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History of Willie the Wildcat

Celebrating almost a century of Wildcat lore, behind the scenes of ‘cat conservation

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Sometimes fearless, sometimes wacky, but always full of purple pride, mascot Willie the Wildcat is one of Northwestern University’s most visible public symbols.

Clad in purple, he patrols the sidelines during athletic events pumping up the crowd in hopes of another Wildcat victory. He also cheerfully welcomes new students during March Through the Arch, appears on national television shows such as NBC’s “Today” and helps spread good cheer throughout the community in parades and visits to schools and hospitals.

As Northwestern celebrates “Willie in the Windy City” -- the theme of Homecoming Week 2014 -- University archivist Kevin Leonard showcases the rich history of the Wildcat nickname and the Willie the Wildcat mascot. He also takes us behind the scenes of a recent conservation effort designed to preserve University Archives’ once-living “wildcat” specimen.