History Advisor: Judy Barrett Litoff

2009 Senior Capstone History Project

Conference presentation: National Technology and Social Science Conference, Las Vegas, Nevada, April 5-9, 2009.

Publication: 2009 National Social Science Proceedings, Volume 41, #1, pp. 67-75.


With the onset of World War II, men from college campuses across the United States were drafted or volunteered for military service in support of the war effort. This left educational institutions, like Bryant College, with a predominately female population. There were only eleven men in Bryant’s 1944 graduating class of 155 and thirteen men out of a class of 154 graduated in 1945. Across the nation, the enrollment of civilian men declined by 68.7 percent between the class of 1940 and 1944, but at Bryant the enrollment of civilian men declined by 92 percent. This study examines the experiences of two wartime female students, Dottie Hines O’Connell and Mary Walsh Fournier, who graduated from the four-year teacher training program and later joined the Bryant faculty. Both women recall their time at Bryant College as being the most positive, memorable, and rewarding experience of their early life.