If the Shoutbox is any indicator, people are interesting in seeing Wesleyan’s popularity play out through history. Google’s new Ngram Viewer shows trends of how often a phrase has occurred over time in a certain corpus (e.g. American English, English Fiction, Russian) of texts. They’ve yet to scan every book ever, but they want to.
Wesleyan does pretty well, especially in recent times. Here’s how often “Wesleyan University” appears in “English”:
I set the start date here to 1793, when the first of these schools (Williams) was founded. You can see Wesleyan (blue line) shoot right up at 1831 upon its founding. The first major peak is in the 1910s, maybe related to Wesleyan’s experimentation with c0-education. After that, the trend is negative until the ’50s, when the positive rise could at least partially be due to the founding of the current version of the Wesleyan University Press in 1957. There was also some reorganization then as the Butterfield Colleges were formed, but it’s probably mainly due to the rise of our reputation for counterculture (read: “You go to that hippie school where they smoke pot on the hill?!?!”). The rise lasts till the ’90s. After that peak, the popularity falls as our endowment rises up to 2008 (the latest Google will go at the moment).
These are just my guesses based on my loose understanding of Wesleyan history. If you’ve got ideas for why there are bumps or drops in the graphs, post them in the comments.
Here are some other interesting graphs:
- The French love us
- The Argus
- Hipster, GJ, mroth
- Wesleyan? In Ohio? Kansas? Oklahoma?… (note that the only significant contributor that might give “Wesleyan University” much of a bump is Ohio)