Wartime: World War I
Students Go to War
World War I affected the University like no other event in its history thus far. The campus rose to the occasion of doing what they could to assist in the war effort. New acquisitions in the library were heavy on the topic of military sciences. Students were urged to enroll in courses that would prepare them for the needs of the military; women especially were urged to enroll in nursing classes. Special funds were set up to raise money for war causes.
As male students went to war, they wrote to the University News telling of their experiences and asking for letters in return, especially from female students. The University News reported on October 10, 1917 that 235 students, representing 25% of the student body were serving in the war. One of those students was Robert Hopkins, a student in the College of Liberal Arts, and future Law School graduate who went on to enjoy a successful career as a Cincinnati attorney. Hopkins’s scrapbooks give us a unique view of a student life interrupted by war. Hopkins, a talented illustrator, created a series of cartoons while he was in France featuring the ever-embattled character Private Newt. His series offers an interesting, if somewhat whimsical, perspective on life as a soldier overseas. At home, Hopkins won prizes in national cartoon competitions and his work also appeared in the Cincinnatian and the University News.
University News, November 7, 1917
Many students interrupted their studies to serve in the war.
This card was sent to Robert Hopkins’s parents upon his arrival in Europe.
A cartoon from Robert Hopkins’s scrapbook
The Student Army Training Corps
Higher education reached out to the military to offer their support and find a way that they could contribute to the war effort. The response was the Student Army Training Corps (SATC), a very short-lived project designed by the federal government to involve higher education in the preparation of soldiers for war. Coming late in the war, the program was only in active operation at UC from October to December 1918, but nonetheless made a huge impact on the campus. Temporary SATC barracks were erected to house student soldiers. The barracks were situated near Carson Field around the present site of Steger Student Life Center/MainStreet. After the dissolution of the program in 1919, the barracks were disassembled and the parts sold.
Living quarters for SATC students in the barracks
Student mess hall in the barracks
SATC Opening Ceremony
The SATC officially opened on October 1, 1918. In the panorama above, President Dabney addresses the cadets at the induction, assembled on Carson Field. Part of the barracks can be seen in the center above the bleachers.
As the war ended, many student-soldiers returned and resumed their studies. Those who did not return were remembered with gratitude. A service to honor the men was held on April 30, 1919.
The 1919 Cincinnatian included a memoriam to student soldiers who died in WWI. The SATC cadets towards the bottom of the page are those who died in the flu epidemic of 1918.