In one of the more interesting and random digitization developments, apparently the Yeshiva University undergrad yearbook Masmid is being added to archive.org. This morning there were 28 issues (ranging from 1932 to 1983). Some 8 hours later there are already 39 (as I am composing this post, two more were added - the latest one so far is 1988), so I'm guessing all or most of the gaps will be filled.
I'm sure a lot of gems could be found in those pages which are a snapshot of an important part of American Orthodox history in the 20th century. I haven't had the chance to look through them thoroughly yet, but I did see a few interesting things. Watching the changing looks of the students is interesting. Looking through them you may be able to tell when Rabbi Moshe Tendler turned into Rabbi Moses Tendler (in earlier issues he was Rabbi Morris Tendler, which I bet it what's on his birth certificate) and what if anything that says about changes in our society.
In one earliesh yearbook there is an article by legendary American rabbi Bernard Drachman (perhaps best known today for his translation of Hirsch's Nineteen Letters) about how American Jews should learn German, as that's really the lingua franca of Jews worldwide (he goes on to opine that Yiddish is really a dialect of German, so it counts, and that means that 10 million Jews already speak German).
It's also interesting how, apparently, in the earlier issues the yearbook was very much for the College part of the yeshiva, and the Yeshiva part was just not mentioned very much (although of course there's plenty of Jewish and Torah content). As time goes on, there seems to be much more integration, and that is when photos of the rabbeim start to appear.
Naturally the Rabbi Soloveitchik treatment is interesting and deserves to be looked at carefully. Some years he is Rabbi, others Harav and one year he is even Dr. (Harav seems to have been what wins out; all the other rabbeim are titled Rabbi.) By 1974 they appear to be have been very . . . into "the Rav." Below is a full two-page spread. But bear in mind that it was only two years before that his picture was captioned "Dr.," which leads me to suspect that much of the content reflects particular editors and available artistic talent more than moods and currents of the time.
And a much more restrained image from 1976:
Here are some pictures of Rabbi Yeruchem Gorelick, who of course never taught Talmud at RIETS:
Here's a really nice picture of Rabbi Dovid Lifschutz giving a shiur (1983):
Below is a picture of the recently deceased Dr. Bernard Lander in his 1936 yearbook:
You may have noticed that I am trying to avoid violating anyone's privacy, so outside of well known individuals I'm not going to post your or your father's picture with a big afro or acting in "Guys and Dorms" (an actual play they put on in the '50s) along with a name, but I'll make an exception here. Below is an entry from 1948 from a guy who obviously really loved to learn:
A notable talmid (1953):
1948 being an important year in modern Jewish history you'd think there'd be a lot about Israel (there's mention of two students who died fighting in Palestine). There isn't, but there are three essays about Torah and science. There's "The Jewish Dietary Laws Verified by Science" (name withheld so as not to embarass). There's "Criteria in the Resolution of the Conflict Between Science and Halacha" by Norman Lamm, and there's "Science and Religion in the Modern Age" by Charles Siegel. Maybe the issue was edited early (Israel independence being declared in May and all). Still, I wonder what's up with all the Torah and science in 1948.
For some unexplained reason, the following little doodle appears on the last page of the 1933 edition of the Masmid:
The 1939 number had an article about students who were refugees from Hitler. After the Iranian Revolution one can see that there were many students who were refugees from Khomeni. Below is from the 1946 issue, which is poignant coming as it does on the heels of the Holocaust (and interesting because it does the G dash d thing. This is 1946, so now you know that it was already being done in 1946. Who knows, this may the only time in history anyone ever quoted Bialik with "G-d"):
This is not even scratching the surface. It's kind of strange to come across so many people I know through their accomplishments (brainiac Nat Lewin was valedictorian of his class) or even know personally, including some who I never knew went to YU, and probably in some cases it isn't by accident (you're totally busted). In case anyone is wondering, Rabbis Avigdor Miller and Rabbi Nosson Wachtfogel may have been spared from being immortalized on the pages of the Masmid, although if they were not I'll find out (Rabbi Wachtfogel's brothers are certainly there).
Anyone who is interested in 20th century American Orthodox (men) in general or Yeshiva University specifically would do well to have a look at these.