Seventy years ago this week, Minnie Spotted Wolf became the first Native American woman to enlist in the United States Marine Corps Women’s Reserve.
Born and raised on a ranch near White Tail Creek, about 15 miles from Heart Butte, Montana, Spotted Wolf stated that growing up doing such ranch work as “cutting fence pots, driving a two-ton truck, and breaking horses” seemed to prepare her for the rigors of Marine Corps boot camp, which she was quoted as saying was “hard, but not too hard.”
This service picture of Minnie Spotted Wolf is from the correspondence files from the Blackfeet Indian Agency (Record Group 75) in the National Archives at Denver, where you can find the photographs of many other Blackfeet who served in the U.S. Armed Forces during WWII.
Image: Minnie Spotted Wolf, Record Group 75, Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, ARC 7329402
We also ran another photo of Minnie Spotted Wolf with some of her fellow Marine Corps Women Reservists a few months back.
235 years ago on June 28, 1778, Molly Pitcher, the legendary heroine of the American Revolution, is said to have participated in the Battle of Monmouth. This is a copy of the engraving by J.C. Armytage after Alonzo Chappel.
But who was Molly Pitcher? See Will the Real Molly Pitcher Please Stand Up? via the National Archives’ Prologue Magazine.
Celebrating the 65th Anniversary of the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act with “The Pleasure of Your Company”
The Women’s Armed Services Integration Act was enacted 65 years ago on June 12, 1948, enabling women to serve as permanent members of the military (although still within separate units) so it seems the perfect time for another installment of this vintage military training film:
The Navy film How to Succeed with Brunettes teaches male officers how to behave like gentlemen, but what were the military’s expectations for the many female recruits? Once again, staff in NARA’s Motion Picture Preservation Lab and Special Media’s Motion Picture, Sound, and Video Branch were able to find the answer in the large accession of films received from the Defense Visual Information Center (DVIC).
In1970, the Army began using a series of three training films produced for the Women’s Army Corps (WAC). The third film in the Military Etiquette and Grooming series, The Pleasure of Your Company (1970), has several parallels with How to Succeed with Brunettes, including an exploration of dating etiquette. The WACs watching the film would find answers to many pressing questions, including:
- Can I wear a mini skirt and jewelry when out of uniform?
- Who opens the door first when not in uniform?
- If I go out on a dinner date, who orders? (Hint: It’s not the lady!)
- How should I introduce my date to the Chaplain and his wife? (Hint: Gentlemen are always presented to ladies!
- Which fork should I use first?!? (Um, you get the picture.)
The Pleasure of Your Company, like How to Succeed with Brunettes, stands as an artifact of an American military and society that were to undergo sweeping changes over the following decade. By the end of the 1970s, the WAC would be integrated into the rest of the Army and society would be on its way to treating women much differently in the workplace. Sometimes it’s easy to forget how far we have come until we take a look back at the films of the past.
On Thursday, March 14, at 7 p.m., the National Archives hosts the Sixth Annual McGowan Forum on Women in Leadership.
This year’s special program focuses on women in military leadership and explores changes that have taken place in the roles, opportunities, expectations and obstacles for women in military leadership positions.
A distinguished panel of experts will discuss their personal journeys and share advice for young women entering the field.
Moderated by Gale S. Pollock, Major General, U.S. Army (Retired), CRNA, FACHE, FAAN, and former Acting Surgeon General, panelists include Carol Mutter, Lieutenant General, U.S. Marine Corps (Retired); Christine S. Hunter, Rear Admiral, U.S. Navy (Retired); Sandra A. Gregory, Brigadier General, U.S. Air Force (Retired); Clara Adams-Ender, Brigadier General, U.S. Army (Retired); and Gina S. Farrisee, U.S. Army Major General (Retired).
This public program is free and no registration is required. It will be held in the William G. McGowan Theater of the National Archives Building in Washington, DC. Attendees should use the Special Events entrance on Constitution Avenue at 7th Street, NW.
This program is presented in partnership with the Women’s Forum of Washington, DC, and the Military Officers Association of America, and is generously supported by the Foundation for the National Archives and the William G. McGowan Charitable Fund, Inc.
Image: “Lt.(jg.) Harriet Ida Pickens and Ens. Frances Wills, first Negro Waves to be commissioned. They were members of the final graduating class at Naval Reserve Midshipmen’s School (WR) Northampton, MA,” 12/21/1944, Record Group 80, ARC 520670.
The United States Marine Corps Women’s Reserve was established 69 years ago in 1943.
Marine Sergeant Grace L. Wyman practices aerial photography at the United States Marine Corps Air Station at Cherry Point in the southern U.S. state of North Carolina. Aerial photography is one of the many important jobs taken over by women Marines to free men for combat duty. The United States Marine Corps Women’s Reserve will celebrate its second anniversary on February 13, 1945. 01/23/1945