The paper of record at BFS was once known as The Life. An award-winning student publication, The Life was published continuously at BFS from December of 1919 until, we believe, 1995. For its first 50 years or so, The Life was made available to the entire BFS community for a small annual fee because it functioned not only as a student publication, but it also chronicled school, parent and student events, activities for all grades, sports, alumni class notes, interviews, and much more. The Life became more student-focused after the BFS administration went forth with its own publications in the late 1960s.
The Life actually began as a quarterly literary magazine titled The Friends School Life which included school news. In fact, our earliest yearbooks were the Commencement edition of The Life, in magazine format. In the fall of 1931, the newspaper version of The Life was born and was published fortnightly during the school year, with Crampton Trainer ’32 as its first editor. The newspaper replaced the magazine entirely, but, after students expressed interest, it re-emerged in December of 1935 as a separate and true literary magazine with its own editorial staff. Like our yearbooks until 1987, all student publications had not only editorial staff, but also their own business staff who worked hard to obtain full funding from advertisers and also obtained underwriting from community members.
Over time, The Life was published less and less frequently, eventually becoming quarterly and focusing more on the Upper School. The literary magazine changed names several times and became the annual publication it remains today. By 1995, the newspaper ceased publication entirely for reasons unclear, but ever-rising print costs may have been a factor. Of course, BFS had an official newsletter, but it would never serve the same purpose as a student-run publication. In response to renewed interest, BFS students began publishing newspapers sporadically again in the late 1990s.
All of the surviving newspaper editions of The Life, beginning with the April 27, 1945 edition, can be read online at the BFS website, along with later BFS student newspapers, including BFS News, The Pearl, The Panther and Panther Press, and we do give instructions on how best to search this section of the BFS Archives. I dearly hope to add the existing 1931 to 1943 editions of The Life to our online collection during this school year: those earliest editions are bound, so must be unbound, in two large and beautiful volumes thanks to the Von Heill bookbinding company, founded by the family of alum Leonard Von Heill ’47.
To give a taste of its earliest years, the October 14, 1931 edition is now also available at the BFS website.