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Women in World War I

Page history last edited by Robert W. Maloy 1 day, 21 hours ago


World War I propaganda poster, Edward Penfield, 1918  

World War I propaganda poster, Edward Penfield, 1918

Topics on the Page


Overview of Women and the War


The Hello Girls: Women Telephone Operators


Female Yeomen in the U.S. Navy


Munitionettes in England


Jeannette Rankin and the Women's Peace Movement


Salvation Army Doughnut Lassies


Women in the United Kingdom


African American Women in the War







Roles for Women in World War I 




  • The Hello Girls: Women Telephone Operators
  • Female Yeomen in the U.S. Navy
  • The Golden 14 (Black Women Yeomen) 


Maria Bochkareva and All-Women Russian battalions


Spies & Espionage 


  • Mata Hari 
  • Gertrude Margaret Lowthian Bell 


Nurses & Medicine  


  • Salvation Army Doughnut Lassies
  • Red Cross
  • Patriotic League
  • YWCA 

Workers and Owners 


  • Factory Workers
  • Women's Land Army 
  • Munitionettes or Canary Girls (England)

Political Activists 


  • Jeannette Rankin
  • Rosa Luxemburg and Die Internationale 
  • Women's Peace Movement



Science/Tech Pathfinders 


CROSS-LINK: Marie Curie, Scientist and Twice Noble Prize Recipient






Overview of Women and the War 


Women in World War I from the Smithsonian National Museum of American History

Where Women Worked During World War I, Seattle General Strike Project, University of Washington

How Women Helped Win the Great War, U.S. Army


Book Review: Rosie's Mom: Forgotten Women Workers of the First World War

How War Changed the Role of Women in the U.S. from Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute




The Hello Girls: Women Telephone Operators


Hello Girls of World War I


 100 Years On, the Hello Girls are Recognized for World War I Heroics



Joy Bright as a Yeoman (F) 1918
Joy Bright as a Yeoman (F) 1918


Female Yeomen in the United States Navy (Yeomanettes)

The Story of the Female Yeoman During the First World War, National Archives


  • The Naval Act of 1916 opened the door to women volunteering in the U. S. Navy.
    • 11,000 women served
      • Designated Yeomen (F) for female yeoman. Served as radio operators, stenographers, messengers.
      • Disbanded in 1919

The Navy Yeoman in World War 1

Yeoman (F) Uniform

I Was a Yeoman (F) is a first-person account of one's woman's experiences during the war

Female munitions workers manufacturing heavy artillery shells, 1917
Female munitions workers manufacturing heavy artillery shells, 1917


Munitionettes (Female Munitions Workers in England)

The Muniitionettes

  • 80% of the weapons and ammunition used by the British army were made by women

Women in the Munitions Industry

9 Women Reveal the Dangers of Working in a First World War Munitions Factory

12 Things You Didn't Know About Women in the First World War, Imperial War Museums


Jeannette Rankin, February 1939

Jeannette Rankin and the Women's Peace Movement


Why Women's Peace Activism in World War I Matters Now, The Conversation (April 2, 2017)


Jeannette Who?



Jeannette Rankin's War



Salvation Army Doughnut Lassies


  Doughnut Girls: The Women Who Fried Doughnuts and Dodged Bombs on the Front Lines of World War I 



Donut Day History












Women in the United Kingdom

English women at work in the New Gun Factory in London 

English women at work in the New Gun Factory in London


Click here for a link about Women's Roles in WWI 


File:Unity in Diversity flag.svg Video on women (in UK) during WWI

For an article accompanied by images and a video of Women in WWI propaganda

A website dedicated to the Role of women in World War I

Check out this video about Flora Sandes the only British female to fight on the front lines in WWI!










Mata Hari


Biography from PBS

Mata Hari, 1915

Mata Hari was an exotic dancer and double agent working during the first world war.File:Mata Hari, by Jacob Merkelbach.jpg During World War I, Mata Hari became embroiled in a web of intrigue and espionage.


  • She had relationships with several high-ranking military officials from various countries, including Germany, France, and Russia, and she allegedly used these relationships to gather and pass on information. She was accused of being a double agent and was arrested by the French authorities in 1917.


Mata Hari was put on trial for espionage and was found guilty. She was executed by a firing squad on October 15, 1917, at the age of 41.


  • Her story has become the subject of numerous books, films, and plays, and she remains a symbol of femme fatale and intrigue. However, her guilt remains a topic of debate among historians and experts in the field of espionage.




Gertrude Bell


Gertrude Bell was a British woman involved in Arabic studies, who moved to intelligence gathering during World War I. She was an expert on the Middle East, with language skills, archaeology experience, and time spent in the region.

  • Bell's role with British intelligence was not a spy in the stereotypical sense, but more in line with what a modern intelligence analyst would look like. In particular, she provided her expertise and drafted maps that would inform British movement in Iraq.


  • After her work there, she would become an official member of the British Army as the Oriental Secretary, and was given awards by the British state. 


  • After the war, her role diminished, but her profound expertise and efforts to pave a road for women in the British military makes her notable to this day.


Click here to read about female spies and intelligence officers in WWI. 


African American Women in the War


  • Black women contributions during WWI
  • Administrators:
    • Black women, later nicknamed The Golden Fourteen, served in the Muster Roll section in Washington, D.C. These women tracked naval personnel ship assignments, noting both changes in assignments and commands
  • Drivers:
    • Motor Corps drivers with the Red Cross and the National League for Women’s Service  

    • Transported soldiers to military camps, hospitals, and canteens

  •  Nurses:

    • The American Red Cross resisted activating the approximately 1,800 African American nurses certified for service with the military until the end of the war, when the 1918 pandemic created a nurse shortage. Even then, only 18 Black nurses served in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps stateside

    • First Person account by Aileen Cole Stewart, one of the 18 black nurses here!

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