The Thistle was Carnegie Mellon University’s student yearbook. First published in 1906, the Thistle chronicles student life on campus. In addition to the expected yearbook content of senior photographs, club and team rosters, and Greek life membership, early editions of the yearbook also offer detailed insights into the day-to-day student experience through essays, inside jokes, photographs, and other observations. Early editions of the Thistle also commonly featured letters from Andrew Carnegie to the student body.
Interest in the Thistle waned during the late sixties and early seventies, and the yearbook failed to form a staff in 1972 and 1973, and consequently no yearbook was published. The Thistle ceased publishing in 2020.
The 1970 edition of the yearbook, known as the “Carnegie Melon” has not been made available online due to language and imagery that members of our community may find hurtful. This edition of the yearbook was extremely controversial and served as a protest against both the institution and its relationship with the Mellon family. Despite multiple requests for the edition to be cancelled or changed, the administration refused to intervene stating that it does not censor student publications and that the yearbook was published using student funds. In a section of the Executive Committee minutes titled “Yearbook Problem” the secretary of the committee wrote:
“The administration recognizes that the publication of this yearbook will be detrimental to the University. Censorship was considered but was rejected because it would arouse faculty and students alike as a violation of freedom of thought and expression, which is the heart of a true university, even though this freedom may be abused at time.”
This edition of the yearbook is available by request and is available in the University Archives for in person research.
The most recent 20 years of the yearbook are not available online, but can be accessed in person.
Accessing the Collection
Copies of The Thistle are available for use in the University Archives. Contact the archives to schedule an appointment. Additional copies are available in Hunt Library's general collection.
Using the Collection
The most recent 20 years of yearbook are not available online, but are available for in person research.
1906 - 2019
Copyright is held by Carnegie Mellon University. No additional permission is required for non-commercial use.