Announcing New Exhibit on Trinity and World War I
Curated by Meredith Elsik
Special Collections & Archives is marking the centennial of World War I with a two-part exhibit available on the 2nd and 3rd floors of the library. Come learn about the general history of WWI and view numerous books about the “Great War” on the 3rd floor, part of a traveling exhibit that will be here until December. Then come down to Special Collections (on the 2nd floor) to learn about Trinity’s involvement in the First World War. We hope it will give you an idea of what life was like for students on campus following the United States entry into the war in 1917. Special Collections is open Monday through Friday, 1:15-5pm unless otherwise posted.
A Brief Overview of the War Years at Trinity
Written by Meredith Elsik
Come to the exhibit to learn more!
Changes came quickly to the Trinity campus, then located in Waxahachie, Texas. Trinity students soon saw men in military uniform on campus with the War Department’s creation of the Students’ Army Training Corps. (S.A.T.C.) Their activities outside of class also took on a patriotic flavor as they became involved in activities designed to support the war effort.
The S.A.T.C. program was designed to use colleges and universities as military training facilities, while at the same time it was hoped they would help slow down the declining enrollment of men which concerned college administrators. Apparently the concern was such that “one visitors committee expressed the fear that Trinity might even become a school for girls”. (Everett, 83)
It also meant that money had to be spent on remodeling for housing the new S.A.T.C. unit on campus. Apparently a new shower and bath house was needed, which along with plumbing and other expenses cost almost $3000 according to the Trinity Bulletin. However, the Bulletin also reported that all claims to the government were paid and “Trinity University lost nothing in a financial way because of its service to the government.”
Just as we hear reports and concerns about the Ebola epidemic today, the 1918 influenza epidemic was also a concern on the Trinity campus during the war years. The influenza epidemic supposedly killed an estimated 50 million people around the world, while World War I claimed an estimated 16 million lives (The National Archives). Classes on campus were cancelled and the TU Bulletin reported as many as 35 men in a local Sanitarium suffering from influenza. Luckily, the Bulletin reported that there were no fatalities among students cared for in Waxahachie.
The War came to an end with the Armistice signed on November 11, 1918. The S.A.T.C corps was disbanded and apparently the end of military discipline brought about problems with President Samuel Hornbeak reporting that the trainees “went wild” (Brackenridge, 87).
At the first Commencement following the war, there must have been relief that the war had ended, but sadness also, as seven current or former Trinity students, who had given their lives in service to their country during the war, were honored.
If you would like more information, you might take a look at the following sources used for the exhibit and blog post.
Both the school newspaper, The Trinitonian, and the school yearbook, The Mirage, have been digitized and are available online through the following link.
Books covering the history of Trinity University:
Brackenridge, Douglas R. Trinity University: A Tale of Three Cities. San Antonio: Trinity University Press. 2004. Print
Everett, Donald E. Trinity University: A Record of One Hundred Years. San Antonio: Trinity University Press. 1968. Print.
Trinity University Bulletins – Special Collections & Archives
Sources for 1918 Influenza Epidemic:
The Influenza Epidemic of 1918:
The National Archives. The Deadly Virus – The Influenza Epidemic of 1918