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Panoramas in World War I
Texas Women in World War I
Women took on roles and causes during the war that built upon their previous work to gain freedoms and equal standing with men. Texas women, such as Erminia Thompson Folsom, participated in an ongoing peace movement with roots in the Quaker religion’s embrace of pacifism.
Panoramic photograph of nurses at "Nurses Base Hospital, Camp Travis, March 27, 1918. "Prints and Photographs collection, 1/142-L345.
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While some women advocated for peace, others supported the nation's entry into war. The Women's Committee of the Council of National Defense, the first governmental body staffed solely by women, coordinated the work of women’s organizations and clubs nationwide. Their activities primarily centered on home front initiatives. The committee focused on such areas as Americanization, Child Welfare, Food Administration and Production, Foreign and Allied Relief, Women in Industry, Maintenance of Existing Social Agencies, Educational Propaganda, and Health and Recreation.
Another organization, The Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA) assisted the United War Work Campaign to raise funds for war relief efforts at home and abroad, primarily focused on the needs of women and girls.
While women were not accepted into battle duty by the U.S. military, they sometimes assumed military roles formerly held only by men. In 1915, Marjorie Stinson was inducted in the U.S. Aviation Reserve Corps and was the first woman granted a pilot's license by the Army and Navy Committee of Aeronautics.
"Helping the Allies: Over Here, Over There." Young Women's Christian Association, United War Work Campaign leaflet, 1918. American Legion collection, 2-22/868. Click or tap on thumbnail for larger image.
With each state exercising its freedom to focus on some but perhaps not all of the areas of need identified by the Women's Committee of the Council of National Defense, full coordination was not achieved. The officers for the Texas branch of the Women’s Committee included Treasurer Adina de Zavala, granddaughter of Lorenzo de Zavala, the first vice president of the Republic of Texas. Click or tap on thumbnail for larger image.
Photograph of "National Guard Mobilization Camp, San Antonio, Texas. Taken from aeroplane flown by Miss Marjorie Stinson" (copyright C.O. Lee), 1916. Photographs, General John A. Hulen papers, 1972/115-134.
Stinson’s authority as a flying instructor earned her the nickname, "The Flying Schoolmarm." Stinson's family established the Stinson School of Flying in San Antonio, which trained cadets from the Royal Canadian Air Force beginning in 1916. Click or tap on thumbnail for larger image.
Erminia Thompson Folsom and her mother, Mariana, were active in peace organizations in the United States. These notes by Erminia for a public lecture she gave not long after World War I include her belief that "[i]nternational questions settled by arbitration stay settled while war settlements shift to the preponderance of power."
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Signal Corps Photo 30558. "Canteen dispensing chocolate to men just in from the line, Senoncourt-les-Maujouy, Meuse, France, October 14, 1918. Image includes Miss Adele Berdrall and Miss Thomas, from the American Red Cross." Photographs, General John A. Hulen papers, 1972/115-200.
The day this photograph was taken German forces were abandoning their positions in Meuse while British and Belgian troops advanced. Over the course of World War I, the American Red Cross transformed from a fledgling emergency relief organization into a major humanitarian institution. The organization directed the efforts of 8 million volunteers to accomplish its mission to serve the American Armed Forces, Allied military forces, prisoners of war, and civilian victims of war. Click or tap on thumbnail for larger image.
The United War Work Campaign combined the efforts of seven organizations, including the Young Women's Christian Association, to raise funds for war relief efforts at home and abroad. The YWCA focused on the needs of women and girls who were mobilized for war work or who were affected by the conflict, by providing shelter, education, recreation, and moral guidance. As with other organizations that answered the national call during World War I, the YWCA expanded rapidly during this period, though it scaled back significantly as it returned to peacetime activities. Click or tap on thumbnail for larger image.
As the war drew to a close, the Texas State Council of Defense turned its attention to war relief efforts, including the United War Work Campaign. The Women's Committee collected fruit pits and nut shells for use in manufacturing activated charcoal, a key component in gas mask filters. Nursing skills were in high demand, as this bulletin notes "[t]he terrible epidemic which is now scourging the Country…", referring to the influenza pandemic of 1918-1919 that killed an estimated 50 million people worldwide, more than three times as many as were killed in the Great War.
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