AUB Libraries Online Exhibits

Shweir Summer school and other Activities

Shweir Summer School, 1914.jpg

Shweir Summer School, 1914, Archives and Special Collections, Jafet Library, AUB

In the summer of 1914, as news of the War was spreading, the SPC administration decided to open a summer school for students who were unable to go back home. Permission was secured from the Ottoman Authorities and a first cohort of 50 students joined the school in Shweir, where a locale belonging to the Presbyterian Mission had been furbished for this purpose. An Advisory Committee and a group pf SPC Faculty, assisted by Mr. Munson and Butler, led the summer school initiative. The spirit of the students was excel­lent: they enjoyed hard academic work, as well as extra-curricular activities in the beautiful Lebanese countryside. This first cohort was to be followed by several others in the coming years.




Permission for Shweir Summer School.jpg

Letter from SPC to Riza Pasha, Commandant of Lebanon,  relating to Shweir Summer School, Oct. 1915, Howard Bliss Collection, Archives and Special Collections, Jafet Library, AUB

As the war went on, the Ottoman Authorities tightened their control over foreign educational institutions: these were often subject to unexpected visits by Ottoman officials, as well as to unannounced  searches; Faculty were repeatedly summoned to Police headquarters for interrogation and most activities (academic and extra-curricular) required official permissions from the Ottoman Vali.

Al Thamarah 1914.jpg

الثمرة، مجلة تصدرها جمعية ثمرة الاستعدادية، 1914 ، مجموعة  الطلاب الأرشيفبة، أرشيف الجامعة الأميركية، مكتية يافت، الجامعة الأميركية في بيروت

Despite the war, the Faculty and administration of SPC tried to assist students in carrying on a normal life. Extra-curricular activities offered in the newly built Student Center, West Hall, offered a much needed relief. Plays, sports, music events were scheduled on a regular basis. The College also encouraged students to edit, write and publish their own student magazines. The University Libraries' Archives boasts a most interesting collection of these student magazines, some of which cover the war years (Al Thamarah and Student Union Gazette), discussing a number of subjects related to the War and to life at SPC during those hard times.