The History Of Academic Regalia And In What Way It Has Evolved

By Allex Oneil

The practice of using academic regalia can be greatly contributed to the habits in Europe. It was actually in Europe where the formal education was founded. In the colonial period the robes were worn inside the areas of the university as school uniforms. In the beginning of the 19th century the academic robes had been slowly replaced by an official school uniform and the robes had been seldom used. These academic regalia became the essential apparel for ceremonies or when students or school officials have to represent the school. In certain schools, the practice of using the academic dress as school uniform carried on.

At the onset of the nineteenth century improvements had been designed to the gowns. The University of Pennsylvania stopped wearing the hood over the gown. In 1887 the school integrated faculty colors at the shoulder section of the gown.

In 1891, the New York University integrated 3 stripe bands on each sleeve. This particular practice was patterned with Columbia wherein the stripe bands had been initially included. The bands for the master's gown were black while for the doctoral gowns it was purple. Within the same year an orange stripe band between the shoulders were designed on the black gowns at Princeton. From that time, several gowns have shun away from the standard black gown. It has been observed that gray colored gowns had been worn in Hampton-Sydney in 1893.

However, it had been with this that the Intercollegiate Code of Academic Costume was implemented in 1895. This was initially thought of in 1893 when the trustees of Princeton started the introduction of a "uniform academic costume". This was initially to recognize the student's certain degree, university, and faculty. The Code prescribed the specific trim and style of the academic dress. The materials utilized for the gown and the colors which represents specific disciplines were also recommended by the Code.

In the start of the twentieth century the Code was reviewed to figure out its worth for the present time. Considerations were to be done to suit the present period and particular improvements were made to the Code. One of the improvements included the adjustment to the hood used on a master's gown. The hood was reduced to three-and-one-half feet coming from the original four feet. Another customization done had been the inclusion of the chevron on the hood lining. This is when 2 or more colors appear on the hood.

In 1960, a Committee on Academic Costumes and Ceremonies made another evaluation on the Code. Several modifications had been done that were regarded as important to the Code. This included moving the arm slit from above the elbow to the wrist for the master's gown. The sleeves had an arc cut at the front. The master's and doctoral academic regalia was considered either used closed or open. The mortarboard was replaced by soft square caps used by women. The tassels affixed to the cap came in other colors aside from black. All of these changes had been granted affirmation in 1959.

Some other modifications had been made as time passed. Nevertheless, the significance and symbols of the academic regalia remain rooted in its own history. The symbolisms and impact of its custom continue to be genuine as to this day.

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