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Kake Walk at UVM

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Collection Overview

The Kake Walk at UVM collection documents a former University of Vermont event that is for some a hallowed tradition and for others overt racism. The terminated competition, which was the highlight of the campus social calendar for over eighty years, featured fraternity brothers in blackface and kinky wigs dancing to the tune of "Cotton Babes."

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Time Period Covered: 1896 - 2004 

Source Document: University Archives, Record Group 53: Fraternities and Sororities, Series: Kake Walk 

Published:  May 29, 2010,  University of Vermont, Bailey/Howe Library, Center for Digital Initiatives

Rights:  http://cdi.uvm.edu/about/rights


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Title:   Kake Walk Program

Creator:  University of Vermont

Date:  1969

Resource type:   programs (documents)

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    Title:   Kake Walk: A Troubled Memory Lane

    Creator:  University of Vermont

    Date:  1977-10-27

    Resource type:   newspapers

    Kimberly Honza's article in The Cynic discusses efforts to reinstate Kake Walk and the likelihood of doing so.

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      Title:   Library Exhibit Materials

      Creator:  Gallagher, Connell B.

      Date:  2004

      Resource type:   visitors' books

      Resource type:   labels (identifying artifacts)

      In 2004, UVM's Bailey/Howe library held an exhibit entitled "UVM's Past: The Legacy of Kake Walk." Exhibit materials archived at UVM are presented here: draft exhibit labels, copied and redacted primary sources which may have been used in display cases, and a notebook containing visitor comments (starting on page 46).

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        Title:   Minstrel Show Records

        Creator:  University of Vermont

        Date:  1896

        Resource type:   financial records

        Resource type:   programs (documents)

        Includes the 1896 program.

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          Title:   Royalty Campaign and Walking

          Creator:  University of Vermont

          Date:  1961

          Resource type:   reports

          Gives instructions and advice to the next Assistant Director. Includes floor maps and official rules.

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            Title:   Statement by 1970 Kake Walk Committee

            Creator:  University of Vermont

            Date:  1969

            Resource type:   announcements

            This document announces the elimination of blackface and wigs from the next walk, but Kake Walk was abolished entirely before the 1970 Winter Carnival.

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              Title:   Supplied Burlington Chamber of Commerce

              Creator:  University of Vermont

              Date:  1955-11-29

              Resource type:   announcements

              This document mentions "Wide, Wide World," a Sunday afternoon television program (aired 1956 - 1958) which broadcast events in North America, Europe, and the Caribbean.

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                Title:   The Responsibilities of the Assistant Publicity Director of Kake Walk

                Creator:  University of Vermont

                Date:  1969

                Resource type:   reports

                Gives instructions and advice to the next Assistant Director. Includes a list of advertisers and official rules.

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                  Title:   The Vermont Cynic

                  Creator:  University of Vermont

                  Date:  1923-02-24

                  Resource type:   newspapers

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                    Title:   The Vermont Cynic

                    Creator:  University of Vermont

                    Date:  1929

                    Resource type:   newspapers

                    Pages 3-6 missing

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                      Title:   The Vermont Cynic

                      Creator:  University of Vermont

                      Date:  1944-03-17

                      Resource type:   newspapers

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                        Title:   The Vermont Cynic

                        Creator:  University of Vermont

                        Date:  1948-02-20

                        Resource type:   newspapers

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                          Title:   The Vermont Cynic

                          Creator:  University of Vermont

                          Date:  1951-03-01

                          Resource type:   newspapers

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                            Title:   The Vermont Cynic

                            Creator:  University of Vermont

                            Date:  1954-02-19

                            Resource type:   newspapers

                            Includes a front page editorial calling for the end of blackface.

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                              Title:   The Vermont Cynic

                              Creator:  University of Vermont

                              Date:  1956-02-17

                              Resource type:   newspapers

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                                Title:   The Vermont Cynic

                                Creator:  University of Vermont

                                Date:  1958-02-22

                                Resource type:   newspapers

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                                  Title:   The Vermont Cynic

                                  Creator:  University of Vermont

                                  Date:  1964-02-21

                                  Resource type:   newspapers

                                  This issue explores blackface, which had been recently banned, and documents the history of early opposition to Kake Walk.

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                                    Title:   The Vermont Cynic

                                    Creator:  University of Vermont

                                    Date:  1965-02-26

                                    Resource type:   newspapers

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                                      Title:   The Vermont Cynic

                                      Creator:  University of Vermont

                                      Date:  1968-02-14

                                      Resource type:   newspapers

                                      Includes editorials criticizing Pops Night.

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                                        Title:   The Vermont Cynic

                                        Creator:  University of Vermont

                                        Date:  1969-02-14

                                        Resource type:   newspapers

                                        Includes and announcement about a Black Literature course to be taught in the English department.

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                                          Title:   The Vermont Cynic

                                          Creator:  University of Vermont

                                          Date:  1969-10-31

                                          Resource type:   newspapers

                                          Includes the results of the student opinion poll on Kake Walk and announces the decision to replace Kake Walk with a film festival.

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                                            Title:   With Kake In Hand

                                            Creator:  University of Vermont

                                            Date:  2004-02-24

                                            Resource type:   newspapers

                                            Nicholas Rahaim's article in the The Cynic discusses racism and Kake Walk.

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