410 South Third Street    River Falls, WI 54022 715/425-3567 archives@uwrf.edu
River Falls in the World Wars: Online Exhibit

Arnett Special Collections, 1917
WI Soldiers in WW1, 1917. Arnett Special Collections.

"Our company has adopted a couple of Belgian orphans through the Red Cross. A number of American units are adopting Belgian and French children and not to be outdone we thought the 6th Heavy ought to follow suit."

WWI Soldier from River Falls, Kenneth White-6th Heavy Artillery of the American Expeditionary Force, in a letter home to his mother.



The first active involvement for River Falls in World War I came as a response to the Belgian Relief Appeal in late 1914. The city raised a total of $983.12, $126.50 of which came from UW-River Falls students and faculty, toward the relief campaign for the war torn populous of Belgium.

Like cities all across the country, citizens of River Falls observed rationing protocol and collected paper (newspaper drive in River Falls elementary classes, 1917) and other items for the war effort. Local newspapers published a plethera of articles, advertisements and regular columns addressing war preparedness, personal responsibility and patriotism. Read a 1918 River Falls Journal article on the United War Work Campaign Day for Wisconsin pupils.

"The Housewife and the War"
River Falls Journal Weekly series, 1918

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"Plan your Meals to Save Fuel"
View Image, Read Article

"Save the Wheat"

View Image, Read Article

"Coconut for you, Masks for Soldiers
"
View Image, Read Article







Help-Win-the-War Frock, 1918
 
"What branch of the service is she in?" just naturally springs to the lips when our eyes behold a young woman in one of these Help-Win-the-War frocks...[more] River Falls Journal, 1918

 
 


World War I


During WWI, UW-River Falls, then known as the River Falls State Normal School, was designated as a Student Army Training Corps (SATC) site. (read 1918 RF Journal article about SATC)

Images of the Army Training Corps in front of North Hall, October-November, 1918.

Gathering of the SATC in front of North Hall (South Hall in the background), Oct/Nov. 1918

Barracks were built on campus and soldiers trained in the yards in front of North and South Hall. Visit the University Archives collection inventory for the SATC (UWRF Series 29) to read more and view photographs.

Patriotic Day parade, downtown River Falls. April 27, 1917
Patriotic Day parade, downtown River Falls. April 27, 1917

The Area Research Center & University Archives' collections contain many World War I era documents and artifacts. A few examples:

Personal effects of a local soldier, George Banta, who was stationed in France as a clerk during WWI including French rations coupons, identification cards, and pay record booklet (River Falls SC 411)

Personal diary, American Legion memorial program, and a Western Union telegram announcing the death of Eldon C. Kinne, a local soldier serving in the 342nd Infantry while stationed in France and England during WWI (River Falls SC 256)

Personal diary of Floyd R. Leseman, Wisconsin soldier and recipient of the Croix de Guerre for courageous action in France during WWI (River Falls SC 409)

Letters home to parents as well as guard and fatigue detail rule cards from Charlie Corcoran, River Falls resident, during his army training in Rockford, IL, and during military service overseas during WWI (River Falls Mss EP). Also included are pieces of correspondence that have been inspected and stamped by military censors as well as a handwritten letter from Windsor Castle by King George V of England, welcoming US soldiers to the battle in Europe.

World War I patriotic themed postcards, collected by Ella Toby of River Falls (River Falls Mss EL)

Search the UW-River Falls Voyager online library catalog for more manuscripts, university records, and other war materials from the Archives. Search the Wisconsin Historical Society's online catalog, ArCat, for war records housed at ARC's statewide.



Wrigley's for Liberty Bonds, River Falls Journal, 1918.
                "Save a Loaf to Help Win the War" ad from the River Falls Journal, 1918.

Common war-themed newspaper clips from River Falls Journal, 1918




Unidentified WWII Pilot, Davidson Special Collections

Unidentified Pilot, WWII.
Davidson Special Collections


"A Farm is Really a War Factory" ad from the River Falls Journal, 1944
"A Farm is Really a War Factory"
River Falls Journal, 1944



World War II


Most people in River Falls learned that the US had entered into WWII while listening to a radio speech by President Roosevelt calling for a formal declaration of war in a joint session of Congress the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Students at the college, then known as the River Falls State Teachers College (RFSTC), listened over a special radio hook-up in an assembly at North Hall.

Leading up to that declaration, locals had already been preparing for the possibility of war. National Guard members from River Falls had already been called up for active duty. The Boy Scouts and Pierce County Defense Council held aluminum scrap metal drives. After war was officially declared, the local high school and the RFSTC began offering evening classes for farm youths to prepare them for anticipated machinery shortages. Classes also included weekly "Farming for Defense" instruction which provided information on how to produce the most dairy and meat products to meet national demand during wartime. The River Falls Journal (RFJ) was again an important point of contact for citizens hoping to hear about soldiers overseas and to learn about issues enveloping the homefront. [View a war bond advertisement from the RFJ, 1943.]

Red Owl advertisement for ratio-free meat, 1943
Red Owl foods ad: Eat ration-free meat at every meal! River Falls Journal, 1943

WWII had a large impact on the enrollment at RFSTC and at the population of young males in general. Below, some of the River Falls student soldiers who were posthumously awarded Gold Stars for losing their lives during WWII

Telephone Tank, River Falls Journal, 1944
Telephone Tank
River Falls Journal,
1944


Women Wanted for Work.  River Falls Journal, 1943.
Women Wanted for Work.
River Falls Journal, 1943


Envelope from a letter written home to River Falls from a soldier aboard the USS Brooklyn in the early days of WWII.
Envelope from a letter written home to River Falls from a soldier aboard the USS Brooklyn in the early days of WWII.

     
Donald Johnson
Ward Randles
Stanley Mraz
 
Stanley Torgenson
Soldiers who died in WWII from:
Burnett County
Pierce County
Polk County
St. Croix County

From the State of WI War Dept. 1946, WWII Honor List of Dead and Missing Soldiers

Donald Johnson
Ward Randles
Robert Mraz
 
Stanley Torgenson
Malcomb Rockwell
Thomas Gill
Alvin Anderson
 
Jerome Sobotta
Malcolm Rockwell
Thomas Gill
Alvin Anderson
 
 Jerome Sobotta
 
     


The Area Research Center & University Archives' collections contain many World War II era documents and artifacts. A few examples:


Copies of YANK, the Army Weekly. First published on June 17, 1942 and lasting through December of 1945, Yank was a magazine staffed entirely by enlisted-soldiers in World War II. ARC Vertical File.

Flight logs and pilot training manuals for the A26-Invader and the B26 Marauder used by Howard B. Christenson, a pilot in the 17th Bomb Group of the 37th Squadron, U.S. Army Air Force of Pierce County, WI (River Falls Mss ES).

Letters and postcards between soldiers and their family, friends, and professors back home. View "sailor's prayer" postcard.

Deloris Buckley, Front Line Nurse. (River Falls SC 149)

Search the UW-River Falls Voyager online library catalog for more manuscripts, university records, and other war materials from the Archives. Search the Wisconsin Historical Society's online catalog, ArCat, for war records housed at ARC's statewide.

 



Paper-drive for Patriotism.
RFJ, 1943


For More information...

Find photographs, documents, artifacts, sound recordings and more on Wisconsin in the World War at:
Wisconsin Historical Society
American Memory Project: War & Military Collections
National Archives
USGenWeb

Sources Used:
Alumni in the Armed Forces (UWRF Series 44)
Deloris Buckley Papers (River Falls SC 149)
Howard B. Christenson Papers (River Falls Mss ES)
John Prucha and Norman Foss. Kinnickinnic Years. (Arrow Printing, NY, 1993)
The River Falls Journal
Michael E. Stevens. Voices from the Wisconsin Past: Letters from the Front, 1898-1945. (Madison, WI State Historical Society, 1992)
Student Army Training Corps: (UWRF Series 29)

Read Copyright & Use Statement

[Created 6/2006]

WWII Pilot, Lt. William Stratton, 1946.
WWII Pilot, Lt. William Stratton, 1946.
Jacobs Special Collections.