Great War campus life

During World War I, the university erected makeshift buildings to accommodate the wartime population influx, including this mess hall attached to the Michigan Union. Click the photo to view a larger version. (Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library)

World War I provoked a campus facelift. From building the Helen Newberry and Martha Cook buildings, repurposing the newly acquired Arboretum to accommodate trench warfare practice and donating the President’s House to the Red Cross to use as headquarters in Ann Arbor, campus life revolved around supporting the troops and homefront efforts. The population influx due to military student training groups, non-college draftees and humanitarian relief organizations required re-purposing the Michigan Union to provide a mess hall and barracks. Additionally, the university erected temporary, makeshift buildings to lessen the strain of increased numbers, including the mess hall pictured above. Despite the space and scheduling difficulties, the university community worked together to support the war effort and maintain U-M’s academic excellence.

— Compiled from the U-M Bicentennial website, and “Michigan in the World: The University of Michigan and the Great War”



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