Inside Spencer: The KSRL Blog

Throwback Thursday: S.A.T.C. Barracks Edition

October 18th, 2018

Each week we’ll be posting a photograph from University Archives that shows a scene from KU’s past. We’ve also scanned more than 34,800 images from KU’s University Archives and made them available online; be sure to check them out!

This week’s photograph was taken one hundred years ago today: October 18, 1918.

Photograph of S.A.T.C. barracks under construction, 1918

Barracks for KU’s Student Army Training Corps (S.A.T.C.) under construction on Jayhawk
Boulevard, October 18, 1918. Marvin Hall is in the background; the barracks were
located roughly where Budig Hall stands today. University Archives Photos.
Call Number: RG 0/22/89 1918 Prints: Campus: Buildings: S.A.T.C. Barracks (Photos).
Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

The Influenza Epidemic at KU, 100 Years Ago: October 1918

October 16th, 2018

In the fall of 1918, at the height of American involvement in World War I, the United States War Department established the Students’ Army Training Corps (S.A.T.C.). The University of Kansas, along with colleges and universities across the country, contracted with the government to make its facilities available for officer training. KU agreed to provide education, food and housing for up to 2,500 men.

Photograph of members of KU's S.A.T.C. in front of Strong Hall, 1918

Members of KU’s S.A.T.C. in front of the Administration Building (Strong Hall), 1918.
University Archives Photos. Call Number: RG 29/0/G 1918 Prints:
Military Service and ROTC (Photos). Click image to enlarge.

Shortly after the first group of S.A.T.C. servicemen were sworn in on October 1st, the influenza epidemic that had been sweeping across the country and world arrived in Lawrence. In the S.A.T.C. barracks, where servicemen were living in very close quarters, the disease spread rapidly.

Photograph of KU S.A.T.C. barracks on Mississippi Street, 1918

KU S.A.T.C. barracks on Mississippi Street, 1918. Additional barracks were built between the
engineering buildings on the hill. Several of these temporary buildings were used as infirmaries
during the worst of the flu outbreak. University Archives Photos. Call Number: RG 0/22/89 1918 Prints:
Campus: Buildings: S.A.T.C. Barracks (Photos). Click image to enlarge.

The severity of the outbreak on campus, both in the S.A.T.C. barracks and throughout the university community, lead to the October 8th cancellation of all University activities and the quarantine of all students. By the time the epidemic subsided and the university re-opened five weeks later, on November 11th, it was estimated that there had been as many as 1,000 cases of flu on campus. As many as 750 had been ill all at once. Twenty-two students and ten members of the S.A.T.C. had died. Student enrollment was approximately 4,000 at the time.

Image of the front page of the University Daily Kansan, October 8, 1918

Front page of the University Daily Kansan, October 8, 1918. The student newspaper
announced the first closure of the university due to influenza. In an attempt to contain
the virus, a quarantine forbidding students from leaving campus was also imposed.
KU extended the closure and remained under quarantine for five weeks, finally reopening on
November 11th. University Archives. Call Number: UA Ser 9/2/1. Click image to enlarge.

In an October 18th letter to his son Herbert, E.H.S. Bailey (KU Professor of Chemistry, Mineralogy and Metallurgy, 1883-1933) describes efforts to treat influenza patients at the university.

Image of E.H.S. Bailey's letter to his son Herbert, October 18, 1918 Image of E.H.S. Bailey's letter to his son Herbert, October 18, 1918

E.H.S. Bailey’s letter to his son Herbert, October 18, 1918.
Call Number: PP 158. Click images to enlarge.

The letter reads in part:

We are certainly “in it” here now. The city is fairly free from Flu but there are occasional fatal cases. Dr. Jones has been quite sick for a week, but is resting a little better today, and taking a little food. He was worn out with too much medical work. At the Barracks Hospital, there have been 5 deaths, and everybody is as busy as he can be. Two of the women in my dept. are conducting the Dietary for 270 men in the hospital. New ones are constantly coming in and old patients are discharged. It is fine, the way in which everybody takes hold. We all send all the sheets, and pillows and pajamas that we can spare, and a lot of the college women are acting as red cross nurses.

The University did not start until Oct. 2, and then after 4 days a quarantine was declared, and now it has been extended until Oct. 28, so no Univ. classes until that time. The prompt action of all the state and Univ. authorities, has saved us a lot of danger, and many deaths, I feel sure.

These and other documents and photographs about the influenza epidemic at KU are currently on display in Spencer’s North Gallery. Be sure to stop by and explore them between now and the end of October!

Kathy Lafferty
Public Services

Throwback Thursday: S.A.T.C. Edition

October 4th, 2018

Each week we’ll be posting a photograph from University Archives that shows a scene from KU’s past. We’ve also scanned more than 34,800 images from KU’s University Archives and made them available online; be sure to check them out!

One hundred years ago this week – on October 1, 1918 – almost 2,500 young men were inducted into KU’s unit of the Student Army Training Corps (S.A.T.C.).

Photograph of members of KU's Student Army Training Corps in formation, 1918

Members of KU’s S.A.T.C. in formation on campus, 1918.
Spooner Hall is in the background. University Archives Photos.
Call Number: RG 29/0 1918 Prints: Military Service and ROTC (Photos).
Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

According to a “Descriptive Circular” from October 1918, the primary purpose of the S.A.T.C. was to

utilize the executive and teaching personnel and the physical equipment of the educational institutions to assist in the training of our new armies [fighting in World War I]. These facilities will be especially useful for the training of officer-candidates and technical experts of all kinds to meet the needs of the service. This training is being conducted in about 600 colleges, universities, professional, technical and trade schools of the country.

The October 1918 edition of KU’s Graduate Magazine provided these additional details.

A contract to maintain an S. A. T. C. of two thousand members consisting of men over eighteen, who have had a high school education, was made with the University of Kansas by the government. The members are to be given full army uniforms and equipment, are to be lodged and fed in barracks by the government, will have all their university or college tuition paid by the government and will receive thirty dollars a month. Later it was decided to take over the 450 men of the technical training detachment already on the campus, and to organize a naval training camp for two hundred students. Some eighteen hundred men have already registered in the S. A. T. C., so that present indications point to the residence of 2,500 men at the University (16).

At that time, the highest total enrollment on the Lawrence campus had been 2,711 students in Fall 1916.

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

Throwback Thursday: Veterans Day Edition

November 6th, 2014

Each week we’ll be posting a photograph from University Archives that shows a scene from KU’s past. We’ve also scanned more than 1,700 images from KU’s University Archives and made them available online; be sure to check them out!

We selected this week’s photograph in honor of Veterans Day, next Tuesday, November 11. For more information about this commemorative day and its origins at the end of World War I, see “History of Veterans Day,” provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Want to know more about how the Great War was felt on KU’s campus? Explore the online version of Spencer’s exhibit To Make the World Safe for Democracy: Kansas and the Great War.

Photograph of Technical School for Drafted Men, Second Detachment, 1918

Technical School for Drafted Men, Second Detachment, August 15-October 15, 1918.
Class in signalling, or “telegraphers wigwagging.” University Archives Photos.
Call Number: RG 29/0 1918 Prints: Military Service and ROTC (Photos).
Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

The student-soldiers in this photograph were part of the Student Army Training Corps (SATC), established at more than 500 colleges and universities across the country, including KU. Describing the SATC on campus, the 1919 Jayhawker yearbook stated that “students, after entering the University by voluntary induction, became soldiers in the United States Army, were uniformed and subject to military discipline with the pay of a private. Housing and subsistence was furnished by the government. They were given military instruction under officers of the Army and watched very closely to determine their qualifications as officer-candidates” (244).

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

Brian Nomura
Public Services Student Assistant

World War I and KU: A Reflection on the 100 year Anniversary

July 3rd, 2014

June 28, 2014 marked the unofficial 100 year anniversary of the beginning of World War I. On that day 100 years ago, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated. That tragic moment put into motion the dominoes that would fall one month later, resulting in a war that would last four years and forever change the course of history. As the world looks back on this event, I wanted to find what connections the University of Kansas had to the Great War. Simply put: there are a lot. For this entry, I will focus on the beginnings of KU’s involvement with the war. From the Student Army Training Corps (SATC)—a forerunner of the ROTC on campus—to the first American army officer killed, KU becomes forever linked with the Great War.

Student Army Training Corps barracks, KU Campus. University Archives, Kenneth Spencer Research Library. Call number 0.22.89.

Overview of the SATC barracks that were constructed on campus. The barracks cost $180,000 and helped house the influx of 2,500 soldiers. University Archives, call number 0/22/89 1918. Click image to enlarge.

Student Army Training Corps classes, KU Campus. University Archives, Kenneth Spencer Research Library. Call number 29.0.

Group of SATC classes pose in front of Fowler Shops with the instructors in the center. Classes included carpentry, machinery, auto shop, blacksmith, telegraphy, and radio. University Archives, call number 29/0 1918.
Click image to enlarge.

The University of Kansas Graduate Magazine issues during 1917-1919 offer valuable insight about campus life before, during, and after the United States joined the war. One topic of contention was the SATC. Wanting to make itself fully available for the service of the country, while also still providing quality education to its students, the university administration struggled to produce a compromise. The result was a majority of War Department approved courses combined with a required course on “war aims” to understand the multitude of causes of the conflict. The photographs below are just a sampling of what these courses, including Red Cross classes for women, looked like on campus almost 100 years ago.

McCook Field, KU Campus. University Archives, Kenneth Spencer Research Library. Call number 29.0.

SATC Commander Scher talks with a group at McCook Field in 1918.
University Archives, call number 29/0 1918. Click image to enlarge.

Telegraphers. University Archives, Kenneth Spencer Research Library. Call number ksrl_ua_29.0_telegraphers_1918

SATC telegraph class members practice wigwagging (sending messages by moving two flags according to a code) on the University’s campus. University Archives, call number 29/0 1918. Click image to enlarge.

Of the 9 million war casualties, 129 were KU men and women. Of those 129, Dr. William T. Fitzsimmons was the first American army officer killed in the war. Fitzsimmons was born in Burlington, Kansas, graduated from the University of Kansas in 1910, and received his M.D. in 1912. A lieutenant in the Medical Reserve Corps, he was stationed in France at an allied hospital base. On the night of September 4, 1917, Fitzsimmons’ unit was bombed by airplanes. His death saddened and shocked the university community, bringing what seemed like a distant war immediately closer to home.

William T. Fitzsimmons. University Archives, Kenneth Spencer Research Library. Call number 0.22.54.

Portrait of William T. Fitzsimmons, the first KU (and American) officer to be killed in World War I.
University Archives, call number 0/22/54 1918. Click image to enlarge.

JoJo Palko
University Archives intern