Skip to main content

tv   American Women in World War I France  CSPAN  December 28, 2018 10:05pm-11:05pm EST

10:05 pm
and investigations . >> the senate, conflict and compromise, a c-span original production, explore the history, traditions and role of this uniquely american institution. it premieres wednesday at 8 pm eastern and pacific on c-span. be sure to go online to learn more about the program and watch original full link programs with senators, view farewell speeches and take a tour inside the senate chamber . >> during the spanish-american war, the ymca initiated a program to recruit women to bring a little home to u.s. troops abroad. in this program, cara dixon talked about the women who were sent to france during world war i that she is the author of the
10:06 pm
girls next door, bringing the home front to the front lines, this is one hour. on that it is my pleasure to introduce our next speaker in our symposium, dr. cara dixon is the lieutenant corporal benjamin w smit professor of war conflict and society in the 20th century america that a professor at texas university, research focused on 20th- century wars and how they shaped and been shaped by american society and culture. her work also examines women's history, fully women's military and wartime experience in the relationship between the u.s. military and gender. she is the author of an officer nurse woman, the army nurse corps in the vietnam war and the editor of the handbook on gender war in the u.s.
10:07 pm
military. her latest book, the girl next door, american women and military recreation released in 2019. ladies and gentlemen, please help me welcome dr. cara dixon buick. [ applause ] . >> good afternoon and thank you for hanging in there with us. i want to say i'm honored to be here. as laura mentioned, i have a position in memory of a student tc schmidt who joined the corps and lost his life in afghanistan in 2011. his parents and family and a whole host of friends created this position because as his father says he knows the cost of war on society and on this one hundredth anniversary of the commemoration to the end of world war i, i think this is a
10:08 pm
profound task and i'm honored to be here and part of it. i like to start this afternoon with someone who knew a little about the cost of war, a young woman named emma young dixon. on april 3, 1918, a young woman from montclair new jersey, boarded the ship and headed to the warren plants. only 26 years old she was nervous about her impending adventure. her parents accompany her and they make their final goodbyes and now she's on her own for the first time in her life. lost and teary she gained her courage and boarded the ss espana. they left the harbor at 3:45 am in a drizzly rain and then confess that i buried my face in a lavender sweet peas and orchids that graeme sent me while i watch the new york skyline skate fade from view. she wrote i knew he was
10:09 pm
somewhere behind the barb wire fence,. and almost wished i'd stayed home. when i could see more more i went down to my roommates. emma didn't spend too much time for mark's had arrived and observed it would take a half hour to reach the ship if it were torpedoed. dixon was one of about 3500 women who went to france, britain and stayed in occupied germany. most of those went with the ymca and 100 went with the salvation army and they were known as lassies, women who were hired to go serve doughnuts and this
10:10 pm
began a long history of the american military sending women abroad to entertain and that is what the book mentions, long history of these programs. this is something that will start a long history. world war i, these women were typically in their late 20s and were for the most part single and were overwhelmingly white. there were three african- american women who were sent abroad to work with about 200,000 african-american soldiers who were also sent to the war. this picture is a pretty good depiction of these women, somehow puppies keep making an appearance but it's quite hilarious that a lot of these groups have mascots like this, so these dogs do make a
10:11 pm
frequent appearance . >> the women open these hats when you can go, and you can buy cigarettes, razors, you can get hot cocoa, coffee, pen and paper to write home, but most importantly, you can see american growth from home. when conditions of the war permitted, the women operated with they called rolling kitchens they take the boilers out in trucks and go as far forward as since permit serve hot cocoa and pass out oranges which were a big deal for men who didn't get fruit very often move out from the field this continues in world war ii with famous women like marlene dietrich, more commonly women you've never heard of who work with the red cross. it keeps
10:12 pm
going in korea, marilyn monroe is probably the most famous of the women who went that much more common were women, college graduates from home who joined the red in the same day the vietnam war. they stopped serving coffee and started serving kool-aid, so little adjustments were made but again it's the same idea, sending women from home to entertain soldiers and provide a brief reminder of home, something different from the war to relieve boredom and stress. us to do this though the kinds of entertainment we send have changed dramatically. elmo did not go to vietnam, north korea or the civic theater. but given the changing demographics of the military today, sesame street has begun
10:13 pm
a tour several years ago but we still send the dallas cowboy cheerleaders among other groups of professional cheerleaders, dancers, etc. , into war zones all over the middle east, and being a texan i'm hesitant to mention this because i'm afraid the state of texas will come find me, when mentioning the dallas cowboy cheerleaders with anything other than the utmost respect but nonetheless, we are still sending these kinds of entertainment that's 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 cost a lot of money and takes a lot of effort to manage all of the kinds of transportation issues you might imagine, security issues that you could imagine would be necessary. this is not an easy task and
10:14 pm
takes a lot of effort and comes from the top down in the military. this is an a bunch of gis sitting in france saying would like some girls from home to come over, it doesn't come that way it's a top-down kind of military organization. so what does it tell us, why are they doing this, what does it tell us about world war i and about how the war effort in the united states mobilizes the home front, what can we learn about the women's experiences and what does it tell us about what the military thinks of the doughboy. this is about the doughboy, what can we learn about the presumptions about men, what is this all about that's why were here. so those are the questions were trying to answer throughout the book but to start with world war i, this is an era in which the public is changing its
10:15 pm
perceptions of the u.s. military. before world war i, most americans thought differently of enlisted soldiers. officers were different officers came from middle and upper classes but enlisted soldiers, most americans thought of them as hard to scrabble man and did thankless work. if you think about where they were before world war i, they are primarily in the western frontier and parts of mexico. in the stories that came out of the military camps, they were not the kinds of stories that would make parents say, yes, i'm gonna send my kids to the military and they will become a good, wholesome upright citizen. the stories coming out of military camp involved pg-13 level stories, cognizant and
10:16 pm
giving the pg version but making sure everyone is falling around. the stories were not great stories. the guys were thought to be getting involved in nefarious activities. most americans didn't care because they want their sons, it's someone else's boy and those guys were doing thankless work and deserve to have a little distributable fun. most americans didn't care. but as we get closer to 1917, this is the progressive era so religious organizations the social welfare organizations, starting to get concerned about things like public health so, things going on in military camps were pretty concerning to these people. , what really changed is that uncle sam says i want you. when selected service came in, now americans who said we don't
10:17 pm
care what's going on on the mexican border, all of a sudden they do have to care because now your son might be drafted and sent to one of these camps. the average american pays attention to what's going on in military training camps and starts to have 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 was a civil war that had not gone so well and it was very controversial. so, when the american government had a selective service act, there was a whole lot of pr behind-the-scenes trying to convince the public that this would be a good thing. so, there is a massive effort on the part of the military and the government to say that military service will make your son a man, we will take your son and train him up cannot
10:18 pm
just in military techniques but in everything he needs to know for the war, we will train him and given education , we will teach him all sorts of things and make him a good citizen. the key to all of that is recreation programs. organizations like the ymca, salvation army, knights of columbus, jewish well fingerboard, all of these groups started to coordinate with the military to create programs in military training camps at home and also to send the those overseas when they went to france. that is part of this effort the idea of sending women abroad and serving donuts that was part of the broader effort to think about military service in america. . key to all of that are these women, progressive reformers, military officials all agreed
10:19 pm
that the best safeguard against sending lowly doughboys to france was women. if you take all of this, he's always a boy, if were going to take your boy and make him a man , the key to that is sending women. one military officials does the right kind of women would remind young men of the young men, women sisters and sweetheart and inspire them to walk the straight and narrow. another official is men must be furnished with helpful amusement or they will turn to the first petticoat they see. when i talk to young students they all google about hopefully you guys understand, you've got
10:20 pm
to send the right kind of women or these men will be distracted by and seduced by, these men never solicited women they were entrapped by them, they were very passive victims. but, key to that, he wants to keep them away from other women and we need to send the right kind of women from france and france is a big spear compounding all the fears. so, not only is the military scary enough to put them in france which is the land of debauchery and it just compounded exponentially. we are going to send american women and that seems a bit optimistic. but give them that.
10:21 pm
spoiler alert, it doesn't quite work out like they planned. but, the military and civilian organizations all agree, despite the fact it doesn't quite work out as they hope they agreed at the end of the war they couldn't do without these were efforts or women so they agree that all of them at the end of the war that they will do this again. so were going to send over these women and all will be fine and again, it does seem silly, it seems rather optimistic that fits with contemporary ideas of what people thought women were in 1917 and fit with women's own explanations of how they can enter politics and enter public life. so, the general thought by most americans was that women were more moral than men and more religious than they would have that kind of influence on men.
10:22 pm
women were starting to say if we aren't having more influence why can't we be more involved, why don't you give us the right to vote so we can clean up politics. women harness that rhetoric to say if you think were more moral than let us participate in have that influence. that fits the time period but this is kind of what women were starting to say. now, not all women who went to world war i with mothers the vast majority of them were not but the idea of women as the maternal figure really help the american public come to terms with women going to war in new ways. the american public was not comfortable with women in a war zone. nurses were one thing and they
10:23 pm
had a bit of trouble with that in world war i, we weren't quite so comfortable with even as women nurses but it made sense. they were less comfortable with women in the military and less comfortable with women coming to war zones and didn't quite know what to make of those women . many people fear those women had ulterior motives, suspected that they were motivated by what they called at the time, catchy fever. women cannot be or are swayed by uniforms and can help themselves or their is a suspicion that any woman who might want to go to a war zone must have khaki fever and we can't trust her . >> but if you talk about women in maternal terms and in this maternal way it justifies this and makes you more comfortable with the notion of sending women abroad even if they're not mothers. so, the public sees a lot of this kind of image
10:24 pm
in which women become representatives 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's what you want and that rhetoric eases women into the war even for women who are not mothers. this idea of sending ymca hats and knights of columbus huts, all of this was characterized as a home away from home, it's a home where if you are a mother sitting at home worried about your boy is been drafted and going to france this is the image you want . >> this is where your boy goes when he has to chance, he's welcomed here by the women at the door, this is just like him and he will have good friends and good influences to demoralizing influences surrounding him.
10:25 pm
it's very comforting for families and sweetheart and wife's and for the american public the progressive era of people are optimistic. this is a very comforting and very reassuring image. so, it creates a new role for women in war and that's where i get the title of the talk, ymca officials is a new kind of woman is following the army. he's referencing the fact that women have followed armies for many years and is saying this is a new kind of woman, a respectable woman, this is something we can all get behind a new kind of woman is following the army. but, try to put yourself in this position. right? all of these organizations, ymca, salvation army, military, they all talk about this working very respect
10:26 pm
double terms. the ymca is not just your gym in 1917. this is a very religious organizations with religious goals in mind. the salvation army has a very religious goal in mind and they think of their work as evangelizing to troops. these are organizations that say this is very respectable work and women are there to have a moralizing influence on men. women are there to distract them in from going to paris. right? so, how do you recruit that woman. do you want her to be mama? you want her to be cute enough to keep the boys from going to paris. how do you do that, how do you recruit both of those influences at the same time with one human being. you want her to be old enough
10:27 pm
that she's not swayed by khaki fever, that she can live in a world surrounded by thousands of men and not be bothered by that. she still needs to be young enough that those men want to go to the hut to be near her. so, anyone in marketing, imagine how you make that advertisement. how do you bring those things together. more importantly to me is what does this do for women who were called on to do this work. how does a woman like dixon balance all of that. so, i want to use amots experiences to talk about that work, what she did in the war, how she managed that and all of the emotions of that work. she is someone i found accidentally like many things
10:28 pm
that happen in the archives. i was at the university of minnesota and the archivist kept saying, there's a collection you need to see and i said okay, i'm here to see the archives for the ymca, let me get through all these boring documents and he kept saying no , 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 on the day she leaves to go to france. her passport is in their. photographs she took. copies of letters that she wrote home, she has letters that she received from family and friends in this letter on the top is a letter that she got from the wives of a soldier who was in a hospital that she worked at and wrote a letter to a wife on his behalf the wife
10:29 pm
wrote her a thank you note back. i love the part at the bottom, the version of a hallmark card from world war i and it says, to her boy he's off at war and her mother wrote it -- pot and scratched off boy and wrote girl. it's an amazing collection when i opened it and read the first page i'm like okay, you were right. so, here we are. but, emma has a fascinating background. she was born in 1891 and her father worked for andrew carnegie's homestead plant and worked his way up through that and resigned in protest over the treatment of workers. he moved the family to new jersey where he worked for and became vice president of midvale steel and it's safe to say the family was financially comfortable. this was their home in montclair
10:30 pm
. it no longer exists there are three homes on the lot right now but they had a very comfortable existence. she had a very privileged childhood with french and german tutors in the home. in this family photo, this is her on the left with the violin. she had private violin lessons. this was a time when most americans didn't travel far from their home but she traveled all over the place all the way across the continent. she been to britain and the west indies and sailed through the panama canal aisle as it was being constructed did, she had this amazing childhood in a time when few americans had a childhood like that. home, they had parties all the time and there was a group that called itself the low when an ensemble llewellyn was the
10:31 pm
street name in the met in one of the wings of the house and there was a symphony that met and played and became the new jersey symphonic orchestra. the parties made it to 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 his treatment of workers, they were socially conscious and from the early days of american involvement in world war i, she wanted to do something. like a lot of women of that time she took first aid classes through the red cross and volunteered on unrolling what were eternally long bandages for the red cross that she did what women were supposed to do at that time but it was not enough. she said later that nearly every home in montclair had a blue star in its window and she
10:32 pm
said, and this is an amazing quote, like the famous poster, she said i wish that i too had been a man and had a small part in this great conflict. she applied to the ymca a couple times, they rejected her the first time because she was too young. 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 front center on the ship going to france. and, she's on her way. when she gets to prance she's tasked with establishing a campaign for the seventh machine gun at battalion of the third division. so, she gave a speech the first day and this is her outside the hut with one of many young doughboys who show up.
10:33 pm
she gave a speech opening day and said her cast was a much bigger job than she dreamed it would be and felt very little and incompetent measured beside it. it's an interesting scene because she's on a stage and there are high-ranking officials and she is referencing, nervous there making her and she's here to help the boys and she's doing all the things the mothers and sisters would do if she had the chance, so her daily existence was getting up early, making hot chocolate, organizing games , they were an absolute hit and she played the violin. the violin, she carry that across france and played that for the men. she knew friends
10:34 pm
-- french. she taught french here and there a very limited. i'm not sure the goal was being met by this initially. but that was her existence. she was timid at first, she was nervous but she triply adopted -- quickly adapted and enjoyed the field, whenever they took the chance they would take hot chocolate into the field and came to like that. like many women, she quickly started to see herself as having camaraderie with soldiers. like many women they start to chase old-fashioned rules about what women can and can't do. so in her case in particular, the third division as we heard earlier this morning, goes near
10:35 pm
is ordered forward and she complains when they go that she can't go also. so, this is a page from her diary, the news is so parable and mistress to it was one of her supervisors and she talks about how the news is that the seventh machine gun is under fire. i hate this watchful waiting . >> picture this young girl crying with her boyfriend on the boat and being very nervous and now she's complaining that she can't go forward to what she knows is a danger. so for her, fortunately for her or maybe not, she was one of about 50 ymca women who were allowed to go forward the world was that women couldn't go forward beyond the brigade headquarters without the commander's permission. so, once this started and they
10:36 pm
started to set up field hospitals they sent some of the women forward to working hospitals. but she had no training as a nurse and probably couldn't have told you the difference between a band-aid and anything else. she had no training as a nurse but the thought was that they were women and would be fine. so, they sent them forward, they will be comforting to these men but, what they ended up doing was writing letters for wounded soldiers and bringing them things they needed . again, the thought was they are women and they will be comforting, inking back to 1917 or 1918, this is the presumption about what women do. but she wrote a lot about how hard it was to see the patient's. there were a group of prisoners of war and she saw them and wrote a lot about how that affected her. it was disturbing
10:37 pm
to see patients who had been gassed at the hospital. she writes in the diary about how horrific the experiences are in trying to come to terms with that herself, she's going through all the emotions that any folks are away from home and try to reconcile all of that. she characterizes herself as a substitute for mothers and sisters but when you turn the page, there are photographs like this in her diary and so, this is a common entry. she says here, about 9:30 pm captain sweeney came around and said he wanted to tell me something. i wasn't crazy to hear but as long as he was on his way to
10:38 pm
the front he might as will get it off his chest. so i told him i was entirely too busy to get married right now. jack came to say goodbye and i hate to think i may not see him again. on one hand, it's kind of sweet he's going to the front and wants to propose and on the other hand she says she's heard it 1000 times, he's not the only one who has proposed marriage but, put yourself in her shoes, why did she hear it now, because he's on his way to the front. she knows he may not come back from the front so she feels it's her job as a representative of the ymca to hear them out >> at the beginning of the war when she got there, she's young and she had a boyfriend at home, she kind of missed him.
10:39 pm
it might be confined to have captain sweeney and this guy whoever he is and some guy from kansas city come tell you, they are swooning and they like to be around you and that was probably fun for a while. for a while. then after a while it got really old but, as a canteen woman you cannot ever let him think it got old. he's on his way to the front and you've got to let him propose marriage so what's that like for 25-year- old woman away from home for the first time in her life. here's another picture of another woman into love smitten doughboys and this entry makes me laugh. she says, after supper the marine lieutenant palmer and pat , and palmer walken set by the
10:40 pm
river. it's the most romantic spot so we didn't linger long. they kind of figured it out . >> i think that's interesting, just the sentences interesting to show how these women have learned to deflect attention. you're not going to tell lieutenant palmer and pack i'm too tired and don't want to go for a walk by the river again. you can't. you cannot tell them that, that's not what you therefore but you can learn that you can't stay there long because they're going to get the reverse . without upsetting the men and being rude, without any of that, what i find interesting about this is that this work calls on the women to absolutely
10:41 pm
reverse all the social conventions they've been raised to expect. they had to learn to get out of their skin and be uncomfortable and walk up to people they've never met before, people they'd never associate with at home, this was a very stratus side american society, all but three of them are white women, several of these women they write home about and you can see them teasing their parents, one woman writes about the new friendship and she writes her
10:42 pm
dad about this friendship with the boxer and says imagine if i started associating with an irish boxer at home. right ? [ laughter ] >> she's kind of like you can't do anything about it, on one hand but he's an irish boxer, she's not writing her dad saying i am associating with african-american soldiers here at the war there are definite limits to what these women will embrace, so you have to keep these things swirling in the back of your head. but i do think it's a fun exercise to put them in your shoes and imagine what the daily life is like for these women. so, the war ends, the allies win , the war ends and like all of these women they are bound by no contact. so, while she's
10:43 pm
very relieved that the war is over and wants desperately to go home, she decides i'm not gonna go home because these men are not going home yet, remember you have to get on boats and it takes everybody a long time to get home, so she decides that her job and allegiance must be for these men to wait for months for the war to go home with them. all of that changes when dad sends a telegram and says we think you should come home, so she came home. she'd been there a little over a year and a few months later she got engaged to graham who later said he was not the first or only man to propose marriage but was the last. they got engaged a couple months after she got home and got married and had two sons and a daughter and in world war ii the daughter followed her mother
10:44 pm
into military service and served in world war ii. she lived until she was 92 and is buried now in montclair new jersey behind graham. her story is an interesting one and in terms of the historical record because we know what happens to emma after the war. for most women they kept diaries during the war and went home and stopped keeping diaries. so, emma's case is unique in that she kept a lot of records, her daughter who became the wave in world war ii, 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 have a nice collection there. if you ever go in the archivist is like no no no look at this, you should probably listen, they know what they're talking about. but again, what does it all mean.
10:45 pm
what can we learn from him and like emma -- women like emma. in the case of world war i, this linked work to popular understandings of what women did what was it unacceptable for women and creates a new wartime role that allows women to go to the war in these new ways and have new experiences that profoundly shape all of their life. they talk a lot about how this changes perspective even if they go home and move back into what was considered conventional women's lives, emma went home and got married had kids and didn't work outside the home for wages, she did what a lot of women of her social class did but, still talked about how the war had profoundly shaped her life in perspective. so, we can learn things like that.
10:46 pm
that's, i think it's also important to remember that this is a critical moment for american women. women's suffrage had been moving along as an effort for a very long time but, in years prior to world war i had more success and really became a popular issue beyond the suffrage movement and something the public got behind because of the war. so, when you have women who are serving in award to make the world safe for democracy, it becomes a little harder to deny democracy at home, president wilson spoke to the senate and encourage them to vote for enfranchisement he cited women service in the war as his justification and said the war could not of been fought by the nations engaged by america if it had not been for the services of women, services rendered in every sphere, not
10:47 pm
nearly in the fields of effort with which we were accustomed that wherever men have work and upon the very skirts and edges of the battle itself. you compared women service and said that if soldiers had been denied the suffrage we would give soldiers the right to vote so just as soldiers have the right to vote women should as well. he said that women depended on their surface and the nation that owed them suffrage and exchange. that was not an argument because a lot of women were simply saying were human beings and deserve the right to vote because were human beings. wilson is saying they served in the war and therefore deserve the right to vote. it wasn't an argument that made everyone happy so in large and small ways the war change these women, i
10:48 pm
think women changed the war they certainly change the ways the military thought about how it sent soldiers abroad in the way the military thought about how to mobilize men and make that mobilization palatable to the public at home and it certainly expanded the ways in which women could participate in the war and in public life . >> so, i would be happy to take questions you may have or to think about this in new ways. [ applause ]
10:49 pm
if there were any casualties of the 3500 women that occurred, if they did what did it do to the program and how would the american public take to that. >> the question is where there casualties among these women and there were. most of the time it's something like you get influenza, very common but one case in particular had a woman, wynonna stevens who sailed to france and told her family and friends that she knew the war would be dangerous and was willing to risk the danger but never made it to the canteen, she got bronchitis on the ship on the way over and was sent to the hospital in france as soon as she arrived and the hospital was bombed and she died in the bombing. what i find interesting is the question about how the public dealt with
10:50 pm
casualties, how was the public going to think about women killed in the war, their skill not sure what they think about sending women to the war but the ymca praised the woman service and said she died a soldier's death and i think the phrase is interesting. she died a soldier's death. they gave as much respect as they could give her. they said that she was a symbol of women, the spirit of the doughboys, they kind of talked about her as equal in service and i think that's a really interesting way in which these organizations talk about that. so there were some casualties one that most people would've heard about because of the way that it was covered in the press. so yes, good question. thank you. >> how is the home front and morale in issues like this
10:51 pm
addressed in the military today? and how do you see it playing out in the future with more and more women being involved in military service? >> another great question. so how do we take this today? how do we look like with women in the audience. and the dallas cowboys a good member of the audience is women. the short version of that answer to that question is that entertainment has changed quite a bit. we don't have programs like this that just benefit women and symbols of home anymore. the entertainment that the military gets today's primarily through the uso. and through the arms versus professional entertainment office which sends groups, musical groups, theatrical groups that most of us have never heard of but are trying to make it big. there has been some discussion, probably not enough about what kinds of entertainment in terms of how women are presented.
10:52 pm
so again, you have everything from you know, women authors going to visit, women comedians, women actors, all those sorts of things that you see in the press today alongside very scantily clad suggestive dancers. and i think the conversation about how that should look in the military includes a whole lot of women, but also includes a whole lot of older men who are fathers. in the demographics are changing. we are not sending women abroad to entertain and distract a 20- year-old single boy from being seduced by parents anymore. our military includes a whole lot of those 19-year-old single boys but it also includes a whole lot of dads a whole lot of fathers a whole lot of mothers and so i think we are getting to the point where we really need to think about what
10:53 pm
kinds of entertainment we are sending as a representative at home. we still want to send home. we still have organizations that do that but we might want to think about what that means. >> and i'll say entertainment is different in today's environment because you can skype home at any moment. home is right on your phone. and so is very different than previous wars where you are waiting on letters, you know that kind of thing. home means something very different today is and i'll deal but as a reality. another great question. >> from george mason, you talk about self identity with these women and from the trauma they went through. including the postwar period what they bring in terms of role-playing, they are living very difficult lives than some of the women men. are they disappointed when they go home? >> yes, another great question. another moment where i wish some of these women would keep
10:54 pm
journals after they go home. because there are fewer accounts that would help me answer your question more extensively. and again it's one of those few cases where we have of women who we can follow through the historical records. what i found is that most of these women, because of their social class, so most of these women are not as comfortable as emma, but they are women who are able to go to war because their families didn't need their wages at home. right? is women were paid at home for work but if you were lower middle class, you work weren't going to do this, you needed to work in a job where you could work more hours and your family got no wages. so these women, when they come home, they generally move back into that kind of middle class upper-middle-class even wealthy life. and for most of those women, that meant going back into the community, getting married, getting involved in women's causes. some of them form an
10:55 pm
organization because they are not veterans, they are not in the military they're not veterans but some of them to form an organization on the women's overseas service league that kind of lobbied for attention to their servers for people to just recognize what they had done and moving forward, as more and more women serve in the military kind of pushing for greater access to those roles. and for the doors to open to women's military service. so even if they are moving to this kind of conventional women's work, they are still advocated for increased opportunities for women in wartime in particular. >> our next question? >> with the segregated army at the time, what with the chance of an african-american soldier seeing a giant vat of hot chocolate or being invited into one of those hot and what was the experience of the three
10:56 pm
african-american women in this program? >> yes, another great question. by and large the ymca , well it depends on the situation. the ymca generally segregated hugs . sometimes they operated that it would allow african- american soldiers to come into. but what you often 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. so the three women, the three women who were tasked with serving donuts and hot chocolate to african-american soldiers were to put it mildly, overwhelmed. i mean, 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 men lining up around the building and waiting and waiting and waiting. but also the feeling that they are there as representatives of
10:57 pm
all african-american women in the united states and really feeling that weight in a way that white women didn't talk about that. they don't write in their diaries i feel the burden of representing white womanhood. right? they don't feel that, it sort of the invisibility of race for them. but african-american women they really see sort of the way so what's the african-american soldiers are treated and all of the hardships that they face and they feel even more profoundly that they want to help, but are overwhelmed, to put it mildly. but also recognize you know, that hey, i've come here to fight for freedom and democracy, too. and one of the women rides home on the segregated ship and becomes even more determined to fight that when she goes home and gets involved with organizations and fighting for civil rights. so that again is one of these unique cases where you can see that kind of influence later. >> our next questions from
10:58 pm
doctor jeffrey waldo. >> in my research you know they said the ymca and other groups , salvation army to discourage vice. to keep them from prostitution. they said the french army had an incredible number, 1 million men at any time suffering from venereal disease in the british army had the equivalent of several units suffering from venereal disease. so they set these troops to discourage these kinds of proceeds. and yet the doughboys, because they were paid so much more than the french and british were constantly having to resort to prostitutes. and that's the one piece that is missing, i'm just sort of wondering if you cover that. >> yes, this is the pg version. [ laughter ] >> of all the refugees caused by the, there's this pool of
10:59 pm
women behind american lines and the american soldiers are paid so highly. i was wondering if you just had an insight. mac yes, the military, they keep very detailed records of the man hours there losing because these men are laid up in the hospital sick. and that's one of their big concerns in world war i is that this is not just about, you want to make the american public be like your boys are not doing this sort of thing, they're not involved in these shenanigans, but they were also concerned about pragmatic issues. you can't buy the war if they are all laid up in the hospital with syphilis. it's just not going to happen. and that is the argument that actually convinced persing to get behind these programs because purging, on the mexican border had regulated brothels for soldiers and thought that it was the most pragmatic solution to what he said was a big problem. and so, this marked a departure for the military and saying yes, we need to be concerned about keeping them away from the prostitutes.
11:00 pm
but, or being seduced by the prostitutes. the man, they never seek this out. [ laughter ] but again, they are optimistic people and it doesn't quite work out like that but they keep very detailed records about how many man-hours they are losing and what it's costing them in terms of military manpower to, what there losing that. that concerned ship over the century by world war ii they are not as concerned about losing manpower because they can just give you shots. and so, the concerned about losing man-hours goes away. and they deal with those kinds of questions in far different ways. yes. >> so i hear our last questions going take less than 15 seconds to ask. it will be very quick. >> you mentioned at the very end of your talk about wilson's justification for supporting voting rights. i'm just curious if you found any evidence to support his
11:01 pm
reasoning behind that in terms of the way in which progressive era starts changing the way we think about citizenship. >> yes, i think there's a really great book that just came out, the second line of defense, and i think wilson, he was just getting tired of women and talking about it. and he is trying to also mobilize women's efforts. and he knows that he needs women working in factories and getting behind the war effort more generally speaking. and he kind of comes around to say women have served in the war or are going to give him the suffrage. but again that's limited because wilson who re- segregated washington dc, wilson does not have the same argument for african-americans who have also served in war. and so again, he is limiting that, he's kind of hedging his bet. but again, great question. >> so ladies and gentlemen if you did not want the pg version
11:02 pm
or the pg-13 version and beyond i was just that you pick up her book and also that you remember her call out to everyone in the audience and watching online, don't ignore your archivist. we would also welcome you to put on sales to our research center, our argument is not here today but i think he might be here tomorrow but you can certainly grab his card outside to find his information online and ladies and gentlemen if you would join me in thanking me -- thanking doctor kara dixon vuic . sunday on q&a. >> so we are on the floor of the united states senate, this is unprecedented. and no one else has gotten an opportunity to do this it's for production on a documentary on the u.s. senate on the floor
11:03 pm
and hour before they begin and we are around the chamber where getting some shots during the session and afterwards we are going down to the floor. >> c-span executive producer mark farkas talks about his work on c-span's upcoming original version, the senate, conflict and compromise. >> if mitch mcconnell suggested that, how much control that he had a over the continents? >> zero. when we met with him for the first time, we had a couple conditions. one was that hey, you got to grease the skids with the democrats because if we went access to the democrats we are going to need access to the republicans and two you don't have any editorial control and they said that's fine but we don't want you to focus on the acrimony. and we said no, you can't ask us to do that because we are
11:04 pm
not going to concentrate on it, but again we can't shy away from it we've got to come out with a product that we feel both people on the journalism side and the people who watch the senate can say okay, they didn't give a big wet kiss to the senate, but you've also got to be able to watch it and say we didn't do a hatchet job either. >> mark vargas executive producer on c-span's original production, the senate, conflict and compromise, so tonight at eight eastern once spends q&a. historian and author robert laplander presents a talk true story of the lost battalion." mr. laplander has studied the subject for over twenty years and is the author of "finding the lost battalion: beyond the rumors, myths and legends of this program was part of an all- day symposium hosted by the national world war i museum and memorial in kansas city, missouri. it's an hour. >> all right, ladies and gentlemen is my pleasu t


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on