Russell “Rip” Payne and The Albemarle Charlottesville Historical Society

Before World War II, married students were a rarity on Grounds. Shortly after the war ended, returning veterans brought their families to school with them, pushing the number of married students at the University to approximately 1,200.

During these post-war years, the Cavalier Ladies, an organization of wives of UVA students, held a variety of annual fund-raising events, including a fashion show and a baby show on the Lawn. According to the Albemarle Charlottesville Historical Society, the second annual baby show in 1948 featured nearly 600 babies, who were paraded before a panel of judges headed by UVA President and Mrs. Colgate Darden. Prizes were awarded and proceeds from the show were donated to the Rucker Home for Convalescent Children.

Rows of war-surplus trailers in an area known as Copeley Hill were another sign of the times. Hastily assembled in 1946 as a temporary solution to the sudden influx of married students, Copeley Hill was still home to approximately 250 families and a total population of around 800 nearly 15 years later.

Anthropologist and educator Margaret Mead took a dim view of this continuing trend of married students on college campuses. The March 1960 edition of Alumni News published Mead’s national report on the situation, excerpted below:

“Undergraduate marriages are not failures, in the ordinary sense. They are simply wasteful of young, intelligent people who might have developed into differentiated and conscious human beings. These young people have no chance to find themselves in college because they have clung to each other so exclusively. They can take little advantage of college as a broadening experience, and they often show less breadth of vision as seniors than they did as freshmen. Under any circumstances, a full student life is incompatible with early commitment and domesticity.”