Skip to main content

tv   American Women in World War I France  CSPAN  December 23, 2018 9:00am-10:00am EST

9:00 am
history tv. >> during the spanish american war the ymca initiated a program to recruit women to bring a little bit of home to u.s. troops. next on american history tv, from the national world war i museum and memorial in kansas city, missouri, historian kara dixon vuic talks about women sent to france during world war i and she's the author of "the girls next door, bringing the home front to the frontlines." this 50 minute event was part of an all day symposium. >> so, on that, it is my pleasure to introduce our next speaker in our symposium. dr. vuic is the professor of war conflict and society in 20th century america, a professor at texas christian university. her research focuses on the ways 20th century wars have
9:01 am
shaped and been shaped by american society and culture. her work also examines women's history from women's military and wartime experiences and the relationship between the u.s. military and gender. she is the author of several books on the editor of the rutledge handbook on gender war and the u.s. military. her latest book, "the girls next door: american women and military recreation" will be eleased in early 2019. ladies and gentlemen, please kara e in welcoming dr. dixon vuic. dr. vuic: good afternoon. thanks for hanging in there with us. i am honored to be here.
9:02 am
i have a position at tcu named in memory of a tcu student who joined the marine corps and lost his life in afghanistan in 2011, and his parents, his family, a whole host of friends created this position because as his father says, he knows the cost of war on society, and i think on this 100 anniversary of the commemoration of the armistice at the end of world war i, i am honored to be part of that. i would like to start this afternoon with someone who knew a little bit about that cost of war, a young woman named emma young dixon. the young 1918, woman from montclaire, new jersey boarded a ship headed for the war in france. only 26 years old, she was excited and nervous about her impending adventure. her parents accompanied her as she traveled from home to the
9:03 am
new york city. where they made their final goodbyes, and now she was on her own for the first time in her life. feeling very lost and teary, he managed to gather her courage and board. releft the harbor in a drizzly rain. i'm in her sweetheart, she wrote that, "i knew he was somewhere behind the barbed ire fence on appear, and i -- on the pier and i wished i had stayed home. when i could see no more between my tears and the rain, i went down to my cabin where i met my roommate." emma did not spend much time feeling sorry for herself and quickly developed a stalwart attitude about the dangers surrounding her. she casually remarked for convoys had arrived to is going to ship into the french harbor, but she observed it would take them half an hour to reach the
9:04 am
ship to be torpedoed. she didn't seem to be scared. one can only die once anyway." she was one of about 3500 women who went to france and later stated and later stayed in occupied germany. most of those went with the ymca. about 100 of them went with the salvation army and were known as lassies at the time, perhaps an odd term today, but these were women who were hired to go serve doughnuts, open huts and canteens for soldiers in the war, and this began a long history of the american military, sending women abroad to entertain soldiers, sailors, germans, and marines, and that is what the book is going to be about, the long history of these programs. this is something that will start a long history. in world war i, these women were typically in their late 20's. they were, for the most part, single, and they were overwhelmingly white.
9:05 am
there were exactly three african-american women who were sent abroad to work with about 200,000 african-american soldiers who also were sent to the war. this picture is a pretty good depiction of these women. somehow puppies keep making an appearance here in world war i today. it's hilarious these group photos they have these mascots and these dogs do make a frequent appearance. the women open these huts where you can go, you can buy igarettes, razors, get a hot cup of hot cocoa, coffee, get some pen and paper to write home. but most importantly you can see american girls from home. when conditions of the war permitted the women operated what they called rolling kitchens. they would take their boilers out in these trucks and go as far forward as conditions will
9:06 am
permit, but also as far forward as the military will permit. they served hot cocoa. they passed out oranges which were a big hit for men that didn't get fruit all that often. they move out into the field when they can. this continues in world war ii with some famous women like marlene dietrich. more commonly, women you have never heard of who work with the red cross opened canteens in all the war's theaters all ver the world. it keeps going, in korea marilyn monroe is probably the most famous of the women who went. much more common were women, college graduates from home who joined the red cross and the u.s.o. same thing in the vietnam war. they stopped serving coffee because it was much too hot and they started serving kool-aid. adjustments were made, but again, the same kind of idea, send women from home to
9:07 am
entertain soldiers, provide a brief reminder from home, something different than the war to relieve the boredom and stress. we still do this, though the kinds of entertainment we send have changed dramatically. elmo did not go to vietnam, north korea, nor the civic theater but given the changing demographics today, many more military families, "sesame street" began a uso tour several years ago. but we still send dallas cowboys cheerleaders, among other groups of cheerleaders, dancers, etc. to war zones all over the middle east. being a texan now, i'm hesitant to mention this because i'm afraid the state of texas will come find me, mentioning the dallas cowboy cheerleaders with anything other than the utmost respect, but nonetheless, we are still sending dubious kinds of entertainment, and that is
9:08 am
another -- that is where we end up with the book, so stay tuned. back to world war i. why in the world is the u.s. military doing this? it costs a lot of money and takes a lot of effort to get these people abroad, to manage the transportation issues, you might imagine, security issues that you can imagine would be necessary. this is not an easy task. it takes a lot of effort and comes from the top down in the military. this is not a bunch of g.i.'s sitting in france saying we would really like some girls from home to come over. this is a top-down military and civilian organization approach. so what does it tell us? why are they doing this? what does it tell us about world war i? what does it tell us about how the war effort in the united states at least mobilizes the home front? what does this tell us about
9:09 am
what the military thinks of the doughboys? his program is about the doughboys. what can we learn about military presumptions about the men and what they need through this program? what is it all about, basically? that is why we are here. those are the questions i try to answer throughout the book, but to start with world war i, this is an era the public is changing the perceptions of the u.s. military. before world war i, most americans thought very differently of enlisted soldiers. officers were different. officers came from generally speaking the middle and upper classes, but enlisted soldiers, most americans thought of them as hardscrabble men who did thankless work. if you think about them where they were before world war i, they were primarily on the western frontier chasing pancho villa in mexico.
9:10 am
the stories that came out of military camps and environments are not the kind of stories that would make parents say, yeah, i want to send my kids to the military and they'll become a good, cholesome, upright, young citizen. the stories coming out of military camps involved pg-13-level stories, and i'm cognizant that we are on c-span, sorry want to give you the pg version, but make sure everybody is following along with where we are going. stories were not great stories, right? the guys were generally thought to be getting involved in some nefarious activities, and most americans, frankly, did not care about that because they were not their sons. they were somebody else's son and doing thankless work and probably were able to have a little bit of fun. most americans did not care,
9:11 am
but as we get closer to 1917, in the united states, this is the progressive era. this is a religious organization. some social welfare organizations are getting concerned about things like public health, so things that were going on in military camps, that was pretty concerning to these people. what really changed is uncle am says, "i want you." when selective service came in, americans who said they did not really care what was going on on the mexican border, all of a sudden, they do have to care because your son might be drafted. the average american starts to pay attention to what is going on in military training camps, starts to have a little bit of a different attitude. this is also part of a change in how the american military thinks about a standing military and a draft more generally. the last draft had been a civil war that had not gone so well. it was very controversial.
9:12 am
when the american government has a selective service act, there was a lot of pr behind the scenes trying to convince the public this would be a good thing, so there was a massive effort on the part of the military and government to say military service will make your son a man. "we will take your son. we will train him up, not just in military techniques and everything he needs to know for the war, but we will train him, give him an education, teach him all sorts of things and ake him a good citizen." key to all of that were these recreation programs, so organizations like the ymca, the salvation army, the knights of columbus, the jewish welfare board -- all of these groups started to coordinate with the military to create programs and military training camps at home but also to send those overseas when the aaf went to
9:13 am
france. that is part of this effort, the idea of sending women abroad, serving doughnuts, all that was part of this broader effort to think about military ervice in america. key to all of that are these women, right? progressive era reformers, military officials all agreed that the best safeguard against sending lonely doughboys to france was women. if you take all of the fears about what military life will do to your boy -- he's always a boy, by the way. always a boy. never a man. he is a boy and all this rhetoric. if we are going to take your boy and make him a man, key to that was sending women. one military official said the right kind of women -- "the right kind of women" -- would remind young men of their mothers, their sisters, their
9:14 am
sweethearts, and inspire them to kind of walk the straight and narrow. another said men must be furnished with helpful amusement, or they will turn to the first petticoat they see. when i talk to young students, they'll google, like what is a petticoat? they have no idea, but, hopefully, you will understand. we have to send the right kind of women or these men will be distracted by -- seduced by was more the way they thought about it. these men never solicited women. they were always in trapped by them. they are very passive victims here. key to that, we have to send the right kind of women to france, right? and france is a big fear here, too. that compounds all these fears. the military camps are scary enough, but put them in france,
9:15 am
which is the land of debauchery and evil and sin, and it just compounds it exponentially. but we are going to send american women and all will be ine. that seems a bit optimistic today, but progressive era folk were optimistic if nothing else. at least give them that. spoiler alert -- it does not quite work out exactly like they planned, but the military, these civilian organizations all agreed despite the fact that it does not work out like they hoped, they all agreed at the end of the war they cannot do without these programs and they cannot do without women, so they will agree, all of them at the end of the war, that we're going to do this again. we are going to send over these women. all will be fine. again, it does seem silly today. it just seems rather optimistic, but it fits with
9:16 am
contemporary ideas of what people thought women were in 1917, and it fits with women's own explanations of how they could enter politics, how they could enter public life. the general thought by most americans at this time was that women were more moral than men, more religious. they would have that kind of influence on men. women were starting to say if you think we are more moral and have this motherly influence on things, then why don't you let us be involved in things like child welfare and education, and why don't you give us the right to vote so we can clean up politics? women kind of harnessed that rhetoric. to say if you think we're more moral, let us participate and have that influence. again, that fits the time period, but this is kind of
9:17 am
what women were starting to say. ot all women who went to world war 1 were not all mothers. the vast majority of them were not, but this idea of women as maternal figures really helped the american public come to terms with women going to war in new ways. the american public was not very comfortable with women in the war zone. nurses were one thing, and they kind of still had a bit of trouble with that in world war i. we were not so comfortable with even women as nurses, though that made sense. they were less comfortable with women in the military. they were less comfortable with women going to war zones. they did not know what to make of those women. many people feared that those omen had alterior motives, suspected that they were kind of motivated by what they called at the time khaki fever. sort of women are just absolutely swayed by uniforms and cannot help them selves, so
9:18 am
there was a suspicion on the part of many americans that any woman who would want to go to a war zone must have khaki fever and we really cannot trust her, but if you talk about women in these maternal terms and in this maternal way, it justifies this, makes you more comfortable with the notion of sending women abroad, even if they are not mothers. so the public sees a lot of this kind of image in which women become representative of the home. women are what you fight for. women are what you want to return to at the end of the war. women are all that are good, and that is what you want. that is what this war is about. that rhetoric eases women's path into the war, even for women who are not mothers. the idea of sending these ymca huts, these knights of columbus huts, all of this was characterized as a home away rom home, right?
9:19 am
it's a home where if you were a mother sitting at home worried about your boy and he's been drafted and he's going to france, this is the image you want. this is where your boy goes when he has the chance. he is welcome thereby the woman at the door. this is just like home. he's going to have good friends, good influences, and moralizing influences surrounding him. it's very comforting for families, very comforting for sweethearts, wives, the american public. again, the progressive era people are very optimistic. this is a very comforting, very reassuring image. so it creates a new role for women in war. that's where i get the title to talk. a ymca officials said a new kind of women is following the army, referencing the fact that women have followed armies for
9:20 am
many years, but he is saying this is a new kind of woman, a respectable woman, something we can all get behind. a new kind of woman is ollowing the army. but try to put yourself in this position, right? all of these organizations -- the ymca, the salvation army, the military -- they all talk about this work in very respectable terms. i mean, the ymca in 1917 is not just your gym. this is a very religious organization with religious goals in mind. alvation army has very religious goals in mind. they think of their work as evangelizing the troops. these are organizations who say this is respectable work. women are there to have a moralizing influence on young men, but women are there also to distract the men from going to paris, right?
9:21 am
so how do you recruit that woman? you want her to be mama, and you want her to be cute enough to keep the boys from going to paris. wink, wink, right? ow do you do that? how do you recruit both of those influences at the same time in one human being? you want her to be old enough that she's not swayed by khaki fever, that she can live in a world surrounded by thousands of men, to not be bothered by that, but she still needs to be young enough that those men want to go to the hut to be near her. if anybody is in marketing, try to make that advertisement. how do you bring all those things together? more importantly to me anyway,
9:22 am
what does this do for women who were called on to do that work? how does a woman like emma young dixon balance all of that? i want to use her experiences to talk about that work a little bit, what she did in the war, how she managed that, and all of the emotions of that work. emma is somebody i found ccidentally. like many things that happen in the archives. i was the university of archivists d the kept saying there is this collection you need to see, and i'm like i'm here to see the archives for the ymca, let me get through these boring documents, boxes of that, and he said, "you need to see this collection," and one day he just put it on the desk. i opened the box, and inside was this amazing collection of this woman's diary that starts
9:23 am
on the day she leaves to go to france. her passport is there, her photographs she took, copies of letters she wrote home, letters she received from family, from friends. this letter on top is the letter she got from the wife of a soldier who was in a hospital she worked at, and she wrote a letter on his behalf because he could not write at that time. the wife wrote her a thank you note back. i love this card at the bottom, the version of hallmark cards in world war i. it says to our boy who's off at war, and her mother scratched out "boy" and wrote "girl." an amazing collection. of course i open it up and read the first page, ok, you were right. so here we are. but emma has just a fascinating background. she was born in 1891.
9:24 am
her father, william dixon worked for andrew carnegie's homestead plant in pennsylvania and worked his way up through that and resigned in protest er canegie's protest and treatment of workers. he moved the family to new jersey where he worked for and became vice president of midvale steel, and it is pretty safe to say that the family was financially comfortable. this was their home in montclair. it actually no longer exists. there are about three homes on that lot right now, but they had a comfortable existence. emma had a privileged childhood. she had french and german utors in the home. in this family photo, this is her on the left with the violin. she had private violin lessons. this is a time when most americans did not travel are -- far from their home and she traveled all over the place,
9:25 am
all the way across the continent, through the west on the train. she had been to britain. she traveled through the west indies. she had sailed through the panama canal as it was being constructed. she had had this amazing childhood at a time when very few americans had a childhood like that. her home here, they had parties all the time. there was a group that called itself the llewellyn ensemble, after the street name. they met in one of the wings of the house, and they were a symphony that met and played and it became the new jersey symphonic orchestra. the parties made it into the "new york times" style section. she had a nice childhood. they were comfortable people, but they were also -- her father quit working for carnegie because of the treatment of workers. they were also socially conscious and from the early days of american involvement in world war i, emma wanted to do something.
9:26 am
like a lot of women at the time, she took first aid classes through the red cross, volunteered rolling what she called impossibly long bandages. for the red cross. she did what women were supposed to do at that time. but it was not enough. she said nearly every home in montclair had a blue star flag in its window, and she says -- and i think this is an amazing quote here, and i'm getting ahead of myself -- like the famous poster here, she said she wished that i, too, had been a man to have a small part in this great conflict. she applied to the ymca a couple of times. they actually rejected her the first time because they said she was too young. she was 25. she applied again after doing more red cross volunteer work and they finally took her, and she was accepted into the program. this is her in the center going to france, so she is on her
9:27 am
way. when she gets to france, she is tasked with establishing a canteen for the seventh machine gun battalion for the aas third division. a speech the first day. this is her outside the hut with one of many young doughboys who show up. she gave a speech on the opening day and said that her task was a much bigger job than she dreamed it would be, and she felt very little and incompetent measured beside it. it is an interesting scene because she is standing on a stage and there are all these high-ranking officials standing behind her and she keeps referencing how nervous they are making her and she is really here to help the boys, and she says she is there to do all the things your mothers and sisters would do if they only ad the chance. her daily existence in the war
9:28 am
was getting up early, making hot chocolate, organizing games for the men, organizing dances, which were an absolute hit across france, as you might imagine, and she played her violin. the violin in the picture i showed you, she carried that across france and played that for the men. she knew french, so she taught the men the little bit of french here and there. frequently, it was enough to be able to ask a woman "how are you? how old are you?" it was that kind of french. i'm not sure the goal was being met by this program. that was her kind of existence. she was timid at first. she talked about how she was nervous. she quickly adapted and came to like going into the field very much. whenever they had the chance, they would take the hot chocolate out into the field, and she came to like that. like many women, she quickly
9:29 am
started to see herself as having this camaraderie with the soldiers. like many women, they start to chafe against what they think are very old-fashioned rules about what women can and cannot do. in her case in particular, the third division, as we heard earlier this morning, goes near -- is ordered forward to château thierry to defend against what would be the last german offensive, and she complains when they go that she cannot go, too. this is the page from her diary. june 2. the news from the front is still terrible. this mr. stewart was one of her supervisors. she talks about how the news is that the seventh machine gun is now under fire. i hate this waiting. hy can't we help, too? picture this young girl crying for her boyfriend on the boat
9:30 am
and being very nervous, and now she is complaining she cannot go forward to what she knows is a very dangerous situation, right? fortunately for her -- maybe not fortunately for her -- she was one of about 50 ymca women who were allowed to go forward. the rule was women cannot go forward beyond the brigade headquarters without the commander's permission, so once this started and they started to set up field hospitals, they said some of the ymca women forward to work in hospitals. emma had no training as a nurse. she probably could not have told you the difference between a band-aid and anything else. she had no training as a nurse, but the thought was, "well, they are women. hey will be fine." what they ended up doing was writing letters for wounded soldiers, bringing them things they needed, that kind of work.
9:31 am
the thought was they are women, they will be comforting. this is the presumption about what women do. working in this hospital was profoundly disturbing for mma. she wrote a lot about how hard it was to see the patients. there was a group of prisoners of war brought to the area and she saw them and wrote a lot about how that really affected her. she saw a lot of gassed patients and that was deeply disturbing to her. to see patients who had been gassed in the hospital. she is writing and her diary about how horrific these experiences are and trying to come to terms with that herself. she's 25, 26, away from home, lonely, going through all the same emotions that any of these folks are who are away from home and trying to reconcile all of that. she characterized herself as a substitute for the men's
9:32 am
mothers and sisters, but then you turn the page, and there are photographs like this in her diary as well. this is a common kind of entry. she says here about 9:30, captain sweeney came around and said he wanted to tell me something. i wasn't crazy to hear it, but as long as he was on his way to the front, i thought he might as well get it off his chest, so i kidded him along and told him i was entirely too busy to get married right now. jack came to say goodbye and i hate to think he may not see him again. on one hand, is kind of sweet, he's going to the front, wants to propose again. on the other hand, she says she's heard it a thousand times. he's not the only one who has proposed marriage to her. put yourself in her shoes -- why does she hear him out? because he is on his way to the front. she knows he may not come back
9:33 am
from the front, so she feels it is her job as a representative of the ymca, as one of these canteen women, to hear him out, to allow all of these men to propose marriage over and over and over, even though she is tired of it. in the beginning of the war, when she got there, she's young, right? she had a boyfriend at home. she missed him. it might be fun to have captain sweeney and this guy, whoever he is, they all come tell you -- you know, they are just swooning and they like to be around you and that was robably fun for a while. then after a while it got really old, but as the canteen woman, you cannot ever let him think that it got old. he is on his way to the front. you've got to let him propose marriage again, so what is that
9:34 am
like for a 25-year-old woman away from home for the first ime in her life? here is another picture of another ymca woman and two love smitten doughboys. this entry really makes me laugh. she says after supper, the marine lieutenant took us for a walk and we sat by the river. it is a most romantic spot, but we did not linger long. dr. vuic: they have kind of figured it out. just a sentence, but it's interesting to show how these women have learned to deflect that attention. you're not going to tell lieutenant palmer and lieutenant peck that i'm too tired and i don't want to go for a walk by the river again. you cannot tell them that. that is not what you are therefore, but you can learn that you cannot stay there long
9:35 am
because they are going to get, i guess, the reverse of khaki fever. they are going to get ymca girl fever. they have to deflect that kind of attention without making the men feel upset, without being rude, without doing any of that. what i find interesting about this, too, is that this work calls on these women to absolutely reverse all of the social conventions that they have been raised to expect and to do. 1917, it is never, never on respectable women to make the first move or to go talk to a strange man you have never met before. never, never, never. that is not what you do. this work demands that you do that every day all day long. a lot of the women talk about how they were so uncomfortable with that and they had to learn to kind of get out of their
9:36 am
skin and be uncomfortable and walked up to people you had never met before, people you would never associate with at home, right? this is a very stratified american society. all but three of them are white women. several of these women write home about -- you can kind of see them teasing their parents in these letters, too. one woman writes about this new friendship she has with an irish boxer. she writes her dad -- probably not the smartest idea she ever had, but she writes her dad and says, "imagine if i started associating with an irish boxer at home." right? she's kind of like "you can't do anything about it," on one hand. but she's an irish boxer. she's not writing her dad saying i'm associating with some of these african-american soldiers in the war. there are definite limits to
9:37 am
what these women will embrace, so you have to keep the swirling in the back of your head when thinking about these programs, but i do think it is a fun exercise to kind of let yourself in their shoes and imagine what that daily life is like for these women. the war ends, the allies win. like all of these women, they are bound by no contract. they could have left at any moment. while she is very relieved the war is over and wants desperately to go home, she kind of decides she's not going to go home because these men are not going home yet. remember, they have to get on boats, and it takes everybody a long time to get home, so she decides that her job and her allegiance should be with these men, to stay and wait for months after the war to go home with them. all of that changes, however, when dad sends a telegram and says unless you are urgently needed, we think you should
9:38 am
come home, so she came home. she had been there a little over a year. a few months later, she got engaged to graham. he later said that he was not the first or only man to propose to her, but he was the last. they got engaged after she came home and got married. they had two sons and a daughter and a world war ii, the mother followed her daughter into the military and joined the navy's wave. nd served in world war ii. emma lived to 92. emma is buried now in montclair, new jersey beside graham. i think her story is an interesting one. in terms of historical record, it's interesting. also because we know what happens to emma after the war. most of these women kept diaries during the war. they went home and stop keeping diaries, and we sort of lose them to historical record. emma's case is unique in that she kept a lot of records. her daughter, who became the
9:39 am
wave and world war ii, really got interested in her mother's story and found a lot of things and collected and donated it all to the university of minnesota, so we really have a nice collection. the archivist was right. if you ever go in the archivist is like, "you really need to look at this," you probably should listen. they know what they are talking about. what does it all mean? what can we learn from women like emma? what significance does this have beyond the war? in the case of world war i,this links women's work to popular understanding of what women did and what was acceptable work for women, and it creates a new kind of wartime role that allows women to go to the war in these new ways, have these new experiences that ultimately profoundly shape all their lives, right? they talk a lot about how this has deeply influenced them and changed their perspective, even
9:40 am
if they go home and moved back into what was considered a sort of conventional women's life, like emma who went home, got married, had kids, did not work outside the home for wages. she did what a lot of women of her social class did, but she still talked about how the war had profoundly shape her life and perspective, right? so we can learn things like that, but i think it is also important to remember that this is a critical moment for american women. right? women's suffrage had been moving along as an effort for a very long time, but in the years prior to world war i had started to have more success and really became a popular issue sort of beyond the suffrage movement and something the public got behind the cousin of the war, right? so when you have women who are serving in the war to make the world safe for democracy,
9:41 am
becomes a little harder to deny democracy at home. when president wilson spoke to the senate and encouraged it to vote for enfranchisement, he cited women's participation in the war and support. as his justification. he said the war could not have been fought if it had not been for the services of women. services rendered in every sphere. not merely in the field of effort with which we had been accustomed to seeing them work but wherever men have worked and upon the very skirts and edges of the battle itself. he compared women's service to that of soldiers and said that if soldiers had been denied the suffrage, we would give soldiers the right to vote. just as soldiers have the right to vote, women should as well. he said that the nation had depended on their service and the nation then owed them the suffrage in exchange. that was not an argument that
9:42 am
made all suffragists happy because a lot of women were saying, "we are human beings and we deserve the right to vote because we are human beings." wilson is saying, "they served in the war, therefore they deserve the right to vote." it was not an argument that made everybody happy, but it worked. in large ways and small ways, the war changed these women. i think women changed the war. certainly changed the way the military thought about how it sent soldiers abroad, changed the ways the military thought about how to mobilize men, how to make that mobilization palatable to the public at home, it certainly expanded the ways in which women could participate in the war and in public life. i would be happy to take questions that you all have and
9:43 am
to think about this in new ways. [applause] >> i'm curious if, of the 3500 women, if there were any casualties or injuries that occurred. if they did, what did it do to the program? how would the american public take to that? dr. vuic: the question was -- were there any casualties among these women? and there were. most of the time, it is something like you get influenza -- very common. one particular case, there is a woman, winona stevens, who sailed to france and told her family and friends that she
9:44 am
knew the war would be dangerous and she was willing to risk the danger and actually never made it to the canteen. she got bronchitis on the ship on the way over and was sent to a hospital in france as soon as she arrived and the hospital was bombed, and she died in hat bombing. what i find really interesting is the way -- sort of the question was also about how the public dealt with these casualties. how was the public going to think about women who were killed in war. they are still not sure what they think about sending women to war. what happens when they die? the ymca praised this woman's service and said she died a soldier's death, and i think that phrase is really interesting. she died a soldier's death. they gave her as much respect as they could give her. they said she was a symbol of women, of the spirit of the doughboys. they kind of talked about her as being equal in service, and
9:45 am
i think that is a really interesting way in which these organizations talked about that. there were some casualties versus the one most people would have heard about because of the way that it was covered n the press. yeah, good question. thank you. >> how is the home front and morale and issues like this addressed in the military today, and how you see it playing out in the future with more and more women being nvolved in military service? dr. vuic: another great question. what does it look like for women in the audience? the dallas cowboy cheerleaders, a good number of people in the audience are women. the short version is entertainment has changed quite a bit. we do not have as many programs like this that just send women as symbols of home anymore.
9:46 am
the entertainment the military gets today is primarily through the uso and through the armed forces professional entertainment office which sends musical groups, theatrical groups that most of us have never heard of, but are kind of trying to make it big. there's been some discussion -- probably not enough -- about what kinds of entertainment in terms of how women are presented, so again, you have everything from, you know, women authors going to visit, women comedians, women actors -- all the sort of things you see in the press today -- alongside very scantily clad suggestive dancers, and i think the conversation about how that should look in a military that includes a whole lot of women, that also includes a whole lot of older men who are fathers, right? the demographics are changing. we are not sending women abroad
9:47 am
to entertain and distract a single 20-year-old boy from being seduced by paris anymore. our military includes a whole lot of those 19-year-old single boys, but it also includes a lot of dads, a lot of fathers, a lot of mothers, so i think we are getting to the point where we really need to think about what kinds of entertainment we are sending as the representative of home. we still want to send home. we still have organizations that do that, but we might want to think harder about what that means. i will say entertainment is different, too, in today's environment because you can skype home at any moment. home is right on your phone. it is very different than previous wars where you are waiting on letters, you know, that kind of thing. home means something very different today as an ideal but also as a reality. another great question. >> you talk a lot about self
9:48 am
identity for some of these women. what do they bring back to the country? it seems like they are living a very difficult and different life than some of the men are. how does that affect what happens when they go back to the country? are they disappointed when they go back home? dr. vuic: another great question. another moment where i wish some of these women would keep journals when they go home because there are fewer accounts that would help me answer your question more extensively. emma gives one of the few cases we have of women who we can follow through the historical record. what i found is that most of these women, because of their social class, right? so most of these women are not s comfortable as emma, let's say, but they were women who were able to go to war because their families did not need their wages at home. these women were paid for their work, but if you were lower
9:49 am
middle class, you needed to work in a job where you could work more hours and your family got your wages. these women, when they come home, they generally move back into that kind of upper middle class, even wealthy life, and for most of these women, that meant going back into your community, getting married, getting involved in kind of women's causes. some of them form an organization because they are not veterans, they are not in the military, they are not veterans, but some of them do form an organization, the women's overseas service league, that kind of lobbied for attention to their service, for people to recognize what they had done and moving forward as more and more women served in the military, pushing for greater access to those roles and for the doors to open to women's military service. even if they are moving into conventional women's work, they are still advocating for
9:50 am
increased opportunities for women in wartime in articular. >> with a segregated army at the time, what was the chances of an african-american soldier seeing that giant bat of hot chocolate or being invited into one of those huts? what was the experience of the three african-american women in his program? dr. vuic: yeah, another great question. by and large, the ymca -- well, it depends on the situation. the ymca generally segregated huts. sometimes it operated huts that it would allow african-american soldiers to come into, but what you also see happen in those cases is that the military finds out about it and comes in and segregates it, closes it down to african-american soldiers. the three women who were tasked with serving donuts and hot
9:51 am
chocolate to african-american soldiers were, to put it mildly, overwhelmed. one of the best books about this is by two of these women who wrote a very detailed and great account of their service, and they talk about the men lining up around the building and waiting and waiting and waiting, but also feeling like they are there as representatives of all african-american women in the united states and really feeling that weight in a way that white women did not talk about that. they do not write in their diaries, "i feel the burden of representing white womanhood." it is sort of the invisibility of race for them. african-american women see the ways in which these african-american soldiers are treated and all the hardships they face, and they deal even more profoundly that they want to help but are overwhelmed, to put it mildly, but also recognize, you know, that "i have come here to fight for freedom and democracy, too," and one of the women rights
9:52 am
home on a segregated ship -- rides home on a segregated ship and becomes even more determined. that's one of the cases where you can see that kind of influence later. >> i just had a question because in my research, you know, they sent the ymca and some of the other groups -- the salvation army -- to discourage fights, chief among them prostitution. they said the french army had one million men at any given time suffering from venereal disease. the writtish army had several equivalents suffering. they sent these groups to discourage these kind of pursuits, and yet, the doughboys, because they were
9:53 am
paid so much more than the french and british, were constantly having to resort to prostitutes, and that is the one piece that is missing. i'm just sort of wondering if you cover that -- dr. vuic: yeah, this is the pg version. > all the refugees, there is just a school of women behind the lines, americans are paid so highly, and i just wonder if you cover that. dr. vuic: yeah, as you are saying, the military keeps detailed records of the man-hours they are losing because these guys are laid up in a hospital sick. one of their concerns in world war i is this is not just about -- you want to make the american public feel like your boys are not doing this sort of thing, not involved in these shenanigans, but they are also concerned about pragmatic issues. you cannot fight the war if they are all laid up in a hospital with syphilis. it's just not going to happen, and that is the argument that
9:54 am
actually convinced pershing to get behind these programs. pershing on the mexican border had regulated brothels for soldiers and thought it was the most pragmatic solution to what he said was a big problem, so this marked a departure for the military in saying that we need to be concerned about keeping them away from the prostitutes or being seduced by the prostitutes. the men, they never seek this out. again, they are optimistic people. it does not quite work out like that, and they keep detailed records about how many man-hours they are losing and what it is costing them in terms of military manpower, what they are losing in that. that concern shifts over the course of the century by world war ii. they are not as concerned about losing man-hours because they can just give you shots, so the concern about losing man-hours goes away and they deal with those kinds of questions in far
9:55 am
ifferent ways. >> i hear that our last question is going to take less than 15 seconds to ask. >> it will be very quick, i promise. you mentioned at the very end of your talk about wilson's justification for supporting voting rights. i'm curious if you found any evidence to support his reasoning behind that in terms of the way in which it such changing the way we think about citizenship. dr. vuic: a really great book just came out called "second line of defense" that runs through women's roles and world war ii. wilson -- i wonder if he is -- he is getting tired of these women talking about it and mobilizes women's efforts and he needs women working
9:56 am
in factories and getting behind the war effort more generally speaking, and he kind of comes around to this to say women have served in the war, we are going to give them suffrage, ut again, that is limited. wilson resegregated washington, d.c. he does not have the same argument for african-americans who have also served in the war. he is limiting that, hedging his bets, but again, great question. >> ladies and gentlemen, if you do not want the pg version but the pg-13 version or beyond, i suggest you pick up dr. dixon vuic's book and also you remember her call out to everyone in the audience and watching online -- do not ignore your archivist. e were always welcome you to go downstairs to our edward jones research center. our archivist unfortunately is not here today, but i do believe he might that he might be here tomorrow. you can certainly grab his card. find his information online. ladies and gentlemen, if you
9:57 am
would join me in thanking dr. dixon vuic. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp.2018] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] >> in late december 1968, apollo 8 with three astronauts onboard reached the moon's orbit for the first time. the crew's christmas eve live tv broadcast ended the tumultuous year and the mission successfully cleared the way for the 1969 moon landing. to mark the 50th anniversary, this monday, american history tv features oral history interviews with astronauts, decisions with authors and archival films from our real america series. here's a preview. >> december 21, 1968, the
9:58 am
shortest day of the year. but in significance, perhaps the longest in the flow of history. >> this is apollo launch control, we are still go at this time. 11, 10, 5, 14, 13, 12, nine, we have ignition sequence . the engines are on. five. four, three, two, one, zero. we have submit. we have liftoff. liftoff at 7:51 a.m. eastern standard time. we have cleared. >> clear, 13 second. >> the united states was undertaking the most distant voyage ever attempted by man. for the first time, three
9:59 am
americans rode the saturn 5 moon rocket. >> apollo 8 houston, you are go. >> roger, under. >> apollo 8? >> we hear you loud and clear, apollo 8. >> the first stage was very smooth and this one is smoother. >> you can watch oral history interview with apollo 8 astronauts and archival films from our real america series starting 10:30 a.m. it is american history tv, marking the 50th anniversary of the 1968 mission to orbit the
10:00 am
moon. >> next on "the civil war," historian catherine clinton talks about the wide range of roles women took on during the civil war. she also addresses what aspects of women's lives during this era have been researched by historians and what topics future scholars might explore. pamplin historical park in virginia hosted this hour-long talk. jerry desmond: it is my pleasure to introduce our first speaker for the symposium. catherine clinton is a graduate of both harvard and princeton, and currently holds the denman chair of american history at the university of texas in san antonio, and is professor emerita at queen's university in belfast. she has served on the executive council of the society of american historians and on the

41 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on