Monday, January 23, 2012

Military Monday: Yeomen (F) at New London Connecticut

   For some reason, the "Military Monday" prompt struck a cord with me today. Searching for a topic, I quickly thought of the first women enlisted in the U.S. military. The Yeoman (F) or Yeomanettes were recruited by the U.S. Navy beginning in 1917, thanks to a loophole in a 1917 law. By the end of the war, eleven thousand women had enlisted. They filled Navy clerical positions, translators jobs, and more. Most stayed close to home, but still broke a significant barrier - the restrictions against women in the armed forces.
   One of my ancestors was a Yeomanette. She enlisted in 1917 in New London and served in various clerical positions until her discharge in 1918. Ironically, her military "tour" never took her more than a few miles from home. Sadly, she didn't talk much about her service. What I know, I've learned from her military service records. I had to jump through some hoops to get them - World War I records are still protected by privacy laws, and you need permission from an immediate family member - but I'm glad I did. She was incredibly proud of being a veteran. Thanks to her records and a little reading on the Yeomanettes, I now understand why.
    If you want to learn more about the Yeomanettes, I'd recommend starting with the Navy's website on the subject: http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/prs-tpic/females/yeoman-f.htm. There's also a good overview on the National Archives site: http://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/2006/fall/yeoman-f.html. Feel free to send me a question if you have one. This one's close to my heart :)

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