"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
|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
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.
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
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.
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.