The Story of Draper Hall at George Washington University

So it turns out that my uncle, Courtney Rogers Draper, had a building named after him for as long as it existed.

Courtney Rogers Draper 150 (2)

The Story of Draper Hall

In the GWU Mail Call, 2 July 1946
Volume 1, No. 3

If you will walk over about a block to 22nd and G streets, you wil notice a two-story barracks-like building that looks uncomfortably like an amputated part of an army camp.

Your first impression will be corrected swiftly, however, when you walk into the spacious inviting lobby, and watch the easy-going, friendly dormitory life that opens out upon it.

No, the Army flavor is all gone. It’s civilian life, and civilian life at its best.

Perhaps that is why it is called Draper Hall. You see, Courtney Rogers Draper typified in his life, as in his death, the finest in American life.

He was the son of a Salt Lake City lawyer, with three sisters, one employed in the office of Gen. Elbert D. Thomas of Utah, here in Washington, and a brother, attending the University of Utah. This was the institution Courtney attended before he came to Washington, and to GWU.

In Washington, he was secretary to Gen. Hugh S. Johnson, administrator of the NRA, and then served as an auditor in the General Accounting Office here.

While working, e received the Bachelor of Laws degree from George Washington Law School in 1937.

In April, 1936, he was appointed as a second lieutenant in the Officers Reserve Corps. Although instructed as an artillery officer, Lt. Draper was assigned as an assistant adjutant at the presidio in San Francisco, upon entering active duty in July, 1941.

In August he was sent to the Philippine Islands attached to the air force, and was at Clark Field at the outbreak of hostilities with Japan.

Captured at Mindanao, where he was in charge of defending forces, Lt. Draper rejected an opportunity to escape and remained behind to attend to the removal of nurses and other flying personnel. He learned the Japanese language and served as prisoners’ liaison officer at Mindanao until 1943 when he was transferred to Cabanatuan, and later to Bilibid.

Courtney Purple Heart

As the steel ring of MacArthur and Nimitz drew ever closer to the Philippines, he was placed aboard a Japanese ship bound for Japan. American fliers sank the vessel in the China Sea in December, 1944. He was 31.

Today, although he is not here to enjoy the fruits of his sacrifice, that spirit in Courtney Rogers Draper which made possible such things as low-cost veterans’ housing and the many other things he would have wanted to see in contemporary America — that spirit is exemplified in the cooperative attitude and the zest for life that you can see in the 126 young fellows who inhabit the 86 rooms of Draper Hall.

Along with Draper Hall itself, the University housing development includes another section of 48 rooms on H. St., as well as a family section, in which ten veterans’ families are living.

This was the first veterans’ housing development of any university in Washington, and its construction was due to the constant cooperation of University authorities with the federal agencies responsible for such developments.

The serious lack of furniture is helped being met by an anonymous gentleman from Virginia, whi is arranging to send up furniture from surplus government vessels.

Draper Hall was demolished in 1956 to make way for newer structures, but during its tenture it bore the name of an honored American soldier.

GWU Mail Call 1  GWU Mail Call 2

The GWU Mail Call from 2 July 1946

The Old Wolf has spoken.

No Hamburger Tuesday.


I would gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today. But during WW 1 and WW 2, Tuesday was a day of rationing. I originally thought this sign had something to do with Thimble Theatre, but it turns out it has more to do with the European and Pacific theaters.

During World War I, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation calling for every Tuesday to be meatless and for one meatless meal to be observed every day, for a total of nine meatless meals each week. The United States Food Administration (USFA) urged families to reduce consumption of key staples to help the war effort. Conserving food would support U.S. troops as well as feed populations in Europe where food production and distribution had been disrupted by war. To encourage voluntary rationing, the USFA created the slogan “Food Will Win the War” and coined the terms “Meatless Tuesday” and “Wheatless Wednesday” to remind Americans to reduce intake of those products.

Herbert Hoover was the head of the Food Administration as well as the American Relief Association during Woodrow Wilson’s presidency, and played a key role implementing the campaign, which was one of Hoover’s many attempts to encourage volunteerism and sacrifice among Americans during the war. The USFA provided a wide variety of materials in addition to advertising, including recipe books and menus found in magazines, newspapers and government-sponsored pamphlets.

The campaign returned with the onset of World War II, calling upon women on the home front to play a role in supporting the war effort. During this time, meat was being rationed, along with other commodities like sugar and gasoline.

This particular photo seems to have been taken in New York, where Nedicks was a big chain.

It does not escape me that the waitress is offering you a hot dog on meatless Tuesday. John Godfrey Saxe once said, “Laws, like sausages, cease to inspire respect in proportion as we know how they are made.” Which reminds me of the old joke about a customer who returned some hot dogs to his butcher, complaining that the middle section was filled with sawdust. The butcher replied, “Times are tough. It’s hard enough making both ends meat…”

The Old Wolf has spoken.

December 17, 1940

From /r/historyporn:


“Children of Japan, Germany, and Italy meet in Tokyo to celebrate the signing of the Tripartite Alliance between the three nations, on December 17, 1940. Japanese education minister Kunihiko Hashida, center, holding crossed flags, and Mayor Tomejiro Okubo of Tokyo were among the sponsors.”

A relevant story from my own family history: My father was, in his day, a well-known character actor who began his career in radio. Italian was his first language, and his theatrical gift made him a superb dialectician. One day he was on a sound stage playing Mussolini in a radio play, when the actor playing Hitler became ill; Dad jumped in and assumed the rôle. By some odd quirk of fortune, the actor playing Hirohito also became unable to continue, and so my father ended up voicing all three parts. The director looked at him and exclaimed, “My God, you’re playing the whole Axis!”

The Old Wolf has spoken.