Talking Postwar Cornell

Last October, three members of Cornell’s Class of 1951 joined author Brad Edmondson at The History Center of Tompkins County to tell stories and answer questions about Cornell during the first years of the GI Bill.

Postwar Cornell: A Panel Discussion with author Brad Edmondson from Mark Hartsuyker on Vimeo.

Panelists include longtime Ithaca journalist Jane Marcham; Robert “Rip” Haley, a linebacker on the Ivy League champion football squad; and Bill Kay, who attended the ILR school in its early years and belonged to the groundbreaking “anti-fraternity,” Watermargin.  Thanks to Mark Hartsuyker of Ithaca’s Recording Raccoon Studio for making and editing this tape.  You can order the book here.


On Sale At The Campus Store

IMG_2097Postwar Cornell is now on sale at the Cornell Campus Store, in the Cornell Books section! It is also available downtown at the History Center of Tompkins County. These are the only stores that stock the book.  If you aren’t near Ithaca and would like a copy, you can also order it online here with Paypal or a credit card, or click here for instructions about ordering by phone or mail.

Buy your copy now!


CLICK HERE to order your copy of Postwar Cornell online.  The book is also on sale in Ithaca at The History Center in Tompkins County, and in person or online through The Cornell Store. The price is only $24.95 plus shipping.

Brad Edmondson‘s 2015 book brings to life the crisis that re-made American higher education in the years after World War II. Enrollment at Cornell University increased 40 percent between May and October 1946, and most of the new students were war veterans.  Postwar Cornell takes readers on “a marvelous journey back in time,” according to foreword author Isaac Kramnick, “to the era when present-day Cornell was born.”

The book combines the first-person recollections of 67 Cornell alumni with contemporary letters, articles, and diary entries from 1944 to 1952. The material is grouped by themes and narration is kept to a minimum, allowing the story to be told in the voices of those who lived it.  Click on the links below to learn about:

  • Vetsburg, the housing complex for married students that was also known as Fertile Valley;
  • Teachers, like Nobelist Richard Feynman and novelist Vladimir Nabokov;
  • Women students, who lived with a curfew that locked them into their dorms at night, but were allowed to compete equally in the classrooms;
  • The Cold War on campus, with Communists both real and imaginary; and,
  • Bohemians, who thought nothing of cutting classes but were passionate about sex, drugs, and jazz.
  • The cover shot, an elm-lined Central Avenue in 1946, is one of several hundred compelling images drawn from the Cornell University Archives and personal collections.

Postwar Cornell is the final project supervised by John Marcham (1927-2014), a War veteran who was a Cornell undergraduate from 1946 to 1950 before editing Cornell Alumni Magazine for 30 years.  It was a labor of love for John, and that shows on every page.  The book also provided the research for Class of the Century, a documentary film by Brian Frey.