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According to Irving F. Brown, author of Indiana Asbury-DePauw University, the custom of each class adopting its own special garb originated in the early 1880s, when the sophomore class donned plug hats. Shortly afterwards, the juniors adopted the "Oxford hat." His 1914 historical account goes on:

This custom lasted for several years, and since then, from time to time, there have been many different garbs.The cap and gown was not introduced into DePauw until 1894. On May 29, of that year, the seniors wore them to a reception given by Dr. John. The next day they appeared in them at chapel for the first time. Tradition gives it, that on their first appearance, the juniors undertook to confiscate them. No year has passed without this attempt in a more or less violent form.

His description of other early DePauw customs follows:

The first class numerals to be put on the standpipe were placed there in February, 1889. A member of the class of 1892 put up his numerals in orange letters seven feet in length .... Since that time no class has failed to carry out this custom.

Old Gold was first used as the college color at the DePauw-Wabash football game in the fall of 1890. Previous to that time the color had been blue, although the college papers, up to that time, do not speak of a college color. In fact, until within recent years, blue remained a semi-official color, since it was always used on the diploma.

The present DePauw yell was given for the first time at the DePauw-Butler football game in Indianapolis, on November 1, 1890. It is an outgrowth of an earlier attempt at a college yell:

Zip Rah Hoo D.P.U. Rip Saw! Boom Baw! DePauw Ah-h-h-there!!!!

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