photo, The Sydney Morning Herald, 21 May 1927, National Library of Australia.

1927

'Dad, Mum and little Willie', photo from The Sydney Mail, 25 May 1927, Google News Archive.

1927

One of three displays dealing with the "Spinsters' Club", photo from The Sydney Mail, 25 May 1927, Google News Archive.

1927

Photo from The Sydney Mail, 25 May 1927, Google News Archive.

1927

A gay cavalier, photo from The Sydney Mail, 25 May 1927, Google News Archive.

1928

Festival Week, 14-18 May 1928:
– Monday 14 May: A smoke concert and reunion under the auspices of the Undergraduates' Association.
– Wednesday 15 May: The evening students' smoke concert and reunion.
– Thursday 16 May: The theatre party at the Empire Theatre. In addition to the performance of "Take the Air" the New Empire Theatre Orchestra played festival airs before the raising of the curtain, and during the interludes.
– Friday 18 May: The students' procession was held, with the new Vice-Chancellor extending its boundaries. It encircled the University grounds via Parramatta Road, Missenden Road, St Paul's Road, City Road and entered the grounds again at the Derwent Street entrance, Parramatta Road.
(SMH, 15 May 1928)

1928

The 1928 Students' Festival songbook and program, image from 'The Gazette', June 1974, University of Sydney Archives.

1928

Men and women undergraduates assembled in the Union Hall on Wednesday 15 May 1928 to practise the traditional and topical student songs to be sung at the Students' Festival day on Friday, photo, Sydney Morning Herald, 16 May 1928, National Library of Australia. The visiting members of the 'Take the Air' theatrical company led the practice. After one or two songs, the students called for the theatrical people to entertain them, which they did, including a performance of the 'Black Bottom'.

1928

Members of the 'Take the Air' theatrical company and students outside the Union Hall, photo from The Sydney Morning Herald, 16 May 1928, National Library of Australia.

1928

A section of the procession passing the judge, photo, The Sydney Morning Herald, 19 May 1928, National Library of Australia.

1928

The Faculty of Agriculture's winning display in the procession, photo G3_224_1614, University of Sydney Archives.

1928

Dental experts, photo, The Sydney Mail, 23 May 1928, Google News Archive.

1928

A speedster, photo, The Sydney Mail, 23 May 1928, Google News Archive.

1928

A Vet vamp, photo, The Sydney Mail, 23 May 1928, Google News Archive.

1928

The mock trial of Vice-Chancellor Professor Wallace by a 'Court of Injustice', photo from The Sydney Mail, 22 May 1928, Google News Archive.

1929

Festival Week, 20-24 May 1929:
– Previous Festivals were controlled by the Undergraduates' Association, but in 1929 the new President, James Gosper, announced that the Students' Festival would be organised and controlled by a committee which would be representative of all phases of University life, consisting of members of University staff, Undergraduates Association, women undergraduates, evening students and the senior students of every college.
– Senate had approved a city procession for Thursday 23 May, the first since 1923.
– Friday 17 May: There was song practice in the Union Hall.
– Monday 20 May: 7.15pm, the Reunion Dinner, for men graduates and undergraduates only, took the place of the old smoke concert re-union which for many years had been held in the Great Hall.
– Tuesday 21 May: There were disturbances at the Tivoli Theatre and allegations that students had desecrated the Cenotaph in Martin Place.
– Wednesday 22 May: Following Tuesday night's disturbances, the Registrar issued the following notice: "The Vice-Chancellor desires to intimate that, in view of the disgraceful conduct on the part of some undergraduates last evening, he has decided to cancel the evening students smoke concert to-night, the students' procession and festival on Thursday, and the ball on Friday evening. Lectures and practical classes will therefore be continued on Thursday and Friday. Ragging on the University grounds or elsewhere will not be allowed, and offenders will be summarily dealt with. Any attempt to hold a procession through the streets will be dealt with by the police authorities, as the permit granted by the Commissioner of Police to the Registrar has been returned. 'The Vice-Chancellor expresses regret that the assurances previously given him by undergraduates have not been realised" (SMH, 24 April & 22 May 1929).

– Fun, fun ...
1929

The 1929 Commem Song Book, photo, The Sydney Morning Herald, 10 May 1929, National Library of Australia.

1929

This and the following sketches are from The Sydney Mail, 22 May 1929, Google News Archive.

1929
1929
1929
1929
1929

Undergraduates during the lunch-hour song practice in the Union Hall on 17 May 1929, with more than 600 students taking part, photo, The Sydney Morning Herald, 18 May 1929, National Library of Australia.

1929

Medical students after song practice, photo from The Sydney Morning Herald, 21 May 1929, National Library of Australia.

1929

The 'greasers' (Engineering students) armed with packets of flour and over-ripe fruit, marching to the attack on the 'butchers' (Medical students), photo, The Sydney Morning Herald, 22 May 1929, National Library of Australia.

1929

However, the 'butchers' did not appear, photo, The Sydney Morning Herald, 22 May 1929, National Library of Australia.

1929

Medical students who were taken unawares and bombarded with flour, photo, The Sydney Morning Herald, 22 May 1929, National Library of Australia.

1929

A rag between the medical, engineering, arts and science students, photo from Western Mail, 6 June 1929, National Library of Australia.

1929

The battle, photo, The Sydney Mail, 25 May 1929, Google News Archive.

1929

Undergraduates on Monday 20 May 1929, photo, The Sydney Mail, 22 May 1929, Google News Archive.

1929

A novelty at the sports day - competitors were required to run to a point, light their pipes, and finish with the tobacco still alight, photo, The Sydney Mail, 25 May 1929, Google News Archive.

– ... until ...
1929

There were uproarious scenes at the Tivoli Theatre on the evening of 21 May by students who booked most of the seats for their theatre night. Tomatoes, pieces of apples and other missiles were hurled at the performers. The orchestra twice left the pit and refused to play, and the whole program was thrown into confusion. Appeals for order were unheeded and finally the police forced an entrance and stopped the disorder (Northern Times, 25 May 1929), headline, Chronicle, 23 May 1929

1929

After being ejected from the Tivoli, a crowd of several hundred undergraduates careered madly through the city streets shouting wildly and dislocating traffic. The Cenotaph in Martin Place was desecrated by several of the leaders of the demonstration, who threw wreaths to the ground and broke flower vases. Two students were taken into custody by the police (SMH 22 May 1929), headline from Evening News, 22 May 1929, National Library of Australia.

1929

A crowded meeting of undergraduates in the Union Hall on 22 May carried a resolution protesting against the action of a small section of undergraduates, expressing regret for what had happened & endorsing the Vice-Chancellor's cancellation of the Festival, photo, Sydney Morning Herald, 23 May 1929, National Library of Australia.

1929

Twenty-six representatives of the Undergraduates' Association, wearing black academic gowns and led by the president, James Gosper, marched to the Cenotaph on the afternoon of 22 May 1929, photo, The Argus, 25 May 1929, National Library of Australia.

1929

James Gosper, president, and R G Conley, secretary, of the Undergraduates' Association, photo, The Register News-Pictorial (Adelaide), 27 May 1929, National Library of Australia.

1929

James Gosper, president, and R G Conley, secretary, of the Undergraduates' Association, photo, Evening News, 22 May 1929, National Library of Australia.

1929

They placed a large wreath with the inscription "From the undergraduates of Sydney University, as an apology for the insult to the glorious dead", photo, The Sydney Mail, 29 May 1929, Google News Archive.

1929

"Youth will be served. Of course, it will, and one has only to look at the Sydney 'Varsity Undergrads' rag the other night to find out in what direction ... A little fun properly directed, with a modicum of horseplay sandwiched in between, cannot do very much harm. When, however, it descends to what is called in America 'rough house', then youth must be served as all such people are served who make themselves a nuisance to the community generally", The World's News, 5 June 1929, NLA.

"Honi Soit"

The undergraduates decided to defend themselves against smears of being “educated louts” after the 1929 Commem debacle on 21 May."Honi Soit" commenced publication in 1929, under the auspices of the Undergraduates’ Association, to counteract the mainstream Sydney press who had set about demonising students after Commemoration Day got out of control. There was genuine antipathy towards the students of Sydney University and it was under such a situation that Honi Soit was born to state the students’ case: evil to him who evil thinks (Honi Soit, commemorative edition 2006).