The “Hello Girls”
"American telephone girls on arrival for "hello" duty in France. They all can speak both English and French., 03/1918"
During World War I, over 400 women were enrolled in the U.S. Army Signal Corps to operate telephone* switchboards in France. Despite the sometimes hazardous conditions of their service, they were denied veterans status after the war ended. It would take 60 years until a bill was signed by President Carter granting them veterans status in 1978.
Read more about the “Hello Girls” at the Signal Corps “Regimental” History Site - The Hello Girls
* Today is also the anniversary of Alexander Graham Bell’s patent for “Improvements in Telegraphy”, aka the telephone.
Eleanor Roosevelt’s First Press Conference - March 6, 1933
On March 6, 1933 Eleanor Roosevelt held the first of her 348 women’s only press conferences. Before this time, First Ladies had little contact with reporters. Eleanor recognized that holding regular conferences could enhance the public role of the First Lady - a role she transformed during her 12 years in the White House.
About 35 women attended Eleanor’s first press conference which was held in the Monroe Room on the second floor of the living quarters in the White House. The press conferences were attended by the major female reporters of the day - including Lorena Hickok, Ruby Black, Bess Furman, May Craig, Emma Bugbee and Martha Stayer.
Eleanor used these press conferences as a way to not only announce her schedule of activities but also as a platform to publicize the work of women leaders, answer her critics, and entertain questions on a variety of subjects. Topics covered everything from domestic issues like social programs, race, youth activism, etc. to international politics and the role of women in war and peace.
Red Cross workers assembled at the IP, Avenue C and 7th Street, Camp Patrick Henry.
Left to right, front row, are Edna Elizabeth Dick of Williamsburg, Kentucky; Mrs. Madeleine Carroll Hamilton; Marcia Hinrichs, Alexandria, Virginia. Left to right, back row, Megan Downey, Cleveland Heights, Ohio; Anne Hayes, Atlanta, Georgia; and Helen Hubbell, New York City.
Official photograph United States Army Signal Corps, Hampton Roads Point of Embarkation, Newport News, Virginia. 02/27/1944
"Jean Saubert wins Uncle Sam’s first medal - a Bronze - as she places third."
Ready for today’s Women’s Slalom at Sochi? 50 years ago Jean Saubert won the bronze at the Innsbruck Winter Olympics on February 1, 1964, the United States’ first medal at the 1964 games.
Shirley Temple Black (April 23, 1928 - February 10, 2014)
We are sorry to mark the passing of Shirley Temple Black. She started as a child actress at at 3 and in her later life left Hollywood for a life as a diplomat. She was a representative to the 24th United Nations General Assembly; Ambassador to Ghana under President Ford, the first female Chief of Protocol, and then Ambassador to Czechoslovakia under George H. W. Bush.
Top: Eleanor Roosevelt and Shirley Temple, 07/1938
Bottom left:: Photograph of Shirley Temple Black Shaking Hands with President Gerald Ford in the Cabinet Room after Being Sworn-in as Chief of Protocol, 07/20/1976
Bottom right: Shirley Temple Black, left, the U.S. ambassador to Czechoslovakia; listens to a reporter’s question following an informal ceremony marking the presentation of 130,000 pounds of donated medical supplies to the Czech government. The supplies are flown to Prague from Rhein-Main Air Base, Germany, aboard a U.S. Air Force cargo aircraft, 10/25/1990
(Ed. note: amended list of positions. 2/11/2014)
Female Factory Office Workers Volunteering to Pack Bandages for the American Red Cross, New Britain, Connecticut, 02/10/1919
From the series: American Unofficial Collection of World War I Photographs
Holy Act of Congress, Batman! Equal Pay for Equal Work!
January 29 is the fifth anniversary of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. In commemoration, our colleagues in the NARA Motion Picture Preservation Lab have posted this 1973 Public Service Announcement (PSA) in which Batgirl explains the concept of “equal pay for equal work” to her boss (Batman) and co-worker (Robin). Luckily for them she is equally adept at disarming nefarious devices.
The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 was the first piece of legislation signed by President Barack Obama. It updated the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which had made it illegal for employers to discriminate on the basis of sex when determining pay for employees doing the same work.
The 2009 Act resets the 180-day statute of limitations for filing an equal pay lawsuit each time a paycheck reflecting a discriminatory pay decision is issued. It was named for Lilly Ledbetter, whose equal-pay suit against her employer was dismissed by the Supreme Court because she had not filed it within 180 days of the discriminatory pay decision. Ledbetter says she was not aware of the pay discrepancy during that window of time.
Batman , ca. 1973.
From the General Records of the Employment Standards Administration
On January 28, 1942, Representative Edith Nourse Rogers (R-MA) introduced H.R. 6293, a bill to establish the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps for noncombat service with the U.S. Army. H.R. 6293 was signed into law on May 14, 1942. A year later the unit was renamed the Women’s Army Corps, and the servicewomen were granted official military status.
H.R. 6293, HR 77A-B5, 1/28/1942, Records of the U.S. House of Representatives (ARC 4397811)
As a good a reason as any to include our groovy dancing WAC from 1970:
On January 4, 2007, the 110th United States Congress elected Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) the first female Speaker of the House in U.S. history.
US House Representative Nancy Pelosi Democrat of California (CA), visits with US Army (USA) STAFF Sergeant (SSGT) Andy Frost and SPECIALIST (SPC) Caesar Urquiza from CA, in the Bob Hope Dining Facility near Baghdad International Airport (BIA), Iraq (IRQ), part of a Congressional Delegation during Operation IRAQI FREEDOM, 01/30/2004
Long distance calls
Photograph of Women Working at a Bell System Telephone Switchboard, 12/22/1943
From the series: Women Working In Industry, 1940 - 1945; Records of the Women’s Bureau
This photograph shows a telephone switchboard where overseas phone calls were handled during World War II. Many women patriotically joined the industrial workforce to work in shipyards or an aircraft factories, but many more worked in service or clerical jobs as secretaries, bank tellers, retail clerks, and telephone operators.
“WHEREAS a Governmental Commission should be charged with the responsibility for developing recommendations for overcoming discrimination in government and private employment on the basis of sex and for developing recommendations for services which will enable women to continue their role as wives and mothers while making a maximum contribution to the world around them…”
Executive Order 10980 dated December 14, 1961, in which President John F. Kennedy establishes the President’s Commission on the Status of Women., 12/16/1961
The President’s Commission on the Status of Women ran until October 1963 when it issued its final report. President Kennedy appointed former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt as the first chair of the commission, serving until her death in 1962.
Today marks the 90th anniversary of the first time the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was introduced in Congress in 1923. Both Gerald and Betty Ford were strong supporters of this constitutional amendment that stated, “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.”
When the ERA was again introduced in the early 1970s, Congressman Ford voted in favor of it. Just over 30 states had ratified the amendment by the time he entered the White House. As President, Ford urged “those States who have not ratified the Equal Rights Amendment to give serious consideration to its ratification and the upholding of our Nation’s heritage.” He hoped that the requisite goal of ratification by 38 states would be reached in the Bicentennial year of 1976.
First Lady Betty Ford staunchly and vocally supported the ERA. “It is my personal opinion that ratification of the ERA is the single most important step that our nation can take to extend equal opportunity to all Americans,” she said.
Here is one of her statements explaining why she was firmly in favor of this amendment.
Photo: First Lady Betty Ford Expressing her support for the Equal Rights Amendment in Hollywood, Florida. 2/25/75.
Today marks the 90th anniversary of the first time the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was introduced in Congress. The proposed constitutional amendment asserted that, “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.”
The ERA was drafted in 1923 by well-known women’s rights activist Alice Paul. It was first introduced in Congress on December 13 by Representative Daniel Anthony (R-KS), who was suffragette Susan B. Anthony’s nephew. The debate over the ERA continued for decades, and was reintroduced in every Congress until 1972.
While the ERA ultimately failed, it remains the most popular proposed amendment to the Constitution. About ten percent—over 1,100—of all the amendments introduced in Congress have been for the ERA.
Read more about the ERA debate on Education Updates.
H.J. Res. 75, Proposing an Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution (7452156), 12/13/1923, Records of the U.S. House of Representatives