The Crook Hunt was started in 1906 by Caroline Bury Phelps, a drama professor at Meredith1. The Crook was brought in for Class Day, when there were nine members in the class of 1906, and eight parts. Ms. Phelps came to Meredith from Adrian College in Adrian, Michigan, where a similar tradition was in place2. She presented the senior class with a large shepherd's crook, and they in turn gave it to the rising senior class on Class Day with instructions to hide it from the juniors3.
Rules for hiding the Crook were first printed in the 1933-1934 Student Handbook. At the beginning of fall semester, the Crook was to be decorated with the senior class colors and hidden. The juniors did not start looking for it until March. To aid in the search, the seniors hid a series of clues around campus. If the juniors found the Crook, they added a black bow to the Crook's decorations and hid it from the senior class. The hiding continued until Class Day. In 1982 a one week time limit was set for the juniors' search4, which since then has usually occurred in late April or early May. Some rules governing the hiding place have remained the same. For example, the Crook must be partly visible at all times and must be hidden in a place where it can be removed; it cannot be locked up. The class in possession of the Crook at the end of the semester is allowed to display its class colors on the Crook during Class Day. If the juniors do not find it by midnight on the first Saturday in May, the Crook is declared neutral until the fall semester. According to Dr. Ione Knight (class of 1943) when she was a student at Meredith, the Crook Hunt was popular because it was an on-campus activity and the students rarely were allowed off campus. The clues were hidden in a chain fashion -- each clue led to another. Students also had one month to find the Crook, unlike the week that the juniors have today.
Over the years, the Crook has been hidden in some unusual places. It has been sewn into a faculty member's mattress, tied to a water pipe in the tunnel, placed on roofs, fastened behind a bulletin board, and hidden on a rafter in the first chapel building (no longer in existence)5. Dr. Jean Jackson, class of 1975 and Vice President for Student Development, is proud of the hiding place that her class used their senior year. They took down one of the short outdoor lighting lamps around the lake and had the paint matched at a hardware store. After wrapping the Crook in art paper, they painted it to match the lamp and buried it where the real lamp belonged, showing just enough of the Crook to be legal. The juniors never found it. Dr. Jackson has heard of the Crook being duct taped to the underside of one of the bridges at the lake. The tape broke loose, and the juniors discovered the Crook floating in the water. In 2002, the class of 2003 gridded the campus and divided themselves into groups. Each group was assigned to search thoroughly their section of campus. Unfortunately for them, the Crook was hidden in a section of campus near the President's house that was not gridded or searched.
Much earlier, in the early 1910's, the Crook was hidden so that a student had to hang out of a window to retrieve it. The danger of such hiding places led to a ban on the Crook hunts from 1913 until 1929, when the Crook was presented to the rising seniors on Class Day. The hunt was again stopped in 1948 due to lack of interest. According to Carolyn Robinson (class of 1950) it was reinstated in her senior year, when her class hid it on the roof of the dining hall. Since then the Crook Hunt has seen times of both popularity and disinterest.
Farris, Catherine, ed. Students Handbook of Meredith College 1933-1934. Raleigh, North Carolina:
Jackson, Jean, Ph.D. Personal interview. 25 April 2002
Johnson, Mary Lynch. A History of Meredith College, second edition. Raleigh, North Carolina: Edwards & Broughton Company, 1972
Knight, Ione, Ph.D. Personal interview. 16 April 2002
Robinson, Carolyn. Personal interview. 26 April 2002
Waters, Pam and Kim Metts, eds. Who Hid the Crook?" The Twig. 3 May 1982. Vol. LX, No. 22. p. 2