Understanding The Roots Of Modern Academic Hoods

Understanding The Roots Of Modern Academic Hoods

Though the 1895 Intercollegiate Code was the first major document to standardize modern academic hoods, today’s hoods have other influences, too. Harvard University is one of these.

In 1902, Harvard specified that all master’s hoods worn at the school would be 3.5 feet in length. Within just a few years, a length of 3.5 feet became standard at almost every school in the United States.

In addition, Harvard required the doctor’s hood to have a “full” rather than “simple” shape. This means that it has multiple “panels” (also known as a “cape”) on either side of the hood. It was required to be 4 feet in length.

The shape of the hood has also changed over time. It began with a fully-rounded bottom. However, by 1902, most manufacturers had flattened this curvature – likely to help cut production costs and expenses.

All hoods created in America are based on the same template – the Oxford University Bachelor of Arts hood from the 1890s. This used a unique “split salmon” design that allowed the wearer to fold the cowl back and show off more of the interior lining, compared to other standard hoods used in Britain.

Another common feature of modern bachelor’s and master’s hoods is a liripipe (trail) with crescent-shaped cutouts that match those of the bottom of the sleeves of a master’s gown. In contrast, a doctoral hood has a rectangular liripipe and lacks these cutouts. It also has a rounded cape that helps complement the bell-shaped, rounded sleeves of the doctoral gown.

For most bachelor’s hoods, the exterior is created from worsted wool, which is also used for traditional bachelor's gowns. Silk is used to match the smoother material of the master’s and doctor’s gowns. Regardless of the outside material, though, today’s hoods typically use a silk lining in the colors of the college that conferred the wearer with their degree.


Academic Hoods Have A Long History!

Though modern standards for bachelor’s, master’s, and doctor’s hoods have changed and today’s hoods are thoroughly modern, they still have a long history that traces back more than 500 years – and it’s interesting to understand how and why traditions like these hoods, which are often taken for granted, have come to be!

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