Friday, December 11, 2009

World War II at Dartmouth

A black and white photograph of men in uniform on the lawn.What was it like on the Dartmouth campus on December 7, 1941?  The idyllic campus setting was shattered by the news of the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the sheltered life of a Dartmouth undergraduate was about to be altered for the duration of the War and years beyond. 

Immediately following Pearl Harbor, college and university professors, students and administrators all over the nation joined or were called to military service and America's traditional four-year college experience became a casualty of war. With the draft age lowered to 18, many young men could not enroll in college - much less earn a degree - before entering the military. Adjusting to the consequent shortage of college-educated commissioned officers, the U.S. Navy developed a way to combine college education with military service: the Naval Indoctrination Training School and the V-12 Naval Training Program.

Dartmouth became host to the largest of the Navy's V-12 units. On July 1, 1943, some 2,000 enlisted men and an officer staff came "on board" at the College, including 300 students from Dartmouth and 74 from Thayer School. The College and its three professional schools accelerated their curricula and shifted to three-term, year-round operation. Fraternities closed, Winter Carnival was canceled, the Daily Dartmouth ceased publication and rationing was put in place. Civilian students were outnumbered three to one on campus. Run on military time, with reveille at 6 am and taps at 10 pm, Dartmouth operated like a naval base for the duration of the war.

Listen to descriptions of life on campus during the war from the undergraduates who were here and who went to war -- the "Greatest Generation" -- at "The War Years at Dartmouth: An Oral History Project."

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