SFA Story: The History of Stephen F. Austin State University

Historical Markers

Women's Army Corps School

WACs in 1943
WACs on the steps of the Austin Building in 1943

Texas Historical Marker #9402 is located in front of the Dugas Building where the Women's Recreation Center once stood. The WACs used this Center as their headquarters during the war.

Other markers in this area include a marker to three former centers of student activity in early years – Birdwell Field, Aikman Gym, and the Women's Recreation Center.

Founded in 1942 in response to the overwhelming need for volunteers for service in World War II, the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) became a regular unit of the U.S. Army as the Women's Army Corps (WAC) in 1943. By 1945 the Corps reached its peak enrollment of about 100,000, with women serving both at home and abroad.

In early 1943, at a time when enrollment at Stephen F. Austin State Teachers College (now Stephen F. Austin State University) had dropped to fewer than 500 because of the war, the U.S. Army established Army Administration School No. 1 here on the campus to train Women's Army Corps members in noncombatant duties. Similar schools were located at colleges in Alpine and Canyon.

The WACs were housed in campus dormitories and attended six-week training courses taught by army personnel in the Austin and Rusk buildings. In a show of homefront solidarity, upon graduation each WAC class presented a variety show for the community at the Nacogdoches High School Auditorium. The WACs then left East Texas for postings throughout America and abroad. By the time the schoolclosed in March 1944 about 3,000 women had trained here.