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The Eagle

A Brief History of American University's Student Newspaper

American University 's undergraduate student newspaper, The Eagle, began its run in November 1925 as The American Eagle with the publication of its first four-page issue. Nine years later it ran its first cartoon in 1934.

The American Eagle won first prize in the Virginia Inter-Collegiate Press Association's college newspaper contest in 1937.

50th Anniversary of American University:

In 1943, The American Eagle, now a member of the Associated Collegiate Press (Chicago), published a "Jubilee Bird" edition of 8 pages with 22 photographs and written by 29 students and faculty in honor of the 50th anniversary of the university.

World War II:

On July 13 of that same year the Board of Trustees decided to publish a campus-wide, faculty-run newspaper. The publication was re-named "The Courier," with a faculty Editorial Board. The Courier ran until October 1944 when weekly publication of The American Eagle resumed.

1950s and 1960s:

In the late 1950's and through most of the 1960's, campus politics found their way into almost every issue, with The Eagle covering the important happenings of the student government, the University's administration and the Board of Trustees. The paper's news coverage also embodied the times in which its writers were living. During the 1950's, The Eagle focused more on campus social events such as fraternity and sorority activities and concerts.

In April 1964, The Bald Eagle, AU's humor magazine, took over The American Eagle for its first annual April Fools' issue, though there were April Fools cartoons as early as 1950. Sandy "Lee" Marrs drew the editorial cartoons from 1964 through 1967.

The paper's name was changed to The Eagle in the fall of 1965. In 1966, The Eagle became a member of the "Underground Syndicate," a North American press alliance that printed and redistributed liberal journalism. At the time, The Eagle was the only official school newspaper to join the coalition.

The Eagle's yearly publication run was from September through May though there were summer issues in 1969, 1971, 1972, and 1974. Of note are two collaborative issues of the American, Georgetown, and George Washington University student newspapers dated November 17, 1969 and May 4, 1971.

Commemorative Issue on John F. Kennedy:

On November 23, 1963, The Eagle published a special edition in commemoration of John Fitzgerald Kennedy in the wake of his assassination. The edition focused on the life of Kennedy, the highlights of his presidency, and his 1963 commencement speech at AU in which he announced his plans for a test ban treaty.

Thomas Shales, a Pulitzer-Prize winning columnist for the Washington Post, served as Editor-In-Chief for the 1966-1967 academic year.

Vietnam War:

During the Vietnam War, The Eagle reported on war protests, student involvement in these protests, and the campus events pertaining to the war. Particularly noteworthy articles include coverage of social science research conducted on AU's campus as part of the war effort and the ensuing campus-wide protests. The Eagle also covered activities of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), including their eight-hour-long take over of the President's house in April 1969, in protest over AU's involvement in the Vietnam War. In the Fall of 1969, the paper returned to weekly publication.

Important figures who visited AU also made headlines in the The Eagle; such figures include Gerald Ford, Hubert Humphrey and Robert F. Kennedy. Controversial figures such as Timothy Leary and George Lincoln Rockwell, the leader of the American Nazi Party, also spoke to the campus community.

The Eagle's editorial board focused its attention on the causes it thought most affected the student body including membership in the National Students Association and the quality of food service on campus. The editors also wrote about national issues such as the Vietnam War, the Iranian hostage situation, and the ensuing gas and oil crises of the 1970's.

50th Anniversary of The Eagle:

In 1975, The Eagle celebrated its 50th anniversary with a special issue reviewing the past fifty years of reporting. This issue featured old headlines and a spread of every masthead ever used by The Eagle.

In 1985-1986, The Eagle ran a series entitled "Six Decades of Change: AU since the 20s."

In March 1987, the volume numbers began running from March to March.

1980s and 1990s:

During the 1980s and 1990s, The Eagle reported on campus construction projects as well as the campus environmental investigation and cleanup activities related to the U.S. Army's testing of munitions and warfare agents during World War I. Also covered was the scandal leading to and the aftermath of President Richard Berendzen's resignation as well as AU's Centennial in February 1993 at which President Bill Clinton received an honorary doctorate and made his first major speech on world trade and the economy.

The Eagle returned to publishing two issues a week in 2002. There is both a print and online version of the newspaper, and the student-run publication continues to report on newsworthy local and national topics.