‘Our Doors Opened Wide: Syracuse University and the GI Bill, 1945-1950’
Syracuse University Libraries’ fall exhibition, “Our Doors Opened Wide: Syracuse University and the GI Bill, 1945-1950,” will open Sept. 15 in Bird Library. Curated by University Archivist Meg Mason, the exhibition explores the dramatic impact of the GI Bill and the subsequent influx of veterans on the University campus following World War II.
Between 1945 and 1950, the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, commonly known as the GI Bill, supported some 2.3 million students nationwide. Few universities in the country were more closely identified with the GI Bill than Syracuse University. Chancellor William Tolley promised servicemen and women that there would be places waiting for them at the University when they returned, and enrollment more than tripled in the years immediately after the war. Although still a small university by national standards, Syracuse ranked first in New York State and 17th in the country in veteran enrollment.
The exhibition features an array of materials from University Archives that document this critical period in the University’s history and the associated changes to the campus landscape, social and cultural life, and academic programs. Materials on view include:
photographs of temporary classrooms and housing for veterans, including old barracks and trailers, which filled the campus and surrounding areas
- cartoons of veteran student life on campus
- aerial shots of the Main and South campuses showing changes in the landscape
- personal items from veterans who attended Syracuse University, including a cheerleading megaphone, a postcard about arriving at Syracuse and photographs of the inside of one of the trailers used as married student housing
- Daily Orange articles about the impact of veterans on campus
An opening reception will be held in conjunction with Orange Central on Thursday, Sept. 15, from 4:30-6 p.m. in the gallery on the sixth floor of Bird Library.
For more information, contact Syracuse University Archives at firstname.lastname@example.org.