On the Home Front
College campuses mobilize for war
Campus women heed the
the vast numbers of male students enrolled in college military
programs seemed to turn the state's campuses into camps, female
students also prepared for war service. About twenty percent
of Oregon women
enrolled in special war courses. The curriculum was designed
for definite war service or for replacing professionals
who left for military service. The following were some
of the offerings:
special nurses' aide training course. Upon completion the
students were to see service both in the United States and
five month course in intensive civil service training.
The university added faculty in its School of Commerce
to accommodate the additional students.
course to train laboratory assistants to aid physicians
and chemists in the service. The course was taught by the
Agricultural College encouraged women to train for standard
clerical, stenographic, and
accounting positions, as well as food conservation and
But the school also suggested that women "extend" to
non-traditional fields such as engineering, mining, forestry,
Still, the college refused to stray
too far from tradition. It noted that "young women
who are alert to their responsibilities"
challenge created by war and "nothing so completely
fits a young woman for these duties as a thorough course
economics." (Image from poster at Oregon State Archives,
original at National Archives)
The corps comes to Oregon
With the rapid expansion of the American Expeditionary
Force in Europe, the U.S. War Department needed large numbers of officers
experts. To meet this need, it turned to college campuses across
the nation with the Students Army Training Corps (SATC) program.
The colleges possessed the settings, equipment, and organization
train large numbers
of students for military service. In Oregon, both the University of
Oregon in Eugene and the Oregon Agricultural College (OAC - the precursor
to Oregon State University) in Corvallis met the requirements of the
War Department for participation.
Young men who had not been drafted could apply to one of two tracks
of study if they met the following requirements:
A: Men at least 18 years old who had completed a grammar school education.
These men studied trade and technical subjects analogous to college
vocational courses. View
essay written circa 1919 on vocational education in Oregon during World
War I. (6 page PDF)
B: Men at least 18 years old who had completed a standard high school
course of study. They could study either standard college courses or
special war courses in engineering, mining, chemistry, physics, bacteriology,
sanitation, and others.
At the Corvallis campus the new SATC military unit started in October
1917. In an effort to boost the coordination and efficiency of the
effort, the SATC absorbed several existing programs, including the
Cadet Regiment, Reserve Officers'
Corps, and the Engineers' Enlisted Reserve Corps.
Accommodating the corps
Once students were inducted into the corps, they were outfitted with
uniforms consisting of one overcoat, one service hat, two cotton coats,
two pairs of cotton breeches, one pair of leggings, one pair of shoes,
one waist belt, and one collar ornament. While students had to pay
for their own books, they did receive the usual soldier's pay of $30
per month as well as free tuition. And, they were entitled
free room and board.
But the colleges had to scramble to
meet the housing and "mess" needs of the students. Oregon
Agricultural College anticipated an enrollment of 2,000 corps students
in the fall
and the University of Oregon saw 800 inductees drilling on campus.
OAC hurried to erect a large barrack hall as well as a YMCA hall.
But officials prepared to take further steps as needed, including
requisitioning other college buildings, club houses, or private buildings:
"...there is no objection,
for example, to the taking over by the College of fraternity
houses or private dormitories, or the conversion of other buildings
for housing and subsistence purposes. The kind of building
is not important provided that conditions are sanitary and
Similarly, at the University of Oregon all fraternity houses
on campus, the men's residence hall, Friendly Hall, and both the men's
and women's gymnasiums were taken over by the government as temporary
barracks for the SATC students as well as those in the related Officers
Training Corps (OTC). At the same time, a company, which included
Eugene businessmen as primary
stockholders, was busy
nearby for the students. These would free up some of the fraternities
and both gymnasiums for their normal use.
Deady Hall on the University of Oregon campus continued to
house classrooms during World War I. However, other buildings
on campus saw duty as barracks for the military program students.
(Photo courtesy Salem Public Library)
From reveille to taps
The sound of bugles became a regular part of campus life with
the introduction of the Students Army Training Corps to the universities.
They sounded for both the SATC and the Officers Training
Corps on the University of Oregon campus.
Regular drills and other military training mixed with class work
for the students. Uniforms were optional for the SATC students but those
in the Officers Training Corps
Besides the sounds of bugles and drill calls,
campus was jolted by other noises since it
battlefield tactics. The
would light up the sky during "the occasional all night battle in the
trenches with plenty of rockets and exploding of blank cartridges and 'bombs'
playing searchlights picking out the scouting parties of either side, to make
the battle realistic."
OAC issued bulletins to help students navigate the available government
programs during and after the war. Subjects included SATC and classes
for women in the college. (OSA, Oregon
Defense Council Records, Publications and Ephemera, Box 8, Folder 4)
The watchful eye
Military regulations trumped university rules on the Eugene
campus. SATC students could not leave their "cantonment" or
temporary military quarters without a pass issued by an officer. And
routine endeavors such as a trip to the library took on a military flavor
as a University of Oregon news bulletin entitled
"Oregon Overseas" wryly observed: "Even the studying of
the men in the library in the evenings is under the watchful eye of a
sergeant. The men are marched to the library from their barracks in companies,
eyes front, and do their studying during specific study hours."
Other university rules felt the effect of the military
presence and socially active students bore the brunt of the restrictions.
"Oregon Overseas" described that "among the changes are the limiting
night 'dates' of sophomore, junior and senior women living in the houses
of residence on the campus to one only. No more may upper class women
have as many 'dates' as they wish on week nights." The new rules also
did away with house dances at sorority houses and women's residence
"When summoned to service..."
While the course of the war looked promising to American military
planners in the summer of 1918, they nonetheless had to prepare for the
long haul. Therefore, they intended to increase the army by two million
men by July 1919, which probably would necessitate the mobilization of
registrants under the age of 21 by that time. As a result, Oregon Agricultural
College officials cautioned students that "it cannot now be definitely
stated how long a particular student will remain at college." The life
student was very much in the hands of the military. Except for those
engaged in technical studies of military value such as medicine,
SATC students were not "in any sense a deferred or favored
Austin Case of Klamath Falls joined the SATC in Corvallis. He was discharged
before seeing service in Europe. (OSA)
At periodic intervals the men in the Section B college track program
were to be sorted and reassigned as military needs demanded according
This process must have had a "clarifying" and motivating
effect on the intensity of their studies. Most
into one of the following assignments:
to central officers training camp
to non-commissioned officers training school
study at school for a limited time in a specified discipline
to vocational training school for technical training of military value
to cantonment for duty with troops as a private
Men in the Section A vocational program also had incentives. They
were to be "rated
and tested by the standard Army methods and those who are found to
may be assigned for further training in the collegiate section."
(Oregon State Defense Council Records, Publications
and Ephemera, Box 8, Folder 4, Oregon Agricultural College Bulletin,
Nos. 276, 289,
295; State Historian's Correspondence,
Box 1, Folder 16; Box 8, Folder 4, "Oregon Overseas" News
Bulletin, vol. 9, no. 4)