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WW1 Signal Corps Telephone Operator's Uniform

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This is part of my ongoing series of WW1 women's uniforms.


I must apologize in advance for this picture. This uniform turned out to be very difficult to photograph. The uniform is made of black cotton "sateen." This material is quite unusual as it has quite a sheen to it. It turned out to be very difficult to get decent photographs with my camera.


This is one of two WW1 US Army Enlisted women's uniforms I have. The other is for a Quartermaster Stenographer (that will be a future post).


The issue of women in the Army was new in 1918, and no one was exactly sure how to handle it. It was more or less clear that nurses were professionals, and thus roughly equivalent to Doctors, Veterinarians, Civil Engineers, etc all of whom served as officers in the established Army. However, after Josephus Daniels opened the door for women to serve in enlisted positions in the Navy and Marine Corps, the Army, in a limited fashion began to examine the roles that could be filled by women.


Generally speaking, the WW1 positions held by women in the Army fall into two categories:


- Officer equivalent

-- Nurses

-- Dietitians *


- Enlisted equivalent

-- Rehabilitation Aids

-- Signal Corps Telephone Operators

-- Quartermaster Corps Stenographers


Uniforms for Army officer equivalent women generally speaking have a lapel collar, with four patch pockets. For the enlisted category, the uniform consists of a five button jacket, with two lower pockets, a stand and fall collar closed with three small service buttons, and a matching belt. The three categories of enlisted women's uniforms are all similar in design usually differing only in insignia, or as is the case with one version of the Rehabilitation Aide uniform; color. A version of the Re-Aid uniform was available in "Heather Grey," a greenish grey that differed from the standard Army dark blue.


I want to stress that these "officer" or "enlisted" classifications are not based on any official designation. In fact, during WW1, their status was somewhat unclear. However, besides the uniforms, I based these conclusions on the pay these two groups recieved. Signal Corps Telephone Operators were paid exactly the same as enlisted Signal Corps men in the same grades. A Chief Operator like Grace Banker was paid the same as a Master Signal Electrician! Stenographers were paid the same as Enlisted Clerks in the Quartermaster Corps. Re-Aids were paid the same as privates in the Medical Corps.





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I had heard of them but never seen anything! Very fascinating post! Thanks for the information! Rare stuff indeed!




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That's a really nice uniform!

I've always liked these WWI outfits. Very nice!


Best regards



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