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Manic Monday: Meet Dooley, the Spirit of Emory

Are you interested in learning more about local hauntings in Covington and eerie folklore? Sometimes, our spectral, spooky tales can take on a life of their own. All it takes is a skeleton, a legend, and a college campus. We’re talking, of course, about the legendary Lord of Misrule, Lord Dooley. Haven’t heard of the infamous imp? The Lord is said to stalk the campus of Oxford College and Emory University each Spring, inciting good-natured riots and getting students out of class. But how did this fun-loving skeleton come to pass?

Lord Dooley, also known as the “Spirit of Emory”, originated in Oxford and acts as Emory University's unofficial mascot. Dooley was first mentioned in the school newspaper, theEmory Phoenix, in 1899 when he published his adventures as a biology lab skeleton. covington ga folkloreHis first physical manifestation was in 1941, for the first inaugural “Dooley’s Week”, where the skeleton runs amuck across campus, letting students out of classes at any time. He’s also been known to haunt the annual Town Hall Meeting, in the fall.

The Lord borrows his first name and middle initial from the first and last name of the sitting president of Emory University, hence the name James W. Dooley. Dooley is represented by a student in a skeleton costume with a black cape, top hat, and white gloves, and is always flanked by students acting as his bodyguards. Because Oxford was his original home, Dooley's appearance symbolizes his advanced age. A crouched stance, slow walk, a signature bent crane topped with a brown skull, and his habit of making public appearances at Oxford by emerging out of a coffin, make James W. Dooley one macabre mascot. 

But, no need to fear. Today, Dooley acts as a kind of campus ambassador, making frequent appearances at social functions and other Oxford events. Sometimes, Dooley will even pass along messages for a designated student to read to the student body, praising the students for their individual achievements. It’s like they say down at Oxford:

Presidents may come, presidents may go; professors may come, professors may go; students may come, students may go; but Dooley goes on forever!”


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