Columbia University

Dates:
Active 1917
Active 1945
Americans

History notes:

The Columbia University community and administration mobilized to the fullest extent in answer to the entry of the United States into World War I. Summed up by President Nicholas Murray Butler in the 1918 Annual Report, the effects of the war on the University were far-reaching: "Students by the hundred and prospective students by the thousand entered the military, naval, or civil service of the United States; teachers and administrative officers to the number of nearly four hundred sought and obtained leaves of absence or resigned their posts in order to enter the service of the Government; courses of instruction were modified or abandoned; habitual modes of procedure were altered; the whole University went upon a war footing." Soon after the nation mobilized in 1917, the war effort consumed Columbia in every way, from installation of new courses and military training on South Field to creating a War Records Committee to record every Columbia community member's participation in the war effort. Columbia's mobilization was so intense that the U.S. government used many of Columbia's programs and efforts as an example for the country's other institutions of higher education.

The first direct military activity on campus was on March 8, 1917 when the Columbia Reserve Officers Training Corps (also known as: Columbia Battalion or Columbia Corps) was formed. Within four months of formation, 1400 had enrolled in the Battalion. In April 1918, the Battalion was disbanded when it was announced, that the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) would be established to replace it. The ROTC, however, was never realized because the U.S. Army created the Student Army Training Corps to fill its place in the summer of 1918.

In April 1917 the Trustees of the University approved the creation of the Columbia War Hospital, a medical training camp, to be located on a piece of land in the Bronx called the Columbia Oval. Due to fear of naval bombardment, the hospital was also meant to handle victims of these bombardments if they occurred or to handle ill soldiers or war disasters. The War Department took over the Hospital on October 3, 1917 and renamed it the U.S. Army General Hospital Number One. In other war efforts, alumni raised enough money in September 1917 to set up the Ambulance Service Division. In addition, the University established the Columbia Service Bureau, part of the American University Union. Horatio S. Krans (CC 1894) headed the Bureau as "a friendly and helpful port of call for hundreds of Columbia soldiers on leave to Paris." (Fon W. Boardman, Jr., Columbia: An American University in Peace and War, p.47).

The University participated in and created many other programs and facilities to further the war effort, including the emergency training corps; establishment of the Military and Naval Bureau in East Hall; Mobilization Committee for Women's Work which organized women for volunteer and salaried positions; the establishment of the United States Navy Gas Engine School; the inclusion of war-related courses being taught through the Department of Extension Teaching; and the creation of the Farm Bureau.

From the description of Columbia University in World War I Collection, 1914-1970. (Columbia University In the City of New York). WorldCat record id: 642164811

BIOGHIST REQUIRED As an institution and a community, Columbia University completely mobilized its people and resources in order to help the United States and its allies, as well as protect itself from possible enemy attack, during World War II. The war affected the University most directly once the U.S. was involved, but the topic had entered the campus consciousness as early as 1933, when the merits of entering into war were debated on campus by faculty and students alike. By the fall of 1941, with war raging in Europe, it was becoming more and more likely the U.S. would eventually be drawn into the conflict. In response, the University began preparing itself for the contingencies of war, well before the attack on Pearl Harbor in December of that year.

The University participated in the war effort in several major ways: government-aided research, civilian defense, war relief, and military and educational training programs. Scientific research was conducted both on campus and in laboratories on Long Island and in Connecticut. Columbia engaged in research in the fields of engineering, physics, and medicine, ranging from high profile programs like the Manhattan Project to lesser known projects such as one developing underwater sonar systems. Research conducted during WWII sometimes continued into the post-war period, and new research projects were given to the university as the connections between government agencies and the University begun during the war period continued and grew.

Two major programs instituted on campus, in addition to the ongoing research in the many labs in and around campus, were Civilian Defense and the Committee for War Relief. Civilian Defense, a domain mainly controlled by men on campus, was comprised of six different committees: Committee on Campus Protection (including the Building Control Division), Committee on Community Education, Committee on Courses of Training, Committee on Protection of Valuable Possessions, Committee on Technical Advice, and Committee on Volunteer Participation. Another important sub-division of the Civilian Defense program was the Student Auxiliary Corps (SAC) comprising five different squads – fire, first aid, campus patrol, information desk and communications. All of these committees used the talents and manpower of those in the campus community to institute defensive measures such as blackout regulations, air raid drills, evacuation procedures, and training in first-aid. The committee also acted as a liaison between Columbia and the larger New York City and metropolitan area communities and their civilian defense programs.

Committee for War Relief was mainly the domain of women within the Columbia community and acted primarily as a fundraising organization. It raised money through the organization of fairs, concerts and lectures in order to aid people suffering in war torn countries, such as Britain and France. In addition to fundraising, this group also organized volunteers to make surgical dressings, knit socks, organize blood drives and hold lectures on home front activities, such as growing victory gardens.

Columbia also made its facilities available to the military as a place where thousands of new recruits could be housed and instructed in the United States Naval Reserve (U.S.N.R.) Midshipmen’s School, the Navy V-12 program and the U.S. Navy School of Military Government and Administration. Additionally, the university adjusted its coursework within the college and other areas of the school to meet the new needs of wartime. Thus, map-making classes, more engineering courses, speeded up degree programs, and intensive language courses in Japanese and German were instituted.

From the guide to the World War II Collection, 1933-1956., (Columbia University. University Archives-Columbiana Library, )

From the guide to the Class Photograph Albums Collection, 1856-1902, (Columbia University. Rare Book and Manuscript Library University Archives)

The Columbia University community and administration mobilized to the fullest extent in answer to the entry of the United States into World War I. Summed up by President Nicholas Murray Butler in the 1918 Annual Report, the effects of the war on the University were far-reaching: "Students by the hundred and prospective students by the thousand entered the military, naval, or civil service of the United States; teachers and administrative officers to the number of nearly four hundred sought and obtained leaves of absence or resigned their posts in order to enter the service of the Government; courses of instruction were modified or abandoned; habitual modes of procedure were altered; the whole University went upon a war footing." Soon after the nation mobilized in 1917, the war effort consumed Columbia in every way, from installation of new courses and military training on South Field to creating a War Records Committee to record every Columbia community member's participation in the war effort. Columbia's mobilization was so intense that the U.S. government used many of Columbia's programs and efforts as an example for the country's other institutions of higher education.

The first direct military activity on campus was on March 8, 1917 when the Columbia Reserve Officers Training Corps (also known as: Columbia Battalion or Columbia Corps) was formed. Within four months of formation, 1400 had enrolled in the Battalion. In April 1918, the Battalion was disbanded when it was announced, that the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) would be established to replace it. The ROTC, however, was never realized because the U.S. Army created the Student Army Training Corps to fill its place in the summer of 1918.

In April 1917 the Trustees of the University approved the creation of the Columbia War Hospital, a medical training camp, to be located on a piece of land in the Bronx called the Columbia Oval. Due to fear of naval bombardment, the hospital was also meant to handle victims of these bombardments if they occurred or to handle ill soldiers or war disasters. The War Department took over the Hospital on October 3, 1917 and renamed it the U.S. Army General Hospital Number One. In other war efforts, alumni raised enough money in September 1917 to set up the Ambulance Service Division. In addition, the University established the Columbia Service Bureau, part of the American University Union. Horatio S. Krans (CC 1894) headed the Bureau as "a friendly and helpful port of call for hundreds of Columbia soldiers on leave to Paris." (Fon W. Boardman, Jr., Columbia: An American University in Peace and War, p.47)

The University participated in and created many other programs and facilities to further the war effort, including the emergency training corps; establishment of the Military and Naval Bureau in East Hall; Mobilization Committee for Women's Work which organized women for volunteer and salaried positions; the establishment of the United States Navy Gas Engine School; the inclusion of war-related courses being taught through the Department of Extension Teaching; and the creation of the Farm Bureau.

From the guide to the Columbia University in World War I Collection, 1914-1970, (Columbia University. University Archives.)

The Columbia University community and administration mobilized to the fullest extent in answer to the entry of the United States into World War I. Summed up by President Nicholas Murray Butler in the 1918 Annual Report, the effects of the war on the University were far-reaching: "Students by the hundred and prospective students by the thousand entered the military, naval, or civil service of the United States; teachers and administrative officers to the number of nearly four hundred sought and obtained leaves of absence or resigned their posts in order to enter the service of the Government; courses of instruction were modified or abandoned; habitual modes of procedure were altered; the whole University went upon a war footing." Soon after the nation mobilized in 1917, the war effort consumed Columbia in every way, from installation of new courses and military training on South Field to creating a War Records Committee to record every Columbia community member's participation in the war effort. Columbia's mobilization was so intense that the U.S. government used many of Columbia's programs and efforts as an example for the country's other institutions of higher education.

The first direct military activity on campus was on March 8, 1917 when the Columbia Reserve Officers Training Corps (also known as: Columbia Battalion or Columbia Corps) was formed. Within four months of formation, 1400 had enrolled in the Battalion. In April 1918, the Battalion was disbanded when it was announced, that the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) would be established to replace it. The ROTC, however, was never realized because the U.S. Army created the Student Army Training Corps to fill its place in the summer of 1918.

In April 1917 the Trustees of the University approved the creation of the Columbia War Hospital, a medical training camp, to be located on a piece of land in the Bronx called the Columbia Oval. Due to fear of naval bombardment, the hospital was also meant to handle victims of these bombardments if they occurred or to handle ill soldiers or war disasters. The War Department took over the Hospital on October 3, 1917 and renamed it the U.S. Army General Hospital Number One. In other war efforts, alumni raised enough money in September 1917 to set up the Ambulance Service Division. In addition, the University established the Columbia Service Bureau, part of the American University Union. Horatio S. Krans (CC 1894) headed the Bureau as "a friendly and helpful port of call for hundreds of Columbia soldiers on leave to Paris." (Fon W. Boardman, Jr., Columbia: An American University in Peace and War, p.47)

The University participated in and created many other programs and facilities to further the war effort, including the emergency training corps; establishment of the Military and Naval Bureau in East Hall; Mobilization Committee for Women's Work which organized women for volunteer and salaried positions; the establishment of the United States Navy Gas Engine School; the inclusion of war-related courses being taught through the Department of Extension Teaching; and the creation of the Farm Bureau.

From the guide to the Columbia University in World War I Collection, 1914-1970, (Columbia University. University Archives.)

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Subjects:

  • Bands (Music)
  • Universities and colleges
  • World War, 1914-1918--Medical care
  • World War, 1939-1945--War work--Schools
  • Academic freedom
  • World War, 1939-1945--Recruiting, enlistment, etc
  • World War, 1939-1945--Education and the war
  • World War, 1914-1918--Study and teaching
  • Affirmative action programs
  • World War, 1914-1918--Participation, American
  • Affirmative action programs in education
  • World War, 1914-1918--Education and the war
  • Radio programs
  • Discrimination in higher education
  • Discrimination in employment
  • World War, 1939-1945--Women
  • World War, 1914-1918--Hospitals, charities, etc
  • World War, 1914-1918--War work--Schools
  • World War, 1914-1918--Women
  • World War, 1939-1945--Veterans

Occupations:

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Functions:

not available for this record

Places:

  • New York (State)--New York (as recorded)
  • New York (State)--New York (as recorded)
  • New York (State)--New York (as recorded)