wwi women in war
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Critical thinking questions

  1. What do you think it would have been like for women who joined the war effort? Exciting? Exhausting? Frustrating? Why would women have seen this as an opportunity?
  2. Can you think of reasons why some women felt that their service to their country earned them equal rights? Why would the fight for suffrage become more urgent during and after the war?
  3. Do any of the inequalities faced by women a century ago still exist today? How might the success of the woman suffrage movement have inspired the fight for women’s rights today?

Take a closer look

Women wearing World War I uniforms

Notice that these women are wearing men’s uniform jackets. Women would eventually receive their own specially designed uniforms.

Wearing official uniforms helped validate women’s participation in the war effort. How might this have changed perceptions of women and their ability to be responsible and active citizens?

U.S. Army Signal Corps Female Telephone Operators Unit uniform

This uniform was worn by women in the U.S. Army Signal Corps Female Telephone Operators Unit.

Women working in a factory

Women who worked in war factories made everything from machinery to uniforms, similar to what you see here. For many women this was a new and exciting opportunity to earn their own money and learn job skills.

Why would these jobs have become available to women during the war?

Read more

Explore online

Women in World War I (National Museum of American History) – Highlights and interprets objects across the entire spectrum of women’s experiences in World War I.

Uniformed Women in the Great War (National Museum of American History) – Profiles the lives of four women during the World War I era: Helen Cook of the U.S. Army Signal Corps Female Telephone Operators Unit; Lucy Kennedy Shaffer of the American Fund for French Wounded; Mabel C.S. D’Olier of the American Friends Service Committee; and Helen Stewart Doane of the U.S. Shipping Board Emergency Fleet Corporation.

American Women Physicians in World War I (American Medical Women’s Association) – Highlights the trailblazing work of American women physicians during the war effort.