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Special Collections

The First Picnic Day

In the spirit of this year’s Picnic Day theme, we’ll “rewind” to the first Picnic Day.

The first “Dedication Basket Picnic” was held May 22, 1909 to honor the opening of North Hall, the first dormitory. The event drew an estimated 3,000 people by train, horse and wagon, or automobile.

Festivities included introductory remarks by Leroy Anderson, Superintendent of the University Farm, English and Spanish Ballads sung by Mrs. Mary Roberts Coolidge, a dedicatory address by Edward J. Wickson, Dean of the College of Agriculture, and additional addresses by H.A. Jastro, President of the State Agricultural Society and Benjamin Ide Wheeler, President of the University of California. Tables were arranged in the Dairy Barn for the basket picnic and guests were advised to “bring a cup and spoon, since coffee with cream and sugar will be served by the University.”

Materials in Special Collections related to Picnic Day include: the Picnic Day Collection which contains  programs, newspaper clippings, and memorabilia from the event and the Picnic Day Board of Directors Archives which contains reports from the various Picnic Day Directors such as Chairperson, Animal Events, Exhibits, and Parking. Historic photographs from Picnic Day can be found in the University Archives Photographs.

Below is an image of the front page of the 1909 Picnic Day program.

Front page, Picnic Day program, 1909


Archives and Special Collections Campus and Local History


Campus history Picnic Day