This website was created by students in the Veteran Scholars Learning Community at Salem State University in Salem, Massachusetts. It is intended to expand and support work begun on the World War I Centennial Project by the Veterans Services office in the City of Salem.
Founded in 1854, the Salem Normal School was established as a training school for teachers under the direction of Horace Mann, a fierce champion of public education. In 1896 the school relocated to what is now the Sullivan Building at Salem State University. The Horace Mann Laboratory School, where Normal School students honed their teaching skills, opened that same year.
Between 1917 and 1918, many past and current students at the school-- and one of their teachers-- left to fight in or support the first world war. Dozens of current or former male students at the school enlisted into the Armed Forces. A few of the women became Red Cross nurses, and others volunteered with the YMCA, which provided morale and welfare services to American military forces in Europe during that time.
On the home front, students at the school supported the war effort in a number of ways. The Normal School Year Book of 1918 includes, among its parade of student faces, pages of recommended books and poetry about the war, recommended by students as "a means of bringing us all in closer sympathy with [Salem Normal School classmates and alumni participating in the war) and with the ideals for which they stand."
It includes, too, a section called "Our Bit," which details the work students remaining at the school did to support the war effor through clubs and organizations. Students in the Art Department made kits to send to the soldiers and sailors overseas, and helped children at the Laboratory School make a service flag. Remaining members of the Athletic Association and men's fraternity made care packages and wrote letters to men from the school who had gone overseas to fight in the war. Cooking classes took on the project of food conservation. New organizations formed on campus-- the Citizenship Club, the Senior Civics Club, the Special Aid Society, and the Liberty Club formed to raise money for the war effort. They knitted warm clothing for soldiers abroad, sold thrift stamps and war bonds, and threw themselves into whatever work they could do to support the war effort.
In their editorial prefacing the yearbook, the editors acknowledged the way war pervaded the pages of their book writing,
"We have no desire to glorify war: we do not want to emphasize its hideousness, nor are we dazzled by any fascinating glamour it may present. But the war is our business at present: it affects our happiness, our beliefs, our whole lives. We cannot ignore a thing which is so essentially apart of us: rather, we must know it well, and reckon with it.... The war atmosphere pervades our book. We would not have it otherwise."
These pages were created by students in Professor Kimberly Poitevin's First-Year Seminar in the Fall of 2017: Izzy Chery, Philip Dube, Mike Grimley, Keith King, Matt Lawhorne, Adriana Lopez, Ivone Oliveira, Nick Parianos, Christiana Patricio, Devyn Prather, Cody Reeves, Rafael Serrano, Andy Shedden, Matt Summers, Alex Tilkens, Ray Tobin, Patrick Trainor, and Mike Wilson.
Special thanks to librarians Susan Edwards and Nancy Dennis for their research assistance, and to Justin Snow and Rachel Grimley for technical support. For support in the writing process, and throughout the semester, we thank student mentor Tom Laaser.