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World War One - Women

Winning the War with Women (Harper's Monthly, 1917)

Ida Tarbell (1857 - 1944), one of the greats of American journalism, wrote this article about the policy changes that were evolving in Washington and recognized that the mobilization of women in the cause of defeating Germany was a solid step in the direction of victory:

"One of the many innovations of the National Council of Defense is an entirely original attempt to use the women power of the country."

Tarbell insightfully pointed out that up until that moment men and women had very little experience working together side by side.

Read a 1918 article about the women's city.


A Woman War Worker Cartoon (NY Times 1917)

Attached is a cartoon that was created during the third year of the First World War by a British cartoonist who feared that women have, through the years, been loosing their feminine mojo - that charming thing that truly separates them from the males of the species.


The Uniforms of Women War Workers (Touchstone Magazine, 1918)

Well-over 30,000 women participated in the United States war effort during World War One. The majority served as nurses, but there were also impressive numbers who volunteered to "do their bit" as drivers and telephone operators. Many chose to serve in the religious organizations, such as the Y.M.C.A., the Knights of Columbus or the Jewish Welfare Board. They all needed uniforms and that is what this well-illustrated article addresses. Never before had there been such a conflict requiring uniforms be cut in women's sizes, and this matter was not simply new to American women, it was a new day in human history as well.

"The background of women's service uniforms is war, war of the most terrible kind.
How unseemly any attempt to make the costume pleasing to the eye."

Click here to visit an interesting site dealing with the history of American servicewomen.

If you would like to read about the U.S. Army uniforms for women during W.W. II, click here...

Dressed for Duty: America's Women in Uniform, 1898-1973


The Women's Overseas Corps (The Stars and Stripes, 1918)

"Five thousand women are to be brought from the United States to be a part of the American Expeditionary Forces...The Women's Overseas Corps (WOCS) will consist of companies of 50 women each. The members of the WOC will be under soldierly discipline and wear uniforms...It is not expected that they will march in formation or observe the formalities of the salute."

These women were recruited by Miss Elsie Gunther of the Labor Bureau in order to relieve the men posted to the Service of Supply of their clerical duties for service at the front; in light of the fact that the war ended six weeks later it is unlikely that the these women ever arrived.


Her Armistice Poem (American Legion Weekly, 1921)

At 11:00 a.m., November 11, 1918, an American woman volunteer was toiling away at her Service of Supply base in Tours when peace broke out all over the place. When she was asked to recall that moment three years later for the editors of THE AMERICAN LEGION WEEKLY - she wrote down the attached verses -


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