descriptive image

Historical Duke Squirrels

As we rush headlong into exams, we at the Duke University Archives thought everyone could use an entertaining diversion. So we’re embracing the Duke Squirrels meme, and adding a historical perspective—courtesy of our collections!

Pee Wee the Squirrel Visits the East Duke Building

In the 1930s, Pee Wee the Squirrel was a frequent visitor to the offices of the Duke University Press (when it was based in East Duke Building). Exie Duncan, a longtime employee of the press, snapped this picture of Pee Wee having his mid-day snack.

The squirrels had many favorite eateries on West Campus, too. (This is before Armadillo Grill, so they had to make do with something other than queso!)

A Squirrel Visits a Trash Can outside Old Chem

When they weren’t busy snacking, the Duke squirrels occupied themselves with photobombing would-be-charming photos of campus buildings. We imagine this photo below (of the Bryan Center walkway) never made it into a Duke promotional brochure.

Squirrel on the Bryan Center Walkway

Following those brief adventures, the squirrels went right back to eating. Our favorite find was an August 11, 1966 letter from Security Division chief W. C. A. Bear to director of operations Henry F. Bowers. The letter is a carbon copy, so it’s tricky to read (click on the image to enlarge it)—but well worth it!

Letter about Vending Machine Theft by Squirrel, August 11, 1966
(click to enlarge)


6 thoughts on “Historical Duke Squirrels”

  1. Great post, fun to see the animals like Duke as much as the Staff
    that post to this Blog. All have a great weekend.

    1. Oh no! The links aren’t working–can you submit them again, Beth? We love your photos!

  2. Love Mr. Bear’s (great name) sense of humor. I’d love to see the criminal prosecution of the squirrel on vending machine spree!

  3. One summer when I was at Duke, I wondered why the candy machine in the basement of the old Union was always empty. Then one day I saw a squirrel crawl out of the machine with a Mounds bar in his mouth. Mystery solved.

    1. Sounds like they had a delightful hoard in a campus tree somewhere; I wonder if we’ll find a cache of wrappers one day! Thanks for sharing such a great story!

Comments are closed.