From the 1938 Colonial Echo William & Mary has had several mascots since beginning to play organized athletics in the late 19th century. The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines a mascot as "a person, animal, or object adopted by a group as a symbolic figure especially to bring them good luck. The university has also had several nicknames for its athletic teams including the Orange and Black (the university's former school colors), the Indians, and is currently known as the Tribe. With the demise of unofficial mascot Col. Ebirt (Tribe spelled backwards) in 2005, there had been no physical manifestation of a mascot at William & Mary. The Griffin was announced as the university's new mascot on April 6, 2010.
For early football teams at the College of William & Mary, as for other teams, the "mascot" was usually a child. See early volumes of the Colonial Echo yearbook for examples.
A dog appears in the photo with the football team in the 1902 Colonial Echo.
There is a photograph of Dammit or Damm-it the campus dog in the Arthur W. and Leah James Scrapbook, circa 1922-1926. An article about Dammit being used for advertising is in the November 7, 1924 issue (see top of p. 2) of The Flat Hat. A memorial to Dammit can be found in the 1926 Colonial Echo on page 298.
The 1958 Colonial Echo includes a photograph of the dog Whiskey on the "Spirit of W and M" pages.
According to an article in the September 23, 1927 (see the bottom of page 3), issue of The Flat Hat, a 17-inch alligator named Cal was the College of William & Mary's mascot during the 1927 football season. Cal was so-named by his owner Head Cheerleader Williams because since Williams had purchased Cal he had remained silent, a reference to U.S. President "Silent" Calvin Coolidge. It is unclear how genuine this claim is.
The name of Wampo, the university's pinto pony mascot, came from the initials William And Mary Pony. The pony was named via a campus contest won by Beverly Boone in October 1937. This first Wampo appeared as the College of William & Mary mascot from the late 1930s through 1944.
In 1937, a few days before William & Mary's regular Thanksgiving Day football game with the University of Richmond, students kidnapped a pony they thought was Wampo who turned out to be a substitute pony. Wampo was stolen the next year from his stable on the evening of November 17, 1938. Students organized search parties in an effort to recover the pony. After fruitless searching for the mascot, William & Mary students started bonfires in Richmond. Additional information about this episode can be found in the November 22, 1938 issue of The Flat Hat.
In June 1944, Wampo was sold at auction in a war bond auction during World War II. In October 1946, the Student Assembly proposed that a new Wampo should be secured 5.
Consult the papers of Emily Harrell Lynch (William & Mary student from 1938-1942) for a photograph of a man riding Wampo and at least two students nearby in Indian-style costumes.
Indian Warrior and Indian Maiden
Often as part of cheerleading at William & Mary, including for games and parades, a man and/or woman wore Native American inspired costume. This was common from the 1950s through the early 1990s. The 1992 Colonial Echo yearbook includes mention of student Shawn Wilkins who dressed as the mascot. She wore a white dress with fringe, a headband with feathers, and her face was painted (p. 309). The 1993 Colonial Echo yearbook includes a photograph of a young girl in an Indian costume (p. 130), but this was not a William & Mary student.
Examples: Homecoming Parade
- 1957 Homecoming parade (P1979.1144, B2540)
- 1987 Colonial Echo, p. 137
- 1988Colonial Echo, p. 168
- the 1993 Colonial Echo reprinted a photograph from the 1963 Colonial Echo of cheerleaders in Indian-style costumes and with a horse (B2534)
- University Archives Artifact Collection, Indian Mascot Doll, circa 1940-1949, in a green jumpsuit, with a W and M on his chest, 15" tall. Acc. 2007.009. An image is available at http://www.flickr.com/photos/scrc/545132892/.
- University Archives Artifact Collection, Baseball Uniform, circa 1933, Grey wool uniform, shirt and pants, with blue stripes and black trim, "Indians" is spelled out across the front with number 9 on the back; uniform formerly belonged to Carter White, class of 1933. Acc. 1990.046. An image is available at http://www.flickr.com/photos/scrc/1519267667/.
A caricature similar to that of the mascot of the Cleveland Indians was also used from the mid- to late-1960s through approximately the mid-1970s. This image was certainly not used after 1978. An article in The Flat Hat raised the possibility that a new likeness would be needed after the American Indian Center in Cleveland filed a lawsuit against the Cleveland Indians charging that their Chief Wahoo was "degrading,demeaning, and racist." See the February 4, 1972 issue (p. 6, republished September 2, 1972, p. 7).
- 1969 Colonial Echo, p. 41
- 1970 Colonial Echo, p. 32 and 55
- SCRC image B2532
- Flat Hat, 1/10/1969, p. 1; 2/7/1969, p. 1
Unnamed Furry Mascot
In August 1992, the College of William & Mary debuted a furry mascot that was intended to be named by a contest. It was withdrawn within a week. The mascot was 6 feet tall, furry, William & Mary green and gold wearing a tri-cornered hat. Campus officials stated that the original idea was to "create a symbol for a new community outreach program to involve children in William & Mary sports through the Green and Gold Club." (Virginia Gazette, B1 19 August 1992, in the folder "Mascots," University Archives Subject File Collection) See The Flat Hat 28 August 1992, p. 3 and 13 for further articles.
Col. Ebirt (unofficial)
Col. Ebirt derived his name from Tribe spelled backwards. Col. Ebirt was a green costumed character appearing at football games from Fall 2001 through 2005. (The Flat Hat, 5 October 2001; "Eulogy for Ebirt: Lessons from one of the Tribe's great fans," W&M News, 7 October 2005)
Mascot Search, 2009-2010
William & Mary undertook a search for a new mascot in 2009-2010. The finalists were: the pug, the phoenix, the griffin, a king and queen, and a wren. On April 6, 2010, the Griffin was introduced as William & Mary's new mascot.http://www.wm.edu/news/stories/2010/new-mascot-announced-123.php The new mascot does not replace the university's nickname of Tribe.
See the Mascot Search website for further information about the search process from the Mascot Search Committee.
The Griffin was announced as the College of William & Mary's latest mascot on April 6, 2010, in an event at Kaplan Arena in William & Mary Hall.
In the News
- See the card catalog index in the Special Collections Research Center for references to College of William mascots in The Flat Hat, William & Mary News, and Alumni Gazette.
- William & Mary spirit: It is not about logos says Kelly, Suzanne Seurattan, W&M News, December 06, 2007.
- Mascot issue yet to be addressed, The Flat Hat, 2 September 2008.
- Street Beat: What do you wish the school mascot was?, The Flat Hat, 25 March 2008.
- During troubled times College must turn to Colonel Ebirt, The Flat Hat, 27 January 2009.
- BOV talks finance, mascot, The Flat Hat, 6 February 2009.
- Mascot Search website.
- New Mascot Announced.
Material in the Special Collections Research Center
- The Colonial Echo yearbook:
- 1947- After pg. 255 Athletics will be next. It appears to be a stuffed figure of an Indian dragging a doll.
- 1948 - Cartoon sketch in red ink of Indian on right page only pg. 31-95.
- 1954- pg. 172, Possible Mascots, Black and White photo of two women students and one male student in Indian costume attire.
- 1955- No page #, 14 pages from title page. Color photo of two women students dressed in Indian costume attire from head to toe.
- 1956- pg.204, They are not referred as mascots but two woman students in photo dressed in Indian costumes.
- 1957- pg. 52, black and white photo, two woman students dressed in Indians costumes watching another student dressed in an Indian costume doing a dance.
- 1960 - No number on page (pg. 8). There is a large color photo with cheerleaders and student dressed as Indian. Photo took place on the field at the football stadium.
- 1961- pg. 169, student standing dressed as an Indian surrounded by cheerleaders.
- 1962 - pg. 215, student on horse with Indian headpiece surrounded by W&M Cheerleaders.
- 1970 - Pg. 55, Indian headdress/feathers costume surrounded by varsity cheerleaders.
- 1975 - Vol. 77, pg. 187, Costume worn by Emily Davies dressed as an American Indian with feather head piece.
- 2001 - Vol. 104, pg. 109, Col. Ebirt with W&M cheerleaders.
- 2002 - Vol. 104, pg. 109, Col. Ebirt, new mascot on basketball court (backwards spells Tribe) wears a 25 lb. suit to all events.
- 2003 - Vol. 105, pg. 109, Col. Ebirt costume yellow shirt, brown hat standing among students at Zable Stadium.
- 2005 - Vol. 107, pg.195, #2 Pig Costume with three students.
- The Flat Hat; see the card catalog index in the Special Collections Research Center for all references to mascots.
- "Athletics--Indian Symbolism" and "Mascots," University Archives Subject File Collection, Special Collections Research Center, Swem Library, William & Mary.
- University Archives Photograph Collection, Special Collections Research Center, Swem Library, William & Mary.
- P1988.15: Bill Smith, Indian mascot, riding Wampo the horse, published in the 1960 Colonial Echo. Black & white, 8" x 10" print.
- P1998.96: W&M mascot preparing for homecoming parade, circa 1972-1976). Black & white, 8" x 10" print.
- P1979.1144 (B2540): 1957 Homecoming parade
- Arthur W. and Leah James Scrapbook, Photo of Damm-it the campus dog.
- Office of the Dean of Student Affairs, Special Collections Research Center, Swem Library, William & Mary.
- University Archives Artifact Collection, Special Collections Research Center, Swem Library, William & Mary.
Images of a growing number of artifacts are available through the SCRC's Flickr account at http://www.flickr.com/photos/scrc/sets/72157601972522069/.
- Athletics Department Records, Special Collections Research Center, Swem Library, William & Mary.
- Search the SCRC Collections Database for other mentions of mascots and related topics.
- Images from the Griffin announcement event at William & Mary Hall on April 6, 2010, from Swem Media Center.