June 28, 1914

Archduke Franz Ferdinand is Assassinated

Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, is shot by Gavrilo Princip while visiting the city of Sarajevo, triggering the beginning of the First World War.

Image Source: The New York Times

April 2, 1917

President Woodrow Wilson asks Congress for a declaration of war against Germany

After several major international incidents between Germany and the United States, including the sinking of the Lusitania and the Zimmerman Telegram, President Woodrow Wilson asks Congress to declare war on Germany. On April 4, 1917, the Senate votes in favor of war and on April 6, 1917, the House of Representatives voted in favor of war.1

Image Source: National Archives

June 24, 1917

American troops arrive in France

The first American combat troops arrive in Europe at the port of Saint-Nazaire, France.2

Image Source: National Archives

February 10, 1918

The Committee on Education and Special Training (CEST) and its civilian Advisory Board is created

Established by General Order 15, the Committee on Education and Special Training was tasked with studying the need for technicians and other skilled men in all military branches and making sure those needs were met.3

Mid-February, 1918

The CEST decides to establish vocational training programs at colleges known as National Training Detachments

Initially established at fifteen colleges with 6000 men, these first National Training Detachments were slated to beginning in April 1918. 6000 men at each institution were to be given instruction to perform specialized tasks for the military, such as carpentry and vehicle maintenance. While a majority of these detachments were at predominately white institutions, there were a few at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).4

Image Source: National Archives

March 6, 1918

The CEST’s Advisory Board proposes a military training program at colleges.

The proposal is designed to created a reserve corps of trained, education soldiers to be sent either to Officer Training Camps (OTCs) or for more specialized training in various areas including artillery, engineering, and chemistry.5

April 6, 1918

National Training Detachments open at fifteen schools

In the following weeks, more National Training Detachments are opened at other institution to keep the Army supplied with specialists and technicians.

May 8, 1918

Secretary of War Newton D. Baker sends a letter to all college presidents informing them about the military training program

In the letter, Secretary Baker outlines the program in broad terms so colleges could begin preparations.

June 28, 1918

The CEST approves its Advisory Board’s proposal and the creates the Students’ Army Training Corps (SATC)

Students who enlist in the SATC were to be members of the United States Army, but would not be considered active duty until they reached draft age or completed their college courses. Members of the SATC were required to participate in military training for ten hours per week, six in practical military exercises and four in academic study related to military affairs.6 The program is slated to begin in the Fall of 1918.

July 1, 1918

A total of 50,000 men are enrolled in National Training Detachments at 147 schools

By the end of the war, over 130,000 men received instruction and graduated from National Training Detachments.7

July 10, 1918

The War Department issues a followup announcement about the SATC to colleges

Within the announcement, the War Department goes into more detail about the SATC including the purpose of the program, eligible ages for enlistment, what type of training will be offered.

August 6, 1918

War Department asks Congress to expand draft ages to 18-45 year olds

Congress approves the War Department’s request and expands the draft ages.
Image Source: New York Times

Mid-August 1918

The CEST alters its plans for the SATC

The War Department’s request forces the CEST to alter their plans for the SATC in three major areas. First, instead of enlisting, students would volunteer to join the SATC and would be placed on active duty, preventing them from being transferred before completing their training. Second, members of the SATC who were between the ages of eighteen and twenty would spend different amounts of time in the program, so that they would stay on track with when they would have been drafted. Twenty-year-old members would stay in the program for three months, nineteen-year-old members for six months, and eighteen-year-old members for nine months. Third, the National Training Detachments would be folded into the SATC as the B Section, while the officer training portion of the program would be referred to as the A Section. Schools could have either A Sections, B Sections, or both.8

October 1, 1918

The first members of the SATC are inducted

Letters from President Woodrow Wilson and Secretary of War Newton D. Baker are read out at induction ceremonies nationwide and training begins.
Image Source: The New York Times

November 11, 1918

Germany signs an Armistice agreement with the Allied Powers (France, Great Britain, and the United States) ending the First World War

Image Source: The New York Times

December 21, 1918

The last men in the SATC are discharged and the program is shut down


  1. Jessie Kratz, “U.S. Entry into the War to End All Wars,” Pieces of History (blog), April 4, 2017, https://prologue.blogs.archives.gov/2017/04/04/u-s-entry-into-the-war-to-end-all-wars/.
  2.  “Timeline (1914 – 1921) | A World at War | Articles and Essays | Stars and Stripes: The American Soldiers’ Newspaper of World War I, 1918-1919 | Digital Collections | Library of Congress,” web page, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 20540 USA, accessed December 28, 2022, https://www.loc.gov/collections/stars-and-stripes/articles-and-essays/a-world-at-war/timeline-1914-1921/.
  3. The Advisory Board, Committee on Education and Special Training. A Review of Its Works during 1918 (Washington, 1919), 11, https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/000488027.
  4. The Advisory Board, Committee on Education and Special Training. A Review of Its Works during 1918 (Washington, 1919), 18-19, https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/000488027.
  5. The Advisory Board, Committee on Education and Special Training. A Review of Its Works during 1918 (Washington, 1919), 22, https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/000488027.
  6. The Advisory Board, Committee on Education and Special Training. A Review of Its Works during 1918 (Washington, 1919), 23, https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/000488027.
  7. The Advisory Board, Committee on Education and Special Training. A Review of Its Works during 1918 (Washington, 1919), 18, https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/000488027.
  8. The Advisory Board, Committee on Education and Special Training. A Review of Its Works during 1918 (Washington, 1919), 24-25, https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/000488027.