Holy Cross: 1900–1949

Thousands pack into stands to see old rivals Holy Cross and Boston College play football.

Thousands pack into stands to see old rivals Holy Cross and Boston College play football.

1900 College Catalog redefines the institution’s preparatory department, educating students below college age, as "a Classical High School" and treats it is as a separate entity rather than a downward extension of the College program. Although there were no modern academic departments yet, the catalog arranges courses by subject for the first time, including a course description and which year it should be taken.

1901 Rev. Joseph F. Hanselman, S.J., becomes the 17th president.  

1901 Construction of Fitton Field begins.    

Jan. 15, 1901 First intercollegiate basketball game is held: Harvard 20, Holy Cross 10. The game took place at Mechanics Hall.

1902 340 students are enrolled, making Holy Cross the largest Jesuit college in the nation; Boston College is a distant second.

1902 First public lecture series is offered, featuring free talks by faculty members on annual themes such as European history, English literature, science, theology and education. The lectures were immediately popular, often given to standing-room-only crowds.   

1903 First varsity football game is played on campus on the newly finished athletic field at the base of the hill: Holy Cross 36, Amherst 0.

1904 Electricity is gradually installed indoors, providing light in the chapel, study halls, bathrooms and the junior and senior rooms.   

1904 Architect Charles Maginnis of Boston is chosen to design Alumni Hall. He would later design many of the College’s early buildings, including St. Joseph Memorial Chapel and Dinand Library.   

1905 President Theodore Roosevelt attends commencement, handing out diplomas to the 37 graduates and speaking to the crowd of nearly 6,000 about the importance of training not only the body and mind, but also the soul, as well as the importance of active citizenship. Roosevelt was in Worcester to deliver diplomas at Clark University's first undergraduate commencement, but his speech at Holy Cross was the only event open to the public during his five hours in the city.

May 20, 1905 Cornerstone laid for Alumni Hall, which includes 92 student rooms, academic classrooms, and laboratories. The building was named for the alumni who were the primary source of funding for its construction.

1905 Rev. Joseph F. Hanselman, S.J., introduces demerit system to enforce discipline; highest penalties were incurred by missing Mass or class (10), going AWOL to town during the day (15) or at night (25). Students were expelled for "habituation insubordination" if 200 were earned. 

1905 Fitton Field is dedicated and Holy Cross plays first baseball game: Holy Cross 8, Brown 5.   

1906 Rev. Thomas E. Murphy, S.J. becomes the 18th president.   

1906 First tennis courts are constructed on campus.

1907 College yearbook, The Purple Patcher, is launched.

1907 Commencement porch is remodelled with a new flight of stairs resembling those of the U.S. Capitol.

1910 Enrollment passes 500 for the first time; enrollment in the preparatory school drops below 20 percent of the student body.       

1911 Rev. Joseph N. Dinand, S.J., becomes the 19th president.      

1911 More than 300 clergy from the Diocese of Springfield pledge to each offer $100 annually for three years to fund the building of Beaven Hall. Built to address serious overcrowding, the building was supposed to be named the "Memorial of the Clergy of the Diocese of Springfield," but instead refers to Bishop Beaven, who orchestrated the plan with his diocese.  

1912 U.S. Bureau of Education ranks American undergraduate colleges; Holy Cross is rated within the best 103 undergraduate programs, but in a category alongside schools with classical curriculum, which were all excluded from the top rank. 

1913 Completion and dedication of Beaven Hall, which opens as a senior dormitory accommodating 140 students. The building’s lower floor featured a large lecture room, a classroom, the biology laboratory, the geological museum, and the senior class library.

1914 Holy Cross hosts campus-wide celebration for newly elected governor of Massachusetts David I. Walsh, class of 1893, the first Catholic and the first alumnus to win the Massachusetts State House. Walsh went on to become the first democratic senator from Massachusetts, a role he held for more than 25 years. 

1914 The College's preparatory school closes for reasons including lack of space, availability of alternative schools (five day schools already exist in Worcester, two of which are Catholic), and the fact that few prep school students enrolled in the College.       

June 1914 World War I begins.

1914 Rev. Joseph N. Dinand, S.J., introduces a three-day summer retreat to promote the Ignatian spirit among alumni.

1917 600 students are enrolled.      

1917 Main gate on College Street is erected, a gift of the class of 1907 for its 10th anniversary and the College's Diamond Jubilee (75th anniversary).

April 6, 1917 United States enters World War I; all students are exempt from final exams because of the war.

1918 College marks its Diamond Jubilee (75th anniversary), but does not hold a major planned celebration due to the war.

Sept. 1918 Students are sent home soon after arriving due to the Spanish influenza epidemic on orders of the War Department; draft and voluntary enlistment affects enrollment, with only 220 seniors and juniors on campus compared to 493 sophomores and freshmen.

Oct. 1918 Student Army Training Corps program is established on campus, as well as at all schools of higher education with an enrollment of 100 or more. Its purpose was to create a vast network of able-bodied male students to call upon for active duty. Six hundred and thirty-nine students were inducted into the Army unit and 114 into the Navy unit. Throughout the fall, bedsteads, shoes, woolen uniforms, guns and army sacks arrived on campus from Camp Devens.

Nov. 11, 1918 The Armistice is signed, ending World War I. The last American officer killed was alumnus Fr. William F. Davitt, class of 1907, who died attending pastoral duties just 90 minutes before the Armistice. From Holy Cross, 960 students and alumni and seven professors served in World War I. Twenty-four died in action and 23 were wounded. 

1918 Rev. James J. Carlin, S.J., becomes the 20th president.      

1919 Fr. Carlin buys the Jesuit community its first automobile — a seven-passenger Buick sedan — in which he gladly takes passengers on his errands.

1920 Seven of 32 full-time faculty members are laymen.        

1920 Prohibition begins.

1922 Carlin Hall, called Loyola Hall until 1941, opens and includes   91 student rooms and 11 classrooms.      

1922 College Catalog arranges academic offerings in 15 groups that begin to resemble modern academic departments.

1923 The number of required courses is reduced and students must choose a major by the end of their sophomore year.

1923 A second telephone booth is installed on campus for student use, lifting student morale.

1923 Baseball team wins the Eastern Intercollegiate Championship for the fifth time since 1912. During the height of its success, the baseball program sent 18 players to the major leagues.

May 30, 1923 22,000 attend a Holy Cross vs. Boston College baseball game.     

1924 Rev. Joseph N. Dinand, S.J., returns for a second term and becomes the 21st president.      

1924 1,000 students are enrolled.      

1924 Commencement Porch is reconstructed, placing stairways on each side of the porch so the view of the new chapel is not be obscured.

1924 St. Joseph Memorial Chapel, promoted as a memorial for the College's 24 war dead, is completed and dedicated. Its architecture was inspired by the Italian Renaissance basilica, and includes features of Jesuit architecture first expressed in the Church of Gesù, the mother church of the Society of Jesus in Rome.

1924 A third seal is designed featuring a gold cross on a field, representing Worcester, England; an open book for education bearing the Latin phrase "In Hoc Signo Vinces" ("In this sign you shall conquer"); the "IHS" of the Society of Jesus; two red martlets from Bishop Fenwick’s coat of arms; and an inscription around the circle of the seal: "Collegium Sanctae Crucis S.J. – Vigornii Mass" (College of the Holy Cross, S.J. – Worcester, Mass.), the latter borrowed from the second seal of 1865. 

1925 Selective admissions begin at Holy Cross and other institutions of higher education; applicants are no longer automatically granted acceptance.     

1925 Magician Harry Houdini visits campus and lectures on the fraud of spiritualism.

1925 Students vote for the nickname "Crusader" to be used for athletic teams, in place of the unofficial former designation, "Chiefs." The symbol of a crusader mounted on a horse goes back to at least 1884, when the design was used on the menu of an alumni banquet in Boston.

1925 First student newspaper, "The Tomahawk," is published and concentrates on the daily affairs of the school.

1925 Number of lay faculty members reaches 31, exceeding the number of Jesuits for the first time. Lay faculty members were hired principally to teach mathematics, modern languages and the sciences.     

May 1925 Father’s Day, the predecessor to Family Weekend, is held for the first time.      

1926 A first-year class stages Euripedes' "Hecuba" in Greek on Fitton Field, drawing over 5,000 spectators to the production, which cost $10,000 — the equivalent of $137,000 today. The event was covered by The New York Times.

1927 Student population continues to rise, with a total of 1,126 students; 781 are boarders.

1927 Dinand Library is completed and dedicated. It provides almost 1.1 million cubic feet of space to hold over 300,000 books. The building's exterior features eight Ionic columns, each 35 feet high, and an entablature that quotes the Gospel of John, summarizing the College's mission: "Ut Cognoscant Te Solum Deum Verum Et Quem Misisti Jesum Christum" ("That they might know you, the one true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent").     

1927 Rev. John M. Fox, S.J., becomes the 22nd president.      

1927 First alumni magazine and first alumni directory are published.    

1927 Students continue to start their day at 6:25 a.m. with Mass, then face a regimented schedule until lights out at 10 p.m.

1928 Hockey regains popularity and is instituted as a varsity sport.    

1928 James Quinn '28 wins a gold medal at the summer Olympics in Amsterdam as a part of the American 4x100-meter relay team.     

1929 During Prohibition, some students socialize at a speakeasy in the Hotel Warren in downtown Worcester.

Oct. 29, 1929 Great Depression begins.

1929 As a result of maintaining tuition and student fees at or above pre-Depression levels, and employee salary cuts introduced in the early 1930s, the College accumulates a budgetary surplus of about $880,000 until 1937.

1930 The first sound projector is installed on campus, making movie-watching a popular pastime.

1930 College is accredited by New England Association of Schools and Colleges.       

1930 Intramural sports program begins, making them the single most popular extracurricular activity.

1930 Holy Cross is among 16 Catholic schools on the approved list of the Association of American Universities, which accredited schools nationally.

1933 The campus farm is shut down, having been unprofitable for some time. The barn is converted into a makeshift gym that includes a basketball court, bowling alley and astronomy station.       

1933 Rev. Francis J. Dolan, S.J., becomes the 23rd president.

1933 Prohibition ends.

1934 Eighteen percent of upperclassmen receive some sort of tuition assistance either through working in the dining hall for room and board, reduced tuition or Lehy Loans (a fund established in 1923 by dean of discipline Rev. John D. Wheeler, S.J.); many students leave the College as their parents' finances declined.

1934 An annual exhibition game at Fitton Field is established between Holy Cross and the Boston Red Sox, a sign of the baseball program's success. The series was interrupted by the war after the 1942 game and concluded with a final game in 1947.

1935 Many American colleges and universities drop specialized courses during the 1930s in favor of broad preparation to best prepare graduates for limited job possibilities.

1935 Kimball Hall, the largest and costliest structure built on campus between World War I and World War II, opens. The building held a dining room that seated 900, a kitchen and bakery, administrative offices, the campus post office, bowling alleys, a billiards room, workmen's dining room, a boiler room, garage and more.       

1935 Football team posts its first undefeated full season.

1936 Campion House, the building that formerly lodged the College's farm laborers, is converted into a 12-room residence for 48 students.    

1936 Degree program is reorganized into four basic degree programs: A.B. with honors — Latin and Greek required; A.B. — Latin required; General B.S. — no required Latin or Greek; B.S. in economics, education or history — no required Latin or Greek.      

1938 Accreditation report points out no Jesuit faculty member holds a Ph.D.      

1938 College Catalog lists academic departments for the first time, each with a designated "head." There were 14: 10 in the division of liberal arts (religion, philosophy, English, classics-Greek, classics-Latin, modern languages, economics, education, history, and sociology and political science); and four in the division of science (biology, chemistry, physics and mathematics).

1938 First lay department head serves in the mathematics department.

1939 Great Depression ends.      

1939 1,276 students are enrolled in the College, which enjoyed rising numbers throughout the Great Depression. 1,040 students were enrolled in 1927.      

1939 Rev. Joseph R.N. Maxwell, S.J., becomes the 24th president.

April 14, 1939 Ted Williams hits a home run at Fitton Field in his first Massachusetts at-bat, during an exhibition game between the Red Sox and Holy Cross.

Sept. 1, 1939 World War II begins in Europe with the German invasion of Poland; a campus poll taken in the fall indicates overwhelming opposition (98 percent) to entering the war. 

Jan. 1940 Wheeler Hall, a dormitory housing 240 students, opens. Seniors occupied the first four floors, with juniors on the fifth.  

1940 Academic norms are defined in the student handbook for the first time, using the A through F grading system. The stricter evaluation system followed the 1938 accreditation report, which criticized the College for being too liberal in allowing re-examinations for students nowhere near passing.      

1940 The first honorary society is inaugurated on campus: Alpha Sigma Nu, the honor society of Jesuit colleges and universities.

1940 All men between ages 21 and 35 are required to register in the U.S.'s first peacetime draft for a year of military training; by the summer of 1941, 21 Holy Cross students had been drafted.

July 1941 Naval ROTC unit is established, designed to qualify college students for commission in the Navy upon graduation. A full quota of 115 enrolled in NROTC, taking courses designated by the Navy Department, such as gunnery, ordnance, seamanship, engineering, military law, naval tactics and military drill.

Fall 1941 Campus changes reflect the beginning of military programs on campus: an anti-aircraft gun was installed in the basement of the chapel, which was transformed into an armory and drill area for use in inclement weather; a flagpole with signal arms was erected near Wheeler Hall; and Campion House and Fenwick Hall were reopened as dormitories to accommodate the influx in boarders (a result of the new NROTC program).

1942 Graduation is advanced so students can meet their military service obligation; it is the first wartime graduation.

1942 A summer session is implemented to allow members of the class of 1943 to graduate at the end of fall semester 1942. Sophomores and first-year students were similarly advanced, and incoming students had their courses compressed to three years.

1942 "The Tomahawk" consistently devotes space to the war effort, featuring information about campus recruiting, the College's military units, and Holy Cross men in the armed forces, as well as a weekly feature called "Army-Navy News," which included dates of physical examinations, changes in enlistment regulations, and other items on the war and draft.

Nov. 28, 1942 Holy Cross beats Boston College 55-12 in a historic football upset at Fenway Park, preceding a tragic fire at the Cocoanut Grove nightclub in Boston, in which 492 people are killed. Boston College was set to host its victory celebration at the club, but cancelled the event after losing the game. The Cocoanut Grove fire remains the deadliest nightclub fire in American history.     

July 1, 1943 The government-subsidized V-12 military training program formally opens at Holy Cross with 621 trainees living in Wheeler, Carlin and Beaven halls. Three hundred were assigned to the Basic (deck officer) training program, 133 to the premedical/predental program, and 188 to the NROTC program. All took physics, chemistry, mathematics, mechanical drawing, U.S. Naval history, Naval administration, Naval organization and a modern language (Japanese, German or French). Four days later, 250 civilian students arrived on campus, who all lived in Alumni Hall and pursued the traditional course of studies on the accelerated basis instituted by the Navy.       

1943 The existence of military programs on campus leads to extensive curricular changes, with requirements focusing on mathematics, physical sciences and physical training, and a lessening of requirements around philosophy and the Classics.

1943 The religious diversity of the Navy men precludes compulsory Mass. The Navy adjusted its schedule to leave Catholic students free to attend morning Mass, while religious services were simultaneously held for non-Catholics.

1943 Rev. Francis J. Hart, S.J. '21 is appointed director of intramural athletics.

1943 For the first time and due to the war, no formal commencement is held, with only 220 of the 400 members of the class of 1943 still on campus.

1944 Lt. John Vincent Powers '41 is posthumously awarded a Congressional Medal of Honor for his heroism in single-handedly destroying a Japanese pillbox in the Marshall Islands. The medal was presented by President Roosevelt to Powers' mother at the White House.

1944 The Serviceman's Readjustment Act of 1944, commonly known as the GI Bill of Rights, is passed, giving qualified veterans a monthly stipend and full tuition to any approved school. Over half of American World War II veterans (about 7.8 million) took education or training through the GI Bill, resulting in veterans constituting the majority of college students in the U.S. between 1946 and 1948.

1945 Rev. William J. Healy, S.J., becomes the 25th president.

1945 While war-year enrollment remained steady between 750 and 850, the number reaches a low point (just over 600) in early 1945 as the Navy began phasing out the V-12 program. Numbers began to rise again in later 1945 as the first veterans started to arrive on campus.     

Sept. 2 1945 World War II ends with the surrender of Japan.

1945 Of the 3,900 Holy Cross alumni, students and faculty who served in the war, 109 died.

1946 Mathematics faculty member Rev. Joseph T. O'Callahan, S.J., serving in World War II, becomes the first Naval chaplain to be awarded a Congressional Medal of Honor. The medal, awarded by President Truman, honored Fr. O'Callahan's heroism aboard aircraft carrier U.S.S. Franklin after it was stuck by a Japanese dive bomber. O'Callahan was one of 22 Holy Cross Jesuit faculty members who served as military chaplains.

1946 1,500 students register for classes; more than 1,000 are veterans. To accommodate the sudden increase in student population, which rose by nearly 700, the College converted 150 double rooms into triples and searched for additional teachers.    

1947 Compulsory Mass is scheduled for every other day because there are too many students to attend at one time.      

1947 Men's basketball team wins the NCAA Championship after victories over Navy, City College of New York and Oklahoma at Madison Square Garden. George Kaftan '49 was named the tournament's outstanding player. Worcester declared May 9 Holy Cross Day in honor of the win, and 30,000 people attended a parade held in celebration.       

1947 The College acquires a surplus hanger from Camp Endicott in Rhode Island, where it was used as a drill and recreation hall. The government covered the cost of disassembling the 100- by 3000-foot structure and reconstructing it on campus where it served as a fieldhouse, housing four courts for intramural basketball, handball courts and athletic offices. It also provided a place for commencement, junior and senior balls, finals and other large events.  

1947 Faculty surpasses 100 for the first time, with 42 lay professors. The Jesuit community increases from 68 to 84.

1948 Rev. John A. O'Brien, S.J., class of 1918, becomes 26th the president.  

1948 Rev. William J. Healy, S.J., signs a constitution recognizing the Student Congress, the first student government organization, as official representatives of the student body.     

Dec. 6, 1948 WCHC radio is first broadcasted; the campus radio station that grew out of the amateur radio club.

1949 College publishes standards for faculty tenure and promotion: A master's degree is required for the rank of instructor; assistant professors are expected to be Ph.D. candidates with five years of teaching experience; associate professors are to hold a Ph.D. and have moderate eminence in their fields; and full professors must have completed 13 years of satisfactory teaching, plus scholarly eminence. Policy on academic freedom was tightened to encompass loyalty to Church and state.

1949 Swimming becomes a varsity sport.