The Calculus Cremation was a ritual conducted by members of the sophomore or junior class to mark the end of the dreaded course. The event usually took place in January and was held at many different locations around Troy. Some cremations elaborately mimicked a funeral, beginning with a detailed obituary notice that announced the place and time of the service.

Student Life Collection - Calculus CremationStudent Life Collection - Calculus Cremation

"Calculus," referred to by the names of textbook authors such as Bowser, Crockett, and Elwyn, would often lie in state in the '87 gym so that students "might see his beloved face once more." A funeral cortege of wailing mourners would escort the "body" to its final resting place. Students dressed in black or white hooded cloaks, carried torches to the cremation site where they set fire to the coffin of calculus books.

                Polytechnic, February 14, 1916             1913 Transit

1920 TransitThe tradition, which was held as early as 1865, "died" in the early 1920's when the course was no longer taken by a class as a unit.

                        1896 Transit


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