14 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, April 9, 1999
A CENTURY OF 'U'
remained strong amidst Depression,
WWII scare .
By Kelly O'Connor
Daily Staff Reporter
American college students in the 1930s and '40s faced a life of strange
new contradictions and dualities. As the country finally began to recover
from its worst economic downturn in history, attention shifted to far-off
places. Many had the feeling disaster was looming just beyond the horizon.
But the University, continuing to emphasize the importance of education,
emerged relatively unscathed.
After the stock market crash of 1929, University President Alexander
Ruthven proved his financial wizardry by sheltering the campus from nega-
tive effects of the Depression. According to "The Making of the
University of Michigan" by Howard Peckham, Ruthven shielded
students from "legislative bills and other ill-considered pro-
posals that would have crippled the University."
In addition to Ruthven's efforts, generous alumni dona-
tions kept the University afloat.
Former Athletic Director Charles Baird donated a
set of carillon bells in 1935. At the same time, The
University of Michigan Club, together with members
of the University Board of Regents and Ann Arbor
residents, raised money to build a tower for the bells.
According to Peckham, the 53 bells were hung in the
new tower behind Hill Auditorium in the fall of 1936.
Although prohibition was in place in 1931,
University students found ways to bend the law for the
sake of a good time. In February of that year, Ann
Arbor police raided five fraternities, where they dis-
They made 79 arrests and among the dissidents were University alum George
several recognizable personalities on campus - the Ann Arbor resident to d
captain of the football team and two editors of The Michigan Daily. Officials
were tipped off by local bootleggers who had been arrested a few days earli-
er and had given up the information in order to receive lesser penalties,
Peckham wrote in his book.
The five fraternity houses closed and 184 students were evicted, but the
charges against all 79 students were dropped.
As the decade continued, students who had been concerned only with cam-
pus elections and the latest fashions shifted their focus to something new -
the escalating conflict in Europe.
Passive isolationists faced off with the few Americans urging the United
States to intervene. In the spring of 1939, students held an anti-war protest,
and Detroit United Auto Workers leader Leonard Woodcock demanded that
the U.S. government separate itself from the war. "A student speaker
demanded a cessation of bigger armaments and a vote on the question of
declaring war," Peckham's wrote.
Betty Cooper, who graduated from the University in 1946, said the war
created a feeling of instability on campus.
Cooper said that one morning she planned to have breakfast with
another student she was dating, but before leaving for her date,
Cooper got a call from the man. He told her he couldn't meet
her because he had been ordered to board the next train out
of Ann Arbor for military service.
"They marched them all down State Street to the train
station," Cooper said. "in one morning, they moved them
all out and sent them to the Battle of the Bulge."
And if the war hadn't hit home already with the bomb-
ing of Pearl Harbor or the deployment of U.S. troops,
the Jan.10 edition of the Daily personalized the conflict
for all University students.
U.S. Marine Corps First Lt. George Cannon was the
first Ann Arbor resident to die in World War 11. After
being wounded when his Pacific Ocean battle station on
Midway Island was hit, the University graduate refused
FILE PHOTO to be evacuated until his men were taken to safety, the
annon was the first article said.
in World War 11. On Dec. 14 1941, in response to the nation's official
entry into World War II, the Daily published a special edition called the
"Defense Supplement." Its purpose was to inform students of ways they
could get involved locally with the war effort and demonstrate how the com-
munity was coming together.
The articles urged everyone to get involved, even women, all of whom
were not allowed to participate in combat. Women's Dean Alice Lloyd
announced she was heading up an organization that would mobilize women
behind the war effort. "The most important phase of the project at present is
the registration of all University women for the common defense," the arti-
But the idea of inviting women to participate in activities normally
reserved for men was rare, Cooper said.
"Today we call them pants, in those days we called them slacks - you
were not allowed to wear them on campus," she said.
Only when temperatures dropped extremely low were the rules amended,
Cooper said, and only by an official edict by Dean Lloyd. According t*
Peckham's book, women generally showed up for their morning classes don-
ning dresses, stockings and gloves.
Cooper said that although the population of male students decreased at the
start of the war, the University's role in educating soldiers brought new stu-
dents from across the nation.
Soon the University had the
largest Japanese language school
in the country and initiated other
programs to prepare U.S. GIs for
the culture and conditions of the
places in which they would be
The end of the conflict overseas r
flooded the University with a new
wave of students - older, most-
ly male and many of them mar-
ried. Enrollment of 12,000 stu- '
dents in 1945 was considered high
for the time, but in the fall of '
1948, the University's total
enrollment hit 21,360 students,
Peckham wrote. The surge in stu-
dent population can be attributed FILE PHOTO
to the GI Bill, which granted This advertisement encouraging students
many war veterans a free college to purchase war bonds appeared in a Jan.
education. 21, 1942 edition of the Daily.
Black athlete not allowed to
compete against Georgia Tech
By Jon Zenke
Daily Sports Writer
Willis Ward was a pioneer. He cleared trails for minority
athletes at Michigan during a time when it was normal to keep
people segregated, where they were "supposed" to be.
Before his senior year of football, Willis Ward, who had
already broken the rule against black football players at
Michigan, was given the disturbing news that he would be
unable to play in one of Michigan's games..
Georgia Tech refused to play against a black player.
In 1932, Ward was the first black football player to play for
Michigan in 40 years and would be an instrumental part in
Michigan's national championship teams the next two years.
He earned honorable mention All-American honors in 1933 at
An unbelievable talent in track, Ward set numerous records
and was expected to be one of the premier athletes in the NCAA
his senior season.
But when Ward found out he had to sit out the '34 Georgia
Tech game because of his color, all he could do was hang his
head in disgust. Knowing he wouldn't be a captain on either
track or football, Ward toyed with the idea of quitting football,
even writing a letter to then-Michigan coach Harry Kipke about
his intentions of leaving the team.
"It was not the fact that I was not made a captain of either foot-
ball or track that destroyed my will," Ward said in John Behee's
book on black athletes at Michigan, "Hail to the Victors."
"It was the fact that I couldn't play in the Georgia Tech game.
That all of a sudden, the practice that you just did because it
was the thing to do that was good - a tremendous amount of
burnt up energy - all of a sudden becomes drudgery."
Ward was convinced to stay because of the struggle it took
to get him onto the team.
According to Behee, Ward wasn't even allowed to watch the
game from the press box, or even from the bench of his own sta-
dium. Instead, he spent the afternoon of Oct. 20 in a fraternity
house. Demoralized, Ward became disenchant-
ed with his competition in athletics. He had
high expectations in football and track for his
senior year, but the football team finished the
season 1-7 - a far cry from the national
championship teams he played on the pre-
vious two years. =
His lone sports highlight as a senior
was beating Ohio State's Jesse
Owens in 1935 at Yost Fieldhouse in
the 60-yard dash and 65 high hur-
dles. Ward's times were neck-and-
neck with Owens' up until the NCAAs, when Ward
hung up his spikes for good.
federal judge and constant support from Kipke finally permit-
ted the Detroit Northwestern High School A-student to join
A University rule against black players participatingin foot-
ball and then-Athletic Director Fielding Yost, a well-known racist
and son of a confederate soldier, prevented Ward from playing.
"Once that (Circuit Court Judge Guy Miller) learned that ...
Michigan and Yost did not want black football players, Judge
Miller said, 'Well, will you help break this rule?"' Ward
recalled in "Hail to the Victors."
Kipke was eager to have Ward on his team. He had played
with black athletes in high school. Behee said in "Hail to the
Victors" that "on several occasions Kipke took off his coat and
was prepared to fight with those who bitterly opposed having a
Negro play for Michigan."
Little public animosity was shown towards Ward when he
began his Michigan career. Ivan Williamson, captain of the '32
football team, greeted Ward at the field house and told him, "If
you have any problems with anybody, let me know because
we're prepared to take care of them."
Ward didn't have any until the Yellow Jackets came up or
the schedule. Then-Georgia Tech football coach and athletic
director W. A. Alexander, a good friend of Yost's, insisted that
Ward not participate or the game be canceled. Alexander even
suggested that if Michigan didn't play along, then the game
could be canceled due to a "mistake" about the date.
There was fear that if Ward played, he would be injured by
malicious blows after the play had ended. Not wanting to risk
injury to Ward or cancel the game, Michigan decided to bench
Protests emerged from Michigan alums, the NAACP and the
National Student League among many other groups. A petitiot,
was signed by more than a thousand students and several proW
fessors asking the University to let Ward play.
Rumors of a sit-down protest on the 50-yard line during the
game flew around campus the week before the game. The dis-
ruption of the event caused Yost to thwart any protest by hiring
a Pinkerton agent to infiltrate "The United Front Committee on
Ward," a conglomerate of student organizations that
supported Ward's right to play, and prevent
the potential student threat.
The Athletic Department wouldn't
comment on why Ward was being with.
held. Behee speculated in "Hail to th
Victors" and "Fielding Yost's
Legacy" that Yost was the key fig-
ure in withholding Ward from
playing, including keeping Kipke
quiet. But Behee also pointed out
in "Fielding Yost's Legacy," that,
Courtesy of Bentley Historical Library
Arthur Miller played the role of Samson In "The Proud Pilgrimage," performed on campus January 1938 while he was a
University student. Miller wrote his first play as a sophomore in 1936.
M A 0 il l bwwa
Milerbe, a wtm w fl a
By Jeff Druchniak
Daily Arts Writer
The 1930s witnessed a tremendous
flourishing of creative expression on
campus, despite the hardships of the
Great Depression that surrounded the
University at the time. Or, perhaps, it
would not be too much to say that our
"national tragedy," in Arthur Miller's
words, inspired students to think, write
and act like never before in the
Miller himself, before he became
one of the greatest American play-
wrights was one of the leading figures
on the campus cultural scene. When
Miller arrived at the University in
In college he won two consecutive
Hopwood prizes for drama.
students signed the anti-war Oxford
Pledge than at any other college. The
debate over issues like the Spanish-
American War was fierce, and one of
the campus media's frequent contribu-
tors - as well as the leader of the rad-
ical pacifist movement on campus -
was future Michigan Gov. G. Mennen
In 1936, late in Miller's sophomore
year. he made a fateful decision. He
ing his junior year, he started to gen-
erate interest among New York pro-
ducers, including the short-lived but
legendary Federal Theatre Project.
Inspired by some weekends spent vis-
iting Jackson State Penitentiary, Miller
wrote a prison drama, "The Great
Disobedience," his senior year. It finished
second in the Hopwood program because
some judges considered it "turgid."
Shortly after, Miller graduated with