“A Trip For Men That Are Willing To Work”: Illinois Students as Canadian Farm Laborers during World War I" is at Spurlock Museum on Thursday, May 16 from 4:00–5:00 pm.
“[M]any a man that drove a tractor on the plains of Alberta and Saskatchewan two years ago is but a bundle of bones on a battle field of France,” warned Eugene Davenport, University of Illinois’ Dean of Agriculture, in the Saturday Evening Post a month after the United States entered World War I. Davenport and other agricultural leaders called on citizens to take up farm work to ensure famine would not take hold in North America or Europe. To replace Canadian farmers serving in Europe, Davenport called on UIUC’s student body. In April 1917, the University of Illinois allowed 228 students to depart for farms across the Canadian Prairie. For men too young to serve in the military, it was a welcome opportunity to demonstrate their patriotism and do their part for the war effort. This talk reveals the untold story of the transnational efforts the University and its students went to support the war effort in 1917.
Presenter Nathan Tye is a doctoral candidate in history at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His dissertation, The Ways of the Hobo: Transient Mobility and Culture in the United States, 1870s-1930s, explores the history of mobility and its intersections with gender, sexuality, class, and race within the lives of transient and casual laborers, better known as hobos, in the United States. Tye serves as the Associate Editor of the SourceLab digital publishing collective and as Assistant Book Review Editor of Middle West Review, published by the University of Nebraska Press. He graduated magna cum laude with a B.A. in History and Theology from Creighton University in 2011.