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.
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.