Albany: State University of New York, 1971, 1972.
Hardcover. First and only editions. Folios. 1971 is thick blue buckram illustrated in white; 1972 is beige suede decorated in brown. 1972 is a trifle soiled, else each volume is just about fine. In the annals of college year books these two represent the apex of the art. According to Martin Parr, in an article for *Time* entitled: "The Best Photobooks About America": “One of the unsung achievements of American publishing are the college annuals, especially the ones produced in the 60/70’s. Just recently I found the best one I’ve ever seen, from the State University of New York [the *Torch 1972*, SUNY Albany]. At over 350 pages, it has hundreds of photos, from images of Phillip Jones Griffiths on the Vietnam war through to sports and student protest.”
The standard yearbook tropes (i.e., the homecoming game, the stiffly posed, poorly lit group portrait of the debate team, and so on) are there, but surrounded by a visual context that belies the obvious and reflects the time, the place and the era in a particularly jarring manner, with hippies and rock music, gay and lesbian activism, radical feminism, black power images, etc. As an example: the Senior portraits are alphabetized by first name followed only by the last name initial (there is a directory in the rear), interspersed with the smiling faces of the students is a repeated image of a decapitated head from a Vietnam atrocity. While in the article Parr is referencing the 1972 edition. It is unknown if he had seen the 1971 edition, but it is every bit the equal of the 1972 volume, heavy with protest inspired by the Kent State massacre, photo experimentation, and is certainly as striking. Very uncommon. The web citation is here: http://time.com/4391595/the-best-photobooks-about-america/.