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World War II collection

Identifier: MSS-0002

Scope and Contents

This collection includes newsletters from STC to MSNS/STC alumni serving in the armed forces; individual alumni files including photographs, letters, cards, and other personal correspondence; and lists of serving alumni.


  • Creation: 1941-1946


Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on access. This collection is open to the public.

Conditions Governing Use

Towson University Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) is the owner of the original materials and digitized images in our collections; however, the collection may contain materials for which copyright is not held. Patrons are responsible for determining the appropriate use or reuse of materials. Consult with SCUA to determine if we can provide permission for use.

Historical Note

World War II brought several changes to STC at Towson between 1941 and 1946. First, the school experienced a decrease in enrollment as many students took extended leaves of absence to enlist in the armed forces. By 1944 STC had only two male students enrolled. Toward the end of the war even the female population on campus declined as both STC students and teachers left to join women’s organizations like WACS (Women’s Army Corps), WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service), and SPAR (the name given to the United States Coast Guard Women’s Reserve). Other students changed careers entirely by taking defense jobs that offered higher salaries than they could expect to earn after graduation as teachers. Second, the school introduced significant changes to the curriculum to better accommodate the needs of enlisted students and to address an almost decade-long statewide teacher shortage. Initially, in 1943, STC introduced an accelerated program that consisted of three summer sessions and three regular sessions of ten weeks each that allowed students to graduate a year early. It was also around this time that STC began to offer courses as part of their special war emergency program. Instead of student teaching senior male students took trigonometry, civil aeronautics, and physics, courses that STC thought would be of benefit to those male students who would go on to enlist in the armed forces. As appeals for teachers increased STC began placing cadet teachers in local schools. Cadet teachers were STC students in their senior year who taught in local schools under college supervision for eighteen weeks in lieu of their last term of regular student teaching. In 1944, because the need for teachers was still great, STC launched a second, daring experimental program of teacher education called Learning to Teach, a semester-long hybrid program that appointed junior students a year early to student teaching positions supplemented by eight hours a week of professional courses on the STC campus. Junior students participating in the Learning to Teach program spent five days a week student teaching and met with their instructors two nights a week and on Saturday morning.

Similarly, the War Emergency Plan was also started in 1943, and this program required boys to stay at college and take trigonometry, physics, and civil aeronautics instead of practice teaching. These preparatory courses would be helpful when boys served in the armed forces. During 1944, STC only had two male students. Toward the end of the war, several female students and teachers left to join. Decreasing enrollment remained an obstacle for STC during the war.

On campus, students and faculty showed their support for alumni in the armed forces in several ways. Although food rationing hampered events like annual banquets and receptions, STC still held activities for the benefit of alumni in the service. A formal “Dance for Service Men” was held and even a “Tea and Dance” was hosted by the students for British soldiers who came through Towson on leave. Victory Gardens were created and each student or faculty member was allowed to have their own plot to sow and reap vegetables. Even the on-campus Lida Lee Tall Elementary School participated by raising chickens and ducks to help with the meat shortage. The elementary school also facilitated War Savings Stamps sales. MSNS held a Bond Rally to promote the sale of war bonds. Both STC and Lida Lee Tall Elementary flew “School at War” flags for their contributions to the war effort. Students and faculty also started a Victory Pool campaign for serving alumni to use upon their return as a sign of gratitude for their service. Swimming lessons, water sports, good health, and showmanship were promoted during the Victory Pool campaign. War bonds and other donations funded this event.

Newsletters and copies of the student body newspaper The Towerlight were sent to serving alumni upon request. The newsletters kept them abreast with what was happening back at STC. The newsletters also helped keep serving alumni in touch. Current addresses were printed regularly and letters were frequently forwarded by STC for alumni who had lost touch with another.

Students also created a military exhibit at STC that displayed photographs, newspaper articles, letters, medals, and other things that serving alumni would send back. Also on display were military scrapbooks. Pages were sent to alumni requesting a photograph, rank, how long they had been serving, where they were stationed (if allowed), and any other information or things they wanted to send back to STC.


2.1 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



This collection which dates from 1941 to 1946 contains materials evidencing Maryland State Normal School/State Teachers College alumni activities during and after World War II. These materials include newsletters from STC to MSNS/STC alumni serving in the armed forces; individual alumni files including photographs, letters, cards, and other personal correspondence; and lists of serving alumni.


Series 1: Newsletters (1941-1945) This series contains newsletters sent to Maryland State Normal School alumni who served in the armed forces during World War II. The newsletters were sent from Maryland State Normal School Registrar Rebecca Tansil, Athletic Director Don Minnegan, and President M. Theresa Wiedefeld to alumni of MSNS/STC serving in the armed forced from 1941-1945. Topics include activities and social events at MSNS; changes of address for alumni soldiers; birth, death, and engagement announcements; excerpts from alumni soldiers’ letters to STC; alumni soldiers’ visits to STC; current events.

Series 2: Enlisted Alumni Files (undated, 1942-1946) This series contains photographs, correspondence, newspaper articles, STC surveys, Christmas cards, and other objects sent from enlisted alumni to STC. Some items were previously mounted in a scrapbook created by STC students and then removed.

Existence and Location of Copies

Digital reproductions are available at

Guide to the World War II collection
Hillary Svoboda, revised by John Esh
Fall 2009, 2020
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Towson University Special Collections and University Archives Repository

Albert S. Cook Library
8000 York Rd
Towson MD 21252 United States