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Back to School After WWII

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August 2013—In 1945, even before WWII ended, Harvard published “What About Harvard?”, a pamphlet encouraging veterans to consider attending Harvard. It was sent to more than 65,000 members of the armed services. In it, President Conant wrote:

Every American school, college and university now faces the responsibility of helping members of our armed forces to resume their education once the war is won…The following pages…answer in plain language the main questions which the veteran wants answered about Harvard…This outline will serve equally to guide those of the 6,000 Harvard men now on leave who plan to resume their work in Cambridge.

Conant also described the measures Harvard adopted to accommodate veterans:

1. A more flexible calendar, of three terms instead of two each year.

2. A more flexible system of admission, both in the College and in the Graduate and Professional Schools.

3. A more flexible system of credits…under which most of the members of the armed forces will find that they have already earned some credits.

4. The appointment of a Counsellor for Veterans whose duty it is to consult with all service people who want to know more about how Harvard can help them, and to guide them after admission.

Veterans who qualified for the GI Bill were entitled to an allowance for tuition, books and fees of up to $500 for a two-term year and $750 for a three-term year—this allowance was expected to meet the costs of the College and most of the professional schools.


Registering for Class 1947

Students register for classes in 1947. In addition to bowties and tweed jackets, there are a few military uniforms, and a table with a "Married Vets Children's Clinic Information" sign.

1946, Harvard students wait in line to buy books at the Harvard Coop.The Harvard Coop (originally the Harvard Cooperative Society) was formed in 1882 by a group of students to supply books, school supplies and coal at competitive prices and distribute store-earned profits to members. 

Three Harvard students using Widener Library's card catalog--one with a sharp chapeau--around 1945.

Students at Widener Reading Room, 1946

1946, eager students flock to a Widener Reading Room Desk.