Army Signal Corps Female Telephone Operator Uniform


U.S. Army Signal Corps Female Telephone Operator "Hello Girl" uniform, World War I. The uniform consists of a coat, skirt, and overseas cap, each made of navy blue wool. The coat has several patches and insignia, including the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) General Headquarters patch on left sleeve and the Chief Operator rank insignia on the right sleeve. There are two overseas service chevrons on the lower left sleeve, denoting 6 months of service each. On the left breast is the World War I Victory Ribbon with silver citation star. This uniform was worn by Helen Cook and donated by her through The National Society of the Colonial Dames of America.

The Signal Corps Female Telephone Operators unit was formed in late 1917 following an urgent request from General Pershing. The AEF was in desperate need of bilingual switchboard operators to improve vital communications at the front. By the end of the war, over 400 women had been trained by the Army as "Hello Girls" and over 200 had served overseas, with many receiving Distinguished Service medals.

Upon returning home after the war, "Hello Girls," unlike women who had served in the Navy, were denied veteran benefits as Army regulations at the time defined soldiers as male. It wasn't until over 60 years later, in 1979, that the Signal Corps Female Telephone Operators were finally given their veteran status and benefits.

Related Event: World War I


See more items in: Political and Military History: Armed Forces History, Military, Military, Clothing & Accessories, Women's World War I Uniforms


Exhibition Location:

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: 1998.0165.35.01Accession Number: 1998.0165Catalog Number: 1998.0165.35.01

Object Name: coat

Physical Description: wool (overall material)Measurements: overall: 14 in x 19 in; 35.56 cm x 48.26 cmoverall (padded, folded): 34 in x 22 in x 3 in; 86.36 cm x 55.88 cm x 7.62 cm


Record Id: nmah_335411

Our collection database is a work in progress. We may update this record based on further research and review. Learn more about our approach to sharing our collection online.

If you would like to know how you can use content on this page, see the Smithsonian's Terms of Use. If you need to request an image for publication or other use, please visit Rights and Reproductions.