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Student Demographics

Furman, founded in 1826, originally was located in downtown Greenville on and around College Street. Before the 1953 move, Furman University had two separate campuses: menís and womenís. The campus was in the middle of the downtown area and was cramped and restrictive compared to the modern campus. Though it was cramped it still had many features in common with the current campus like tennis courts, a track, a football field, and an amphitheater.

Year
Men
Women
Total
1939
554
528
1082
1940
549
525
1074
1941
540
522
1062
1942
444
534
978
1943
192
466
658
1944
174
551
725
1945
280
762
1042
The Great Depression and the coming of WWII brought great changes to the Furman campus and enrollment. Give enrollment figures from 1939-1945

During World War II menís enrollment fell drastically at Furman because of the draft. The menís population was cut in half and the menís college suffered greatly due to the reduced enrollment. To compensate for the declining enrollment of men, Furman initiated two new policies- a) loan out part of the campus for military use and b) increase women's enrollment. As a result most of the menís dorms were loaned out to the military like Geer hall. To save money on housing, all the remaining male students were lumped into Geer and the remaining space in Geer and the other menís dorms were sealed off to help retain heat and save electricity.

Men's Losses, Women's Gains

The first military contingents arrived in September 1942 from the Air Force Gliders. They were responsible for turning most of the remaining menís halls into military style establishments (military lining up of beds and one common room.) Because of the drastic decrease in menís enrollment most menís activities were cut. Most menís sports like basketball and baseball were cut from the early 1940ís budget. Most fraternities were cut and most social clubs screeched to a halt during World War II.

While most of the menís activities were declining, the womenís involvement was on the rise. To help salvage funds for Furman they increased the womenís enrollment. The womenís college became so overcrowded, the remaining menís dorms were transformed into womenís dorms like Montague Hall. Women were integrated into most of the menís clubs to compensate, like the Bonhomie staff and the College Democrats. The women organized social groups to knit socks for men, folding bandages, and they sponsored college nights at the USO, and served as junior hostesses at the airbase. It was even reported that women cut classes to sell war bonds downtown and at the Army base. Even though the men's college suffered during the war, the Women's college flourished greatly reaching a record high in attendance in 1945. During the World War II years they gained new rights and responisibilities that were previously denined to them preceding the war. In essence World War II accelerated the idea of a new coeducational campus.

New Structures

No major architectural changes were made to Furmanís campus during World War II. The major issue for the Trustees of Furman was to figure out how to compensate for decreasing menís numbers and how to take Furman out of debt. The only new building being considered and possibly the most important was the construction of the new Bradshaw library. This talk led to the saving of funds and the eventual leap to the new campus near Travelerís Rest.


Works Cited

Reid, Alfred Sandlin. Furman University-Toward a New Identity 1925-1975. Duke University Press: Durham, 1976.

Interview with John Plyler Jr. July 4 2001

Bonhomie, 1941-1945, Furman University Archives, Greenville SC.

Furman Hornet, May 3, 1943, April 1, April 9, October 9, 1943, Furman University Archives, Greenville SC.

Furman University Scrapbook, 1941-1945, Furman University Archives, Greenville SC.

Trustee's Minutes, May 30, 1941, May 29, 1942, May 20, 1943, October 28, 1943, October 26, 1944, Furman University Archives, Greenville SC.

Bainbridge, Judith T., Academy and College: The History of the Woman's College of Furman University. Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 2001