In their very own phrases: Drexel College students and the 1918 Pandemic – DrexelNow – Drexel Now

The home science class of the Drexel Institute for Art, Science and Industry from 1919, as seen in the Lexerd yearbook from 1919. Photo courtesy of the Drexel University Archives.

Please visit the

Drexel's response to coronavirus website

for the latest public health information.

It is still undetermined how Drexel University's 2020 yearbook will document the COVID-19 pandemic, as Lexerd 2020 is now set to be published in December 2020 and not last June.

In the meantime, you can read yearbooks for what Drexel students said and did to help remember the 1918 pandemic influenza. This global, life-changing pandemic broke out in Philadelphia in September 1918 and postponed the fall start of what was then the Drexel Institute for Art, Science and Industry to October.

Lexerd yearbooks published since 1913 are available from the Drexel University archives (and online). This means that the 1919-1922 yearbooks were created for and by some of the students who were in Drexel during the 1918 pandemic.

Drexelw previously published a story titled "In Their Own Words: The Frontline of the 1918 Influenza Pandemic," which shows which faculties and students at Woman's Medical College in Pennsylvania (WMCP), one of Drexel's predecessor institutions University College of Medicine wrote about the pandemic. In this article Drexelw shares some yearbook entries from 1919–1922 by Drexel students, recorded in their own words. Please note that the following quotation marks have been slightly edited and that the original spelling, grammar and capitalization are intact.

From Drexel's yearbook 1919::

The yearbook entry for a student's degree in home science Jennie Benjamin: “Miss Benjamin is one of our bright students. She did a great job during the course and we are very proud of her. During the epidemic last fall, she went to one of the emergency hospitals and took over the diet kitchen. She is a calm soul but always ready to help her classmates. "

The yearbook entry for the 1919 graduate Jennie Benjamin as it appeared in the 1919 yearbook. Photo courtesy of the Drexel University Archives.

The yearbook entry for Jennie Benjamin, 1919 graduate, as it appeared in the 1919 yearbook. Photo courtesy of the Drexel University Archives.

Ruth E. Frank, Qualified nutritionist and class historian: “After a long vacation, we started our senior year in Drexel, the first half of vember. From last year's Domestic Science Class, the twenty-seven patriotic courageously took on the tough and arduous task of equipping themselves for army dietitians. In a very short time, however, that number dropped to seventeen. "

Helen SimsonThe domestic art student and class historian and editor-in-chief of Lexerd: “In the summer we were ready for school. However, due to the influenza epidemic, the school wasn't ready for us. On October 21st, we finally started with a class of seventeen to seventeen girls ready to sew and draw millions of patterns. "

La Versa "Versa" Youmans, Graduate Student Secretary and Class Historian and Associate Editor of Lexerd: "When we sat down again this fall after a long vacation because of influenza, only thirteen of us returned."

The yearbook entry for the Dramatic club reads: "The Dramatic Club, one of the social factors in the institute since childhood, has delayed its work this year due to the conditions caused by the influenza epidemic."

The yearbook entry for the second engineers (class of 1921): "On October 11th, nineteenteen, our second year of school work began under the terms of the newly established S.A.T.C. (Student Army Training Corps, a predecessor of Drexel's ROTC program) About twenty of our old class returned to try a combination of army life and school life. "

The 1921 engineering student class as shown in the 1919 yearbook. Photo courtesy of the Drexel University Archives.

The 1921 engineering student class as shown in the 1919 yearbook. Photo courtesy of the Drexel University Archives.

The yearbook entry for the Freshmen (class of 1922): “We met for the first time in Drexel under this terrible nightmare, the S.A.T.C. Due to our late opening and numerous government regulations, our activities were limited to the backbone of the S.A.T.C. Soccer team. "

From Drexel's yearbook 1920::

Harry Hyson Bonner, Civil Engineering Graduate and Senior Engineer Historian: “In October 1918, instead of waiting in line for the famous matriculation card, the process consisted of a physical exam carried out by army officers in the high school. then go to the local design board and join the United States. This meant that in the future our home should be the barracks, which is on the fourth floor of the electrical dentist building on Thirty-third Street and on Bogenstrasse (the building has been part of Drexel since 1988 and is now home to Drexel's academics) building, James E. Marks Intercultural Center and Drexel Police Headquarters for example); and that our food house was Casatt's old restaurant that had been converted into a mess hall. For most of us, it seemed like we were serving time because the outfit had been quarantined for a long month because of the influenza epidemic. "

(Editor's te: The following is an excerpt from a piece that appeared in the 1920 Yearbook.)

How we were

A play in two acts and six scenes with an epilogue

By J. Machenner (presumably Jean McCracken, Graduate of the Secretariat, member of the Dramatic Club, literary worker of "The Drexerd", a literary magazine of Drexel, and co-editor of "The Lexerd"


A. Schmitracken (presumably Adelaide M. Schmitthenner, Graduate of secretarial student, co-editor of "The Drexerd", managing director of "The Lexerd")

Dramatic personalities:

Delicia… a little laundry girl from D.S & A (Domestic Science and Arts)

Preciso… An office device from the secretariats….

Act 1 scene 1

The court, December 13, 1918, Delicia and Preciso Sitting on the railing around the clock revealed.

Delicia: My dear, isn't it just wonderful that your vacation is only a few days away?

Precisio: I will say it. Sky! How the time flies! It doesn't seem possible that we've been here for almost two months. Still, I feel so at home.

Delicia: Me too now. Do you remember how long we had to wait in the fall for school to open because of the flu?

Precisio: Wasn't it crazy when we were all packed? And when it opened, my God! Will you ever forget the registration day? I have never felt like a lost little sheep in my life.

From Drexel's yearbook 1921::

The 1922 engineering student class as shown in the 1919 yearbook. Photo courtesy of the Drexel University Archives.

The 1922 engineering student class as shown in the 1919 yearbook. Photo courtesy of the Drexel University Archives.

The yearbook entry for the "1921 class history of engineers: ”“ This is how the events during our second year can be described. Those who didn't get the influenza got something to do – two weeks in the barracks of the Electro Dental Building. First we got in touch with Lt. Lyons, had our papers drawn up and then did the medical exam at the gym. The most uncomfortable part of this "uniform period" was the first few weeks we were under quarantine. The only time we got out was when we marched into the exhibition hall. Oh! What a mess!"

From Drexel's yearbook from 1922::

Irwin Hoffman, Mechanical Engineering major and class historian: “This class began as a soldier in the US Army – a very noble beginning. We were the S.A.T.C., and as such we stayed until Christmas when the war was over. After being in uniform and in quarantine for a long time, we were given the right to live again. "

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