iROC: Elective Citizens? The Radcliffe College Community’s Spectral Participation in World War I Activity, 1914-1926
Please join us next week for another seminar in our Spring 2021 iROC series! It will take place on Thursday, February 25, at 12:45 p.m. - when Michael McGuire, Assistant Professor of History, will presentElective Citizens? The Radcliffe College Community’s Spectral Participation in World War I Activity, 1914-1926.
We like to think that, in a time of crisis, everyone will shoulder their fair share for a higher purpose, and that this would especially be true among members of a college family. However, this was not the case with Radcliffe College during World War I. While over 2,000 members of this community eventually assisted people who suffered during the global crisis, many students, faculty, administrators, and alumnae shirked war service or favorably negotiated how they would superficially enter and exit the First World War. At Radcliffe's Cambridge, Massachusetts campus, students and the college president proved consistently unwilling to sacrifice traditions like proms and chauvinistic curricula arrangements to make the world safer for people and for democracy. The Radcliffe College community's 1914-1920 war record shows that these women and men did not consider solicited patriotic action to be a civic duty during wartime.
Professor McGuire’s talk comes from research he conducted to publish "A War Generation? The Radcliffe College Community in the Great War Era, 1914-1926" in the Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era. In this research, he sought to determine whether a women's college that traditionally represented itself as civic-minded did in fact get swept up in what one scholar called America's World War I "culture of coercive voluntarism." His work established that some faculty, students, and alumnae did involve themselves in war-related concerns, but that many--notably Radcliffe's president--shirked their civic and moral duty in a time of unprecedented global crisis.
Michael McGuire has studied history throughout his education, earning a bachelor’s degree at Vassar College and a Ph.D. at Boston University. He has taught at multiple institutions in the greater Boston area (despite not being a fan of the Patriots or of Tom Brady #cheaterseverprosper) before coming to the Mount. His prior and current research, scholarship, and presentations focus on the reasons that people enter humanitarian projects, and how the charitable assistance they provide intersects with cultural and diplomatic concerns.