Archives Resources

River Falls in the First World War

army training

Gathering of the SATC in front of North Hall (South Hall in the background), Oct/Nov. 1918

During WWI, UW-River Falls, then known as the River Falls State Normal School, was designated as a Student Army Training Corps (SATC) site. (read 1918 RF Journal article about SATC)  Barracks were built on campus and soldiers trained in the yards in front of North and South Hall. Visit the University Archives collection inventory for the SATC (UWRF Series 29) to read more and view photographs.

arnett wi soldiers

The first active involvement for River Falls in World War I came as a response to the Belgian Relief Appeal in late 1914. The city raised a total of $983.12, $126.50 of which came from UW-River Falls students and faculty, toward the relief campaign for the war torn populous of Belgium. Like cities all across the country, citizens of River Falls observed rationing protocol and collected paper (newspaper drive in River Falls elementary classes, 1917) and other items for the war effort. Local newspapers published a plethera of articles, advertisements and regular columns addressing war preparedness, personal responsibility and patriotism. Read a 1918 River Falls Journal article on the United War Work Campaign Day for Wisconsin pupils.    

war prade

Patriotic Day parade, downtown River Falls. April 27, 1917

The Area Research Center & University Archives' collections contain many World War I era documents and artifacts. A few examples: 

  • Personal effects of a local soldier, George Banta, who was stationed in France as a clerk during WWI including French rations coupons, identification cards, and pay record booklet (River Falls SC 411)
  • Personal diary, American Legion memorial program, and a Western Union telegram announcing the death of Eldon C. Kinne, a local soldier serving in the 342nd Infantry while stationed in France and England during WWI (River Falls SC 256) 
  • Personal diary of Floyd R. Leseman, Wisconsin soldier and recipient of the Croix de Guerre for courageous action in France during WWI (River Falls SC 409)  
  • Letters home to parents as well as guard and fatigue detail rule cards from Charlie Corcoran, River Falls resident, during his army training in Rockford, IL, and during military service overseas during WWI (River Falls Mss EP). Also included are pieces of correspondence that have been inspected and stamped by military censors as well as a handwritten letter from Windsor Castle by King George V of England, welcoming US soldiers to the battle in Europe.
  • World War I patriotic themed postcards, collected by Ella Toby of River Falls (River Falls Mss EL)




Common war-themed newspaper clips from River Falls Journal, 1918

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University Archives and Area Research Center
170 Chalmer Davee Library
(715) 425-3567 

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