The Blue Book In Retrospect: 1921-2011

It was a world where the only major road in town was made of dirt and cobblestone. Instead of the busy traffic of Interstate 28, trolleys rolled down Andover hill. The campus was smaller, the Chapel did not exist, Pearson Hall blocked the view of the vista, and the Addison Gallery of American Art was yet to be built.

But as this portrait of Phillips Academy has evolved over the past 100 years, so too has the Blue Book, a manual that details school expectations and policies. This year marks the 90 year anniversary of the Blue Book.

The Blue Book began in 1921 as a thin twenty-page booklet around the size of an iPhone. The current Blue Book 2011-2012 is around 76 pages. And the Blue Book was not always the royal hue published today, over years the Blue Book featured a teal (from 1940-1941), periwinkle (from 1964-1965) and navy cover (from 1922-1923).

In 1962, a student organization called the Mirror published a spoof of the Blue Book called the Boo Book. The Boo Book included rules about the “Fold-upian,” a spoof on the Phillipian, and “The Pottie,” a spoof of Pot Pourri.

The passage on the Fold-upian wrote, “The Fold-upian is the oldest newspaper anywhere…it arrives from the printer every week replete with typographical errors and school newsroom (in that order).”

Though the Blue Book has undergone scores of changes since its original publication, the major adjustments can be understood through the changes in daily life, academic and work obligations and discipline.



When it comes to academic studies in the early to mid 1900’s, the boys studied vigorously, much more than the average student does today according to Timothy Sprattler, school archivist.

“The academics were more intense. Work duty was more intense. The students had more involved schedules and there were no TVs or computers for distraction,” said Sprattler.

In 1997 the Blue Book included a section on “Computers, Technology and Telecommunications” for the first time.

Honor Roll was also awarded to any student “having no grade lower than 82% and a grade of at least 92% in half the number of his hours,” in 1920.

Similar to the Student Alert System today, where faculty can notify a student’s teachers about a potential issue, Postings and Red Flags were given well throughout the past century. Unlike today, however, lists were made public to all adults in the Phillips Academy community.


Though rules about alcohol consumption and smoking have fluctuated significantly, policies enforcing honesty, respect and behavior have not changed over the years.

In the past, “there wasn’t a whole lot of ‘Let’s sit down and talk.’ If you had a problem you were gone. There wasn’t a lot of wiggle room,” said Sprattler.

A section that is no longer part of the Blue Book specified the rules against criticizing the school during the 1920s.

“All the publicity that this school has is obtained through the alumni and members of the school…Always remember that it is not consistent with Andover Spirit to criticize the school unjustly, or to overemphasize its minor defects, when at home and elsewhere…be an Andover rooter here and everywhere you go,” instructs the 1923 Blue Book.

The school’s anti-smoking policy has varied over the years. When poet Oliver Wendell Holmes attended Phillips Academy in 1825, the Academy had a strict anti-smoking policy. Holmes reportedly stored his cigars in the barrel of his revolver, since handguns were allowed on campus but not cigars.

Later, the Robert S. Peabody Museum of Archaeology would host “smokers” or archaeology lectures where students could smoke while listening to visiting scholars.

A Blue Book from the 1920s wrote, “Seniors are allowed certain privileges…[such as] smoking along the senior fence [and] returning from week-ends at eight-thirty on Sunday instead of five-fifteen.”

In the 1970s when legal drinking age was eighteen years old, students would also frequent the Andover Inn bar for a drink.

Though the rules were more lenient, “what you weren’t allowed to do was get drunk,” said Sprattler.

Daily Life

Perhaps the most visible change over the past 100 years in a current student’s multi-colored schedule is a lack of mandatory chapel. Nearly 100 years ago, Phillips Academy boys were required to attend weekday and Sunday chapel. Sometimes, there were required morning and evening services.

“Religion was part of the curriculum,” said Sprattler

Though religion was integrated in the daily schedule, students could also attend the nearby Theological School, a missionary “college” that taught languages, Biblical studies and sacred texts until the early twentieth century.

Study hours and start time of classes have remained the same, however. A typical schoolday would commence with morning chapel, approximately 15 minutes long, and end with evening study hours from 8 pm onward.

The schedule was paced at different intervals from today because students were expected to travel to classes more quickly.

“If a teacher could get to class in 7 minutes, then the students were also expected to do the same.” said Sprattler.

Students were also required to learn the school songs and cheers of the day for athletic conferences. One particular cheer from 1960, “Royal Blue” included the lines, “Andover’s legions her ancient foe defy/ Over the hilltop a war song is ringing/ Shoulder to shoulder we back the fighting crew/Hail the Royal Blue.”

Rules for room visitations remained the same before and after the merger of Phillips Academy and Abbot Academy in 1973. Only during approved extracurricular activities, meals and classes were boys allowed to visit the girls. Specific times for visitation were enforced and students of the opposite sex could not visit each other’s rooms.

The Blue Book also outlined clubs and organizations during the 1920s. One of the clubs that no longer exists was the College Club, where groups of students planning to matriculate at Yale, Harvard, Princeton, Dartmouth or M.I.T formed organizations.

According to the Blue Book the clubs held banquets where, “prominent men come up each year from college to speak at the club banquets, and in that way a definite connection is established between the colleges and this school.”