In the Army now, but briefly

Students' Army Training Corps

After the United States entered World War I in 1917, the War Department created the Students’ Army Training Corps (SATC). The program helped to stem and control what had become a rapid departure of male students from college campuses. The War Department wanted men to remain enrolled until they were needed. The SATC program therefore worked for the benefit of the colleges and the war effort. Hundreds of colleges across the nation, including the College of Puget Sound, were certified by the War Department to establish SATC groups of a minimum of 100 men. 

The photograph shows 92 of the students enrolled in the College of Puget Sound SATC, as well as some 20 workmen building the barracks the government required the college to construct. Taken in 1918 by longtime Tacoma photographer Marvin Boland, the original photograph is 6.6 inches high by 19.5 inches wide. To the right of the barracks, out of the photograph, was the main building of the college at the old Sixth Avenue and Sprague Street campus. (The college moved to its present location in 1924).

Fall semester 1918 was the first term of study for CPS men in the program. The men were inducted into the Army on Oct. 1, 1918, and were paid as privates while engaged in their studies. Because the SATC men lived together in the barracks, they were likely candidates to contract the deadly influenza that was sweeping the country, and 30 of them did. Beginning on Oct. 10, 1918, classes for all CPS students were suspended because of the flu outbreak. All of the SATC men survived, but three women students died.

The SATC was short-lived. On Nov. 11, 1918, the armistice was signed, and in December 1918 the SATC program ended across the country. The new barracks became the college’s gymnasium. The trustees had insisted the barracks be built with a truss roof rather than with posts—despite the added cost—so that the building could serve this purpose after the war.

— John Finney ’67