High-school yearbooks usually wind up in a box or a forgotten bookshelf, only pulled out—sometimes with slight embarrassment—before a class reunion or to torture one’s children. Now the 1983 yearbook for Supreme Court justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s prep school has wound up on the Internet Archive, digitized nearly in full. It’s likely no yearbook has previously reached this degree of notoriety.
The yearbook rose to importance after Kavanaugh’s initial confirmation hearing, when Christine Blasey Ford accused him of a sexual assault that took place when she was 15 and he was 17 in summer 1982. Kavanaugh’s school was boys only, and she attended an all-girls school. The yearbook provides some context and information about the sexual and drinking culture prevalent at the school.
The Internet Archive typically devotes its effort to expanding access to public-domain books and other publications, as well as material creators have provided rights to allow for open display and download. It rarely gets involved in directly political acts not related to network neutrality or other principles of open access.
“By providing access to the 1983 Georgetown Prep yearbook, the Internet Archive is serving its mission as a library, helping people more fully understand the context of Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court,” said the Internet’s Archive Mark Graham in a statement provided to reporters. A few pages are missing from this edition. The group didn’t explain how it obtained its scanned copy.
News outlets pointed to entries in the yearbook that appeared to indicate that a girl from another school who remained friends with Kavanaugh and many of his buddies was an easy sexual conquest, and implied that the football team had all slept with her. A Kavanaugh contemporary supported that interpretation, he told the New York Times. The woman in question had never seen the yearbook and had signed a letter supporting the judicial nominee before learning of the entries. She also spoke to the Times and said, “the insinuation is horrible, hurtful and simply untrue.”
The yearbook is rife with puerile humor and thinly failed references to excessive drinking and sexual conquest, as well as behavior that would have gone against the precepts of the Catholic Church, whose Jesuit order runs Georgetown Prep. Maryland raised the drinking age from 18 to 21 on July 1, 1982 with a grandfather clause that excluded Kavanaugh and most seniors in the 82-83 school year.
Many yearbooks past and present come under relatively strict oversight of a faculty adviser or are even produced as part of a class. This yearbook may stand out only by the degree to which students were blatant about to what they referred.
One page notes, “Scooter snorts a six” and “is that the chick from beach week?” “Beach week” took place annually, with groups of older teenagers renting communal houses on southern state beaches and engaging in bacchanal and drinking largely away from any adult supervision.
Other references include a locked cage containing beer kegs on page 44 labeled “100 Kegs or bust,” which some of Kavanaugh’s classmates have described as a year-long binge to drain 100 kegs among a group of them. That same page contains a caption, “Prep parties raise question of legality.” A pirated Hagar the Horrible cartoon on page 134 shows a character having rigged up kegs on the side of several donkeys.