Page images
PDF
EPUB

was

a

man likely outweighed Ricker's qualifications in the eyes of the new administration. Ricker accepted failure philosophically and congratulated the man named for the post.20

Age and the loss of this battle did not diminish Ricker's determination to serve reform. She applied her legal talents to the problems of labor, finance, and penal reform. She broke with her party when it became the vehicle of progressivism, but continued to be active in politics, presenting herself as a candidate for governor of New Hampshire in 1910. Her candidacy was rejected by the attorney general on the basis that one who had no statutory right to vote

could not run for office. Ricker's later years were devoted to writing on free thought. Her belief was similar to that of her idols, Thomas Paine and Robert Ingersoll, whose doctrines she contrasted to those of John Calvin and Jonathan Edwards in The Four Gospels.21 Ricker died of a stroke at the age of eighty, three months after the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment. She lived to see the faint beginnings of a time in which women of her talent and determination would be able to devote more attention to "usefulness" and suffer less from restrictions of the sphere that masculine propriety deemed fit for them to occupy.

21 Marilla M. Ricker, The Four Gospels (New York, 1911).

20 Scales, History of Strafford County, pp. 614-615.

[graphic][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed]

HOW 'YA GONNA KEEP 'EM DOWN?:

WOMEN AND WORLD WAR I

NANCY E. MALAN

Women's service in World War I was varied and comprehensive. It included a range of activities from knitting to operating drill presses and engaged a cross section of the female population from rural housewives to society girls. The World War I period was the first time in the United States that a systematic effort was made through organizations like the National League for Women's Service and the Women's Committee of the Council of National Defense to determine the capabil. ities of women in all regions of the country and to encourage and direct their activities.

Much of this work fell into the traditional realm of volunteer activity: knitting garments for the boys overseas, canning a can for Uncle Sam, planting victory gardens, and protecting children from the adverse influences of war. Through these activities every homemaker could readily demonstrate her patriotism without appreciably digressing from her usual routine. Women with more time volunteered to hostess at canteens, make bandages, organize food and clothing drives, collect books, and cut clippings from newspapers and magazines. Thousands canvassed the streets touting the sale of Liberty Bonds and War Savings Stamps. The Women's Land Army, dressed in bloomer uniforms and armed with such slogans as “The Woman with the Hoe Must Defend the Man with the Musket," was dispatched to assist farmers in planting, harvesting, and processing crops.

Most of this volunteer work fell within the established bounds of women's club work and was accepted as an appropriate demonstration of female patriotism. More historically significant was the presence of women in ever increasing numbers in industrial work previously reserved for the male population. Contradicting the prediction in World's Work of June 1917 that

women's war work “will not consist in putting on trousers or an unbecoming uniform and trying to do something that a man can do better," women wore the uniforms of elevator operators, streetcar conductors, postmen, and industrial workers. They were employed in aircraft and munitions plants, shipbuilding yards, and steel mills to operate lathes, drill presses, millers, and other machine and hand tools. In addition, they continued as part of the labor force in the usual women-employing industriestextiles, clothing, food, and others. Although some women were displaced by returning soldiers, 100 of every 1,000 employees in 1919 were women as compared with 65 of every 1,000 in 1914. Women performed ably during the war and laid the foundation for more specialized jobs, increased wages, better working conditions, and a more competitive status in the labor market.

The following photographs were selected primarily from the records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer, which assigned numerous military photographic units to record the war on the battlefront and at home, and the War Department, which fell heir to many of the photographs taken or collected by the Committee on Public Information and by private sources. As documents of social history the photographs contribute to a broader definition of the American woman who has been largely neglected by historians. From these photographs we can decipher who participated in the war effort, how they looked and dressed, and the conditions under which they worked. The photographs provide vivid and amusing glimpses of the past that humanize women and capture otherwise lost details, both enhancing and increasing our knowledge of women during the World War I period and their place in American history.

[graphic][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed]

1

[graphic]
[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »