With English and Communications as degree options at Simmons, in addition to a generally creative and engaged student body, it is no surprise that student publications have been wildly popular among the Simmons community throughout the University’s history. From yearbooks and a newspaper to student magazines, Simmons students have created and distributed a variety of publications – some short lived and others still in circulation today.
The Simmons yearbook Microcosm was first released in 1910. It was produced by a board of nine students from the senior class, elected by their classmates. Through the years, membership increased to also include members from the freshmen, sophomore, and junior classes. Microcosm continues to be the official yearbook of Simmons University. It has reflected changes and developments in the University, its students, its curricula, and its relation to the outside world. Its very name, "a little world within a world," was chosen to express the relationship of the Simmons student to the world around her. The 1948 Microcosm was awarded the All-America rating in national competition, the highest award possible for a yearbook to receive in the country.
Our Little Black Book, a yearbook for Black students, was first published in 1974 to capture the service, time, and growth of the Black experience at Simmons.
Originally D. Lynne White’s 1974 senior project in Communications, the book was not meant to be a counterpart to Microcosm, but instead to provide a more meaningful and memorable chronicle of Simmons College’s Black community.
Beyond documenting the experience of Black students at Simmons, Our Little Black Book also aimed to establish a tradition for future Black students to follow and improve upon year after year.
The undergraduate newspaper, The Simmons News, was first published in October 1923. While the newspaper has changed names throughout the decades, including The Simmons News (1923-1970, 1985-1997) and Janus (1970-1985), it settled on The Simmons Voice starting in 1997.
Regardless of its name, however, the Simmons newspaper has always acted as a conduit for Simmons students to discuss University affairs, as well as political and social issues.
It also has the distinction of being, at the time of its creation, one of the few collegiate newspapers not under editorial control of either the faculty or administration.
In the paper’s early years its staff consisted of five to six students; however, as the years passed participation increased dramatically and by 1937, 70 students were involved in its publication.
Students worked as editors, art editors, reporters, or in ad sales.
The first "issue" was on an unlined 8 1/2" by 11" sheet of paper featuring a mimeographed question mark and a half page of news.
It was not until the fifth issue, published in November of 1923, that the newspaper became " Simmons News," and increased its length to three pages.
Two months later it had grown again, to a four page, notebook-sized paper, complete with photographs, announcements, articles and ads.
Over the years Simmons News has included everything from the latest student marriage announcements to lists of new books in the library, from the "dope on diners and dancers" to "sober accounts of lectures on physiotherapy."
Its editorial content extended well beyond discussions of college affairs, as it encouraged drives for war stamp sales and blood donations; and aired the complaints of Simmons students.
It also served as medium of communication for the Dean, President, and Faculty members.
Persimmons was Simmons' first magazine, published between 1915 and 1918, to “unite day students and dormitory girls, members of the science school and of the secretarial school, and make the various departments of this institution into one harmonious whole.” It sought to publicize “things of good report, things of joy and gladness and good humor, only those things that strengthen and sweeten human hearts, that make hands quicker for service, that fortify souls against suffering and despair." In 1918 Persimmons was absorbed by Simmons Review. It was resurrected in name only during the 1930s as a literary supplement to the student newspaper.
Simmons Review began in 1918 as a monthly magazine to report news from the Corporation, College, and alumnae, and to support the literary efforts of faculty, students, and graduates by publishing their works and sponsoring poetry contests.
As the magazine represented every form of college activity, it was designed to have broad appeal. Academic departments were asked to write articles of interest to all at the College.
Beginning in 1949, Simmons Review began winning frequent awards at the American Alumni Council's Annual Conference for feature articles and for the representation of Simmons' students and faculty.
In 1959, the Review competed with 800 entries for the Council's highest award for "Magazine of the Year," and won honorable mention.
Fen Ways, a publication to allow students to gain practical experience in writing and publishing, began in 1941. It was named by Miss Eleanor Ball, a senior of the class of 1941, who won the "name contest" sponsored by the English Club. A staff of ten students, largely from the School of English, was in charge of writing and publishing the six issues each year, and each staff member had the creative freedom to produce whatever she wanted. All classes contributed articles, stories, poems, and illustrations, and supplements featured outstanding papers written by students and selected by a faculty committee. During its six years of publication, Fen Ways was free from faculty control. The Simmons Review absorbed Fen Ways in 1947.
Sidelines was a literary magazine founded in 1974 as a forum for expression through poetry, prose, and graphics. The magazine was published biannually and available to the Simmons community at no cost.