College Dorm Life in the 70s and 80s: Images from the Archives

BEFORE SMARTPHONES, iTunes and laptops, Champlain students had typewriters, record and cassette tape players, and shared pay phones. A new mini exhibit of images from the College Archives, on display this semester on the first floor of Miller Information Commons, highlights College dorm life in the 1970s and 1980s.

Besides the technological differences, life on campus was more regulated — especially for women. Dorms were single-sex, students had curfews, and visitors (including fellow students of the same gender) were only allowed in common areas, during certain hours. Resident house mothers, the precursors to today’s head residents, enforced the rules. Colleges across the country established strict policies like these following cultural expectations for them to act in loco parentis, or on behalf of parents. Curfews and visitation hours were relaxed by the late 1970s and eventually abolished, disappearing along with pay phones, record players, and typewriters.

Students had fun regardless, and they brought a sense of style to their dorm rooms. The resident of this room decorated her bed and windows with a coordinating rainbow-themed set:

Unidentified dorm room, c. 1980-1985, Champlain College Archives
Stop by MIC to see some great shots of students studying in their rooms, using pay phones, and goofing off together.