November 21, 2016
Old school: U-M in History
A chorus for the Sophomore Cabaret pose with umbrellas in 1929. (Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library)
Starting in the late 1920s, the Sophomore Cabaret was an annual entertainment extravaganza organized by sophomore women at the University of Michigan. From year to year, it featured various events like dances, choruses and orchestral music. In 1929, the Sophomore Cabaret had replaced the annual sophomore circus, which also was spearheaded by the women of the sophomore class. Women designed every year's Sophomore Cabaret around a theme, such as a ship motif in 1932, a "French Follies" theme in 1937 and a Winter Wonderland festival in 1939. The University of Michigan League Council canceled the annual event in the 1940s and sophomore women were instead asked to volunteer for hospital work during World War II. Officials said at the time there was a shortage of nurses, and that the work of volunteers could give nurses the chance to spend time on more important tasks. In the mid-'40s, the cabaret was revived and in 1956, according to Bentley Historical Library archives, the event later gave way to the "Soph Show," which featured both men and women in theatrical productions.
— from the Michigan Alumnus and the U-M Library clippings files