For the Female Phone Operators of World War I, a Woman’s Place Was on the Front Lines
By Making the World Safe for Democracy, the "Hello Girls" Boosted Suffrage Back Home
In 1917, U.S. Secretary of War Newton Baker disliked the idea of female workers on Army bases so intensely that he didn’t even want to build toilets for them. They might tarry. Females did not belong in the Army, Baker thought, though the more forward-thinking U.S. Navy already had welcomed women into its ranks to replace men in landlubber assignments.
Many adventurous and patriotic young women longed to defend their country during the Great War. They discovered that if they wanted …