November 15, 1941
Jane Plimpton ’42, Associate Professor of History Charles Griffin and Joseph Lash, general secretary of the International Student Service, welcomed 54 student delegates from 14 colleges, including Harvard, New York University, Mount Holyoke, Radcliffe, Barnard, West Point, Swarthmore and the University of Pennsylvania, to a conference on national morale, sponsored jointly by the student-faculty Vassar Political Association and the International Student Service, a Federal agency for international education. Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt joined Mr. Lash, Massachusetts Democratic congressman Thomas H. Eliot, Francis J. Brown, consultant to the American Council on Education, Captain G. J. Weitzel from West Point and Private John Dahlberg in the opening conversation. The discussion moved from the interaction between civilian and military morale to considerations of how both communities might support the inevitable increase of civilians in uniform as the nation prepared for war. Mr. Brown, according to The New York Times, summarized three major challenges in the present situation: “How to render ‘service without sentimentality’ to the draftees. How to keep a sense of the continuity of life for both drafted men and the nation, realizing the importance of planning for a world beyond emergency. How to lay the foundation for a permanent peace, not through ‘policing’ but through world brotherhood.”
During the two-day conference the delegates were addressed by several experts on civilian and military morale, including Hungarian journalist and novelist Hans Habe [Janos Békessy] an escapee from a Nazi camp who had immigrated to the United States. They also attended a special production of The Experimental Theatre, Reveille: 1941, a “living newspaper” play, written by Vassar students, focusing on conditions in the draft camps.