Riffety! Riffety! Rus! — A Yearbook from 1916

Here is another treasure from the archives of my husband’s family — a school annual from Dresden, Ohio.

To start us off in the proper spirit, here is the official Senior Yell:

Riffety! Riffety! Rus!
We’re not allowed to cuss!
But, nevertheless, you’ll have to confess
There’s nothing the matter with us. 16!

I think you have to love a yell that contains the word “nevertheless.”

Having athletic teams at school had just been started in 1914.  In 1916, “when the basketball team was organized, it was found that only about three of the team had participated in a game before”!  There was no gymnasium and all of the practices were held outside.

Dresden, Ohio, High School basketball team, 1916

Baseball was more familiar, and 22 boys tried out.

Dresden, Ohio, High School baseball team, 1916

There was also a girls’ glee club, and two(!) literary societies. 

At intervals of two weeks a program is rendered on Friday afternoon, the societies alternating in the production of the same.  The program generally consists of vocal and instrumental music, recitations, readings, essays, biographies, debates, current events, “newspaper” and sometimes a novelty number.

The Carolinian Literary Society, Dresden, Ohio, 1916

The Washingtonian Literary Society, Dresden, Ohio, 1916

Fashion-wise, 1916 was apparently the year of the giant bow, as seen in these details from the glee club and lit society photos:

Big bows in the Carolinian Lit Society.

Big bows in the Glee Club.

Besides the high school, Dresden had a “normal school,” offering additional classes to certify teachers. Some students had already graduated from surrounding rural schools, and  came to Dresden for an extra year of high school, to make up deficiencies.  Sometimes they graduated from the high school and normal school simultaneously, sometimes not.

This resulted in the senior class being the largest in the school with 30 members. They were shown in individual pictures, five to a page.


A selection of senior portraits from 1916. “Perly” and her hair bow also feature in the lit society picture above.

The lower grades had fewer students, with only ten juniors, ten sophomores, and sixteen freshmen. And as the sophomore class history explains, ” In the fall of 1914, we entered DHS as Freshies, with a class enrollment of eighteen. Ten of us stood the test that Freshmen must stand, namely, the remarks of the upper classmen, and hard study. The remaining members dropped out during the year for various reasons, but most of all because ‘Latin was too difficult.'”

Juniors of 1916.

Sophomores of 1916.

Freshmen of 1916.  Everyone seems to be wearing identical boots.

I always enjoy seeing what real people were wearing every day, as opposed to idealized fashion images.  Here, I love seeing the transformation from knickers and shorter skirts on the “Freshies,” to trousers and long skirts on the older students. 

Looking through the senior photos, I noticed this woman:

Yearbook photo from Dresden High School, 1916.


She had graduated from Dresden High School in 1902, and then from a college in 1904, and then she came back to Dresden Normal School for the 1915-16 school year!  Maybe she felt the need to update her teaching skills.  I wonder what it was like for her to spend a whole year going to class with teen-agers.

Throughout the year, Normal School students made visits to 38 surrounding schools, and made observation excursions to “food manufactories, textile and clothing mills, potteries and art works.”  I would guess they were trying to learn what skills their students needed for jobs.  The Normal School students also took part in the literary societies.

A good quarter of the annual is filled with ads, and they are delightful:


I hope you enjoyed this glimpse of the past!