A Peak Into 1940s Collegiate Life

August is now gone and that means all the kiddies and older kids are back to school. Sigh..bye bye summer.

Going to school was always something I enjoyed and I have some pretty great memories during those years. I do though vividly remember my first dance of University, I was so nervous and excited all at the same time. I just left my small “ish” home town and had moved to the big City of Toronto to live. I had no idea what the future held but I knew that it was never going to be a dull movement, and boy has it not!

Now going with this theme of “Back to school” and since I’m a fan of the 1940s I thought I would like to do a post on what College life looked like during those years. First up I know it looked nothing like my early 2000’s university life, hahaha 🙂

So are you ready to take a class in “1940s Collegiate Style and Collegiate Life” with me as seen thru pictures?


Time to move into your dorm.  These lovely ladies look fresh-faced and ready to tackle the world. I love the luggage and hat box! And the dress with the Peter Pan collar is a very practical and pretty.

1940s college days

Source: UMW Centennial

The caption for this picture is: Class Officers in front of Gate at University of Mary Washington.

Saddle Shoes! Great skirts and jackets! Look at their hair?! Oh my this photo is simply and truly wonderful. 1940s Collegiate Style right here ladies and gentlemen.

1940s women in college

Source: UMW Centennial

Studying in the Dorm

Not much in way of great clothing look here, BUT did you notice all the great details in the room? First up, can you see the handsome serviceman on the bookshelf? I saw him instantly! How about that great clock? Do you think it’s Bakelite? I also adore the bread-spreads. Burberry has nothing on these beds.

1940s dorm life

Source: UWM Centennial

Maybe the ladies above were studying up on how to make the perfect pie as seen below? Mandatory for a woman in the 1940s to be able to do, I’m sure.

1940s college classes

Source: UMW Centennial

Time to Join a Club!

Okay this picture has so many fantastic things happening. First up according to the caption on this picture this is “Campus Jane and Campus Joe, members of the University of Miami ‘M’ Club-1946″. Right there I’m in love, how cute is that?!

Next up, their style. When I think of 1940s collegiate style this is EXACTLY what I think of. Saddle shoes (I love my saddle shoes), his collegiate sweater with the M, her wool skirt with cardigan which is just wonderful. Never mind the woman behind them with that great figure and dress. I also think they are too adorable for words. No words!

1940s guy and girl in college

Source: University of Miami Libraries Digital

Like sports? how about joining the golf club? hahaha “Golf Club”!!! Okay I’m done making silly jokes 🙂

For a fan of vintage clothing this picture has so many amazing things happening in it, I don’t even know where to start? The skirts, tops, shoes, HAIR! So stylish and fantastic to look at and what great form they all have.

1940s women golfers

Source: UWM Centennial

Transportation to school

If you did not live in a dorm, how were some of the ways you got to school? Well in this fantastic photo the pretty girl with the great car seems to have her way all set. I’m not sure if the guys are interested in her or the car though?

Can you spot the fun beanie hat and those great shoes on the guys?

1940s vintage car

Source: University of Miami Libraries Digital

Or maybe you had to take the bus like these students at Duke University.

1940s vintage school image

Source: Duke Yearlook

Doing your part for the war effort

During the early part of the 1940s a big part of school activities was helping with the war effort. These pretty ladies are collecting scrap at Duke University to “Help rub out the axis with scrap rubber

1940s college students doing their part for the war effort

Source: Duke Yearlook

Learning First Ad, very important as you never knew when you might need it. Future nurses?

1940s vintage image of women doing first ad

Source: Duke Yearlook

Letting off some steam

After a long day of school and studying (and helping with the war effort) it’s always fun to kick up your heels and listen to a good band, like at this welcome Party.

I love the beanies that the Freshman girls were probably expected to wear. I also see some great patterns on dresses.

1940s college life band playing

Source: UMW Centennial

How about a dance with your significant other on a Saturday night? These two couples look like they are having fun. I also adore the peplum dress that is longer in the front, I wonder what colour it was?

1940s school dance

Source: UMW Centennial

Maybe dancing was not your way of relaxing, so how about a swim with your college chums?

Students at the University of Miami in 1944 enjoying a day off from their studies.

1940s students swimming

Source: University of Miami Libraries Digital


And there you have it friends, a peak into 1940s collegiate life. I think they were wonderful photos, during a time that was not the easiest for many of these men and women. Don’t you agree?

Do you have good school memories? Or would you rather just forget they ever happened?

Liz 🙂

16 thoughts on “A Peak Into 1940s Collegiate Life

  1. This makes me wish I had the University experience! Well…at least I wished I could have gone back then when I would have looked good attending (or skipping) class….instead of today’s kids that wear their pj’s to school LOL

    • University experience was not like the pictures I posted, so yes you would have to go back in time to look that good. I will go back with you for a day, we can have a Mona Lisa smiles time trip 😉

  2. So clean and crisp and polished and put together! No wonder there was no ebola virus. I love this: Help rub out the axis with scrap rubber. Ha ha. I guess they did. Maybe we can rub out terrorism with scrap rubber? I’ll help! And oh, the way that gal looks at Mr. M. I wish I looked at my husband that way. I want to feel that giddy again.

  3. I too loved school and university, and still love any opportunity to learn! I didn’t get through either with as much style and class as these ladies, but perhaps some of them would have loved to cut their hair short, dye it green, and wear jeans all the time!

    • lol! I’m sure they would of! My university days in fashion school should of meant I was fashionable at that time but I was kind of the middle of an identity crisis (that will happen with 40 fashionable women and men around you all the time) so I think I wore pajama pants and old t-shirts a lot hahaha. Glad that time has changed 🙂

  4. Stellar post!!! I’ve long been drawn to vintage collegiate styles, too. There was a clean cut, classic, all American (all Canadian! :)) quality to them that seems to have stepped right out of the pages of an early Archie comic book. I would have loved dearly to have gone to school/university in the 40s or 50s and had classmates this stylish and well put together – with nary a pajama bottom or flip flop to be found anywhere beyond the dorm rooms!

    Have a fantastic weekend, lovely Liz, and thank you very much for your wonderfully nice comment on this week’s vintage outfit post.

    ♥ Jessica

    *PS* I’m very intrigued…in the U of Miami photo, is the gal to the left of the chap sporting a necklace made of small (real) carrots and he holding another? If so, I bet there was a great story behind that.

    • ahhh thanks Jessica 🙂 I loved looking thru all the images to build this post. It was so fun and yes so very Archie like! ahhh Archie comics. And I too am intrigued about the carrot necklace (it is a carrot necklace) and so wish there was a way to ask the picture to tell the story. Sigh..oh well we will just have to make one up. hehehe

      Have a wonderful day!

  5. These are great photos and I enjoyed the way you used them to tell a story. Such fantastic fashions, it is so nice to see what people really wore and how they styled their looks.

  6. I adore these images and I will have to pin them all. I have been planning on doing a similar post, maybe with 1920s images. While Im long past collegiate age I love the fashiosn and on my wish list are a 20s style collegiate outfit similar to that worn my Clara Bow in the plastic age and one of these 40s dresses and jacket combos. Wonderful post

    retro rover

    • I have never thought of looking for vintage yearbooks! now I want some 🙂 I love old photos and scored some great finds this weekend (plan to share on the blog this week) so yearbooks would be right up my alley. So that said..that is not weird at all 🙂

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