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World War I in the University Archives: The University and WWI


  • The archives changes over time.   The organization of the archives evolves.  Don't hesitate to ask for help!
  • Plan your search. Be sure you have a clear idea of how to approach your topic. Review "Searching the Archives".
  • Try preliminary searches.  Keep in mind that "Subjects" are not keywords and not the same as the subject headings used in the library.   You may need to be creative in your search.
  • Identify the location. If you search the archives database "Archon," and find record series that look promising, make note of the location of the files. 
  • Digital records. When materials are digitized by our archives, the title of those documents may begin with the words "Digital surrogate of..."
  • When all else fails - ask an archivist!! 

Student Army Training Corps

The home front saw a systematic mobilization of the entire population and economy to produce the soldiers, food supplies, munitions, and money needed to win the war. The University of Illinois was no different.

The Students’ Army Training Corps (SATC) provided preliminary training for officers before their selection to Officers’ Training Camps, and the campus landscape changed significantly because of the increased military presence and changing student population. 

All told, 3,411 students were inducted into the SATC and 106 candidates sent to Officer’s Training Schools by the armistice.  Information may be found about this program in the below record series.

  • Thomas A. Clark Papers (RS 41/2/20) Contains a record of men killed during the war, a history of the war services committee, and SATC rosters.
  • War Committee Publications  (RS 2/5/805) Printed publications and announcements of the War Committee and president's announcements and form letters concerning war activities of the University and the SATC.
  • Military Science Publications (RS 27/3/805) Includes SATC World War I statements, war committee reports, curricular, and housing announcements.
  • College of Engineering Subject File (RS 11/1/1) Includes file on the School of Military Aeronautics, participation in war work and military service, exemptions and reserve coprs, special war courses, and SATC.

Students to Servicemen

Victor Cullin, circa 1918Information on individual students and faculty and their experience during World War I may be in a number of locations, including Greek organization records, and student papers and scrapbooks.  Below is a representative list of available record series. 

  • War Service Records (RS 41/2/17) Contains forms, news clippings, photographs, publications, and correspondence of Dean Clark with students, former students, and parents about military service, war experiences, and University Admissions.
  • Alumni News (RS 26/2/801)  Contains articles and photographs relating to feature stories, faculty, editorials, classes, buildings, and important life notices, such as obituaries.
  • Iris Records (RS 41/71/40) Contains war service record of Brothers.
  • Harvey H. Jordan Papers (RS 11/7/20) Professor of Engineering includes information on the war and aeronautical education. 
  • Kendrick Babcock Papers (20/1/24) Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences includes a collection of letters from students relating their experiences as members of an ambulance corps on the western front.
  • Audley E. Patton Records (RS 41/20/129) Alumni includes photographs and postcards of World War I activities on campus.
  • Arthur H. Mason Family Papers (RS 41/20/230) Family history includes the World War I service of Arthur H. Mason, an officer in the 332nd Field Artillery.

In addition to these resources, many students saved war materials in their scrapbooks.  The complete list of student scrapbooks and papers is record series 41/20/xxx.  You may find additional information in scrapbooks that cover the years 1915-1919.

Digital Resources

The Illio has many pages devoted to UIUC students and alumni in the military from 1917-19.  

The Daily Illini oftentimes updated readers on the promotions and movement of students after they joined the service, and frequently printed letters written by servicemen. 

The Siren is a monthly humor magazine written and edited by students that occassionally references the war.