Why did so many women wear uniforms and what did it mean? Uniforms had multiple meanings both for the organizations that demanded them and the women who eagerly donned them. Among the most important was that the uniform—whether that of the armed forces, of paramilitary organizations, or of civilian agencies—served to visibly display women’s service and thus to make a forceful symbolic claim to full citizenship. This session addresses the significance of women in large numbers wearing uniforms during the Great War. It moves uniforms to center stage and expands traditional historical techniques with material culture studies.
This workshop proposal comprises eight speakers in two sessions. Because there is a strong material culture component to the presentations, arrangements have been made to hold these sessions in the SC Johnson Center at the National Museum of American History. The Center provides all AV equipment and is available daily from 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The proposed lineup follows:
Fabricating modern femininities through wartime uniforms: VADs, clippies, munitionettes and servicewomen in First World War Britain
Krisztina Robert (University of Roehampton, UK)
Professionalism, patriotism, and purity of purpose: Symbolism and identity in First World War nurses’ uniforms.
Christine E. Hallett (University of Manchester, UK)
Women in war in Belgium: Uniformed or not?
Ilse Bogaerts (Royal Museum Military History, Brussels)
Italian women in uniform during World War I.
Allison Scardino Belzer (Armstrong State University, Savannah, GA)
Dutch nurses and World War I: From militarisation to pacifism
Leo van Bergen (Netherlands Institute for Military History, Amsterdam)
The ‘greatest mother’ in uniform: How American Red Cross nurses and volunteers shaped America’s Great War.
Marian Moser Jones (University of Maryland, College Park)
Call to colors: United States military women in the Great War.
Margaret Vining (National Museum of American History, Washington, DC)
Preparedness, relief, and welfare: Civilian American women in uniform
Barton C. Hacker (Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC)