🐙 Miskatonic University is a fictional university located in Arkham, named after the Miskatonic River which flows through the town. The school appears in numerous Cthulhu Mythos stories by Lovecraft and many other writers.
Miskatonic University is a highly prestigious university, on par with Harvard University; in fact, at least in the 1920s, Harvard and Miskatonic are the two most popular schools for the children of the Massachusetts “Old Gentry”. (HPL: The Dunwich Horror)
Opinions differ as to whether mystical and Mythos studies at the University are covert or overt. In early works by Lovecraft, Miskatonic is an apparently ordinary university whose occult undercurrent only occasionally breaks the surface while later works tend towards portraying the stranger elements as being openly displayed and an integral part of the campus' cultural identity.
- Miskatonic Museum: located on the University campus, holds a piece of jewellery implied to be a creation of the Deep Ones (HPL: The Shadow Over Innsmouth).
- Medical School: the University boasts a medical school (HPL: Herbert West--Reanimator).
- The Orne Library: Miskatonic University is famous for its collection of Cthulhu Mythos arcane literature and occult books. The library holds one of the very few genuine copies of the Necronomicon. Other tomes include the Unaussprechlichen Kulten by Friedrich von Junzt and the fragmentary Book of Eibon.
Faculty and Student Body
The university's student body is implied to have been predominantly male throughout the early 20th century and the only female student mentioned is the infamous Asenath Waite. (HPL: "The Thing on the Doorstep")
The Labyrinth Society
In Joseph S. Pulver's 2017 short story "A Walk in the Shadows", Miskatonic is shown to play host to a shadowy fraternity known as the Labyrinth Society. Somewhat analogous to Yale's Skull and Bones, it is rumoured to be heavily involved in the occult, with their emblem of an "Elizabethan cryptogram passed down from John Dee" which is "older than any Arabic writings we have." Founded in 1811, the exclusively-male Society has to date produced five senators, four federal court appellate judges, and one ambassador.
Whether the Society is still in existence is unclear, as the majority of the alumni were murdered by a semi-human sorceress intent on using their power for her own gain.
The following table lists the staff of Miskatonic University and their respective departments from Lovecraft's stories.
|Dr. Henry Armitage||Chief Librarian||"The Dunwich Horror"|
|Professor Ferdinand C. Ashley||Ancient History||"The Shadow Out of Time"|
|Professor Atwood||Physics||At the Mountains of Madness|
|Professor Dexter||Zoology||"The Whisperer in Darkness"|
|Professor William Dyer||Geology||"At the Mountains of Madness"|
"The Shadow Out of Time"
|Professor Ellery||Chemistry||"The Dreams in the Witch House"|
|Professor Tyler M. Freeborn||Anthropology||"The Shadow Out of Time"|
|Dr. Allen Halsey||Dean of the Medical School||"Herbert West--Reanimator"|
|Professor Lake||Biology||At the Mountains of Madness|
|Dr. Francis Morgan||Archaeology||"The Dunwich Horror"|
|Professor Frank H. Pabodie||Engineering||At the Mountains of Madness|
|Professor Nathaniel Wingate Peaslee||Political Economy||"The Shadow Out of Time"|
|Professor Wingate Peaslee||Psychology||"The Shadow Out of Time"|
|Professor Warren Rice||Languages||"The Dunwich Horror"|
|Professor Upham||Mathematics||"The Dreams in the Witch House"|
|"Old" Waldron||College doctor||"The Dreams in the Witch House"|
|Albert N. Wilmarth||English||"At the Mountains of Madness"|
"The Whisperer in Darkness"
Chaosium has published several guides to the 1920s Miskatonic University. The first was a lengthy section in Arkham Unveiled (1990) by Keith Herber et al and put a full university setting around existing Mythos references. The second was Miskatonic University (1995), a full-length book by Sandy Antunes. Subtitled 'Where Science Meets the Mythos', this edition tried to merge and reconcile the Chaosium setting of Arkham Unveiled, the original Mythos sources, and historical 'period' details derived especially from 1920s Boston University, while also adding new items to the setting. A copy of this out-of-print book is in Boston University's Special Collections, and Chaosium granted rights in 1997 to the Miskatonic University website to reuse some of this material for their website. The third was a new edition of Miskatonic University (2005) by 'Sam Johnson & friends' published in late 2005. This edition reworked the previous book and added more mystical and mythos game elements.
Joan Stanley published a small book, Ex Libris Miskatonici: A Catalogue of Selected Items from the Special Collections in the Miskatonic University Library, which is a researched historical fiction reference for canonical Mythos book references regarding Miskatonic.
Work was started at Chaosium on a sourcebook Arkham 1990 including a modern-day Miskatonic University, but that has not (as of 2006) yet been published.
Lovecraft has declared that the word was "a jumble of Algonquin language roots." (EXP: The Lovecraft Lexicon)
Miskatonic University is modeled on northeastern Ivy League institutions of Lovecraft's day, like Harvard University, Yale University, Dartmouth and especially Brown University of his hometown Providence, Rhode Island; which Lovecraft himself wished to attend.
- Mottos for MU have ranged from "Ex Ignorantia Ad Sapientiam; Ex Luce Ad Tenebras" (Out Of Ignorance Into Wisdom; Out Of Light Into Darkness) to "A Small Sacrifice for Knowledge", and their mascot has been stated as everything from the Badger to the Fighting Cephalopods (as in, "Go ′Pods!").
- To represent Miskatonic University in their 2009 film The Whisperer in Darkness, the H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society chose Mount Holyoke College. The film uses Pasadena City College for interior scenes of the school.