June 7th, 1923, nearly 100 years ago, the first edition of the Loom was released to the public. Immediately hailed as a success, the Loom consisted mainly of short stories and rhyming poems. Though there were a few humorous poems and stories, the majority of submissions were literary and often somber, so much so that on April Fools Day 1924, the editors published a parody pamphlet known as the Gloom, featuring humorous stories such as “The Curse of the Yeast” by Wrigley Slobbersome.
Chaffee School, too, had their own publications: the Perigon, a periodic journal which casually featured short stories or poems, which was later replaced by the yearbook style Chaffee Extra and then, in 1933, the Epilogue, which was a yearbook but closely resembled a literary journal. Beginning in 1935, the Epilogue also included student artwork; however, by the 40s, literary contributions to the yearbook disappeared.
In spring 1930, the entire editorial board of the Loom graduated, leaving a new board and advisor. The Loom was revamped into a 60 page book format, the longest edition to date, featuring artwork for the first time and teacher reviews of popular books. After 1930, artwork disappeared; however, in the early 40s, cover illustrations returned. A theme during the 40s is the yearning for stability in the community going around the Loomis Institute as World War II emerged.
Throughout the following decades, the Loom began to reinvent itself in other ways: artwork became more present in the publication; the increasing popularity of New Orleans jazz sometimes mirrored itself in student artwork and writing; the Gloom returned in 1959, followed the next year by a collaboration with the girls of the Chaffee School, whose works were published again in 1962. In the 60s and 70s, the publication expanded, photography and free verse poetry becoming more popular among students. Unconventional formats of layout, such as the publication taking the form of a box of assorted colored papers in 1970, also emerged. The school became more diverse as well following the merger of the Loomis and Chaffee Schools: female names appeared in the masthead more often, and Chaffee girls were fully integrated into the publication by 1973. By the next year, they made up over half of the editors and contributors to the publication! This increase in diversity became mirrored in both writing and artwork in works featured in the Loom.
Short story by Phil Davis '87, featured in the Loom's winter edition in 1987.
Awarded the American International College Literary Magazine Forum Award for General Literary Content in 1981, the Loom steered further away from tradition and create new forms of art to celebrate student work. Loom calendars were established in 1982 and continued yearly into the 90s, each calendar featuring student artwork and writing for every month while noting school holidays and famous writers as well as artists’ birthdays, such as that of Robert Frost and Michelangelo.
In spring 1992, the first edition printed in color was published, as well as another Gloom, titled “Anthology of Adolescent Verse”; in 1997, the publication became the first Loomis Chaffee club to receive a grant from an outside institution, consisting of $5,000 from the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation. The Loom continued strong in the 21st century, publishing its very first online edition in 2017 with the theme “Pensive Mood”—and the overall gloomy nature of teenagers’ writing and art have prevailed throughout time.
1995 Loom calendar featuring artwork by Liz Cartland '95
*Thank you to alumni Phil Davis '87, Katherine Allen '87, Edyta (Kedzierski) Rotundo '92, Liz Cartland '95, and Meg McCarthy '98 for letting us publish their amazing past works in the Loom online.
Thank you to Ms. Parsons, Mrs. Ross, as well as Mr. Follansbee for helping us contact alumni and supporting us along our research into the history of the Loom.