The idea for this project dates back to my freshman year, when the Rambler elective spent a session digging through three boxes of the paper’s history. While reading through past issues, I found myself awestruck by the thought and care apparent in the efforts of generations of Bush students who contributed to The Rambler. Every sheet of paper and 1930’s typewriter smudge seemed precious.
During my final year at Bush, and after two years of being The Rambler’s editor-in-chief, I proposed digitizing the most interesting articles from the archives as my senior project. My plan was to read, compile, and digitize eight decades of Rambler history in 21 days, which I now realize was absurdly ambitious. When the COVID-19 pandemic caused Bush to cancel senior projects, I was heartbroken. Luckily, the support of Alexa, Ethan, and Libby allowed me to move forward with the project despite difficult circumstances.
My primary goal was to explore ordinary teenagers’ conception of history as it unfolded around them—indeed, this mission is what energized me day after day. What was it like to encounter World War II or the women’s movement while also navigating perennial teenage anxieties? As a kid, I was obsessed with the historical American Girl books, and this project fed that same curiosity about ordinary people living through extraordinary times.
Despite the lure of hindsight, I have strived to approach past Rambler writers not as ignorant pre-moderns, but as flawed but spirited individuals just like us. Empathy has been my guiding principle, as well as the awareness that the current-day Rambler may be just as mystifying to future Bush students as the archives sometimes were to me.
What kept me motivated through the tedium of scanning, photo-editing, and posting documents was the growing awareness that the archives are full of surprising, provocative, and impassioned articles that deserve to be shared with the wider community. The list of weighty subjects that Rambler writers have grappled with includes presidential races, wars, social justice movements, technological change, and environmental catastrophe. Indeed, the archives are proof that political and social issues have always been part of the fabric of Bush’s hallways and classrooms.
Along with the articles themselves, I have included my analysis of the overarching themes and trends of each decade. On the website’s sidebar, you can browse articles by topic, or go directly to the pieces I found most fascinating. I encourage readers to have fun exploring the site and falling down rabbit holes (maybe check out the articles from your birth year!)
Those three boxes are a remarkable, precious resource, not just for Bush students, but for anyone interested in the teenage view of history.