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Dartmouth During World War Two

The advent of the Second World War ushered in an era unlike any Dartmouth had experienced before. As the nation prepared for war, the military began to depend on extensive civilian support. Ernest Martin Hopkins and the Dartmouth community answered this call to arms. President Hopkins directed the College to utilize its resources to maximum advantage to achieve two objectives: (1) maintain the liberal arts curriculum for civilian students, and (2) devote College resources to support the national war effort.

After 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 cancelled, 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. (Adapted from an article by Jennifer Seaton for Dartmouth Engineer magazine.)


Last Updated: 1/5/12