Concise Encyclopedia of Tufts HistorySauer, Anne
World War, 1914-1918,1914-1918
The first official act of the college recognizing the possibility that the United States might become involved in the war in Europe had occurred in May 1916 when over 1,000 students, faculty, and alumni had participated in a giant Preparedness Parade in downtown Boston. Early in 1917 the faculty created a special Committee on Preparedness; its first act was to take a census of the student body to see what special qualifications might be available for national service. Almost a month before President Woodrow Wilson delivered his war message to Congress, the Tufts faculty had voted unanimously to allow up to three term hours of credit for satisfactory completion of a military training course having one lecture, two hours of recitation, and five hours of drill a week.
On the very day that Wilson delivered his fateful message, the faculty on the Hill voted to recommend to the Trustees that seniors in good standing called into service were to be given their appropriate degree at the June commencement. Full credit would be given for the half-year if undergraduates were called into service. With commendable foresight the faculty also provided that for students returning to the college after the war, arrangements would be made "as though no interruption had taken place and that the advanced subjects will be adjusted to meet these conditions."Tufts joined other Massachusetts colleges in liberalizing the entrance requirements for students whose secondary school preparation had been interrupted for military for agricultural service, and War Certificates were awarded, starting in 1918, to seniors who had accepted a "Call to the Colors." The faculty, looking to the immediate emergency, then created a committee on National Service to arrange for cooperation with the national and state governments. They also voted to petition both the President of the United States and Congress to prohibit "the manufacture and sale of all intoxicating liquors during the period of the war, as a logical and necessary conservation measure." Trustee Fletcher's hopes that alcoholic beverages would disappear seemed to have received official support.
The summer of 1918 was an exceptionally busy one for the college. The institution went on an around-the-clock schedule, offering special "War Emergency Courses" for civilians in chemistry, industrial electricity, and civil engineering. Probably no one in the Tufts community lived a more hectic civilian life that summer than President Bumpus. On the importuning of officials in Washington, he became chief of the Organization Branch, Methods Control Division, of the Quartermaster Corps. In his work with the transportation division in particular he showed his unusual administrative abilities. He had already helped to organize and develop the War Department Committee on Education and Special Training, and as an ardent supporter of the Allied cause decided that if he could "be of greater service by leaving the college and going to Washington to undertake a piece of constructive work, I propose to go." He found his duties at Tufts "very confining" and earnestly wanted to be of greater service to the war effort than he thought that his tasks at the College provided. Keeping in touch with Tufts affairs and maintaining an office in the nation's capital simultaneously was a demanding assignment. As he wrote a friend at the Museum of Natural History, he was "spreading [his] time rather thin at Tufts and thick at Washington."When he returned to Tufts in the fall of 1918, he was called upon time after time to speak in the Greater Boston area on subjects "pertaining to our War situation," and he complied whenever time and energy permitted. Among his most widely reprinted speeches was "The Demand of the Government for Efficient Men."
When autumn came, there were already on the Hill, or in the planning stage, an Army Collegiate Section of 500 men, an Army Vocational Section of 230 men, a Naval Section of 100 men, and at the Boston branch of the college a War Training Section of 900 men, all under the command of a major and eleven lieutenants. The first actually to arrive on the Hill (May 1918) was a contingent of 100 men to receive special training as carpenters, machinists, and automotive maintenance men. This group, one of many assigned to numerous colleges across the country, was under the Army Vocational Section and was known as the Tufts Training Detachment. The group was allotted to Tufts in response to a request of the Committee on Education and Special Training which President Bumpus had helped to organize and one of whose members was Samuel P. Capen, of the Class of 1898.The trainees were to remain at the college for sixty days and to receive military as well as technical instruction. It was this group that built an extension to the Howe Memorial Laboratory (the Power House) and constructed a separate building used for automotive training. A second group (150 men) arrived in mid-June, and the campus hummed with activity.
In the meantime, a new project was undertaken by the federal government which involved Tufts directly, although briefly. A Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) had been established under the authority of the National Defense Act of 1916.By mid-1917 it was operating at thirty-seven colleges (mostly land-grant) and nine military and other schools. The Tufts faculty recommended in June that President Bumpus and the Trustees "consider the advisability of establishing a Reserve Officers Training Corps at Tufts College."Instead, the College received units of the Student Army Training Corps (SATC), which was organized in the late summer of 1918 to take the place temporarily of the ROTC.The purpose of the SATC was to train enlisted men for special military assignments. After a twelve-weeks' term, men from each unit were to be sent to officers' training campus, non-commissioned officer' schools, or cantonments, or were assigned to assist in instructing others at SATC units.
When word was received that the War Department was organizing units of the SATC at selected colleges, Tufts immediately applied for a unit. By October the Hill was covered with marching men in military uniforms and draftees in fatigue clothing being trained under the Army Vocational program., ordinarily housing about sixty-five men, became a bustling barracks for 320. was remodeled as a mess hall in which 750 men could be served at one time. Jumbo, the College Mascot, was boarded up in one corner of Barnum Museum, and his first-floor quarters became a post exchange. Part of the upper floor of the building became the distributing center for Quartermaster supplies. Goddard Gymnasium became a YMCA furnishing entertainment and social amenities for the 238 students in the SATC.Part of Eaton Library was set aside as barracks, and a reading and writing room was provided in it for the use of military personnel. The facilities of the Crane School were used by the SATC while theological classes met at Dean McCollester's residence. The housing and feeding of pre-medical, medical, and dental students in the War Training Program in downtown Boston were made possible by the lease and conversion of Mechanics Hall, which provided facilities for 900 men. Captain Milton S. Bowman, who had been assigned to the Tufts Training Detachment in May 1918, was promoted to the rank of major and was placed in charge of thee whole military operation at Tufts. Dean Anthony of the engineering school directed War Training Courses on the Hill, and Dean Wren of the school of liberal arts directed the equivalent for the departments in Boston.
The war crept into every nook and cranny of the Tufts campus. Soon after the United States entered the conflict, the college organized a course of weekly lectures required of all students. Academic credit could be earned if students presented within a week a written synopsis of each lecture and showed "some acquaintance with the subject and its literature."There were talks on such subjects as food conservation, the League to Enforce Peace, and relief work in Belgium and Poland. A special secretarial course was introduced for Jackson Students, who could also receive college credit for Red Cross-sponsored courses in nursing and first aid. Many a Tufts student and faculty member shivered through the winter months as fuel conservation was rigidly enforced, and many a waistline was presumably trimmed by those who followed Herbert Hoover's "Gospel of the Clean Plate."Many students paid their College charges with United States Government bonds purchased by their patriotic parents.
Scarcely had the college made the abrupt transition from an academic institution to a quasi-military establishment When six weeks later it had to change gears again. The SATC began training in mid-October, after the opening of the college had been delayed by an influenza epidemic. The armistice was signed less than a month later. The immediate post-armistice status of the SATC unit gave as much trouble as any single activity. No one seemed to know from day to day (either in Washington or at Tufts) when the program would be liquidated, except that the financial obligations to the college would eventually be met by the government. There was a "strong probability" in November 1918 that students enrolled in the SATC program would "be given the privilege of returning to civil life if they so elect." This seemed to treasurer Arthur Mason to make Tufts' difficulties in formulating any plans all the greater, for he assumed that most of the men released from the SATC would "simply go" and would not transfer to other courses in the college. On November 27, orders were received to demobilize the SATC as soon as possible. The college had the opportunity in the winter of 1918 to consider the establishment of an ROTC unit following the disbanding of the SATC but the Executive Committee "deemed it not advisable." In December, demobilization had been completed and the college found itself in the unenviable position of trying to resume a peacetime stance almost literally overnight. Somehow, in little more than two weeks, it managed to reconvert itself into an academic institution in time to open for the second semester in January 1919.
The disarrrangements resulting from a nation at war and from demobilization, reconversion, and a general return to the status quo ante bellum after November 11, 1918, had innumerable repercussions on the campus, some involving serious financial problems. The fraternities, whose houses had been closed or taken over by the College and who wanted a home on the campus again, had to renegotiate their property arrangements. Typical were the problems faced by Zeta Psi when the Trustees at first decided in the fall of 1918 to terminate the fraternity occupancy of the house located at the corner of Professors Row and Packard Avenue, but later changed their minds. The Delta Tau Delta house had been taken over by the SATC as an infirmary, and the Delta Upsilon house had served as a Jackson dormitory. The student body, although it did not disintegrate, did shrink noticeably in the fall of 1918, and with it went precious revenue. Faculty by the dozens (especially the medical and dental school staffs) became involved in military obligations and were given leaves of absence without pay; at the same time, the question arose of how to occupy the remaining faculty. The expenses involved in adapting the buildings on the campus to military use were complicated by the fact that the cash balance in the college coffers toward the end of 1918 was "almost zero," according to a report of Arthur Mason, the harried treasurer. Government compensation to the college ($1.6481 per day for each SATC student on the Hill and $1.5555 for those quartered in Boston) came in long after services had been rendered. Treasurer Mason, in September 1918, predicted that the college would have to have a loan of nearly $200,000 to meet its immediate obligations; he had already been forced to borrow $25,000 to meet current expenses. The most crucial period in the wartime history of the college came when the demobilization of the SATC was ordered and before any estimate could be made of how many students would register after the military contingents withdrew.
The enrollment in midyear of 1918-19, when the College suddenly returned to peacetime status, exceeded all expectation. Jackson College, whose enrollments had increased during the war, set a new record with 174 enrolled, and created an acute housing problem which was alleviated by converting the president's house into a dormitory. The most astounding statistics were for the school of liberal arts and for the engineering school. There were 521 students in all in the two schools by January 1919, including approximately fifty who had already returned from military service to resume their interrupted studies. Over 900 students registered in the pre-medical, medical, and dental schools. The author of a feature article in the Tufts College Graduate gave the lion's share of the credit for the prosperous condition of the institution to President Bumpus. He cited enrollment and financial figures to support his enthusiastic statement that the president had "made good,"and said that if it had not been for his leadership and executive ability, the college might have foundered. Bumpus had apparently set it on the road to new heights and had fully vindicated his promise to make Tufts of maximum service "to the community and mankind."
Over 1,000 Tufts men served in the armed forces during the First World War. Twenty-one lost their lives in the nation's service, of whom fifteen were commissioned officers. Many received citations for bravery, including the Distinguished Service Cross. If the members of the SATC who received their training at Tufts are counted, the total manpower contributions of the college were most impressive. Over two-thirds of the regular Tufts students, faculty, and alumni, ranging from the Class of 1878 through the Class of 1921, served in the Army; there were over 200 in the Navy; and a few served in the Marines. More than half of the Tufts men who served in some capacity were from the medical and dental schools. In addition to those in the regular armed forces, over 100 individuals were in various branches of auxiliary services such as the American Ambulance Field Service, the Red Cross, and the YMCA.
Several arrangements growing out of the war continued into peacetime. The YMCA remained on the Hill for another year, financed by a joint appropriation from the college and from the funds of the Crane School. David Cheney, the general secretary of the YMCA at the college, became Tufts' first Director of Publicity in 1920. The dental school provided instruction in dental mechanics to disabled veterans by arrangement with the Federal Board for Vocational Education.
Source: LOH1, 479-487.
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