The St. Olaf Victory Viking Yearbook

In the spring of 1919, St. Olaf College published an annual yearbook commemorating the classes of 1919, 1920, 1921, and the Freshmen. It was a special year for St. Olaf students, since many of them in these classes had participated in World War I service at home, on military bases, and in Europe. For this reason, the yearbook was dedicated to those who served in the cause of world freedom. They called it the Victory Viking.

Dedication page of the Victory Viking yearbook.

Hints of war service appear on many of the pages within this yearbook. Illustrations of tanks and ships appear below photographs of campus scenes.

Drawing of a tank under a photograph of St. Olaf campus.

Notice of war service appears with the biographies of faculty.

William Clarence Benson’s biography in the Faculty section.

The student sections are divided up into subsections of students in service and students who were not, including all the women and a few men, too. Details about the war service of each man appear with their college activities, and they are pictured in uniform. If they participated in battles and were wounded, that was listed, as well. Even the letters V-I-C-T-O-R-Y appear among the portraits of the students.

Examples of Juniors in Service.

Many of the students who served participated in Company A or B of the Student Army Training Corps based on campus. The S. A. T. C. units were mobilized from October 1 through December 10, 1918, a relatively brief period. The 228 enlisted men participated in military drills, learned the basics of military life, and gained specialized training that could be used for further war service. For more details on the S. A. T. C., see also this page from the St. Olaf Archives.

Company B of the Student Army Training Corps on the St. Olaf campus.

In addition to these historical details of the wartime experiences at St. Olaf, the yearbook includes many instances of artistic interpretation of that momentous time – including poems, songs, short stories, photographs, and more. An alumni names Bjorn Winger, class of 1914, contributed a number of poems inspired by his war service.

Poem by Bjorn Winger, ’14.

While the entire yearbook has not been digitized at this time, you can explore more of its war-related features online via the Northfield History Collaborative. To view it in its entirety, please set up an appointment with the staff at the Northfield Historical Society.

Snapshots of men and women in service.

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