Pickler Memorial Library



The First School Song


The School had no official song until Basil Brewer (1901), was inspired to write one while working as a Student Assistant in the Science Department the summer of 1902. According to him it happened this way:

“I was called upon to substitute for Professor Weatherly, head of the Science Department ... In between classes, I attended music classes now and then, and at one of these sessions, the subject came up that the college had no school song. The Princeton song, “The Orange and the Black,” always had been popular, and in between classes on the laboratory table, and as I recall it, in one to two days’ time I wrote the words of “The Purple and the White.” A year or two later, the name was changed to “Old Missou,” the change being, you might say, by common consent.

The Song

Professor Gebhart, head of the Music Department, liked the words immediately and the music class sang them to the tune, of course, of “The Orange and the Black.” The class was pleased, whereupon Professor Gebhart ordered several hundred copies printed and without announcement distributed them to students at chapel a few days later. The chapel started somewhat haltingly to sing the new words but picked up momentum as they went to additional verses. At the end of the song there was spontaneous applause both from students and from faculty on the large, old rectangular platform.”

No one knows for sure why or how the name of the song changed from “The Purple and the White” to “Old Missou”, but the official yell in use at the time may have had something to do with it:

Old Missou! Old Missou!
Old Missouri’s Son,
Kirksville! Kirksville!
Normal Number One.


Why Brewer used the colors purple and white is also a mystery. They were never used as school colors either officially or unofficially, prior to 1902 and were chosen by the author for reasons known only to himself.

The lyrics changed slightly as the years progressed; by 1917, the second line of the first stanza had changed from "and Normal Number One" to "Our hearts the school has won."