Thursday, June 4, 2015

Mizzou and the Military

A new exhibition at the MU Student Center examines the several facets of the relationship between the University of Missouri and the U.S. military.  Below are selected images from the exhibition. Please stop by the first floor of the Student Center to see the display in person. The exhibition will be on display until August 1, 2015. The exhibition was organized by Marcell Thomas, MU Junior and Public Arts Intern.

Land Grant Beginnings

Image courtesy of University Archives, Collection C:0/47/3

The Missouri Military School

The Morrill Act of 1862 established Land Grant institutions and required these colleges to participate in the National Defense Program. A requirement of the act was that all male students take a course in basic military tactics. Mizzou was one of the first institutions to adopt the Morrill Act by creating the Missouri Military School. The photograph above was taken as cadets were performing military drills on Francis Quadrangle in 1894. 

Image courtesy of University Archives, Collection C:22/8/27
Cadets in uniform pose with Enfield Rifles during their summer field training at Camp McFarland, Rocheport, MO. Field training at various locations including Fort Leonard Wood, MO, and other locations. This photograph was included in a scrapbook compiled by Ralph Gravely, a 1919 graduate of the MU School of Journalism.


The Army ROTC is the oldest officer training program at the University of Missouri with the Infantry Unit formed in 1917, only one year after President Woodrow Wilson signed the National Defense of 1916 that brought all university military programs under federal control. The Artillery Unit was added in 1919. In 1929, a marching unit of the Army ROTC cadets adopted the name Tiger Battalion and the group participated in campus parades and football games. Today, Tiger Battalion is the unofficial nickname of the Army ROTC unit.

All able-bodied male students of MU were required to complete four semesters of military science until 1965. This requirement ended with the enactment of the ROTC Vitalization Act of 1964, which required programs to upgrade their curriculum and expanded financial aid to cadets. The photo below shows cadets during their field training at Ft. Leonard Wood in 1941.

Image Courtesy of University Archives, Collection C:1/141/6

Naval ROTC 
The NROTC Unit at the University of Missouri was established on July 1, 1946. More than 1,400 Midshipmen have received commissions at the University since the program was started. Courses are provided in the study of naval weapons, vessels and procedures.  Students also take engineering courses and participate in training cruises. In the 1950’s and 1960’s, the Midshipmen’s Club organized social activities for the cadets and students to encourage cadets to fully participate in college life. The Drill Team and Rifle Team were often highlighted during NROTC parades. The photo below shows the NROTC's first graduating class, ca. 1948.

Image Courtesy of University Archives, Collection C:1/141/8

Air Force ROTC
During World War II, an Air Corps training program was located at MU. After the war ended in 1946, an official AFROTC program was established to facilitate training for commissioned officers. Detachment 440 serves the University of Missouri, Central Methodist University, University of Central Missouri, Columbia College, Stephens College, Westminster College, and William Woods University. After earning a degree and completing all required AFROTC courses, cadets are commissioned in the Air Force at the rank of Second Lieutenant. The photo below shows AFROTC cadets examining a plane during their summer training in 1952.
Savitar, 1953

Campus Changed after World War II

The G.I. Bill, enacted in 1944, provided paid tuition for veterans who enrolled in university after completing their military service. World War II had decreased enrollment with thousands of men joining the military after high school.  At the lowest point, MU had 1,938 students.  In 1947, the enrollment climbed to 11,452. To meet the demand caused by the upswing in enrollment necessitated the building of temporary housing for students (the TDs). The buildings were an eclectic mix of trailer houses, plain wooden structures and Quonset huts. Students gave the temporary dorms the colorful nicknames of “G.I. City” and “Pneumonia Gulch” among others. Trailer parks were formed on the area of campus known as the “Dairy Lawn.” The last of the TDs came down in 1983 with Chancellor Barbara Uehling behind the wheel of the bulldozer.

A typical student room in a TD. (Image courtesy of University Archives: C: 1/81/1)

Aerial photograph of Fairway Village
(courtesy of UMC Archives: C: 1/81/1)

The Student War Board

The Student War Board was established in 1942 to organize student war efforts. They sponsored first aid classes, promoted the purchasing of war bond stamps with dances and concerts. The board expanded as war efforts came to campus with dormitories and fraternity houses were used to house servicemen being trained at Mizzou. Entertainment for the servicemen was a primary activity of the board from 1943 through 1946. The board sponsored scrap drives and worked with Campus Red Cross to run blood drives. A faculty war board mirrored the work of the students with the added responsibility of advising students who were called into military service. The Student War Board disbanded in 1946, but groups like the Campus Red Cross and Pan-hellenic Councils continued their tradition of service during the Korean War and later military conflicts. The photo below shows two members of the Student War Board hanging posters in 1944.

Savitar, 1944
The exhibition is on display now at the MU Student Center, on the first floor near the Information Desk. It will run through August 1, 2015.

Blog post authored by Sarah S. Jones, Curator of Public Arts.