Women in World War I -- U.S. Army Signal Corps Photos

U.S. Army Signal Corps Photos

Congress established the U.S. Army Signal Corps on March 3, 1863, and today it is in charge of communications and information systems support for the armed forces. During World War I the Signal Corps was responsible for communications.  The most common association between this group and women during the war is the overseas service of 223 "Hello Girls" who operated long-distance switchboards at the American Expeditionary Forces headquarters in Chaumont, France.  However, the Signal Corps had other responsibilities during the war, such as army aviation (until May 1918) and photography.  The Photographic Section of the Signal Corps was established in June 1917, and it was responsible for the U.S. Army’s official ground and aerial photography of World War I.

With such a responsibility, the Signal Corps captured many images of the work in which U.S. troops, Allied troops, and European civilians engaged to further the Allied cause.  The photographs in this section show the significant wartime contributions of local French women, particularly their creation of various camouflage materials for American and other Allied troops.  The images also show American soldiers contributing to this manufacture, as well as some of the ways in which the camouflage materials were put to use during the war, such as to disguise pieces of artillery.

 

Further Resources

Rebecca Robbins Raines, Getting the Message Through: A Branch History of the U.S. Army Signal Corps (Honolulu, HI: University Press of the Pacific, 2005).

Signal Corps Photographs of American Military Activity, 1754-1954, National Archives and Records Administration.