About the Volcano

About the Volcano



In 1930, in the depths of the Great Depression, students at Villisca High School suggested to faculty members that they, the students, should create a self-supporting newspaper rather than try to fund an expensive yearbook each year. The faculty was in favor of this project for a number of reasons, including the idea that students would be getting training in a number of disciplines in addition to writing. To further this journalistic adventure, there was a school-wide contest to name the new newspaper. The name, "Villisca Volcano," (suggested by Weldon Schooley) was chosen and the winning slogan, "Always erupting, never corrupting," (suggested by Janice Stillians) was added to the banner. Space limitations dictated that the name on the first edition read "The Volcano" and by the second issue the slogan had evolved to "Ever erupting, never corrupting." The newspaper was printed professionally in Stanton and to the amazement of all, it ended its first year financially sound. For more than a decade, the May issue of The Volcano was entitled "The Senior Edition of the Volcano," fulfilling its original purpose of replacing an expensive yearbook.

Name and Slogan

The newspapers themselves varied widely in name and in size over the years, sometimes within one year. The name evolved a number of times from the original to The Volcano, The VHS Volcano, V.H.S. Volcano, and simply, Volcano. Sometimes the name changed during a school year. But whatever the name, it always included "Volcano." Similarly, the slogan evolved. In the early days it occasionally was printed as "Always Erupting, but Never Corrupting." However, in the 1953-54 school year, the slogan changed permanently to "Always Active." The editors at that time noted that the original slogan was a bit over the top as the Volcano was only a high school newspaper so it had little opportunity to corrupt. The new slogan, "Always Active," was chosen, it was reported, mainly because the double A of this slogan fit nicely with the double V of Villisca Volcano, which was the name in use at that time.


We have found issues ranging from tabloid-sized papers on newsprint to mimeographed twenty-pagers with construction paper covers to 9 x 12 inch and 12 x 16 inch four-pagers printed on newsprint and folded separately to full pages in the Review and at least two issues that measured only 7 x 8 inches. But whatever the size, the Volcano recorded the activities of students, teachers, and administrators, and it provided a view of school life over the decades in this one small southwestern Iowa town.


When the Volcano was first published, it was self-supporting through paid advertising. The advertisements contained within those issues show a community very different than the one that exists today. Then paid subscriptions came into being, with each issue perhaps costing a dime which was reduced with a year's subscription payment. Later in its history, the Volcano was paid for by student fees which were collected by the school at the beginning of each year or semester.

What's Left

While the Volcano was printed in every year from October 1930 through May 1977, we have not yet found issues from each year. The September 1942 issue notes that the size and frequency of publication would be reduced because of war conditions, including paper shortages. The article also reminded students that the "government wants your old newspapers," which may mean we will never find all the Volcanos from those war years.

We continue to search for the missing issues, however. We gladly accept the loan of your newspapers, which we will return to you once we copy and/or scan them for posting on this site.