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Millikin University - Decatur, IL
Millikin University > Alumni & Friends > Stay Connected > Millikin Quarterly > Posts > Titanic, Patton, and the New Deal

After more than 100 years of history, Millikin has boasted many celebrated connections to scientists, musicians, actors, athletes and politicians. However, combing through past issues of The Decaturian, MU’s student newspaper, reveals the university’s many lesser-known and often unexpected connections to major national and world-wide events, these among them.


On July 20, 1907, the steamship Columbia, the first ship ever fitted with electric lights, sank off the coast near San Francisco after colliding with another vessel on a foggy evening. Among the 88 people who perished in this accident were two students from Millikin’s School of Music, Grace and Effie Keller, along with their mother and sister.View the article


Thankfully, Millikin’s connection to history’s most famous ship is less tragic than the ship’s fate. The May 3, 1912 Decaturian contains the unassuming headline “English Work Delayed” on page 6. This short article informed readers that a shipment of the book, “Sartor Resartus,” meant for use in a freshman class, was on its way to Millikin from London on board the Titanic when the ship sank. View the article


In March 1934, nearly 30 Millikin students received financial aid from the Civil Works Administration (CWA) through part-time campus job placements. The CWA was an early part of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal during the Great Depression and created temporary part-time jobs for the unemployed. It lasted from November 1933 through March 1934, giving way to the Works Progress Administration (WPA), which provided more lasting benefits to society through employment on public works projects. View the article


One of many Millikin men and women to serve during World War II was Howard Rice ’47. Rice left Millikin in May 1942 to enlist in the Army Air Force, where he became a first lieutenant. From August 1944 through September 1945, he served as the personal pilot and air aide to the legendary General George S. Patton Jr. Prior to that, Rice was part of the Normandy invasion and the Allied invasion of southern France. In addition to other awards, Rice earned the Croix de Guerre from French President Charles De Gaulle for his efforts in the liberation of France. After the war, he re-enrolled at Millikin for the fall 1945 semester as an economics and political science major. After graduating, Rice became a business administration professor at Millikin, obtained his master’s degree at the University of Chicago and married Barbara Schroth ’51. The family lived in Decatur for a little over a decade before moving to Missouri. Rice died Feb. 2, 1993, at age 74.View the article


On Aug. 28, 1963, MU chaplain R.B. Moore marched in what was officially named The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom but came to be commonly known as The Freedom March. His Decaturian account of that day paints a vivid picture of what it was like to be part of this historical event: “Two thousand legs, black and white legs, cooling two thousand hot, sore feet in the reflecting pool . . . the quiet, hard, solemn determination in the faces of those marchers was unmistakable, and in the end, their goal is undeniable.”

Amanda Pippitt is Millikin’s access services coordinator, archivist and research instruction librarian. She has worked at MU since 2004. She earned her master’s degree in library and information science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and also holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in anthropology.


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Millikin University - Decatur, IL
Millikin University - Decatur, IL
Millikin University - Decatur, IL
Millikin University - Decatur, IL
Millikin University - Decatur, IL
Millikin University - Decatur, IL