A brief history of Homecoming at the University of Illinois


By Daily Illini Staff Report

Homecomings date back for over a century after towns in the United States began hosting them to annually welcome back former residents. However, the University claims to originate the first collegiate homecoming, according to the University of Illinois archives.

The annual event is geared toward alumni and centers around a home football game. In 1910, the first Homecoming took place after Clarence Foss Williams, class of 1910, and W. Elmer Ekblaw, class of 1910 and 1912, wanted to find a way to give back to their Alma Mater.

The date was set for October 15, when the Illini football team were slated to play against their rival the University of Chicago Maroons. They had not beaten the team in seven years. However, other events planned for homecoming included the freshmen and sophomore pushball game, fraternity initiations, class reunions and a performance by the Hobo Band.

Over 12,000 alumni and students attended the football game to see the Illini win and the tradition stuck. Each year, the University has held a homecoming except for 1918 when an influenza epidemic broke out on campus.

Homecomings then spread to other campuses, including Wisconsin and Missouri in 1911 and Arizona in 1914.