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Columbia University in World War I Collection, 1914-1970

Summary Information

At a Glance

Title:Columbia University in World War I Collection, 1914-1970
Physical description:8.92 linear feet (19 document boxes, 1 index card box)
Language(s):In English


This collection is arranged in eight series.


Scope and Content

This collection contains records documenting Columbia University's activities slightly prior to, during and immediately following World War I. The collection consists of mostly correspondence, but also includes newspaper clippings, pamphlets, various publications, reports, photographs, service record cards, and numerous lists of Columbia men and women who served during the war. Correspondence is mostly with the Office of the Secretary, the War Records Committee and the Alumni Federation Office regarding Columbia faculty, staff, students, and alumni participation in the war effort.

Among the major topics represented in this collection are various alumni activities, including the publication of the Alumni News's military supplements, war records, and war memorials; the work of the Columbia Service Bureau established in France to create a place for service men and women to meet fellow Columbians; the Committee on Women's War Work; various instruction and training facilities and programs including the Student Army Training Corps and the Training Corps for Officers; the War Records Committee; and the Columbia War Hospital.

Series I: Alumni Activities, 1917-1944

This series consists of correspondence, articles, and lists regarding the various activities of the Alumni Federation and other alumni groups. During the war, the Alumni News published articles in every issue on Columbia's war work. These issues included military supplements and the war commencement issue of 1917. This series also includes the letters from Horatio Krans of the Columbia Service Bureau in France providing updates on the war effort in Europe. There is brief information on the Alumni Committee on International Affairs and the Alumni Committee on Mobilization. The folder "Alumni War Association of Paris" contains mostly correspondence from Levering Tyson to others regarding the Association and its formation. In addition, the Alumni Federation was instrumental in creating lists for the war memorial and war records as shown in this series. The folder of "War Service Medals, Ribbons and Memorials" contains samples of ribbons the University considered using in developing war service medals and ribbons.

Series II: Columbia Service Bureau, 1917-1934

These records are mostly administrative correspondence regarding the day-to-day maintenance of the Columbia Service Bureau (CSB) as well as correspondence with individuals regarding membership and donations to the Bureau. Most of the correspondence is between Frank Diehl Fackenthal, Secretary of the University, and Horatio Krans, director of the CSB. There is considerable correspondence with Roger Pierce, Secretary of Harvard University, regarding the establishment of the various college bureaus in Paris. This series also includes information on the American University Union in Europe, of which the CSB was a part. About thirty American colleges founded the Union to "aid all American college men in any form of service abroad." (Quotation taken from circular on the Union in the Bureau's Nettleton correspondence)

Series III: Columbia War Hospital, 1914-1922

These records include correspondence, some minutes and reports, and general information regarding the establishment of the hospital, supplies, and administrative issues. Most of the correspondence is with Dr. Francis Carter Wood (Professor of Cancer Research and member of the administrative board of the School of Dentistry) and Samuel Lambert (Dean of the College of Physicians and Surgeons). The College of Physicians and Surgeons was instrumental in the creation of the hospital. See also the oversize folder "Collections Oversize-World War I Collection-Newspaper Clippings" for an illustrated article in The New York Times' Mid-week Pictorial, 1917.

Series IV: Committee on Women's War Work, 1917-1919

Series IV includes correspondence, lists, meeting minutes, and bulletins related to the University's attempts to organize women for the war effort. The University created the Committee for Women's War Work on April 10, 1917, with Virginia Newcomb as an instrumental member. By the end of the 1916-1917 academic year, the Committee "furnished 790 women for volunteer work and 25 for salaried positions." (1917 Annual Report, p.5) The Committee sent out enrollment cards to gather names of women interested in participating in the war. With this information, the Committee looked to place women in both volunteer and salaried positions. The University also created specific courses to train women in areas necessary to the war effort. Also included in this series is a separate card file box (Box 7) with membership cards the Committee asked women to fill out. At the front of the box is a sample instruction card. The card file is incomplete and only contains cards for surnames from A to Col.

Series V: Instruction and Training, 1916-1923

Series V consists of correspondence, enrollment cards, and general information on the various efforts by the University to train and instruct students for entry into the war. Included are folders on the Columbia Battalion as well as war-related courses and the war topography course syllabi . The folder "Columbia Battalion" contains mostly correspondence regarding preparation for the presentation of both the American flag and the Battalion flag to the Battalion on May 29, 1917. The folder also contains correspondence on the formation of the Battalion.

Subseries V.1: General, 1917-1923

Contains general information on Columbia University's efforts to introduce and instruct students for engagement in the war.

Subseries V.2: Student Army Training Corps, 1918

Consists of correspondence, which appears to be from the Office of the Secretary regarding the SATC as well as course information. Correspondence is filed alphabetically by surname. See also the oversized folder "Collections Oversize-World War I Collection-Student Army Training Corps" for advertising posters and schedules of courses.

Subseries V.3: Training Corps for Officers, 1916-1917

Contains enrollment cards, which have valuable information on trainees. Also included are files for resignations, transfers, and assignments, arranged alphabetically by surname.

Series VI: War Records Committee, 1915-1930

The War Records Committee is comprised largely of correspondence and lists regarding the service of Columbia faculty, staff, students, and alumni in the war effort.

Subseries VI.1: Departments and Schools, 1915-1920

Comprised of correspondence between the War Records Committee, Secretary's Office, and department and school heads regarding compilation of war service records of faculty and staff. A majority of the original folders had the names of professors on the outside of the folder. These lists of names have been photocopied and placed in the new folder. The folder "Civil Engineering, Department of" contains photographs of the Student Army Training Corps making a military map.

Subseries VI.2: Fraternities, 1917-1920

Composed of correspondence between the War Records Committee and the various fraternities affiliated with Columbia regarding war service and memorial information for those who died while serving in the war. These records are arranged alphabetically by name of fraternity.

Subseries VI.3: Alumni Classes, 1917-1920

Consists of correspondence regarding war service records between Ruth Woodbridge (Clerk of the War Records Committee) and members of particular alumni classes. Correspondence folders are followed by folders of class lists. Usually Woodbridge asked one person to proofread the information and then pass it along to the remaining members of the alumni class.

Subseries VI.4: General Correspondence, 1916-1921

Contains correspondence with the War Records Committee regarding individual war service of faculty, staff, students, and alumni. Some of this information overlaps with other correspondence in this series. Correspondence is filed alphabetically either by name or by subject. These records also include correspondence with the Adjutant General regarding lists of Columbia men and women who participated in the war effort. Under "Barnard College" is a list of "Alumnae Engaged in Overseas Work." Additional correspondence was found at a later date and thus the two alphabetical lists of A through Z are found here.

Subseries VI.5: War Casualties, 1917-1930

Consists of correspondence with family members of deceased faculty, staff, students, and alumni. The War Records Committee inquired about photographs and biographical sketches to publish in a war memorial. This subseries is arranged alphabetically by the surname of the individual deceased. Original folders were labeled "Dead."

Subseries VI.6: Topics, 1917-1923

Includes correspondence, articles, lists, and general information on topics such as department contact lists, pacifist replies to the personnel questionnaire, war service lists, and war service report cards. The folder "War Memorial-Specimen Papers" contains articles from the publication "Columbia University War Memorial." The drafts and articles are incomplete.

Series VII: Wartime Work, 1914-1928

This series contains material on various topics, groups, and organizations related to the war effort. Folder "Division of Intelligence and Publicity" contains a small amount of correspondence and some items such as press releases informing the Columbia community about various military programs. The folder of "General Assemblies" contains material on the General Assemblies held for the faculty and/or the university community to discuss current wartime issues. The folder also contains President Nicholas Murray Butler's, as well as other professor's, addresses to the General Assembly of the Faculty on May 7, 1918. The Ninth Coast Artillery Corps correspondence is mostly in relation to the formation of a New York Guard Columbia Unit, which was the result of efforts by the Columbia University Club. Information on the Citizen's Preparedness Parade and the May 10, 1916 meeting with speaker Major-General Leonard Wood is within the folder "Preparedness." See also the oversized folder "Collections Oversize-World War I Collection-Newspaper Clippings" for the Louvain Library Supplement of the Columbia Spectator from April 5, 1922.

Series VIII: Publications and Clippings, 1914-1970

Series VIII contains publications and newspaper clippings regarding the University's participation in the war effort. Also includes articles on related issues such as academic freedom (including the controversy over Professors Beard, Cattell and Dana), student protests to the war, the ban on speaker Count Ilya Tolstoy in February 1917, protests by pacifists, and articles on "draft evaders" (in particular Charles F. Phillips). See also full issues of the Columbia Spectator from March, 1917 in the oversize folder "Collections Oversize-World War I Collection-Newspaper Clippings." Columbia's War Work publication is housed in the oversize folder Collections Oversize-World War I Collection--General along with an anti-war poster and two military maps.

Using the Collection

Access Restrictions

This collection is located on-site.

This collection has no restrictions.

Restrictions on Use

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. Permission to publish material from the collection must be requested from the Curator of Manuscripts/University Archivist, Rare Book and Manuscript Library (RBML). The RBML approves permission to publish that which it physically owns; the responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.

Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Columbia University of World War I; Box and Folder; University Archives, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

Selected Related Materal at Columbia

Central Files, Columbia University, University Archives.

Historial Subject Files, Columbia University, University Archives.

Flat Files, Oversize Collection, Columbia University, University Archives.

Presidential Annual Reports, 1917-1918, Columbia University, University Archives.

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Archives; machine readable finding aid created by Columbia University Libraries Digital Library Program Division

Processing Information

Papers processed in 2003 by Abby Lester.

Machine readable finding aid generated from MARC-AMC source via XSLT conversion October 29, 2009

Finding aid written in English.

    2009-10-29 File created.
    2010-05-25 xml document instance created by Lea Osborne.

Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.

Additional Creators

HeadingCUL Archives:
CUL Collections:
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
Fackenthal, Frank Diehl, 1883-1968PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Krans, Horatio Sheafe, 1872-1952PortalCLIOArchiveGRID


HeadingCUL Archives:
CUL Collections:
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:


HeadingCUL Archives:
CUL Collections:
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
Academic freedom.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
American University Union in EuropePortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Columbia UniversityPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Columbia War HospitalPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
United States. Army. Coast Artillery Corps, 9th (1917-1922)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
United States. Army. General Hospital no.1.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
United States. Dept. of the TreasuryPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Université catholique de Louvain (1835-1969). Bibliothéque.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
World War, 1914-1918--Education and the war.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
World War, 1914-1918--Hospitals, charities, etc.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
World War, 1914-1918--Medical care.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
World War, 1914-1918--Study and teaching.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
World War, 1914-1918--War work--Schools.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
World War, 1914-1918--Women.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note

Historical Note

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.