The Barnard College World War II Collection reflects the college community’s attitude toward involvement in the war in Europe both before and after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1941.
Barnard students and faculty alike had strong opinions on the war, as seen in the materials collected for the Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies and the Barnard chapter of the British War Relief Society. However, after Pearl Harbor and the U.S. government’s formal declaration of war, Barnard undergraduates, faculty, and alumnae united to support the war relief efforts and national service commitments necessary to alleviate wartime shortages of goods, services, and manpower.
Barnard women joined various branches of the armed services during World War II, including the WAVES, WACS, SPARS, WASPS, and American Red Cross Overseas, to do their duty. The curriculum at the College was changed to an accelerated course of studies that emphasized science, mathematics, and economics. The National Service Committee offered courses in First Aid, Motor Transport, Women’s Voluntary Services, Ambulance Driving, Map Reading, etc., to ensure that Barnard graduates would have practical and beneficial skills to offer if they chose to enlist in a branch of the military either abroad or at home.
As the war drew to a close, Barnard College was honored by the Maritime Commission with the commissioning of a warship in its name, the S.S. Barnard Victory. Later, in 1995, a Peace Altar in Columbia University’s St. Paul’s Chapel was dedicated to the students from Columbia (including Barnard) who died in the war.
Scope and Content:
The World War II Collection, 1940-1945 consists of newspaper clippings, flyers, booklets, publications, record books, meeting minutes, reports, brochures, articles, petitions, correspondence, posters, ephemera, and photographs. These materials include committee and curriculum documents, clippings from newspapers and other publications, and correspondence about activities taking place during the war years and the work done by Barnard students, alumnae, and faculty.
The materials in the World War II Collection are arranged into five series: 1. Clippings, 2. Course Catalog Supplements, 3. Committees, 4. Correspondence, and 5. Photographs. The photographs for the entire collection are located in Series 5; descriptions of the photographs related to each series has been included in the individual series descriptions.
Barnard College Archives
Lehman Hall, Room 19
New York, NY 10027