The Evolution of the College Dorm

The Evolution of the College Dorm From the monastic rooms of the 1950s to today's luxury residence halls, TIME examines the ever-changing ways that students live
Walter Sanders / Time Life Pictures / Getty

Posters & Pin-ups
Traditionally, residence halls were occupied by male students who were forced to adhere to strict dress codes, compulsory chapel services, curfews and even fitness regimens. Until the 1830s, Harvard students were required to purchase, chop and haul their own firewood back to the dorms (while dodging the livestock and pigpens that crowded the university's campus). Dorm mothers enforced the rules, and executed a strict "lights-out" policy (which also helped trim electricity bills). Eventually, restrictions loosened and posters and pin-ups became standard dorm decor — a racy way to compensate for the lack of female presence.

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