Old Hometown

Local writer Sarah St. John pulls from the Journal-World archives to compile reports of what it was like to be in Lawrence decades ago.

World War I in Lawrence: KU chemistry professors join the war effort

Lawrence news in October 1917 included several war-related items. The “Great War” was having an effect on KU’s chemistry department this semester: “There are nearly 700 students taking work in the department and there are fewer professors than usual. The cost of laboratory fees has gone ...

World War I in Lawrence: KU students begin compulsory exercises

In early October, the Journal-World interviewed several University of Kansas faculty members and found many in favor of compulsory military drill for students. The policy was officially adopted a few days later at a meeting of the University Senate: “Compulsory physical exercise for every ...

World War I in Lawrence: Thousands gather to bid soldiers farewell

Although several individuals had departed Lawrence since the war’s outbreak to serve in various positions on the front and at home, the first large-scale departure of troops didn’t take place until autumn, 1917. The Lawrence Journal-World of Oct. 1 described the scene: “The Lawrence units ...

World War I in Lawrence: Home Economics department serves mess hall-style dinner

In late September and early October of 1917, festivities such as dances and concerts were held for the soldiers temporarily stationed in Lawrence before they were sent to Fort Sill for further training. Among these parties was a dinner prepared and served to Company M at the University of ...

World War I in Lawrence: Military companies camp, hold drills

In the days leading up to their departure for Fort Sill, Oklahoma, local military organizations continued to camp in Lawrence. Battery B, which had been staying at Woodland Park, was forced to vacate its sleeping quarters to make room for September’s Douglas County Fair. The battery moved ...

World War I in Lawrence: KU football player switches to ‘rare sport’ of flying

Russell Cowgill of Lawrence wrote home this week from aviation training school in Dayton, Ohio. According to the Lawrence Journal-World, “Cowgill was a K. U. football player last fall, but the new sport of flying is what he calls a ‘rare sport.’ His brief letter follows: 'Well, I’ve had ...

Local Vietnam veterans reflect on war experiences, attitudes

Vietnam veteran John Musgrave went to war with a learned hatred of the enemy and no knowledge of what the conflict was about beyond that of Cold War rhetoric.But over the years, those feelings ultimately gave way to an understanding of and empathy toward those men he fought a half-century ago. ...

World War I in Lawrence: Budget cuts hit Lawrence schools

State budget cuts, whether war-related or not, were affecting students at the elementary and high school levels in Lawrence in 1917.According to a Journal-World article from early September, the usual reserve in the Board of Education budget had been cut by two-thirds, while war conditions had ...

World War I in Lawrence: Women encouraged to register for war service

Following the compulsory military draft of young men nationwide, the state of Kansas attempted a voluntary registration of women for war service. As explained in a Lawrence Journal-World article in early August, “There is nothing compulsory about the registration of women…. They are merely ...

World War I in Lawrence: 10 Journal-World employees report for duty

The Lawrence Journal-World was to face challenges in the coming year, as several of its staff had enlisted in the military. Even considering the inconvenience that this would entail, the company appeared proud that so many of its men were to serve, either as volunteers or after having been ...

World War I in Lawrence: KU allows ‘military passes’ for patriotism

Today’s story comes “from somewhere in France with the American troops,” where a recent KU student was worried about the state of his grades. Having left school in the spring of 1917, volunteering for the army months before the first draft, the young man wrote a letter back home to try to ...

World War I in Lawrence: Soldiers report to Robinson Gymnasium for drills

Several National Guard units were camping in Lawrence this month to undergo federal examination and mustering in. The process started in Robinson Gymnasium on the KU campus, where soldiers filled out all the necessary forms and received the first of their typhoid and smallpox vaccinations. ...

World War I in Lawrence: Crops, gardens on residents’ minds

With food conservation as a main concern, Douglas County residents were paying even more attention than usual to the condition of crops and garden produce. As always, the weather was on everyone’s mind. “There is but one topic of conversation in the rural districts of Douglas County,” ...

Family explores ties to Wakarusa Valley during museum visit

The nearly 40 people making a Saturday morning visit to the Wakarusa Valley Heritage Museum nodded or raised a hand as Martha Parker read through a list of names.The names Parker read were those of black families who settled in the Wakarusa Valley west of Lawrence during or soon after the Civil ...