The Class Colors Tradition
The tradition of assigning a color—red, green, yellow, or purple—to each class at Lawrence has a long history. It began at Milwaukee-Downer College, the women’s college that consolidated with Lawrence in 1964. In the fall of 1914, Milwaukee-Downer held its first Colors Day, in which the incoming freshman class was formally presented with a banner in its designated color.
The four colors had been chosen, according to a 1922 Milwaukee Journal article, to represent “the purple of the spring violets, the green of the first grass, the yellow of the July dandelions while the red comes from the hawthorne berries, the deep color of the ripened oak leaves and from the tint of the college buildings.” For the next 50 years, each Milwaukee-Downer student received a blazer and beanie in red, green, yellow, or purple. The colors provided a sense of class unity that was reinforced through competitive events like the annual regatta and Hat Hunt.
The tradition did not immediately carry over with the consolidation. But in 1988, it was reinstated for all incoming classes at Lawrence. Today, class colors serve as an important reminder of our Milwaukee-Downer heritage, as well as a way to identify with class compatriots.