Penn History

Penn and the 1918 Influenza Epidemic

Student Army Training Corps

By Mira Shetty, University Archives Summer Research Fellow, 2018, with J.J. Ahern

Student Army Training Corps, c. 1918

As part of the University’s war effort, the Student Army Training Corps (SATC) had been established to provide trained officers to serve in Europe. The 1918 academic year saw the majority of the student body enrolled in the SATC. Under the leadership of Major Charles Thorpe Griffith, the SATC took over many aspects of student life, from academics to social activities.

To that end, the SATC played a significant role in curtailing the spread of influenza across campus. It was the SATC that commandeered the two fraternity houses to be used as emergency hospitals. It also placed Dr. Frank B. Hancock in charge of the Sanitation Squad that inspected the campus. Major Griffith even warned campus residents that those who did not follow regulations to prevent the spread of influenza would face severe punishment.

In all, efforts by the Army to ensure the health and well-being of the SATC students had an overall impact on the health of the entire Penn community in 1918.