Sunday, February 17, 2013

University of Michigan SATC - telephone/telegraph workers

Here we have the University of Michigan Students' Army Training Corps vocational telephone men exhibiting their abilities to climb telephone/telegraph poles -  and have a good time about it.

Michigan's training camp does not seem to have been lacking in funding or leadership, with projects ranging from mechanical training and truck repair to the installation of telephone lines and the digging of a series of full-scale trenches.

I'm not sure if my favorite in this photo is the guy tipping his hat, or the one hanging backwards off the pole. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

New Semester!

I'm back at college for my last undergraduate semester!  I'll be working on my thesis on the Student's Army Training Corps, Vocational Division, taking a Progressive Era history class, and taking a museum studies course on Material Cultures. I can't believe I'm almost done with my BA degree... on to bigger and better things, I guess!

In the spirit of back-to-school, with all of the necessary complaining about all the other students who always seem to get in your way while walking around campus, I will leave you with this little tidbit from the New Hampshire College Newspaper:

I don't remember exactly which issue I got this from, but it is from 1918.  I like how in this case, the German language is equated with ridiculous accents and overblown arrogance and buffoonery - making both underclassmen and the wartime enemy seem like harmless fools.  It reminds me of this WWI sheet music cover, which shows Germans as almost equally harmless:

Anyway, I think it is a very clever use of wartime mockery, strengthening the belief in the power structure of two communities: American civilization would triumph over an inept Germany, and well-educated upperclassmen would keep their authority over the unjustifiably arrogant younger students.  

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

WWI advice for avoiding flu

Given the recent media focus on flu, I thought I would share this 96-year-old advice for avoiding the virus.
This comes from the October 26, 1918 issue of The New Hampshire newspaper, under control of the US government and the Students Army Training Corps.  By this point in October, the Spanish Flu epidemic was mostly passed, but it had already killed ten student soldiers in the New Hampshire College SATC camp. The college had to delay its opening to the Officers Division of the SATC and non-soldier students until October 7, and women were not allowed on campus until October 15.  All students had to be inspected for signs of "grippe" before they could register.

I got an email from UNH the other day warning me to take precautionary measures against the flu, telling me to stay home and not go to classes if I felt sick.  I immediately thought of this advice to "avoid work." 

As an archaeology side note - during my summer excavation of the SATC barracks site with the anthropology department, I found this medicine bottle dating to 1918, which I can only assume was associated with some soldier recovering from the flu.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

College training camps and the officers

As of October 10, 1918, New Hampshire College housed both a vocational division and a collegiate division of the Students' Army Training Corps.  The school newspaper was converted to contain solely military news (which was easy enough, since nearly all college courses were now "war courses").  Still, both the college students and the vocational men managed complain about the army in the paper.  For instance, when the army/college issued an article on the necessity of giving up college "freedoms" like fraternities and sports out of respect for the men doing their duty in the service, the students posted their own article  about how men in the service (i.e they themselves) would actually love to have sports to boost their morale.  When some patriotic person placed a message about the shortage of weekend passes being a necessity for the good of all, the vocational men placed their own ad mocking each other about about the silly excuses they used to try to obtain such passes.

Here are a couple short jokes about the students' new relationships with wartime courses and college training from the October 12 issues of TNH.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

College newspaper humor: April 1918

Here are a couple jokes from the April 27, 1918 edition of The New Hampshire newspaper, which was published by New Hampshire College (now the University of New Hampshire).  The newspaper didn't have a specific humor section; instead, jokes were spread throughout the paper.  I assume they were used to fill any empty space in the print.

I particularly like the first one because, as a knitter, I'm pretty sure I've accidentally hit a few people.  I imagine this girl was knitting something for the Red Cross - in fact, just before the war's end, the college actually began drafting female students for Red Cross work.

However, it's also nice to see people making fun of English grammar throughout history.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Students' Army Training Corps, you hopeless borps

As a history major conducting independent research on WWI propaganda and training camps, I read a lot of newspapers, yearbooks, and soldiers' poetry.  In my second summer of researching, I have a newfound respect for these men's sense of humor.  They composed parodies of popular songs, wrote poetry, and drew comics, and invented jokes.  They made fun of professors, college life, the Spanish flu, commanding officers, guns that wouldn't shoot, the army's lack of horses, and, most of the time, each other.  After coming across so many parodies and various instances of wartime wit, I decided to start this blog to share some of them. 

Here is an anonymous poem, "Nevermorps," satirizing the Student Army Training Corps (the War Department program that converted American universities to Army training camps).  I love how the author can lightheartedly make fun of army food and poker while still being obviously critical of the "imposter" program. 

Enjoy! :D