Ask the Archivist — What is the History of the F Book?

Ask the Archivist

What is the History of the F Book?

University Archivist Peggy McBride explains the origins of a UF tradition.

“Greetings: The University of Florida swings wide its doors and welcomes into the college circle you young men who enter here as students for the first time. A hardy welcome is extended you to the ideals, traditions, and opportunities of the college world.”

These are a few of the words of UF President and mathematician A.A. Murphree in the 1925–26 Volume I of the F Book, a handbook presented to students as they registered for classes. The volume contained the constitution and laws for the student body and various university organizations, the university calendar, and a list of student officers. Also included was information about social fraternities, a list of honorary fraternities, and the words to spirit songs and yells. The editors added a letter to freshmen giving suggestions about handling money matters, finding a place to live, and registering for classes — “Registration under present conditions, dear Freshman, is an endurance test at best.”

colorful small books spread out over table
Volume II of the 1925–26 F Book (on the lower right) is the only copy left in existence. Kristen Bartlett Grace

The 1925–26 F Book was a two-volume set with Volume II being the official directory of faculty and students. It also contained ads for cafés, laundry services, boarding houses, car dealerships, flower shops, drug stores, hardware stores, newsstands, and churches. One enterprising clothier, advertising sport apparel for college men, recommended purchasing “A tie that will blaze in a hectic haze, down where the vest begins.”

Inspired by Dean of Students Robert C. Beaty, the handbook usually was published as a paperback that would fit neatly in a student’s pocket for easy access. While the 1925–26 F Book established the basic facts needed by UF students, over the years information was added about a list of traditions, which included freshmen wearing “rat caps,” Homecoming, Gator Growl, and the requirement that the entire freshman class had to attend all football games and athletic events held in Gainesville.

In the 1930s, the editors divided Volume I into four books: General Information, Student Government, Organizations, and Athletics. The “President’s Welcome” was reduced to a short paragraph stating the university was hospitable and democratic with a congenial atmosphere. Generous amounts of sports information and a fold-out campus map were included during these years.

Publication was suspended in 1960, but in 2006, the Cicerones and the Student Alumni Association resurrected the F Book to strengthen the undergraduate experience. Today, the University of Florida Alumni Association publishes the F Book as a photographic scrapbook chronicling university traditions that will never change.

“Where palm and pine are blowing, where Southern seas are flowing, shine forth thy noble Gothic walls, thy lovely vine-clad halls. ’Neath the Orange and Blue victorious, our love shall never fail. There’s no other name so glorious — all hail, Florida, hail!”