Cougar History: library celebrates Butch’s birthday



University Archivist Mark O’English discusses how he highlights the Mascot’s anniversary to reconnect people to Butch’s origin on Friday morning at the Holland/Terrell Library.

CAROLYNN CLAREY, Evergreen reporter and photojournalist

Since its founding in 1890, WSU has changed and evolved with each class. But perhaps one of the most notable and everlasting changes happened in 1919 when a cougar became the school’s official mascot. To celebrate the 100th anniversary of Butch T. Cougar, University Archivist Mark O’English set up an exhibit in the Holland and Terrell Libraries.

O’English decided to feature the mascot to help students learn about the history of Butch. He said he felt that students did not know about the old stories and events that led to the Butch students know and love today.

“To me, there’s a lot of fun stories that are out there to be told,” O’English said. “I think that a lot of students today don’t even realize that we had live cougars as recently as the 70s.”

This exhibit features relics of Cougar history from photos of the original live cats to the plaster molds of cougar head door plaques like the ones at the main entrance of Todd Hall. O’English began brainstorming and gathering pieces for the exhibit in February, working closely with Mark Wilcomb, director of finance and operations for the Alumni Association. Together, they meticulously combed through the university’s archives in search of items that best reflect the mascot’s history and importance.

Wilcomb selected pieces of the exhibit from the alumni archives. These objects were donated by WSU alumni and their families. He was eager to work on the exhibit because they were able to showcase what the mascot means to WSU, Wilcomb said.

“He represents so many things about the university,” Wilcomb said. “The energy, the spirit, the sense of community. He is just a very vibrant part of the campus community.”

Wilcomb said he wanted to highlight Butch’s presence in the community and how children, students and alumni all get excited when Butch is mentioned.

The exhibit started showing on Oct. 8 and will be open to the public until Nov. 4. O’English said he encourages people to stop by the items in the display case at the library and reconnect with the history of the mascot and possibly learn something new.