Timeline          Histories          
People Publications Events The Campus Athletics Daily Life



The Caravan

"A caravan across the desert's sand
Does it bear gold, and amethysts of blue?
A caravan with wealth at its command
Does it bear dreams? Then may those dreams come true!"

The Caravan, Feb ’28 Vol. II


On November 24, 1926 an announcement was made in the Cosmos that a new club had been organized on the Coe campus. Under the direction of Prof. Vincent H. Ogburn of the English department, The Writers' Club was established as an elite literary society that met on a bi-weekly basis to discuss members’ creative writing projects. Membership was by election. Their mission was, according to the April 15 1937 Cosmos "to stimulate creative arts in the college to promote appreciation of contemporary writers, and to provide a medium of expression for creative writing in the college." What they provided was to become the oldest creative writing publication on the Coe Campus: The Caravan


In May of 1927 the first edition of The Caravan was produced; a small, twenty-four page booklet, no larger than a pamphlet, bound by a gray stiff paper cover. The cover displayed a small illustration of an Arabian night scene. The editors explained in a forward that "never before had a magazine of this type been brought out upon the Coe campus. Everything was new, everything in it must be tried out for the first time."
And thus, a literary magazine was born. Produced on a tri-annual basis and edited by a core group of writers, the publication included a variety of sketches, poems, and short stories, but nothing over a thousand words. From its debut in 1927 until 1932 the book continued to be printed in pamphlet form with a consistent black ink camel illustration on the cover. The only physical difference with each issue was the color; it ranged from peppermint to red to mustard yellow. In May 1933 (only one volume was published that year) the publication was much larger: 8" by 13" (approx.) with the words Coe Caravan handwritten on the cover. Although the work inside was of good quality, the book looked extremely unprofessional; it was bound together with string.
This size and formant changed again in 1935 to 8" by 10" and including pieces over a thousand words.  Throughout the late 20's and 30's Paul Engle, Robert Gates, Mary Elizabeth Shaler, Jesse Burgess, Edward Swem, Doris Bryant, Ida Dorothy Mikulas and Ray Pierce published work in The Caravan. It was in the 30's, with contributors such as Pierce and Mikulas, that The Caravan saw a shift in the style of published work. What was once a collection of nature poetry and stories of troubled love became a bit more risqué, including lino-block artwork by Pierce in Jan 1936 of a nude man leaping though flames.
In 1937 the faculty advisor for The Caravan and the Writers' Club changed from Prof. Ogburn to Prof. Lichtenstein. Under new direction, The Caravan began to take shape as an actual book. At approx. 6' by 8' inches, The Caravan now included a wide variety of artwork inside as well as on the cover (such as a man in a loin cloth and four Roman men with laurel crowns.) The writing continued to push the boundaries as well, including satirical pieces and occasional profanity.

The book was published and printed on The Caravan press, which was located on the third floor of Williston Hall. In just two years, the April 15 1937 Cosmos stated, "there have been 2,500,000 up and down movements of this press." These movements happened faithfully, three times a year, until 1944 when Dr. Lichtenstein took a leave from Coe to serve in the United States Army. Upon his return in 1946, publication resumed, although sporadically, until The Caravan finally became an annual publication in 1953.

The role of the Writer's Club also began to change. This once strong group of over twenty members had dwindled to, in 1961, a core group of four editors for The Caravan. Lichtenstein had continued to serve as faculty advisor for the club despite the fact that he gave up his position as faculty advisor of The Caravan in 1956. This role was then filled by a variety of English faculty who were responsible for selecting that year's poetry, fiction, assistant and editor-in-chief.

Issues from the late sixties and early seventies included experimental fiction pieces about depression and sex as well as metaphorical pieces about love. The artwork included photographs of protests as well as human form sketches. 1969 was the first year The Caravan was properly bound; it was 56 (check number) pages with a glossy cover of a protest.

Prof. Lichtenstein resumed his position as faculty advisor for the 1970 and 1971 editions of The Caravan, and it is with his retirement in 1972(?) that The Caravan ceased publication under this title. Prof. Charles Aukema was added to the English faculty and after one final issue in the winter of 1972, The Caravan became the Coe Review, a publication similar in nature and content, but publishing works of outside authors as well as Coe students and faculty.

  Home Coe College Contact Us  

Copyright 2006
Coe College
1220 1st Avenue NE
Cedar Rapids, IA 52402