Sincerely Yours – Letters from the Archives: Theodore Roosevelt Draws the Line

When Carl Eigenmann (renowned ichthyologist, Indiana University Professor of Zoology and Dean of the Graduate School, and Curator of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh) set out on the 1918 Irwin research expedition to Peru, the possibility of failure was not far from his mind. He even wrote President Bryan a last will and testament of sorts, providing for the disposition of his research, specimens, and equipment “in case the submarines or other vermin should get [him].”

Yet it was not a German submarine that nearly scuttled Eigenmann’s expedition, but the U.S. State Department’s heightened scrutiny of German-Americans during World War I. After departing from Bloomington in June 1918, Eigenmann and his assistants, IU graduates Adele Eigenmann and W. R. Harris, were delayed in the port of New Orleans for five weeks. As Eigenmann, a German-born, naturalized U.S. citizen, put it, “The Passport Division of the State Department, while conceding that my name was euphonic, considered it too Teutonic and refused me passports.”

Indignant at the delay, Eigenmann went straight to the top with his protests. Besides writing to the presidents of IU and the University of Illinois, which granted Harris a fellowship for the journey, he appealed to former president Theodore Roosevelt and asked him to intercede with President Woodrow Wilson on his behalf.

Theodore Roosevelt delivering the 1918 IU Commencement address
Theodore Roosevelt delivering the 1918 IU Commencement address

Roosevelt’s well-known fascination with natural history, in particular with gathering specimens and trophies through large-scale, international expeditions, had made him a natural ally of Eigenmann’s in years past. In 1916, Roosevelt wrote to Gilbert Grosvenor, President of the National Geographic Society, to secure $3000 for the expedition, stating that Eigenmann was “of all the men in this country the one best fit to get the best results out of just this trip.”

Roosevelt also proved himself a friend of Indiana University in general, having given a rousingly patriotic commencement speech in Bloomington in May, 1918. But when Eigenmann requested his assistance in securing passports, he had not counted on the extent of the bad blood between Roosevelt and Wilson, who were campaign rivals during the 1912 presidential election and differed widely in attitudes toward American intervention in Europe during World War I. Roosevelt responded, apologetically, to Eigenmann’s request as follows:

Letter from Theodore Roosevelt to Carl H. Eigenmann, July 5, 1918.

SAGAMORE HILL.

July 5th 1918

Dear Dr. Eigenmann,

I am very sorry, but I cannot appeal to Wilson for any human being; and moreover the surest way to hurt you would be to have him think I was interested in you. I am wholly unable to understand the folly or worse of refusing to permit your Peruvian expedition.

With regret [and] indignation,

Faithfully yours,

Theodore Roosevelt

Despite Roosevelt’s unwillingness or inability to help him, Eigenmann’s other contacts were able to exert pressure on the authorities, and the expedition proceeded, albeit with a shortened itinerary. Eigenmann later reported that he suspected a rival scientist as the instigator of the passport controversy. As he wrote in his June, 1919 report to the Board of Trustees, “Someone, who I was informed was interested in having me vacate the position of Curator in the Carnegie Museum, filed charges against my loyalty.”

Who knew that the field of natural history could be so full of intrigue?

A Question of Loyalty: Controversies Surrounding All Things German at Indiana University during World War I

“President Bryan made a statement to the Board concerning the German situation at the university”—Board of Trustee Minutes, April 17, 1918.

For the past several months, I’ve been working to slowly transcribe the WWI-era hand-written minutes of the Board of Trustees for inclusion in this searchable online portal and one question has continued to weigh on me. What exactly was “the German situation”?

While the Great War raged in Europe, anti-German feelings ran high state-side and Indiana University was not exempt from coming under fire for associations with the enemy. After some investigation, the exact “German situation” is still a little vague; however, there are still some fascinating stories from the era.

C286 War Mothers letter, June 1, 1918

One of these controversies involved  the teaching of the German language. By mid-1918 enrollment in German language courses at Indiana University had declined and only two professors, Bert J. Vos and Carl Osthaus, remained on the faculty. Across the country, teaching German in the schools (including universities) became a contentious issue. In June 1918, IU President William Lowe Bryan received a letter from the War Mothers of Monroe County which argued that “one of the most fruitful sources for dissemination of insidious enemy propaganda has been through the contact of things German with our schools.” They further stated that “it is therefore RESOLVED: — That no good purpose can be served by the continuation of the teaching of German in Indiana University, that much harm may come therefrom.” President Bryan coolly responded that the teaching of German would remain  “as a means of fighting Germany.” When further questions poured in from individuals such as  Dr. Perry Dickie of the American Defense Society, President Bryan responded that “German is not required for entrance” but that “we provide a few classes in German for students who desire it.” Additionally, by the fall of 1918 students enlisted in the Student Army Training Corps were learning German for military purposes.

James McDonald portrait painting P0056332
James McDonald portrait painting

While controversy surrounded the teaching of German, two professors also found themselves at the center of the debate. History professor James McDonald found himself the subject of a Senate investigation when a German by the name of Dr. Karl A. Fuehr included him in his “important list of names” which the the Department of Justice stated were all pro-Germans.  McDonald, however, demonstrated to the Senate Investigation Committee that the accusation was erroneous and that he was a loyal American citizen, stating that “Ever since the sinking of the Lusitania I have not merely privately but also publicly both in class and in the press strongly advocated the entrance of the United States into the war against Germany, as my students and associates can readily testify” (from a letter to the Chairman of Senate Investigating Committee, December 11, 1918). McDonald would go on to work first for the League of Nations and then for President Roosevelt’s Advisory Committee on Political Refugees in Europe. He recognized early on the danger the Jewish people faced from Hitler. McDonald would also become the first US Ambassador to Israel.

Zeuch002
Hopkinton Iowa Leader, November 8, 1917

The second and most controversial case was that of Professor William Zeuch. A young Iowan, Zeuch was hired in 1917 to teach economics at Indiana University. In November of 1917, Zeuch had replied to an Iowan newspaper’s anti-German statements, stating that the newspaper was printing propaganda and because the recent German atrocities were not unique to Germans as a race, the newspaper was thus offending German-Americans.

Newspaper's reply
Newspaper’s reply

The newspaper replied by thoroughly denouncing Zeuch. News spread to Bloomington, where Zeuch found himself under investigation by the Monroe County Council of Defense and a committee of professors at the University. The Bloomington Indiana Daily Student on November 14 reported: “Mr. Zeuch affirms that he had no intention of being disloyal or unpatriotic when he wrote the letter to the Hopkinson Leader. He said to a representative of The Student that he had been incensed at the attempts which have been made to arouse hatred against the German race, but that he wished to condemn its autocracy.” Newspapers across the state reported on the scandal and Zeuch was asked to resign from his position. He did and joined the Army, from which he was honorably discharged in 1918. After the war, Zeuch co-founded a short-lived college in Arkansas, Commonwealth College, with a program that reflected his sentiments for socio-economic reform.  He was also a Guggenheim fellow in the 1930s and worked for the Department of the Interior.

Zeuch co-founded a short-lived college in Arkansas, the Commonwealth College, with a program that reflected his sentiments for socio-economic reform.

To learn more about either of these incidents or more about Indiana University during WWI, contact the IU Archives.

IU War Service Register Documents All IU Veterans

The War Service Register records are now open for research at the University Archives!

Used to the compile the original Golden Book housed at the Indiana Memorial Union (listing every IU alum who served in war), the War Service Register of Alumni and Former Students provides information on Indiana University alumni and former students who served in U.S. wars between 1860 and 1945 (i.e., the Mexican War, Civil War, the Spanish-American War, the first World War, or the second World War).

William Arthur Millington's World War I War Service record
William Arthur Millington’s World War I War Service record

The Alumni Office requested that each alum provide his or her name, degree, class year, dates of service, date of discharge, rank, and record. The amount of information provided, however, varies from student to student.

For those students serving in World War II, the material is much more comprehensive and often includes newspaper clippings and correspondence between IU and the enlistee and/or his or her parents. There are records for dozens of female enlistees. The Record (filled out by alumni) included, among other things, blanks for present service address, previous stations, and the question “are you receiving the alumni magazine?” In addition to the paper records, photographs were frequently sent to the Alumni Office (now housed in IU’s photograph collection).

Kathryn Griffith enlisted in the Marine Corps Women's Reserve in July 1945. At IU, she was a member of the Women's Athletic Association, Alpha Delta Pi sorority, and the Association of Woman Students.
Kathryn Griffith enlisted in the Marine Corps Women’s Reserve in July 1945. At IU, she was a member of the Women’s Athletic Association, Alpha Delta Pi sorority, and the Association of Woman Students.

History of the Register

The Office of the Alumni Secretary, led by Humphrey M. Barbour in the 1920s, compiled the initial (pre-World War II) War Service Register of Alumni and Former Students, which provided information about Indiana University alumni and former students who served in a U.S. war between 1860 and 1920. The Alumni Office collated the register using alumni responses to a memo requesting information sent in the early 1920s.

During and after the end of World War II, the Alumni Office, then under the charge of George F. Heighway, repeated this same process. Besides serving as a tool to encourage subscription to the IU Alumni Magazine, the letters were also used to find out information about soldiers listed as “missing in action.”

Cpl. Julius Griesel's father responded to Heighway's letter informing him that a wounded Griesel spent ten days in a German hospital, marched seventy-two miles to Italy, before finally being "liberated" by the Russians on April 22, 1945.
Cpl. Julius Griesel’s father responded to Heighway’s letter informing him that a wounded Griesel spent ten days in a German hospital, marched seventy-two miles to Italy, before finally being “liberated” by the Russians on April 22, 1945.

 

Heighway often wrote to parents of MIA or POW soldiers expressing his concern and asking for updated information. There are many instances, such as the letter at left, when families wrote back with good news that their son was found alive. Not all replies, however, were positive.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harry Hanna, Class of 1926, served in the Air Service Command. Here he poses with other members of the Allied troops. In a memo encouraging the use of this photo in the Alumni Magazine, President Herman B Wells commented that "it certainly illustrates the cosmopolitan character of our Allies."
Hanna 2 Harry Hanna, Class of 1926, served in the Air Service Command. Here he (top photo, far right) poses with other members of the Allied troops. In a memo encouraging the use of this photo in the Alumni Magazine, President Herman B Wells commented that “it certainly illustrates the cosmopolitan character of our Allies.”

According to some counts, 288 former IU students were killed in action during the war. The Alumni Office requested that families of the deceased fill out a special form listing service information as well as place of burial. Most families also mailed photographs with the other information (such as the two shown below, Iceal Alford and Bernard Cederholm).

AlfordCederholm

On a personal level, these photographs were the most striking. The soldiers killed in action are indistinguishable, of course, from the rest of the photographs sent to IU. Yet, viewing their photographs, I already know how their lives ended. For those who survived, however, these records detail just a few years of their life. The rest of their life remains a mystery.

The finding aid is available here. If you have a relative who attended IU and served in the war, contact the University Archives to learn if there are records available to view!

Indiana University and World War I: Armistice Day and the War Memorial Fund (Part 5 of 5)

The last in a five-part series highlighting Indiana University’s role in the first World War.

The armistice ending the war went into effect at 11:00 A.M., November 11, 1918 – just one week after campus reopened from the influenza outbreak. On the home front, Indiana University students and faculty and Bloomington townsfolk welcomed the end of the Great War, many with celebrations and parades around downtown Bloomington, as seen in the following photos.

Armistice celebrations in downtown Bloomington.
LARGE[1] Armistice celebrations in downtown Bloomington.
Forty-two days after many IU men were formally inducted into the S.A.T.C., the war ended. A few days after that, the War Department announced that the S.A.T.C. would be demobilized by December 21st. Although specific numbers do not exist, the 1919 yearbook reported that the majority of male students who had been members of the S.A.T.C. returned to school in the spring semester as civilian students. With the disbandment of the S.A.T.C., R.O.T.C. training resumed and four hours of training were mandatory for every male student in the spring semester.

To understand the emotion of that November day, consider these two accounts of the celebrations by members of the IU community, one from Europe and one from Bloomington.

Georgia Finley was was a professor in the Home Economics Department at Indiana University from 1914-1939. Beginning in September of 1917, she took a leave of absence in order serve as the Chief Dietician at Base Hospital No. 32 in France. During her time overseas, she regularly wrote letters home which were then published in the Indiana Daily Student. She also regularly kept a diary. The following is an excerpt from that diary, courtesy of IU’s Lilly Library:

Georgia Finley
Georgia Finley

November 11, 1918. Well, it’s all over! What joy! The news was officially given out during the morning. Troops stationed near here and ready for the front were ordered not to go because no more were needed. Then the French Comminque announced “Armistice signal.” This afternoon seventy-one shots were fired. The church bells rang. Then the overland trains chime in from the front – joyous and gaily decorated. We all felt like crying and many French women did. . . . This is the first night we have not had to black out since coming to France. The street lights are glowing.

Back in Indiana, IU student and S.A.T.C. member William Ringer (who suffered from the Spanish Flu) wrote in his diary:

One of the greatest days in the history of the world! Almost 3:30 we were awakened by a terrible ringing of bells, shouting, explosions, etc. And central called in that Germany had signed the armistice. We were ordered to ‘fall in’ and at once we marched down to Kirkwood and Indiana where all the S.A.T.C. and the Rookies and hundreds of town people. It was dark and cold, but there was excitement and noise enough. All the civilians cheering and autos honking, make a wild world. We marched three turn around the square etc. until almost 5 o’clock. Of course did not return to sleep. We had drill – and a hard one, but they announced that there would be no classes, but a parade at 2, and at 7.

War Memorial Fund

With the war ended, life slowly returned to normal in Bloomington. On campus, the most prominent legacy of the war at IU is the War Memorial Fund. The fundraising drive originated with the Indiana University Alumni Council, and was created to fill the need of the university for new buildings. IU President Bryan saw a fund drive as a way to commemorate the 1920 IU Centennial and as a way to remember those who served in the war. In June 1921, the Alumni Council gave approval and authorized a campaign to raise $1,000,000 for the construction of three buildings. The Council selected the University Librarian at the time, W.A. Alexander, to serve as the executive secretary. A large bonfire attended by 2,000 students in March, 1922, helped to encourage fundraising. The IDS wrote that “the glowing embers reflected to students visions of new structures soon to be born to grace our campus, and from the flying sparks they caught the spirit of a greater Indiana.”

1922 Memorial Fund bonfire.
1922 Memorial Fund bonfire.

The three buildings constructed as a result of the Memorial Fund were:

  • Memorial Hall, completed in 1925 as a women’s dormitory, the first one owned by the University.

Memorial Hall (1925)

  • Memorial Stadium, also completed in 1925 but demolished in 1982.

Memorial Stadium (1925)

  • Indiana Memorial Union, completed in 1932.

Indiana Memorial Union (1932)

The architectural firm Lowe & Bollenbacher designed both Memorial Hall and Memorial Stadium, while the IMU was designed by Granger and Bollenbacher.

This campus map from 1930 shows the results of the War Memorial Fund.
This campus map from 1930 shows some of the results of the War Memorial Fund.

Indiana University and World War I: The Spanish Influenza on Campus (Part 4 of 5)

The fourth in a five-part series highlighting Indiana University’s role in the first World War.

Notice printed in the Indiana Daily Student.
Notice printed in the Indiana Daily Student.

In the fall of 1918 Indiana University had 1,935 students, which was the largest enrollment to date. This record number, however, corresponded with the outbreak of the Spanish Flu epidemic, and, that fall, numerous students fell ill. President Bryan and the administration were forced to make the decision on October 10, 1918, to close the University for ten days — until October 20th. All students not in the Student Army Training Corps were asked to go home until the university reopened.

Hospital beds were set up in the old Assembly Hall to combat the influenza epidemic.
Hospital beds were set up in the old Assembly Hall to combat the influenza epidemic.

Sixty percent of the school’s population however were members of the S.A.T.C. and were required by army regulations to remain on campus. Thus, to fight the outbreak effectively, hospital beds were set up in Assembly Hall (the old Assembly Hall) and the auditorium of the Student Building. The peak of the epidemic at IU hit on October 16th, with 174 cases of influenza. In light of the continued prevalence of influenza on campus, the administration extended the closure of the university until November 4th.

S.A.T.C. member and IU student, William Ringer, contracted the flu and wrote about his experience illness in his diary on October 18, 1918:

William Ringer, Class of 1920 and member of the SATC.
William Ringer, Class of 1920 and member of the S.A.T.C.

I felt rotten, and could scarcely hold up my head while Rawles rambled away. . . . I felt worse all day, ate only a little dinner. The next morning I felt rotten, and did not get up until 7:30. There were four of us stumbled down to the infirmary where there was the sickest looking bunch of fellows I ever saw. He ordered us to the hospital, so we walked back to the barracks and lay there all day until a taxi came for us. I was put on a cot on the lower floor after some delay, and there I settled down for 6 days’ sickness. And I was pretty sick for three or four days. My temperature got only as high as 102.6 but it stayed up north stubbornly. They took good care of us, gave us plenty of very good food. . . . Horace [his brother] was brought in Saturday, and put on the stage. He was more sick than I, had a slight congestion in one lung, and had to wear a pneumonia jacket.

[You can read the original diary at the University Archives.]

Even after classes resumed, people were still being cared for at the University Hospital. In total, 350 people were hospitalized at IU during the fall influenza outbreak. Thanks to the nursing staff and warm hospital quarters only three people died, a mortality rate of less than one percent. That is much less than the estimated global mortality rate of 10%.

Flu cases continued to crop up into the spring 1919 semester. As a result, a late winter basketball game against the University of Iowa was supposed to be closed to the public to prevent the flu’s spread. Despite the risk, five hundred students made it past security in order to watch the game. According to IU basketball player Ardith Phillips, they were “500 of the most enthusiastic spectators you ever saw.”