After the end of World War II and the Korean War, the world, and the United States, were on edge waiting for the next war to break out. It wasn’t long until the Vietnam War started and many were back to serving, getting deployed and fighting for our country. With this being the case, injuries were plentiful and blood was in a very high demand. In an effort to help with the massive blood shortage the United States was facing, coeds at the University of Utah held a week long blood drive in hopes of doing their part for the war here in Utah, while so many were fighting for the United States in Vietnam.
The Blood drive was organized and ran by cochairmen Deanne Simmons and ROTC sponsor Sally Anderson. They encouraged all students, faculty and staff to participate and do their part for our country by participating in the blood drive from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Union from November 13, 1961 to November 17, 1961. The goal was to donate and collect a total of 500 pints of blood in the span of that one school week, Monday through Friday.
According to the November 13, 1961, issue of the Daily Utah Chronicle, “Coed ‘Vampires’ to Stage Bloodletting on U Campus,” coeds were encouraged to donate blood by being given incentives as motivation. Simmons and Anderson created a contest in which the club or organization on the University of Utah Campus that donated the most blood would be rewarded with prizes. There were four different categories that students could claim they were a part of as a way to win the prize. The categories were fraternal, service and religious, residence hall, and military.
An encouragement that was frequently used around campus and in the entire weeks issues of the Utah Chronicle was to do your part for our country while the brave young men are fighting and do what you can on the “home front.”
On top of having incentives and prizes as a reason for coeds to donate, it was announced in the November 14, 1961, issue of the Daily Utah Chronicle “Blood, Sweat and Tears Not Necessary – Just Blood,” that if coeds were to donate to the blood bank during the blood drive, they would be able to draw from the blood bank for free at any point in time in the future for free. This was a really big deal for people as the memory of World War II was still fresh on people’s minds and the fear and constant threat of there being another war on the United States “home turf” loomed in the back of people’s minds.
By the end of the first day of the week which was full of events and donations, University of Utah students, staff and faculty were able to donate a total of one hundred and seven pints of blood. According to the November 15, 1961, issue of the Daily Utah Chronicle in an article titled, “Blood Oozes from Donors as Utes Donate 107 Pints,” students were continuously encouraged by blood drive sponsors who were stressing the importance of building a large reserve of blood. These encouragements worked as donations continued to flood in over the course of the next 4 days.
It was stated in the November 17, 1961, issue of the Daily Utah Chronicle Article “U Blood Drive Ends With Counts in Red,” at the end of the week, the students, faculty and staff had donated a total of over 474 pints. Carolyn Wheeler, chief nurse claimed that even though the University didn’t meet their original goal of donating a total of 500 pints, the University of Utah and local blood banks are taking the week as a win and are “proud of the outcome and number of donations made.”
The events that took place in November of 1961 during the blood drive on the University of Utah’s campus are still vastly important to us today for many reasons. Blood donations always seem to be in short supply and blood banks and the American Red Cross Association are constantly in search of blood donations to help with people’s medical needs both locally, nationally and internationally.
Another thing we can learn from and relate to with the blood drive of 1961 is the current state of the United States and the fact that we’ve been involved in a constant war in Afghanistan since 2001. While many of us aren’t actively in the United States Military or plan on joining the United States Military, we could help with the war efforts by donating blood to those injured in the war.
Aubrey R. Olsen graduated from the University of Utah with a Bachelor of Science in Strategic Communication in December 2019 and is working in advertising.
“Blood, Sweat and Tears Not Necessary – Just Blood,” Daily Utah Chronicle, November 14, 1961.
“Blood Oozes from Donors as Utes Donate 107 Pints,” Daily Utah Chronicle, November 15, 1961.
“Coed ‘Vampires’ to Stage Bloodletting on U Campus,” Daily Utah Chronicle, November 13, 1961.
“U Blood Drive Ends with Count in Red,” Daily Utah Chronicle, November 17, 1961.
“Utes Donate 269 Pints; Blood Drive Ends Today,” Daily Utah Chronicle, November 16, 1961.