Back to School, Soldier!
Updated: Sep 15
The years after World War II were big years for colleges and universities in the United States. In 1944, the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act, also known as the G.I. Bill, was passed, and an estimated 2.2 million veterans used it to go back to school! College campuses exploded.
The Jacksonville State Teachers College (Jacksonville State University today) in Jacksonville, AL had to find new ways to accommodate its now larger student body. They added two-year courses in engineering, law, medicine, dentistry, and other professional fields and ensured students of full credit when transferring to another institution of higher learning. In 1947, the college also introduced an A.B. and a B.S. in Arts and Sciences, knowing that many veterans did not wish to enter the education field.
Housing for the veterans was also a challenge. In 1946, arrangements were made with nearby Ft. McClellan to house 1,000 male veterans. Trailers were brought in, and two-story apartments were quickly erected to accommodate veterans with families. Shortly after, in 1947, registration exceeded 1,000 students, and the college began building two new large dormitories and a football stadium. The year was a good one for the Jacksonville State Teachers College. The French Ambassador to the United States visited the campus for the American Association of Teachers of French, and the Gamecocks went undefeated in football! Side note for Jack State alumni - in 1946, the Jacksonville Eagle Owls officially became the Gamecocks, and the school colors changed from purple and white to red and white.
Jacksonville State University USO Dance During WWII
Across the country, other colleges and universities experienced similar growth, challenges,
and successes. The G.I. Bill helped millions of soldiers reintegrate into a community and start new lives!
“History was the one non-musical course, besides calisthenics, that she was taking at Jacksonville’s State Teachers College that semester, and it was more than indulging her fondness for learning about real-life, fascinating people.”
Songbird, Chapter 60