Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » The Whole Year Through: BYU ad campaign, 1963

The Whole Year Through: BYU ad campaign, 1963

By: Ardis E. Parshall - October 20, 2009

After this morning’s appetizer ad, here’s the main course —

BYU was a major sponsor of The Improvement Era in 1963, purchasing the inside front cover of each issue that year. The landscapes, interiors, academic calendar, and fashions should make you nostalgic if you were there, or give you that familiar-but-not-quite-right disorientation if you’re younger.








April and May

















  1. This goes back to the days, I imagine, that my parents describe where general authorities would come to stake conferences in Utah and *push* BYU as the college choice (because they hadn’t hit their capped enrollment number).

    Now, of course, they can’t take everyone (but there was a graph in the BYU alumni magazine showing how BYU still takes well over 50% of the applicants and BYU-I was around 97% acceptance).

    In my stake, BYU enrollment at BYU is no longer assumed by any leader. You’re just as likely to have a top student consider BYU as his/her backup “safety” school while they wait to hear on the scholarship from Texas or A&M or (gasp! as a Texas resident), Oklahoma.

    Comment by queuno — October 20, 2009 @ 11:12 am

  2. And the Harold B Lee Libary (then, the J. Rueben Clark Library) in these pictures looks identical to when I graduated in 1996.

    Comment by queuno — October 20, 2009 @ 11:13 am

  3. Although, they did miss the concepts of “open inquiry” and “research” on “what makes a university great”…

    Comment by queuno — October 20, 2009 @ 11:21 am

  4. This is James Lileks territory! Well done.

    Comment by gst — October 20, 2009 @ 11:24 am

  5. I’m always a big fan of “that certain spirit.” It is sort of like that certain je ne sais quoi.

    Comment by J. Stapley — October 20, 2009 @ 11:36 am

  6. Ah, the only thing needed to complete these scenes from my childhood is a worm-eaten old oaken bucket! Thanks Ardis.

    The views of the library, both inside and out, do make you stop and wonder, though: “What was the architect thinking?”

    Comment by Mark B. — October 20, 2009 @ 1:07 pm

  7. Ha — that picture in January’s mag of co-eds trudging through the snow to get to class isn’t exactly what I’d call smart advertising! “Come to Provo and freeze your buns off! Fun!”

    My own father was on a mission in 1963 and was looking forward to returning to BYU the following year. To put it mildly, this series was a blast to look through. Thanks!

    Comment by Hunter — October 20, 2009 @ 1:27 pm

  8. “Expansion” and “something special” are great examples for the Blog of Unnecessary Quotation Marks.

    Comment by Michelle Glauser — October 20, 2009 @ 2:07 pm

  9. It’s interesting to me to trace the statistics on BYU wards through the year’s ads–33 in the February ad, 38 in the October ad, 40 in the November ad, and 43 in the December ad. From what I’ve read (Gary James Bergera, “Building Wilkinson’s University,” Dialogue 30.3 [Fall 1997], 111-12), enrollment at BYU boomed during the early 1960s, rising from 11,178 in 1961 to 18,725 in 1965.

    Comment by Justin — October 20, 2009 @ 2:53 pm

  10. Most of those skirts — and shoes — that the women are wearing look horribly uncomfortable. When I started at BYU in the late 80s, I had to wear a skirt to work every day, but by the time I graduated, it was no longer necessary, even when I spent the last semester or two of that job working within the Religion Department.

    Didn’t campus still look mostly like that in the late 80s? They had moved Karl Maeser from the Eyring Science Center to the Maeser Building, but other than that the buildings all looked the same (i.e. hideously ugly). But, oh, what wonderful years those were. (Bring on that old oaken bucket!)

    Comment by Researcher — October 20, 2009 @ 2:54 pm

  11. Having been a boy myself (sorry, Mr. Riley) growing up in Provo in those years, I can attest to the expansion of the campus during those years. I hadn’t remembered that the Smoot Office Building (somehow never called by its proper initials, except by a near relative who had an office there for most of the 1980s) was finished by 1963, but obviously it was. Note that none of the photographs show the east side of the quad between the Knight Building, the library and the aforementioned building which I’d call by its initials except my comment would be banished to spam purgatory or worse. I suppose that’s because the Harris Arts building was a-building at that time.

    As to the number of wards, my dad was a bishop of the 11th Ward, beginning in early 1965. I think there were six stakes then, and under 70 wards. By the time he was released, I think there were 10 stakes, and I don’t know how many wards.

    “Hideously ugly” was a requirement for BYU architecture back then. Put a lawyer in charge, and whattya expect?

    Comment by Mark B. — October 20, 2009 @ 4:53 pm

  12. I always thought walking through Campus was like time traveling back to the 1960s.

    Now I can see I wasn’t that far off.

    Comment by Ben — October 20, 2009 @ 5:20 pm

  13. Give it another generation. Your grandkids will be talking about the lovely old buildings and how the cookie cutter architecture of 2033 can’t hold a candle to the classic beauty of BYU’s ca. 1960 architecture.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — October 20, 2009 @ 6:05 pm

  14. you look at that picture from february of that interior and I would suggest it is not markedly different from the stuff being built today with its love of rounded corners… I could fit right in to our newest building at my alma mater

    Comment by JonW — October 20, 2009 @ 8:43 pm

  15. Researcher,
    I was there in the late 80’s. These pictures look very much like the campus I was at.

    Comment by Bruce Crow — October 21, 2009 @ 12:29 am

  16. The library really isn’t the same as most of us remember. It’s missing the south addition that was put on in the early or mid ’70s. You can see that particularly in the June, September, and November shots that show the library from the south. On the closeup shots of the library entrance, I can’t tell if we’re looking at the north or south entrance.

    In my days at BYU, the library was a thoroughfare. Students would walk through the library between the north and south entrances on their way to class. The last time I visited the campus was about 10 years ago, and they had already added that huge mostly underground addition to the north. I had my family with me, and it was a scorching hot day in the summer. To get out of the heat for a few minutes, I decided to walk through the library from north to south. I was startled to get to the south side of the library and find ourselves trapped in the library by a wall where the doors used to be.

    #11: I’m a little confused. Are you conflating the Faculty Office Building (FOB) with the Abraham Smoot Administration Building (ASB)? I don’t see the FOB in any of these buildings. The FOB was originally the press box of the old stadium, which was built on the hill overlooking the present site of the Richards Building. In 1963, the old stadium would still have been in use, so the FOB would have been there, but as part of the stadium.

    I do remember a joke about the Faculty Office Building being renamed the Staff Office Building. I also remember the ASB (an X-shaped building) being referred to as the X-Building, The Great Chi of Campus, or The Cross We All Must Bear (the latter mostly by faculty).

    Comment by Left Field — October 21, 2009 @ 6:50 am

  17. No, Left Field, I know well what the official name of that X-shaped building is. As I said, there was at least one faculty member whom I knew very well who almost always referred to it by its initials–as if it had been named the Smoot Office Building. (And I think that the old press box was actually named the Stadium Office Building for a short time, until someone realized that SOB could stand for something other than “Sons of Brigham.”)

    Another interesting naming “problem”–nine years later, when the Marriott Center was completed, it was named the Marriott Activities Center, and it took about 27 minutes for the sportswriters to shorten that to MAC and to turn it into the Big Mac. The story is that the Marriott family had no interest in giving free publicity to a competitor (not that McDonalds needed any more), and the big barn became the Marriott Center about two days later.

    Comment by Mark B. — October 21, 2009 @ 7:29 am

  18. As to the number of wards, my dad was a bishop of the 11th Ward, beginning in early 1965. I think there were six stakes then, and under 70 wards. By the time he was released, I think there were 10 stakes, and I don’t know how many wards.

    Right on. The Church Almanac indicates that the 4th, 5th, and 6th stakes were organized in May 1964, the 7th and 8th in April 1967, and the 9th and 10th in April 1969.

    Comment by Justin — October 21, 2009 @ 7:56 am

  19. ah, the 60s cosmopolitan look, both in dress and in architecture. Never been a big fan.

    Comment by Dan — October 21, 2009 @ 7:58 am

  20. Mark,

    I think it was officially known as the “SOB” only during the time Pres. Wilkinson was there. 😉

    Comment by Chris H. — October 21, 2009 @ 8:24 am

  21. Don’t tempt me, Chris. :-)

    And, Justin, thanks for the confirmation that I still have a little bit of memory left.

    Comment by Mark B. — October 21, 2009 @ 8:51 am

  22. I think I once was a member of the 11th ward.

    And let’s face it — no ONE thinks of BYU as a cookie-cutter architecture. In fact, I think it would be an interesting study to order all of the buildings by date and see just how much the architecture is changing from building to building. There’s just no real cohesive style.

    Comment by queuno — October 21, 2009 @ 4:15 pm

  23. It’s been fun to watch BYU change over the years. These pics are great.

    Interesting to see the change in the ‘push’ to recruit vs. how they have to turn so many away now.

    I still think there is a special spirit there, though. (Unless, of course, you are attending a football game….)

    Comment by m&m — October 24, 2009 @ 11:49 pm

  24. In your text I have seen the statue of Karl Maeser in front of Eyring Center. Is it moved? I remember me that it stood in front of building which hold his name?
    May be I did not visit for a while!

    Comment by MRalf — May 19, 2010 @ 5:20 am

  25. What say you, BYU alums of the ’60s? Was the Maeser statue really in front of the Eyring Science Center? Or is this picture (the August ad) really a composite of two photos, one to represent the past and the other the future?

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — May 19, 2010 @ 7:31 am

  26. Apparently the statue once stood in front of the Eyring Science Center.

    Comment by Justin — May 19, 2010 @ 7:53 am

  27. And that is why we call Justin “The King.”

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — May 19, 2010 @ 7:56 am

Leave a comment

RSS feed for comments on this post.
TrackBack URI