Military Took Over Houses

Four Dorms Controlled by Army, Navy During World War II

When many members of the class of 1945 moved into their houses, the house master wore a uniform, and not the normal professional coat and tie.

Instead, several of the houses were run by the United States military.

Following the Japanese surprise attack at Pearl Harbor December 7, 1942, then Harvard President James Bryant Conant '13 pledged the entire University's resources to a speedy Allied victory.

The College even went on a trimester plan which allowed most students to graduate in three years and aid in the war effort.

When United States involvement in World War II escalated, several hundred Harvard men left to serve in the armed forces, leaving large vacancies in the undergraduate houses.

In order to fill the space, the United States armed forces took control of several dormitories.

The U.S. Navy took over Eliot and Kirkland Houses to house V-12 and Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC).

In the summer of 1943, the army took over Leverett and Winthrop house in order to provide housing for the Army Specialized Training Program (ASTP). The soldiers living there took special courses and were not involved in many College activities.

A.C. Hanford, then dean of the College, wrote in his annual report for the 1943-44 annual report that "Harvard College has become in large part a military and naval training school."

In 1944, civilian students numbered under 2,000, while the University had among its residents 5,000 military personnel preparing for war service.

And for the first time, the College was forced to install bunk beds in the River Houses in order to accommodate the military personnel.

By 1944, civilian students occupied only Adams, Dunster and Lowell Houses.