• Veteran's History

    History of Military Students at Hamline

    Hamline’s long and proud history of military service began with the Civil War, which erupted in 1861 when the university was just seven years old. The battle between the states had a profound effect on Hamline, which at that time was located in Red Wing, Minnesota. Students and faculty members reacted with patriotic fervor and the campus soon emptied of able-bodied men. Enrollment dropped from 60 students to 16 in one year, and there was no graduating class in 1862. The remaining female students made a 9 by 17-foot American flag (pictured above), complete with 34 stars, which flew over the university from a 20-foot pole. Records indicate that 119 Hamline men served in the Union armies during the war. 

    When World War I came in April of 1917, the students responded to the call to duty in a variety of ways. Voluntary military drill for men continued and by May 75 women were meeting four times a week to learn the principles of first aid. Track and baseball schedules for spring were cancelled when enlistments and applications of officers’ training depleted the teams. Hamline was designated one of 38 colleges in the country to supply men for ambulance work in France. Thirty-six men were selected for the unit and served in France with the 28th Division of the French army. The women made a silk banner for the unit, which read, “Made by the Girls for the Boys of ’17.” The banner now has a home in the Hamline archives.

    In the fall of 1918, a unit of the Students’ Army Training Corps was established at Hamline and almost every male student became an enlisted member. The Science Hall was used for military purposes with the basement becoming the mess hall, and the museum and several classrooms being marked for squad rooms and sleeping quarters. The campus became an army post; the bugle replaced the class bell. This all came to end with the signing of the armistice on November 11, 1918. On that joyous morning the bell in the tower of Old Main pealed out once more, classes were dismissed and the entire campus participated in a parade that toured the Hamline community.

    During World War II, Hamline’s enrollment held above 600, except in 1943-44. Although males registrations dropped as men entered the armed services, the women's enrollment increased as nursing students arrived. A flood of veterans entered or returned to college after World War II under the GI Bill® of Rights. The first reached the campus in the fall of 1946, when registrations passed one thousand for the first time. Enrollment reached the maximum of the period in 1949-50 when 1452 students, including 289 in the School of Nursing, were registered for classes.

    Since World War II Hamline students and alumni have been involved with every major conflict, from Vietnam and Korea to Iraq and Afghanistan. Hamline is proud to count among its students and alumni those who have served our country and makes every effort to support these individuals when they return or enter Hamline to complete their degrees.