Washington on the Western Front

Armistice Day Parade, Puyallup, November 11, 1918
University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections, UW28295z.

The exhibit Washington on the Western Front: At Home and Over There  is on display in Special Collections at the University of Washington (UW) through January 31, 2017. In the Spring of 1917 when the US declared war on Germany and became involved in the Great War, now known as World War I, the UW campus wasn’t yet a quarter of century old. In 1893 the Legislature approved the purchase of 350 acres for a new campus. Early buildings such as Denny, Lewis, Clark and Parrington Halls were later by augmented by the ephemeral buildings leftover by the Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition of 1909.

President Henry Suzzallo saw the war as a way to bring national distinction and growth to the University. The campus was quickly swept up in the war effort with the formation of the Student Army Training Corps and the creation of a naval training ground on the site of the Medical Center. Local physicians – commanded by Dr. James Eagleson – formed Base Hospital 50, which served under the banner of the UW, and Professor of Hygiene and Student Health Center Director Dr. David C. Hall formed Ambulance Corps 12.

The UW transitioned to a quarter system so the curriculum could adapt quickly to the need for new courses in support of the war effort. Food rationing, Red Cross drives and knitting all became a part of campus life. Following the declaration of war, students withdrew from classes in droves to enlist. Fifty-eight students and alumni lost their lives to the war and the Spanish Influenza epidemic which followed. Join us on Veterans Day, November 11, 2017, for a special opportunity to visit the exhibit and learn more about the impact of World War I on the UW at an Open House from 1:00-5:00 p.m. All are welcome and parking is free!


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