26 January 2014

Local recalls UNH's military training for women

Doris Grady
photo credit: John Huff/Foster's Daily Democrat
Rugged. Dedicated. Patriotic.  These are just some of the words used to describe a series of photographs of one of the nation's first female collegiate-level military training programs. Published by LIFE Magazine in the early 1940s, these photos shed light on the University of New Hampshire's military training initiative for women during the midst of World War II.

With recent reports of the U.S. Marine Corps postponing certain strength requirements after a high percentage of female recruits failed to meet standards, LIFE's website republished these photographs, showing just how dedicated a small New England university was when it came to preparing for war.

Grady, now 90 years old, recalled many men at the university putting their studies on hold to fight overseas, leaving much of the school's training equipment untouched. Discussion soon shifted to the training of women to prepare them to serve their country as well. This led to then-director of the women's physical education program, Margaret Hoban, to develop a fitness program for females that would prepare them to serve in various military auxiliaries.

“We were all so concerned because of what Japan had done,” said Grady. “Everybody was willing to do anything they had to do at that particular time.”  As a physical education major, Grady said she was soon introduced to the all-female military-style training program. Having been an athlete all her life, Grady shared with Foster's that the university's training program was right up her alley.  “I wanted to test myself to see if I could do it,” said Grady.  Scaling walls, crawling under fences, and jumping wide ditches didn't deter Grady whatsoever. In fact, she admitted she didn't find the training to be all that difficult. “It was kind of fun,” she said as a smile spread across her face.

The program at UNH was one of the first of its kind, providing military-style training to women similar in fashion to the men's Reserve Officers' Training Corps program. More than 650 female students at UNH would go on to become involved with the program in its first years, utilizing training equipment set up for men in the university's ROTC division that had been virtually abandoned after the school lost a large portion of its male population to various war efforts.  

By 1942, the women's program had gathered enough attention to spark interest among those affiliated with a notable publication known as LIFE Magazine. 

According to a New Hampshire Alumnus article published in February of 1943, LIFE's news bureau contacted university officials in December of 1942 to find out more about the program itself as well as UNH's initiative to help the country's war effort. It was soon decided that one of the publication's most respected photographers, Alfred Eisenstaedt, would travel to Durham and pay a visit to the many women participating in the university's military-style physical training program.

“I remember we all thought it was a big deal that LIFE was coming to the area, and that they were going to have one of their best photographers come,” said Grady.  Although it had been a relatively warm winter, an unexpected shift in the weather turned temperatures frigid and covered the university's grounds with heavy snow.  “We thought they were going to cancel the photo shoot, but they didn't,” said Grady.

After trudging through the snow to get to training equipment set up throughout Memorial Field, Eisenstaedt photographed hundreds of women adorned in not-so-weather-appropriate shorts and short-sleeved shirts as they navigated through the obstacle course. The Alumnus article stated that the women initially wore coats and pants during the trek through the field, shedding them when Eisenstaedt was ready to begin taking pictures.

On January 11, 1943, a seven-page spread of Eisenstaedt's photographs and an accompanying article titled “New Hampshire Coeds Toughen Up for War” was published in LIFE Magazine.

Read the article by Laurenne Ramsdell in the Foster's Daily Democrat at http://www.fosters.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20140116/GJNEWS04/140119638/-1/ROCtimes

Learn More

Call to Action A World War II fitness program put UNH in the limelight in UNH Magazine

The Saga of Life in the UNH Alumnus  http://unhmagazine.unh.edu/w10/images/about_life_magazine_story.pdf


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Farm Museum restoration boosted by LCHIP grant

The NH Farm Museum in Milton is the former Jones Farm.
The New Hampshire Farm Museum received good news in the New Year! The Museum was awarded a grant of $50,000 from New Hampshire’s Land & Community Heritage Investment Program for repairs and restoration of the Jones Farmhouse stone foundations, sill replacement, mold remediation and drainage work.

This work is part of a larger Jones Farm restoration project which began a few years ago with an Historic Structures Report which outlined the essential work needed to restore the connected structures of the Farm. A new roof for the entire 275-foot long collection of buildings was installed last winter by New England Roofing of Rochester and funded by many donations from local people and a previous LCHIP grant. This past summer the entire front facade of the Jones Farm structures was painted its original tavern colors of mustard yellow with evergreen trim and crab apple red window sashes by local painters Billy McGowan and Ken Whelan who specialize in painting historic buildings.

This new grant award will allow the museum to complete another phase in the restoration of the Jones Farm. The Museum will begin to raise the matching funds which the grant requires and plans to begin work by June of this year. 

Read the article by Kathleen Shea in the Rochester Times at http://www.fosters.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20140116/GJNEWS04/140119638/-1/ROCtimes

Learn More

Robert Edmund Jones: From Milton Farm Boy to Hollywood Producer on the Farmington Historical Society

The NH Farm Museum on the Web at http://www.farmmuseum.org/

Discover Rural New Hampshire on Fun Farm Tour in the Nashua Telegraph at http://www.nashuatelegraph.com/living/travel/837298-224/discover-rural-new-hampshire-on-fun-farm.html


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18 January 2014

Reorganizing in the Museum

Recently, members met to clean and do some rearranging in the museum.  More work still needs to be done, but the President and Curator are working to organize the cases and artifacts to produce a more pleasant and welcoming atmosphere in the room.

Matching cases now line the back wall.
The bird display now has a new home in the opposite corner with better lighting.

Close up of one of the short cases on the back wall.
Cases organized in the back corner.
Close up of the other short case on the back wall.
Close up of the bird display in the back corner.
More reorganization is planned in the upcoming weeks.  We'll be ready to welcome everyone into our newly organized museum for our first presentation event this coming spring.