World War I in Lawrence: KU shortens school year so students can help with wheat harvest

With many of the previous year’s workers now training at Camp Doniphan or already serving overseas, the state’s colleges were in search of ways to release their students a bit earlier this semester to assist with the harvest. Looking ahead to spring, the University of Kansas acted this month to shorten the school year so that students could get home earlier to help with farmwork. The State Board of Administration this week approved an action of the KU Senate calling for classes to be held on February 12 and 22, as well as May 1 and May 30 — days which had been holidays in previous years. According to a Journal-World article of Feb. 9, 1918, “the action was taken in order that the term might be closed on the earliest possible day that the work could be finished without detriment. The School of Law will have school six days a week and will close about May 1. … The action of the senate brings commencement on June 3 instead of June 12 and will enable students to get home to help in farm work, especially in the wheat harvest. The action of the senate in regard to commencement was to follow out the injunctions of the federal government and others in authority that expenditure be cut down to the lowest limit and passenger travel on the railroads decreased and the exercises will be simplified.”

Also at KU, it was noted that “war service study at the University of Kansas has played havoc with the departments of ancient language and history this semester. The history class this semester has dropped from 28 to 14, while in the sculpturing class the decrease has been from 40 to 14. Many of the members of these two classes are women and a majority of the women are doing war work at the University.”