The History of One of Meredith's Most Time-Honored Traditions
- By Ashley Ricks, Staff Writer -
There is one week in March when juniors frantically look for a shepherd’s crook, while seniors watch from the sidelines, hoping the junior class cannot find their hiding spot. That week is known as Crook Hunt. This year, Crook Hunt started on March 21, and juniors only have until March 28 to find the crook. The Crook Hunt is one of the longest-standing traditions at Meredith and has a rich history, including the interesting tales of some of Meredith’s oldest graduating classes. The hunt started in 1906 when drama professor Caroline Bury Phelps introduced the idea to students. Phelps had previously worked at Adrian College, where a similar tradition took place, and she wanted to get it started at Meredith. Phelps originally gave the senior class the crook with instructions to hide it from the junior class. This year, the Crook Hunt is celebrating its 112th anniversary, but this tradition has not always been the way it is now practiced today.
Originally, the crook was hid by the seniors at the beginning of fall semester and the juniors could not look for it until March, then the juniors had an entire month to to look for the crook. Meredith decided to change the rules in 1982, making the month-long search only a week. Even though the crook hunt is still a popular tradition at Meredith, it has been through some rough patches in its history. In early 1913, the hunt was banned due to dangerous hiding places. Before the ban, one student had to hang out of a window in order to retrieve the crook. Sixteen years after the hunt’s ban in 1913, the tradition was reestablished in 1929. Although the crook never experienced a ban later, it was stopped in 1948 due to lack of interest, but it quickly resumed when the class of 1950 hid the crook from the juniors on the roof of BDH.
More often than not, the seniors have been successful in their attempts to hide the crook from the juniors. In the past, the seniors have picked odd spots to hide the crook, such as behind a bulletin board, taped to the bottom of a bridge at the lake, and sewn into a faculty member’s mattress. In the past two years, neither junior class has been able to find the crook, which shows that the odds may not be in favor of the class of 2019 as they conclude their crook hunt on March 28.