Skip to main content

University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The University of Illinois in the Cold War Era 1945-1975: The GI Bill and the U of I

The GI Bill and the U of I

The GI Bill and the U of I (1947)

Domestic scene at Stadium Terrace, housing erected for returning veterans, circa 1947

In 1944 the US Congress passed the “Servicemen's Readjustment Act,” commonly known as the GI Bill of Rights.  Under part of the law, the federal government paid a significant portion of tuition and other higher education fees for veterans.  Many veterans took advantage of the GI Bill, and between 1940 and 1960, the percentage of college-age Americans who attended college almost doubled.  At the University of Illinois, enrollment more than doubled, and satellite campuses were opened in Galesburg (1947-1949) and at Navy Pier in Chicago.  Housing facilities were inadequate and temporary and long-term building programs were established.  In addition, the notion that higher education was a bastion for the middle and upper classes was shattered.

University of Illinois Sources:

Enrollment Tables (RS 25/3/810)

Military Servicemen’s Questionnaires, 1944 (RS: 05/1/10): Questionnaires returned by graduates and former students at the University of Illinois serving in the Armed Forces on August 1, 1944. The questionnaire included information on the proposed G.I. Bill of Rights. It requested the serviceman’s response to questions on whether he intended to return after the war, if he recommended an accelerated study plan, what courses of study he would follow, if he would require family living quarters and how the University might improve its services.

Military Servicemen’s Letters, 1943-1945 (RS: 12/5/815)

Facilities and Services Director's Office Subject File, 1901-1977 (RS: 37/1/1): Includes files on Veteran’s housing.

Photographic Subject File, 1868- (RS: 39/2/20): Includes photographs of military training on campus, the Galesburg campus, and housing facilities.

President George Stoddard Manuscript Addresses, 1946-1953 (RS: 2/10/2):  Manuscript copies of public addresses and statements by George D. Stoddard includes information on postwar planning.

Veterans' Billing File, 1945-1958 (RS: 6/4/17).

Galesburg Admission Survey, 1949 (RS: 25/4/15).

Galesburg Campus Business Manager's File, 1946-1949 (RS: 49/9/5)

President Arthur C. Willard's Newspaper Clippings Collection (RS: 2/9/21): Includes clippings on V-J day (1945), Veterans Office controversy (1945-1946), veterans' housing (1946), enrollment and screening (1946), and the Navy Pier Lease (1946).

President Arthur C. Willard Papers (RS: 2/9/20)

President George D. Stoddard Papers, 1915-2001 (RS: 2/10/20).

President George D. Stoddard General Correspondence, 1946-1953 (RS: 2/10/1).

Bibliography:

Michael J. Bennett, When Dreams Came True:  The GI Bill and the Making of Modern America.

Michael D. Gambone, Greatest Generation Comes Home: The Veteran In American Society (College Station, TX: 2005).

Suzanne Mettler, Soldiers to Citizens: The G.I. Bill and the Making of the Greatest Generation (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005).

Keith W. Olson, The G.I. Bill, the Veterans, and the Colleges (Lexington, KY: 1974).

Ronald Roach, “From Combat to Campus: GI Bill Gave a Generation of African Americans an Opportunity to Pursue the American Dream” Black Issues in Higher Education 14, (August 21, 1997).

Veterans’ Report 4, The G.I.’s and the Colleges (New York, 1946).