Yale marked the centennial of the United States’ entry into World War I on April 6 with the release of a video series highlighting the Yalies who served during the “Great War.”
The “Yale Goes to War” video series produced by the Yale Office of Public Affairs and Communications features campus scholars and archivists discussing the multi-faceted contributions made by university people to the war effort — from individuals who introduced medical and military innovations to the first female African American graduate of the Yale School of Music, who entertained black troops during WWI.
The videos in the series are posted below, and can also be viewed — along with other videos and stories — on the Yale remembers World War I page.
Answering the Call
Yale undergraduates and alumni have a record of service to their country that dates back to the founding of the Republic and continues to this day. Yale College men — and, since 1969, women — have continued to make their mark upon the nation, many of them beginning their service through ROTC, which originated during World War I. This story highlights Yale’s contributions to the American WWI effort.
The First Yale Unit
In 1916 as America faced a revolution in Mexico and full-blown war in Europe, a group of 12 friends at Yale decided it was time they learned how to fly. That summer the young men formed the Yale Aero Club and the volunteer Coastal Patrol Unit #1, later known as the First Yale Unit. They would become the country’s first naval aviation unit in World War I — the eyes in the skies that spotted enemy troops and land mines, chased U-boats and zeppelins, and engaged enemy planes in battles over Europe.
Profiles in Aviation
This video highlights some of the exemplary careers and accomplishments of members of the First Yale Unit, including the Davison Brothers, David Ingalls, Robert Lovett, and those who lost their lives.
Mobile Hospital No. 39
Physician Joseph Marshall Flint, professor of surgery at the Yale School of Medicine, organized Mobile Hospital No. 39 in France — also known as The Yale Unit — the first of its kind in the American Expeditionary Forces. Realizing they would not have the resources they needed to create a general hospital, Flint and his colleagues adopted a French concept for mobile hospitals. Mobile Hospital No. 39 was staffed by Yale medical faculty and students and supported with funds from the Yale Corporation.
Profiles in Medicine
This video highlights contributions to the war effort by three members of the Yale medical community: pioneering neurosurgeon Dr. Harvey Cushing, an 1891 graduate of Yale College, whose experiences in a U.S. base hospital in France allowed him to advance treatment of brain injury and develop insights into the central nervous system at a rapid rate; Annie Goodrich, founding dean of the Yale School of Nursing (and the university’s first female dean), who served as chief inspecting nurse of the Army Nursing Corps and devised a plan for an Army School of Nursing; and Milton Winternitz, pathologist and dean of the Yale School of Medicine 1920-1935, who helped develop treatments for patients exposed to chemical weapons and later discovered that the pathology of influenza pneumonia, which killed million worldwide during a 1918 pandemic, was similar to the pathologies caused by certain chemical weapons.
Helen Eugenia Hagan (1891-1964) – a concert pianist, composer, and teacher – was the “first” in many things during her lifetime. She was the first female African American student to graduate from the Yale School of Music in 1912 (and is believed to be the first to attend the university as a whole), the first black female pianist to perform a solo recital at a New York venue, and the first to be appointed to the Chamber of Commerce in Morristown, New Jersey. In 1919, Hagan became the only African American woman to entertain black soldiers serving in the American Expeditionary Forces in WWI.