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Introduction
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Myths and Mermaids
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Life in Port
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Going to Sea
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Lighthouse Keepers
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Changing Roles for Women
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Women in the Military
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Women in Wartime Production
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Early Yachting and Racing
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Women and the Sea in the 20th Century
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Timeline
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Resources
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In This Chapter

Introduction

Naval Nurses
The Yeoman (F)
Navy WAVES
Coast Guard SPARS

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The Yeoman (F)

Gee! I Wish I Were a Man . . . I'd Join the Navy
1917
Howard Chandler Christy
The Mariners' Museum,
Gift of U.S. Navy Recruiting Station


During World War I, the navy faced a shortage of sailors, as many men who might otherwise have served aboard ship remained occupied with clerical work on shore. Realizing that women might be the solution to the problem, Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels asked,
I Want You
1917
Howard Chandler Christy
The Mariners' Museum,
Gift of the U.S. Navy
"Is there any law that says a yeoman [sailor of lowest rank] must be a man?" The answer, of course, was "No," and on March 19, 1917, under the Naval Reserve Force Act, about one hundred women enrolled as yeomen and began performing mostly clerical duties for their country.

No woman was enrolled at a higher rank than chief yeoman, even if she had a college education or experience in typing or telegraph use. Other jobs performed by the new yeomen included translator, draftsman, fingerprint expert, camouflage designer, recruiter, and electrician. The letter "F" (for female) was added to "yeoman" when a few women were assigned to sea duty aboard battleships. Many regular naval officers called the new recruits "yeomanettes."


Eloise Fort and Lassie Kelly, Yeomen (F) in Summer Uniform
U.S. Navy
The Mariners' Museum Research Library and Archives

Yeomen (F) in Winter Uniforms at the Navy Yard, Portsmouth, New Hampshire
U.S. Navy
The Mariners' Museum Research Library and Archives


There were no uniforms for the new naval recruits, so many made up their own designs. In May 1918 uniforms were supplied, but they were so unattractive that many women had them altered.


 

 

Yeoman (F) Working with Captain George R. Slocum
Courtesy of the U.S. Naval Historical Center

Yeomen (F) in Summer Uniforms at the U.S. Naval Training Station, New Orleans
1918
U.S. Navy
The Mariners' Museum Research Library and Archives

After the war, many women were allowed to stay on to type the discharge papers of the regular sailors. When this task was completed in 1919, all yeomen (F) were discharged.

















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