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Daisy Chain (1903 - 1961)

Digitized Collection

Daisy Chain

The Daisy Chain was a ceremony that was a part of Winthrop University commencement exercises from 1903 to 1961.  The tradition began under the direction of President David Bancroft Johnson after he saw similar processions at some northeastern institutions he visited. The elaborate ceremony helped publicize Winthrop by attracting legislators and taxpayers to campus.  Originally, the ceremony took place by the fountain on the front campus following commencement, but as Winthrop grew in numbers the ceremony was changed to the day before commencement and moved to the athletic field behind Crawford Building.

The daisy chain consisted of a rope covered in ivy and daisies that were gathered from the fields on the college farm by the Winthrop students.  In the ceremony, the "sister" junior class and the senior class would march and perform elaborate drills while carrying the chain.  The classes would then begin to sing their class songs and a farewell song written for the Daisy Chain ceremony.  The senior class president would then pass on her mortar board to the junior class president to signify the graduation of the senior class and the rise of the junior class.  Then the entire senior class "capped" their sisters and the daisy chain was placed by the class tree to wither. 

In the 1950s, administrators found it increasingly difficult to find juniors to participate in the ceremony and "sisters" were allowed to be chosen from any class.  Other administrators complained that it was becoming too difficult to gather enough flowers for the growing senior class.  The chief of the grounds, W.I. Oats, explained the problem, "some of the girls preferred to sit…playing 'love me, love me not' with the daisies instead of picking them."  Ultimately, the additional cost of keeping the dormitories open until commencement was sited as the reason for not continuing the tradition in 1962. 

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