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1995.2.7 1024x789Female yeoman in Navy uniform stands next to a sorting rack in State, War and Navy Building. 

This International Women’s Day, We Celebrate Women’s Roles in World War I 

By Doran Cart
via the Ms. magazine web site

“We had air raids night after night. When we were not operating at night, we spent the time from darkness to dawn in a cellar twenty feet underground,” Navy nurse Mary Elderkins wrote of working close to the lines.

Thousands of American women served in all duties overseas during World War I, except combat—although some were killed by shells and bombs.

They were doctors, hospital administrators, ambulance and truck drivers, telephone operators, nurses, dietitians, physical therapists, reconstruction aides, entertainers, canteen workers, office workers, fundraisers and many other occupations.

For many women, it was a chance to work at tasks unavailable to them in the regular circumstances of society.

The most lasting effect of WWI on American women was the loss of loved ones: of husbands, sons, daughters and siblings. Battlefield deaths and cataclysmic diseases took a terrible toll which the society would struggle to recover from.

For others who put on uniforms in a military capacity or as volunteers, to go back to pre-war life proved a difficult transition. Many who served in defense of the country could not continue to defend it without the voice of the vote, and they became leaders in the passage of the 19th Amendment. Others went back to civilian life, some perhaps welcoming it and others chafed by it.

Read the entire article on the Ms. magazine web site here:

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