From The Archives: Celebrating 125 years of The Gettysburgian

At a time in our history when the global, national, and local climate is constantly changing, accessing the most up-to-date, objective, quality sources of news is of the utmost importance. When news is at our fingertips, notifications stream in daily, even hourly, alerting us of the latest developments that impact our politics, climate, and lifestyles.

At Gettysburg College, one organization on campus has spent 125 years dedicated to informing the community with quality student-run journalism—The Gettysburgian.

What began in 1897 as a pursuit to keep alumni in touch with their alma mater as “the representative and official organ of the institution” has since advanced, as the College has grown and the publication’s audience expanded.

By the early 1900s, the publication established itself as a voice of the students. Editors covered campus events, but also implored students to vote, to keep the campus clean, and to pay attention in class. Today, The Gettysburgian staff continues to keep their fingers on the pulse of campus and cover issues that matter to students.

“Independent student-run journalism is impactful in the sense that we’re close to our readers because we are them,” current Editor-in-Chief Katie Oglesby ’23 said. “We sit next to our readers in classes, we play on the same sports teams as them, we work with them side-by-side, and that means we know intimately what students are thinking about and how they are reacting to issues.”

The award-winning student-run campus newspaper has evolved with the nation over the course of its 125-year history. Students reported on the tenures of 12 College presidents, wars and elections, visits to campus by prominent figures, and, most recently, the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Everyone on the staff was plugged into the various activities and news on the campus. In my senior year, opposition to the Vietnam War was growing, and we had some stories in the paper about that. We tried to cover what was going on in the outside world as well as what was happening on the campus,” said former managing editor Janet Stavropoulos ’67.

Over time, the newspaper also underwent structural changes. In 2019, the staff updated from a newspaper to a magazine, while maintaining a website and updating social media daily. The widespread readership among students, faculty, staff, and alumni remains unchanged in its history.

The first issue of The Gettysburgian in 1897

“The Gettysburgian was the training ground where I learned many of the skills I use today at Cornell University: leading a team; working with students, faculty, and staff; planning ahead—but having contingency plans—and working through crisis,” said Robin Roger ’02, assistant dean for communications at Cornell University’s College of Human Ecology. “Those lessons were never more important than in the fall of my senior year. On 9/11, it felt like the world was falling apart. The staff pulled together to help our audience process a life-defining attack, a nation at war, and the loss of our collective innocence. For the current staff, that defining moment may be the pandemic. I hope one day they’ll look back on this moment as a source of personal growth, battle-tested resilience, and dedication to telling the story.”

All along, the longest-running campus organization has retained its independence and continues to be a student-driven source of campus news—a bearer of Gettysburg College history.


The Gettysburgian publishes reactions to the rise of Adolf Hitler. Other topics at this time included the Treaty of Versailles, communism, Prohibition, the New Deal, progressivism, and jazz.


The coverage in The Gettysburgian begins to reflect the unrest of the nation. Reporting about campus events waned as the newspaper featured stories about the Vietnam War, critiqued administration, trustees, and faculty, and included more letters to the editor. At this time, Gettysburg College President Carl Hanson strongly supported independent, student-run journalism and opposed any censorship of the paper.


The front page of The Gettysburgian displays presidential candidate Reagan’s landslide victory over incumbent Jimmy Carter. An informal campus survey showed that students favored Reagan.


The Gettysburgian reports on the September 11 attacks. Coverage included opinions reflecting on the emotional toll of the tragedy, stories on lectures about terrorism, and campus events to provide the College community with support. The Gettysburgian also honored the alumnus who survived the attacks, John Schmittle ’01, and the three alumni who died: Tim Betterly ’81, P’12, P’15, Joe Hasson ’89, and Doug DiStefano ’99.


The Gettysburgian transitions to a monthly magazine, marking the first substantial design overhaul and departure from standard newspaper format. Six months later, The Gettysburgian paused its print publication for nearly a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic but continued to publish articles online.

by Phoebe Doscher ’22, former Gettysburgian editor-in-chief (May 2021-May 2022)
Posted: 02/20/23

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