Uniformed Women in the Great War

Helen Cook

U.S. Army Signal Corps Female Telephone Operators Unit

Helen Cook served in France as Chief Operator with the U.S. Army Signal Corps Female Telephone Operators Unit. She and her fellow “Hello Girls” ran the switchboards for a telephone network that provided vital communications for the American Expeditionary Force in France. General John J. Pershing credited these women with doing “as much to help win the war as the men in khaki.”

Helen Cook
Courtesy of the National Archives

Uniform worn by Helen Cook
Gift of Helen Cook through The National Society of the Colonial Dames of America

Take a Closer Look

Notice the star on Cook’s World War I Victory Medal ribbon bar: she won a Silver Citation Star for gallantry in action. In spite of this, the army, unlike the navy, did not acknowledge women as veterans. The women lobbied for 60 years before an act of Congress in 1977 granted them veteran status and benefits.