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The Rhododendron: Appalachian State University Yearbook

Appalachian State University’s yearbook, The Rhododendron, first went into print in 1922, when the school was called Appalachian Training School. It was released yearly until 1992. In 2004, the yearbook returned, but in 2006, production ended again. The Rhododendron was compiled and published by members of the senior class.

When The Rhododendron was started over 90 years ago, it was only 85 pages long and featured a senior class of about 30 students. Through the years, as the school grew, so did The Rhododendron. By the last volume, released in 2006, the book had grown to 464 pages, featuring a senior class of around 3,000 (though not all were photographed). Looking through volumes of The Rhododendron yearbooks, one will see students’ portraits and names, pictures of clubs, sports, and campus events, and even some hints to current important events worldwide.

In many ways this collection of Appalachian yearbooks shows the history of Appalachian State University and how the campus and students have changed over the years.

For the most part, the material is benign. Sadly, some images and sentiments are clearly racist, sexist, prurient and derogatory.

The cultural appropriation and blatant prejudice and insensitivity displayed in these instances are hurtful and offensive. Yet, to remove or redact them from our historical record would be counter to archival standards. They will remain as historical documents — not reflective of our values, but reminders to be vigilant in our efforts to be both inclusive and transparent. 

The digitized yearbooks are hosted by DigitalNC, a statewide digitization and digital publishing program housed in the North Carolina Collection at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. To view the yearbooks go to, Yearbooks, Appalachian State University at DigitalNC.org

View The Rhodendron