The Origin of Homecoming at University of Illinois: Introduction
written by John Franch, graduate assistant in the University Archives in July 2005. This project was funded by the University Archives’ Student Life and Culture Archival Program

University of Illinois homecoming program, circa 1943

For over one hundred years, towns in the United States have been holding annual homecomings to welcome back former residents.  However, the University of Illinois has long claimed to be the originator of the collegiate Homecoming—the annual alumni event centered on a football game.  The first homecoming at the University of Illinois was held in 1910.  Long before this, other schools were featuring annual alumni football games.  For example, the annual Harvard-Yale game—a series that extends back to the 1870s—attracted large numbers of alumni.  Beginning in 1897, the University of Michigan Student Athletic Association sponsored a yearly alumni game.  But does an alumni game in itself constitute a homecoming? 

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Sections
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1. Homecoming at the University of Illinois
2. Alumni Events at Other Universities
3. Conclusion