Sunday, March 05, 2017

Women's History Month 2017: National League for Woman's Services

Like any war, when the men are called to fight, the women fill in the gaps. Life has to go on at the home front and support services for families and soldiers need to be administered. One of the groups of women that assisted with the war was the National League for Woman's Services.

According to Ida Clyde Clarke's book, American Women and World War,

The object of the National League for Woman's Services is to coordinate and standardize the work of women of America along lines of constructive patriotism; to develop the resources, to promote the efficiency of women in meeting their every-day responsibility to home, to state, to nation and to humanity; to provide organized, trained groups in every community prepared to cooperate with the Red Cross and other agencies in dealing with any calamity-fire, food, famine, economic disorder, etc., and in time of war, to supplement the work of the Red Cross, the Army and Navy, and to deal with questions of "Woman's Work and Woman's Welfare."

I highly recommend reading the Ida Clyde Clarke book because she devotes chapters on what women were doing in each state.

The League worked on all kinds of projects including assisting with the Red Cross knitting effort, training women to be wireless operators, working in motor pools, and staffing clubs and canteens for the soldiers. Women were also trained to take over jobs that men would be leaving in order to join the military. These women worked in the United States and overseas and in some cases wore a military uniform.

  • Was your ancestor a member of the National League for Woman's Services?
  • Have you found a photo of her wearing a military uniform? Here's an example from the US Militaria Forum that includes a pin. 
  • Is there someone in the family that you can interview about your female ancestor's activities during the war?
  • What home sources exist (correspondence, journals, newspaper clippings)?

Additional Resources:

National Archives Unwritten Record Blog - Hidden Women: The Art of WWI Camouflage (Photos)

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