Conference Program


85th Annual Meeting of the Society for Military History

 Landscapes of War and Peace

April 5 - 8, 2018, Louisville, Kentucky


Title: Poster - Armed with Knowledge: The Wartime Schools at Harvard Business School, 1941 - 1946
Abstract: When we think about the landscapes of World War II, our mind fills with images of European cities and Pacific islands, places filled with death and destruction. But the war also took place in the U.S. - in factories, in homes, in town squares, and on college campuses.

Unique among academic institutions, Harvard Business School dedicated itself fully to supporting the war effort. Between June 1943 and February 1946, HBS shut down their civilian academic programs and transformed the campus into a training ground for the military, hosting six "Wartime Schools" for the Army and Navy. Yet despite all of this, the HBS Dean publically claimed in 1944 that, "we do not teach these officers, but we do house and feed them," arguing that the military officers were present, yet separate from, Harvard.

But is that true? Drawing upon the official University records in the Harvard Archives, as well as thousands of letters and articles the Wartime Schools students wrote and published in the Harvard Crimson student newspaper between 1940 and 1946, I have analyzed the student experience in a four-part framework of academics, athletics, extracurricular activities, and social life. When combined, the official records and the Wartime Schools students' own writings clearly show a group of student-officers who were deeply engaged in all aspects of campus life; who became part of the HBS, University, and Boston community; and who simultaneously balanced their obligations to the military with the academic demands of HBS.

This poster will show - through photographs, excerpts from letters, and archival materials - the day-to-day life of a student-officer at a Wartime School, and how their lives combined their military obligations with life at Harvard. It will paint a vivid landscape of a nation at war - but not a landscape most people have seen before.
 
P. J. Neal, Independent Scholar



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