The Hampshire College Frog

When Hampshire College opened in 1970, media studies of all kinds were just coming into academic fashion. One of the results of this trend was a desire to integrate photography, film, and sound recordings with text for a variety of purposes, academic and social. In addition, everyone at the College was brand new, and most were unknown to everyone else. So, Hampshire produced a community directory which included photos (originally taken for the college photo IDs) as well as name and contact information for all the members of the community — faculty, staff, and student. On the cover of this directory was a full color photograph of a frog. That year and forever after, this picture directory of the Hampshire community was known as the "Frogbook." It was produced every year (sometimes every semester) from 1970 to 1995.

The frog became an unofficial mascot or symbol of a Hampshire student. Peer advisors or house interns were sometimes known as "frogs." One year, student orientation leaders were issued frog t-shirts, and another year the library and academic computing gave away mousepads emblazoned with a green and yellow frog. The President's office has been known to give away frog ties. One President complained that she was being overwhelmed with frog gifts, usually toys, and transferred a few to the archives. as of 2023, the Admissions Office still gives away more frog stickers than they can count.

In 1985, in conjunction with the 15th anniversary of Hampshire College, recent Hampshire graduates and graphic designers Marc Tuchman 81F and Barbara Kann 81F were commissioned to produce a booklet that would serve to introduce new students to the Hampshire program. The result was an illustrated booklet in comic strip form called, The Seeing Eye Frog Presents: Taking Root, or, More Precisely, Hampshire for Beginners (and Others)! The seeing eye frog takes readers through an irreverent but highly accurate account of Hampshire's history, philosophy, and former academic program. A classic, it has been updated several times since 1985.

For prospective students, current students, and former students, not to mention anyone who is familiar with Hampshire, it is an enjoyable and illuminating read. (Please note that Taking Root does not reflect the current academic system and available resources. This is a historical piece.)

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