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Kake Walk at UVM

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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:   A New Face

Creator:  University of Vermont

Date:  1965

Resource type:   announcements

This document announces the switch to dark green makeup after one year of light green.

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    Title:   Age and Geographical Distribution of 1968 Kake Walk Tickets

    Creator:  University of Vermont

    Date:  1968-12-23

    Resource type:   reports

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      Title:   Alpha Delta Pi's Sweater Girls present Sarah

      Creator:  University of Vermont

      Date:  1958

      Resource type:   black-and-white photographs

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        Title:   Alumni Notes Copy

        Creator:  Rowell, Lyman S.

        Date:  1950-12-08

        Resource type:   correspondence

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          Title:   Alumni Office Thank You

          Creator:  University of Vermont

          Date:  1942

          Resource type:   correspondence

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            Title:   Alumni Scheduled Events

            Creator:  University of Vermont

            Date:  1939-01-28

            Resource type:   correspondence

            Includes a schedule of all Winter Carnival weekend events.

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              Title:   Alumni Support for Winter Weekend

              Creator:  University of Vermont

              Date:  1970-10-22

              Resource type:   correspondence

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                Title:   Alumni Ticket Denials

                Creator:  University of Vermont

                Date:  1968-02-07

                Resource type:   correspondence

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                  Title:   Alumni Ticket Revenues

                  Creator:  University of Vermont

                  Date:  1966-02-18

                  Resource type:   financial records

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                    Title:   Alumni Ticket Sale

                    Creator:  University of Vermont

                    Date:  1967-02-20

                    Resource type:   financial records

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                      Title:   Alumni Ticket Sales

                      Creator:  University of Vermont

                      Date:  1921-02-03

                      Resource type:   correspondence

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                        Title:   Alumni Ticket Sales

                        Creator:  University of Vermont

                        Date:  1922-02-04

                        Resource type:   correspondence

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                          Title:   Alumni Ticket Tallies

                          Creator:  University of Vermont

                          Date:  1961

                          Resource type:   records (documents)

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                            Title:   Assistant Director of Publicity Annual Report

                            Creator:  University of Vermont

                            Date:  1966

                            Resource type:   reports

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

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                              Title:   Ball Attendees

                              Creator:  University of Vermont

                              Date:  1934

                              Resource type:   black-and-white photographs

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                                Title:   Banquet for the Fathers and Mothers of Vermont Students

                                Creator:  University of Vermont

                                Date:  1938-02-08

                                Resource type:   correspondence

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                                  Title:   Black Image in White Vermont: The Origin, Meaning, and Abolition of Kake Walk

                                  Creator:  Loewen, James W.

                                  Date:  1991

                                  Resource type:   chapters (layout features)

                                  At the time of this digital collection launch, this chapter is the only known scholarly piece on UVM's Kake Walk. James Loewen was a professor of sociology at the University of Vermont. This chapter was published in a book commemorating the university's bicentennial: Loewen, James. "Black Image in White Vermont: The Origin, Meaning, and Abolition of Kake Walk." The University of Vermont: The First Two Hundred Years. Sr. ed. Robert V. Daniels. Hanover, NH / University of Vermont : Distributed by University Press of New England / University of Vermont, 1991.

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                                    Title:   Bulletin of the University of Vermont Supplement

                                    Creator:  University of Vermont

                                    Date:  1955-12-31

                                    Resource type:   serials (publications)

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                                      Title:   Cash Audit

                                      Creator:  University of Vermont

                                      Date:  1930-06-18

                                      Resource type:   financial records

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                                        Title:   Cash Audit

                                        Creator:  University of Vermont

                                        Date:  1939

                                        Resource type:   reports

                                        Resource type:   financial records

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                                          Title:   Cotton Babes

                                          Creator:  Weinrich, Percy; Lechnyr, Joseph; UVM Band

                                          Date:  1940; 1959

                                          Resource type:   sound recordings

                                          "Cotton Babes" was the signature musical piece used for Kake Walk.  All Kake Walkers choreographed their high-stepping dances to the beat of this instrumental piece. It was performed live by the UVM band during the Walk. The syncopated melody was composed by Percy Weinrich around 1910 in the easy-to-follow musical style of the national cakewalk dance craze, then in its height.  "Cotton Babes" was used as the Kake Walk theme starting in 1912 or 1913. Tradition holds that the university's sheet music was destroyed in a fire in 1929 and that UVM Band Director Joseph Lechnyr rewrote the music from memory. The original record was probably produced in the 1940s - 1950s. Its green and gold label reads: University of Vermont / Cotton Babes / Arranged by Dr. Joseph F. Lechnyr / University of Vermont Band / Director, Dr. Joseph F. Lechnyr / 77764

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                                            Title:   Dance Card

                                            Creator:  University of Vermont

                                            Date:  1942

                                            Resource type:   dance cards

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                                              Title:   Eldridge Trophy

                                              Creator:  University of Vermont

                                              Resource type:   black-and-white photographs

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                                                Title:   Entertainment of Sub-Freshman

                                                Creator:  University of Vermont

                                                Date:  1925-03-22; 1926-01-25

                                                Resource type:   correspondence

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                                                  Title:   Face Painting

                                                  Creator:  University of Vermont

                                                  Date:  1958

                                                  Resource type:   black-and-white photographs

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