Long before viral videos were the comedy medium of choice, Wildcats chortled over the Purple Parrot. NU’s student-produced humor magazine, published quarterly from 1921 until 1950, featured articles, cartoons, and photographs. To today’s students, the magazine’s humor may seem obscure, if not downright sophomoric, but the Parrot’s always lively take on collegiate life illuminates the tastes and trends of a vibrant era. The magazine’s graphics—especially the colorful covers—are as striking as ever. And the advertisements can be as fun and interesting as the content.
In its heyday, the Parrot made fun of all things Northwestern: Greek life, faculty personalities, college romance, and such venerable institutions as the Daily (lampooned in the Parrot as “The Dilly”). It also went beyond NU memes to parody national publications like the New Yorker. But in May, 1950, with subscriptions declining (reflective of changing taste among student readers), the Purple Parrot ended its flight, with the farewell squawk that “The old bird did not always live wisely, but it shall die with dignity.”
Now the old Parrot has risen again (to mix ornithological metaphors): the original copies held in the Northwestern University Archives have been digitized, thanks to the nonprofit Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Illinois (CARLI), and are now available on the Internet Archive.
Find it here: http://libguides.northwestern.edu/purpleparrot