Signing of the Cottey Book

One of the first traditions of the year is the Signing of the Cottey Book, when freshmen pledge to uphold the Honor Code and are formally welcomed into the Cottey community. It is one of the most solemn traditions on campus, and one of the oldest.

Every Cottey student has signed the book since 1935, but its roots go back a few years earlier to when Dr. Mary Rose Prosser was president of Cottey. Dr. Prosser thought it a good idea to acquaint new students with the college's aims and ideals at the opening of each schoolyear.2 This developed into President-Student Day, which was first held in 1931. Four years later, under President Florence Boehmer, the signing of the Cottey Book was included in the ceremony.5

Cynthia Sizemore signs the Cottey Book, 1963
"Cynthia Sizemore signs the Cottey Book, the first tradition in a Cottey year," 1963.3
Signing of the Cottey Book, 1969
Mary Brown (in background), Associated Cottey Student President, watches a freshman sign the book, 1969.7
A freshman is pinned with Cottey colors, 1975
Pinning of the ribbons completes the process, 1975.4

Changes in Place & Format

There have been myriad changes in its locale and from year to year. The signing has taken place in Main Hall, Rosemary Hall, Missouri Suite, and most recently in the Center for the Arts. In 1944, the tradition was preceded by a formal dinner in the basement of Main Hall, with the students all dressed in white.1 After the meal, they ascended to the Music Suite for the actual signing. Pairs of Juniors (as they were then called) took turns reciting the school oath: "I promise to uphold the ideals, standards and traditions of Cottey College." They then signed their names in the book laid on a table before them, flanked by tapered candles. Yellow and white ribbons were pinned on each junior after the signing. The ceremony ended with 90 voices singing the Alma Mater.

The signing took place in an even smaller space in 1950. On a Sunday afternoon, the Senior Counselors led their juniors to Missouri Suite in P.E.O. Hall.2 In that quiet, candle-lit room, the President of the Student Senate described the ideals of Cottey College before each junior signed the book as a pledge to uphold them.

The tradition was back in Main Hall in 1979, under the portrait of Virginia Alice Cottey Stockard in the parlor.5 In this year, the President of the Associated Cottey Students related the story of the college's founding before each freshmen signed the book and received their yellow ribbon.

Today the ribbons have been replaced with the Daisy Tradition.6 After signing the Cottey Book, each new student departs with a single daisy. This flower is symbolically returned to the school after Convocation two years later.

Signing the Cottey Book, 1975
Students look on at the signing, 1975.4
Signing of the Cottey Book, 1975
A freshman signs the book in Main Hall parlor, 1975.4
Signing the Cottey Book, 1975
Students wait their turn to sign the book, 1975.4

Works Cited:

  1. Hubbard, Jane. "Signing of the Cottey Book." The Cottey College Bulletin. Dec. 1945: 10. Print.
  2. Thompson, Joyce. "Cottey Tradition." The P.E.O. Record. Feb. 1951: 16-17. Print.
  3. Sphinx, The. Yearbook. Nevada, MO: Cottey College, 1964. Print.
  4. Sphinx, The. Yearbook. Nevada, MO: Cottey College, 1976. Print.
  5. Adams, Elizabeth and Wendy Clark. "These We Hold Dear." The P.E.O. Record. Apr. 1980: 2-3. Print.
  6. "WOW! Week of Welcome Activities Begin." Cottey College program. 2004. Print.
  7. Watson, Virginia. "Why I Remember Cottey." The P.E.O. Record. Apr. 1970: 6-8. Print.
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