World War I had a dramatic impact on enrollment at the Law School. At the height of the war, 364 students left school to enlist, and enrollment dropped by as much as 50%. The resulting reduction in revenue left the Law School operating on a large deficit.
To offset that loss, a group of Northwestern Law alumni organized a campaign to raise $10,000 for the school. They asked for donations of $25 from each alumnus. “Every lawyer owes a debt to legal education and to his Alma Mater,” their appeal said.
But as many alumni were in the military themselves, the war hampered this effort as well. Many who were overseas or at training camps returned their subscription cards with no donation and notes of regret. “Am in the service…doing my bit that way,” wrote an alumnus from Camp Decatur. Still, many did give what they could. In less lean times only two years later, the 1919 alumni campaign to help fund the building of the new campus on Chicago Avenue was met with enthusiasm, raising $200,000.
This item is generously on loan from the Northwestern University Archives.