Fred Thompson's Freshman Beanie

Summary Information

Emporia State University Special Collections and Archives
Thompson, Fred M., 1882-1976.
Fred Thompson's Freshman Beanie
1.0 Linear feet
The collection contains one 1909 Kansas State Normal School freshman beanie.

Preferred Citation note

Fred Thompson’s Freshman Beanie, Emporia State University Archives, Emporia State University.

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Fred M. Thompson

Fred M. Thompson was born on September 5, 1882, in Springdale, Kansas. He was the son of Samuel C. and Adaline Thompson and the youngest of eight children. After finishing high school in 1900, he attended Campbell College in Holton, Kansas, for a year. He then attended the teaching institute in Leavenworth, Kansas, for a year. In 1902, he began teaching in Leavenworth County. Fred attended Kansas State Normal School in Emporia, Kansas, in 1906. While at Kansas State Normal School, he helped found the Phi Sigma Epsilon fraternity and was their first president. The fraternity eventually expanded to campuses all over the United States of America and in 1985 merged with another fraternity and became Phi Sigma Kappa. Fred was also a member of the Bulletin newspaper staff in 1908-1909. He left Kansas State Normal School in 1910 to take a job as superintendent of schools for Nortonville, Kansas, where he remained until 1914. Fred married Maude Nincehelser from Oskaloosa, Kansas, on June 18, 1913.The next year he returned to Kansas State Normal School and received a Bachelor of Science degree in education in 1915. After graduation Fred took a job as superintendent of schools in Horton, Kansas, where he stayed for eleven years. He later worked for the Internal Revenue Service and owned an insurance agency in Oskaloosa, Kansas.

Fred was a member of the First United Presbyterian church in Oskaloosa, Kansas, where he was an elder and taught Sunday school. He was a seventy-year member of Easton Lodge No. 45 and Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, at Easton, Kansas. He was a sixty-year member of Caswell Consistory of the thirty-second degree Scottish Rite at Kansas City, Kansas, and Abdallah Temple of the Mystle Shrine at Leavenworth. He served more than twenty-five years as secretary and manager of the Pleasant View cemetery board in Oskaloosa and was a member of the Oskaloosa Rotary club, Kansas Teachers Association and the Order of the Toltee in Topeka, Kansas. He acquired several business interests and became a stock holder in the Kansas Life Insurance Company and the Aetna Building and Loan Association of Topeka. Fred Thompson died on April 21, 1976, in Oskaloosa, Kansas.

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School Caps

The history of school caps is fairly vague. According to newspaper articles in the Bulletin, at least two types were utilized on campus circa 1915-1960. One was an all-school cap worn by boys and girls alike and designed to promote school loyalty and spirit. The other was a freshman beanie; regulations for when and where the beanie must be worn and punishments for rule violations accompanied this headgear. The design of the caps varied over the years. In 1916 a five-inch skull cap with a raven-black bill and button was worn; in 1917 the cap was made of black material with a gold “K”; in 1920 the cap was green with a gold button. Specifics as to when the wearing of school caps began and ended are unknown, although a picture caption in  The Emporia Gazette on September 15, 1981, states that freshman beanies “went out of use” in the Fall of 1963.

Student Caps: In 1915 a group of 200 Kansas State Normal male students ordered caps that could be worn to football games with the intention of creating more visible school loyalty. The caps were made of black material with a neat, old gold “K” on the front, and were described as “nifty” by the November 15, 1915, Bulletin. Many of the female students liked the boys’ caps so well that they voted at the next pep meeting to wear an all-school cap. Because of a concern that the exact same cap would be less attractive on the females, a committee of three was elected to decide on an attractive tam or stocking cap. The price of the caps was to be 75¢ each.

Freshman Beanies: Members of the freshman class were informed early each semester about the rules for wearing beanies. Generally it involved freshmen purchasing the caps, and then mandatorily wearing them when in certain locations during specified hours. Normally the caps would be worn most hours during the week with some time off on the weekends. Violators of the beanie rules were punished by the upperclassmen; this usually involved paddling with a wooden board, the dimensions of which were determined in the rules. The first week of school, Fall 1916, some freshman held an “insurrection meeting.” Boldly they declared that they would not be wearing the mandatory beanie, a 5-inch skull cap with a raven black bill and a black button. This freshman group warned that they would paddle any freshman caught wearing beanies. The upperclassmen response was that “hickory paddles are cheap” and a reminder that Lake Wooster could be very cold at that time of year. A few days later the beanie rules went into effect, and approximately 100 freshmen were immediately identified as being in violation of the “K.S.N. Rules and Regulations Governing the Wearing of Freshman Caps.” Upperclassmen armed with paddles quickly found at least 20 of these individuals guilty in “paddle court,” sentenced them for their crime, and immediately executed punishment. Because of the insurrection movement all halls and classrooms were monitored. The first violations occurred on a Tuesday, and the upperclassmen’s paddles stayed busy through Wednesday. After Thursday and Friday’s punishments were meted out there were much fewer violations.

On November 9, 1916, one hundred twenty freshmen boys wearing the customary freshman beanie and three hundred freshmen girls wearing yellow crepe caps and yellow and black armbands marched into the chapel. The freshmen president gave a speech about the freedoms of American citizens. He spoke about how freshmen were treated as though they were not American citizens, by being forced to wear the freshman caps.

As school began in Fall 1917, the Bulletin reported that “fresh meat” season had opened and that “you could ‘ear their paddles chunkin’.”

In later years the “K” Club was in charge of establishing beanie rules and enforcing them. During the 1956/1957 school year new regulations were adopted that included non-corporal punishment, instead requiring certain hours of manual labor to be performed for violations.

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Scope and Contents note

The collection consists of a 1909 freshman beanie. The beanie is red with gold thread. The beanie is embroidered with the lettering “KSN 09.” The beanie features a small brim and a fabric covered button on the top which is worn, exposing the metal button.

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Arrangement note

Single Item.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

Emporia State University Special Collections and Archives August 2009

1200 Commercial St
Campus Box 4051
Emporia, KS, 66801
(620) 341-6431

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Related Materials

Related Archival Materials note

Information about the Phi Sigma Epsilon and Phi Sigma Kappa fraternities can be found in the Eugene E. Grissom Papers (2006.0006) and Charles Wilford Guthrie’s Phi Sigma Epsilon Fraternity Paddle (2008.0007) finding aids. There are several articles that mention the freshman beanies in the Bulletin. There is also a picture of freshmen girls wearing beanies in the 2003  Spotlight, Volume 33, Number 1. Examples of other freshmen caps can be found in the Caroline Broomand Collection (2005.0009) and in the Patricia S. Miller Collection (2007.0004). Examples of paddles used on campus can be found in the Charles Wilford Guthrie’s Phi Sigma Epsilon Fraternity Paddle collection (2008.0007) and the Patricia S. Miller Collection (2007.0004).

Separated Materials note


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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • Kansas State Normal School -- Alumni and alumnae.
  • Kansas State Normal School -- Students -- Clothing.
  • Kansas State Normal School -- Students.

Personal Name(s)

  • Thompson, Fred M., 1882-1976.


  • College freshmen -- Clothing -- Kansas -- Emporia.
  • College students -- Kansas -- Emporia.
  • School administrators -- Kansas.
  • Students -- Kansas -- Emporia.
  • Teachers -- Kansas.

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Collection Inventory


Freshman beanie, red with gold thread, embroidered with the lettering “KSN 09”, 1909.