USC Trojan Family Magazine covers of the past and present
A nostalgic look back at some of the unusual stories from USC Trojan Family Magazine. (Photos/Courtesy of USC University Archives)

The autumn 2020 issue of USC Trojan Family Magazine marks a transition. It’s moving from printing quarterly to twice a year. Change is nothing new for USC alumni news publications, though. With that in mind, what better time for a nostalgic look back?

Click through USC alumni news magazines and newspapers in the USC Digital Library online at digitallibrary.usc.edu. You’ll take a trip through history.

First published in 1920, USC’s Southern California Alumni News started as a monthly whose words reflected contemporary attitudes about men and women. One issue from 1923, for example, called out the success of Campus Frolics. The student event was known for its chorus lines, “which bid to rival the ‘fair femmes’ of Zeigfeld in pulchritude. These are to be supported, figuratively speaking, by the handsomest of USC athletes.”

Over the decades, the university grew and its publications matured. USC alumni news articles increasingly highlighted the perspectives and deepening contributions of Trojan Family members — and dropped dated commentary about their looks. The publication’s nameplate changed, too. Southern California Alumni News turned into the Alumni Review, then USC Trojan Family and finally USC Trojan Family Magazine.

Editors in the early 1940s honored Trojan alumni who enlisted in the armed forces and acknowledged the sacrifices of those at home. USC’s alumni association curtailed its activities to help the university focus on its core mission. The decision gave alumni “an added opportunity to expend more energy in the winning of the war,” according to one writer.

Fast forward 40 years and you’ll find USC Trojan Family reflecting the nation’s excitement about the 1984 Olympics in L.A. and the school’s longtime reputation as a sports powerhouse. Swimmer and five-time Olympic medalist John Naber ’77 splashed out of the pool and onto the cover waving a victory sign.

The publications’ articles and format serve as a testament to their times. Black ink on newsprint gave way to glossy color photos. Monthly issues turned into quarterlies. Stories and photos were once uploaded to the internet as an afterthought, but now digital content comes first. What will the future bring? Go to trojanfamily.usc.edu to see what develops.

To explore USC publications from the past, go to the USC Digital Library. Select “Collections” in the top menu. Then scroll down to “University of Southern California History Collection.”

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