The second in a five-part series highlighting Indiana University’s role in the first World War. Read Part I
Before the outbreak of war, male students and faculty served in the military as members of the Indiana National Guard. Seventy students and one professor joined Company I, First Regiment, Indiana National Guard and were sent to the Mexican border. Although the Board of Trustees had been very reluctant to approve the R.O.T.C. on campus, they eventually gave in to faculty opinion and student petitions in March of 1917. The rationale for the R.O.T.C. was the belief that the U.S. would soon become involved in the European War, so it was better to prepare young men for military service in advance. 350 students signed up for R.O.T.C. training on campus, and four companies were formed. In June 1917, the Trustees approved the requirement that all freshman and sophomore men participate in on-campus military training.
In March of 1918, Congress voted to lower the draft age to eighteen, which effectively made nearly all male students enrolled in college eligible for the draft. In order to keep students in school while also having enough men join the military, Congress authorized the creation of the Student Army Training Corps, also known as the S.A.T.C. The War Department Committee on Education and Special Training created a system of contracts between universities and colleges and the government for the purpose of military training. The government paid for tuition, room and board, military pay, and uniforms, while colleges and universities provided the space and training.
Current male students were allowed to volunteer for the S.A.T.C. as long as they were eighteen years old and could meet the physical requirements. Men were also allowed to enroll in IU specifically for the purpose of the joining the S.A.T.C. as long as they met the regular academic admissions requirements.
The S.A.T.C. was split into two sections: Vocational and Collegiate. Vocational comprised the radio detachment and was under the command of Captain Samuel A. Mulhauser. The Collegiate section made up the majority of the S.A.T.C. enlistment and was under the command of Captain Arthur T. Dalton who had formerly led the R.O.T.C. on campus. The Collegiate Section was organized into companies A, B, C, and D.
IU was one of only three Indiana universities or colleges to have both army and naval options. The naval unit was made up of fifty IU men and thirty former students from the Great Lakes Naval Training Station. The naval unit was generally under command of Captain Dalton because they were still members of the S.A.T.C., but they were also under command of a number of naval lieutenants.
S.A.T.C. enlistees were sworn in on October 1, 1918, at a ceremony on Jordan Field (the same day as the dedication of the Service Flag). President Bryan read the new enlistees a message from the Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army as well as the oath of loyalty.
Roughly sixty percent of IU’s student population — 1,102 men — were enlisted in the S.A.T.C. IU President Bryan estimated that about 500 of this number would have enrolled in college even without the war, but that 400 men had enrolled in the University simply to join the S.A.T.C.
Members were paid $30.00 per month and lived in campus “barracks,” which were actually re-purposed fraternity houses. The Delta Tau House, for example, was Barracks No.1, and the Sigma Alpha Epsilon house was Barracks No.3. In total, sixteen houses on campus were used as barracks. Members of the radio section were housed in Alpha Hall, which had formerly been a women’s dormitory, while the naval unit barracks were located in the Men’s Gymnasium.
The daily schedule for S.A.T.C. members included reveille at 6:00am, drill from 7:00-8:50, academic work from 9:00am-11:50, class work and freedom from 1:00-5:00pm, supervised study from 7:00-9:00, and taps at 9:30pm.
A number of men from the IU S.A.T.C. were sent on to other camps for advanced training — particularly the officer’s training school at Camp Gordon in Georgia, and the Coast Artillery Officer’s Training School at Fortress Monroe in Virginia. The 1919 IU yearbook comments that, “men were leaving the University practically every week for some advanced officer training camp at the time of the signing of the armistice. Had the war continued possibly not a man beyond the standing of a freshman would have been left in the University at the end of the year.”
The First and Second world wars caused a rise in patriotism as citizens across the country sought to contribute to the war effort. Away from the trenches and on the home front, in true Hoosier fashion Indiana University faculty, students and the Bloomington community rose admirably to the challenge to meet the very pressing issue of wartime food consumption.
Part 1: The Great War
With the entrance of the United States into the war in April 1917, the importance of agricultural aid and the nation’s food security increased exponentially. In August 1917, the Food and Fuel Control Act passed Congress and President Wilson created the Food Administration with Herbert Hoover named as head of the division. “Food Will Win the War” quickly became the slogan aimed at the American public to produce more and consume less in the name of victory by rethinking old patterns of consumption, a tactic that was so successful that it was used again during WWII. IU President William Lowe Bryan urged everyone to do their part:
Your first thought everyday should be in what most effectively serve your country in the greatest crisis in its history. If we are worthy to enjoy the liberty won for us by Washington and Lincoln, we must now fight for it anew.
While young and able American men fought on the battlefields, women, children, the elderly and those left behind fought to ensure the security of the nation’s food supply and that of the allies.
The University Farm and the Corn Crib
Following a call from Indiana Governor James P. Goodrich to increase food production, the city of Bloomington formed the Vacant Lot Garden Committee and the University allocated nearly 55 acres both to the north and in the heart of campus for tilling. In April 1917, the Indiana Daily Student reported that “almost every foot of available ground will be planted…The demand for teams to plow up vacant lots has set the price of this item soaring.”
Roughly northeast of the recently completed Men’s Gymnasium (the present day School of Public Health building), the University approved the removal of several trees and a plot of about seven acres was plowed and made available for garden plots. Similarly, according to several accounts, a corn crib was erected to store the produce on the hill directly north of the old Assembly Hall (razed in 1938).
Student and Faculty Involvement
In addition to their coursework, student groups across campus such as the Women’s Athletic Association stepped up to plant gardens. In 1917, a special course on agriculture was taught by Frederick John Breeze, a Fellow in the Department of Geology.
Outside of the classroom, faculty members such as William Frederick Book (Educational Psychology) and David Andrew Rothrock (Mathematics) used their personal property for the cause. Book planted potatoes in his “newly plowed bluegrass lawn” and Rothrock “raised a ton of honey” in his backyard. Even Theodore Louden, proprietor of the Alpha Hall dormitory, put out a garden, likely for the student cafeteria.
The “Back to the Farm” Movement
With every farmer being asked to plant and produce more than ever, school authorities across the country took steps to aid in the planting of the spring crop. President Bryan implored the student body to the cause stating that:
The food campaign is just now the most essential part of our great war. We wish, therefore, to provide for the enlistment for the food campaign in a manner as nearly as possible like that required of those who enlist in the army.
Similar to the guidelines for cases of military enlistment, the Indiana Daily Student outlined the program stating that those:
who enlist in this work will receive entire credit for every hour they are carrying. For example, if a student is carrying fifteen hours of work, he will receive twelve hours of credit for his regular subjects, and the remaining three in general University credit or elective work.
According to the May 29, 1917 Indiana Daily Student a total of 217 students withdrew to become “soldiers of the soil.”
Lorena and Dorritt Degner
While the farm movement campaign primarily targeted male students, sisters Lorena and Dorritt Degner (a senior and junior respectively) eventually gained permission to withdraw from classes and return to their family farm near Winamac, Indiana.
In June, Lorena reported their activities to President Bryan in a letter:
Enlistment has ended, but work of course, is still going on, with corn-cultivating, laying and harvesting yet to be done. My brother and I have 40 acres of corn to cultivate, which will keep us busy until harvesting.
My average day of work was about 9 ½ hours and would have been a little more if rain had not stopped work two or three times. I did a little plowing, but almost all of my farm work has been farrowing and cultivating. My shortest day, except when it rained, was 8 hours, my longest 12.
After June 4, two hours each morning were spent in herding cows to pasture….
I am afraid this is becoming tedious. I question whether I have really done much for my country; I do think I have done more than by staying at I.U. and I am certainly glad you gave me an opportunity.
Tragically, Lorena I. Degner was killed in 1923 while on leave from her position as a nurse in the U.S Veterans’ Hospital No. 85 at Walla Walla, Washington. A train struck the bus in which she was traveling. President William Lowe Bryan, upon hearing of her death, paid her the following tribute in the October Alumni Quarterly:
I have been deeply shocked by the news of the death of Miss Lorena Degner. I remember her as one of our best students. She graduated from the University in 1918 with high distinction.
I remember especially one incident. In 1917 the University permitted boys to go home in order to work on the farms in the interest of a large food supply in support of our army. One day Miss Lorena Degner and her sister, Miss Dorrit Degner (now Mrs. S.C. Sledge), came into my office and asked to be released for work at home. I said that the release was given only for those who were going to work in the fields. They said that they were going home for that purpose. Those two girls were accordingly released along with hundreds of boys for this splendid was service. They deserve to be recognized along with the soldiers who went to the front.
Food and the War Courses
The United States Food Administration turned to the country’s centers of education such as IU to “secure that degree of assistance in handling our food problems that cannot be obtained elsewhere.” The Federal Food Administrator for Indiana implored President William Lowe Bryan:
The food situation is such that only the closely-knit co-operation of all our best citizens can suffice to avert conditions that a year ago would have seemed unbelievable. WILL YOU HELP?”
In response, during the spring 1918 semester the University offered several courses directly tied to the war effort such as Food and the War, Foundations of Food and Nutrition and Conservation of Foods. Students such as Flosie Garrison (A.B. in English) and Alda Woodward (A.B. in Latin) received certificates of completion from the US Food Administration following a course taught by Home Economics Professor Edith Williams. They went on to become teachers after the war.
Wheatless, Meatless and Sugarless
As the war progressed, wheatless, meatless, and sugarless days were adopted at dinner tables across the nation, the local homes, boarding and Greek houses and the University Cafeteria. Faculty members such as Mabel Wellman of the Home Economics department offered lectures to the student body and the community on food conservation methods such as canning and drying and gave recommendations for suitable substitutes for wheat such as barley, buckwheat, corn, oatmeal, rice and potato flours.
Sample menus and recipes were printed in the local papers and the Extension Division distributed the newsletter “Recipes for Winning the War in the Kitchen.” Additionally, in cooperation with the Extension Divisions of Iowa and Wisconsin they produced three films on gardening, canning and drying which were immediately put into circulation in July 1917 in four states. While the films no longer exist, at the time Walton S. Bittner of the Extension Division reported that:
Calls for the films have been coming in rapidly….The Films are good. They accomplish their main purpose of helping to keep the idea of conservation before the public. They also give definite instruction in methods.
The Hennel-Hendricks Family
Former IU faculty member Cecilia Hennel Hendricks regularly wrote her sisters Cora (an IU Professor of Mathematics) and Edith back in Bloomington from her bee farm in Powell, Wyoming. During the war years she recounted substituting wheat flour in recipes such as potato crackers and making apple-sauce barley cake from a recipe that the family sent her from the Indiana Daily Student. Cecilia also shared stories about honey from their farm being used by the Allies, local canning and drying demonstrations, and the specifics of canning vegetables, fruit, rice and meats such as chicken and even jack rabbit. In a letter dated October 12, 1917, she tells them:
To be sure there are some canned meats that are better than jack rabbit, but in this day and age – and especially region – jack rabbit is preferable to some things at three and four times the price. If you are interested get the government bulletin on canning meat, and be prepared. The government recommends killing off the cockerels and old hens in the fall, and canning them, so as to save feeding them over winter. You could do the rabbits same as chickens. Jack rabbit meat makes lovely meat loaf and brown stews and macaroni mixtures and mince meat, not to mention hassen pfeffer.
The first in a five-part series highlighting Indiana University’s role in the first World War.
The entry of the United States into World War I on April 6, 1917, caused a rise in patriotism as people across the country sought to contribute to the war effort. At Indiana University, President William Lowe Bryan urged, “Your first thought every day should be in what you can most effectively serve your country.” In true Hoosier fashion, the students, faculty, and alumni rose admirably to the occasion.
By the fall semester of 1918, 60 percent of the student population had enlisted in the Student Army Training Corps, and students, professors, and alumni were sent overseas. Male students enrolled in new Military Science courses to prepare for enlistment, while female students and faculty worked in the on-campus Red Cross Workshop and on behalf of other war relief work. The Indiana Daily Student kept those living in Bloomington informed about the progress of the war, especially news of current students and alumni who had enlisted or gone abroad with the Red Cross.
IU Military Courses
In June of 1917 — two months after the U.S. declared war on Germany — Indiana University established a Department of Military Science and Tactics. The school’s first military courses were offered that fall. The goal was to prepare male students for eventual military service, so to this end, IU established a number of classes focused on topics related to the military and the current conflict overseas. Just a few examples of these classes are “Causes of the Great War,” “Balkan Problems,” “European Governments,” “Mechanics of an Airplane,” and “Military Science.”
The courses for a degree were condensed, which allowed male students to complete the academic coursework for a major in just two years. These condensed courses were offered in the areas of Astronomy, Botany, Chemistry, Economics, Sociology, Education, Geology, Mathematics, Physics, Political Science, Psychology, Romance Languages, Technicians, and Zoology.
During the summer of 1918, the Board of Trustees signed a contract with the government to use campus space to teach radio and signal work to drafted servicemen in the U.S. Army Training Detachment. But not all of the classes inspired by the war were for the male students. For the 1918-1919 academic year, emergency courses for women were created for training and instruction in first aid, surgical dressings, the making of garments for Red Cross and civilian relief, emergency social service, elementary hygiene, and home care of the sick.
The Indiana University Service Flag was created during World War I to honor IU students, faculty, and alumni who served the United States in wartime. The flag cost $80, which, accounting for inflation, would be over $1,200 today. There are blue and gold stars on the flag. The blue stars represent the number of men enlisted in the military while the gold stars represent those who died in service to the country. There are fifty-two gold stars from the World War I era. The remainder of the stars represent those who served or died in the Civil and Spanish-American Wars, and a portion of WWII.
The flag was on display at the S.A.T.C. induction on October 1, 1918. Several years later it was displayed on campus during WWII. The flag is currently housed in the University Archives.