A History of Halloween Traditions At Phillips Academy

Decades ago, on a bitter October night, upperclassmen members of Auctoritas, Unitas, Veritas (AUV), a secret society at Phillips Academy, coerced innocent freshmen boys to spend the night in the cemetery to complete their initiation into the club. This was just one of many now abandoned Halloween traditions that used to take place on campus. Initates to AUV were instructed to “not comb or brush [their] hair nor wash [their] face or hands, [and they] should smoke nothing but a clay pipe with Lucky Strike tobacco and must not speak to anybody outside of A.U.V.” Several Halloween traditions involved playing pranks around campus. Popular pranks included stealing professor’s cars and moving cars into academic buildings. On Halloween of 1960, students put two faculty members’ Ford Thunderbirds in the new Copley Wing of the Oliver Wendell Holmes Library (OWHL), donated by James Copley ’35 in 1959. Following the destruction of the Copley Wing 30 years later, librarians have reported that James Copley’s ghost haunted that portion of the library, according to Timothy Sprattler, Assisstant Librarian and Interim Archivist. Along the divide of the old Copley Wing are small cracks in the ceiling, rumored to be created by the vengeful Copley. Librarians frequently blame the chronic leaks in the library on Copley’s ghost, according to Sprattler. In the Peabody Museum, the frequent slamming doors, moving items and eerie noises that creak through the attic floors convinced museum staff that Warren K. Moorehead, Head of the Department of Archaeology from 1901 to 1938, haunted the building. Last year, a gust of wind shut the door and the deadbolt and locked a foreman at the Peabody Mueseum into the back stairwell, according to Marla Taylor. Museum staff blamed the ghost of Moorehead for the spooky occurrence. In 1692, three hundred years prior to these occurances, the townspeople of Andover feared witches rather than the ghosts. More individuals were arrested for witchcraft in Andover than in any other New England town. While 38 witches were accused of witchcraft in Salem, Massachusetts, members of the Andover community suspected over 50 witches. Town officials, however, hanged only three suspected witches. Halloween pranks overwhelmed the Phillips Academy community throughout the 20th century, though in the 19th century Phillips Academy did not honor any Halloween traditions. Current Halloween celebrations don’t include student pranks or ghost stories, focusing rather on parties, food and pumpkin carving. This year, students dressed in elaborate costumes to celebrate Halloween at the Halloween Dance, funded by the Pine Knoll and Flagstaff Cluster, devoured Halloween- themed desserts in Paresky Commons and lit hand- crafted Jack o’ Lanterns in dorm entryways.