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St. Patrick's Day Celebrations of the Past
St. Patrick's Parade

The festivities for St. Patrick's Day have included several events over the years. One of these events was a parade announcing the discovery that St. Patrick was an engineer. This was proclaimed through the music of a band.

(University Archives, C:0/47/3, Box 2 FF 14)

The engineering students also put in many hours to create floats for these parades, representing engineering accomplishments.

Derrick Float, 1914
(University Archives, C:11/13/1, Box 5, Env 242)

Locomotive Float, 1914
(University Archives, C:11/13/1, Box 5, Env 241)

During the 1908 parade, a great serpent was constructed and an Irish castle was built on the campus. St. Patrick's guard protected St. Patrick in the parade, wearing helmets with long green plumes.

(University Archives, C:0/47/3, Box 2, FF 14)


(University Archives, C:11/13/1, Box 5, Env 231)


An early part of the St. Pat's festivities was the stunts students created to demonstrate engineering feats. In 1906, for example, St. Patrick arrived on campus in an airship.

(University Archives, C:0/47/3, Box 2, FF 14)

In 1909, a banner flying the word "engineers" was stretched on a wire in front of the quadrangle.

(University Archives, C:0/47/3, Box 2, FF 14)

Rivalry with the Law Students

Another early part of the celebration involved a rivalry between the engineering students and the law students. As part of this feud, the law students attempted to upset the St. Pat's ceremonies. In 1928, the law students turned over an oil derrick on campus during the knighting ceremony. Law students also attempted to steal the Blarney Stone or the St. Pat's Queen. The most significant incident occurred when engineering students were shot by law students while attempting to retaliate for the kidnapping of the queen. This rivalry is illustrated in the last stanza of a poem from the 1922 Shamrock, an engineering student publication.


The current rivalry is between the engineering students and the agricultural students.

St. Patrick's Day becomes Engineering Week

The St. Patrick's Day celebrations developed into a week of festivities by 1921. These social events have included barbecues, banquets, an alumni reception, and the ball. They are centered on bringing the engineering students, alumni, and the campus together.

Celebration, 1979
(University Archives, C:9/13/1, Box 2, FF 1979)

Ladies of St. Patrick

The women of engineering also play a major role in the St. Patrick's Day celebration. The first woman to graduate from the College of Engineering in 1907, Ada Wilson, was also the first Lady of St. Patrick, the female equivalent of a Knight of St. Patrick.

(University Archives, 1907 Savitar)

(University Archives, C:0/47/3, Box 2, FF 21)

The Society of Women Engineers is one organization which contributes to the St. Pat. festivities.

Slide Rule Contest, 1979
(University Archives, C:9/13/1, Box 2, FF 1979)

Float Entry, 1980
(University Archives, C:9/13/1, Box 2, FF 1980)

Erin Go Bragh

In 1903, the engineering students on the Columbia campus were the first to celebrate St. Patrick's Week in honor of engineering. This tradition has spread to other campuses across the nation.

Sources consulted include Mendell Weinbach's Engineering at the University of Missouri 1840-1940; Huber Croft's A Brief History of College of Engineering University of Missouri-Columbia 1940-1967; Columbia Missourian 1931 and 1933; the Shamrock 1922, 1934-1937, and 1949; College of Engineering, Dean's Office Files, Series 3; College of Engineering webpage: http://www.ecn.missouri.edu/general/history.html; 2000 Engineers Week Tentative Schedule of Events; Dr. Bob Leavene, College of Engineering.

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Copyright © Curators of the University of Missouri 1997 - 2002
Published by: University Archives muarchives.missouri.edu/
Original Text by: Mary Heady; Graphical Assistance by: Mark Meade and Erik Luther
Originally Prepared: February 2000
Revised: 27 February 2007
URL: https://muarchives.missouri.edu/St_Pats_Day3.html

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