Yale video on WWI composer-pianist Helen Hagan.

hagan1919The new video series Yale Goes to War focuses on members of the Yale community who served in World War I. One video is on black composer-pianist Helen Hagan (Yale 1912), which mentions my book In Their Own Words: American Women in World War I.

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The black Navy women of WWI.

The black women who served as Yeomen (F) during World War I. From Kelly Miller, Tk (after p. 512)

The black women who served as Yeomen (F) during World War I. From Kelly Miller, History of the World War for Human Rights (after p. 512). Front row: second from left, “Josie” Washington; fourth from left Armelda H. Greene. Back row: third from left, Catherine E. Finch; fifth from left, Sarah Davis.

In this post, Richard E. Miller highlights the “Golden Fourteen” African American women who served as Yeomen (F)s during World War I. They worked as clerks in the Navy’s “muster roll section,” which kept records on the assignments and locations of sailors. As Howard University dean Kelly Miller noted in History of the World War for Human Rights (1919, p. 597):

…it is the first time in the history of the navy of the United States that colored women have been employed in any clerical capacity. . . . The[y] are all cool, clear-headed and well-poised, evincing at all times, in the language of a white chief yeowoman: “A tidiness and appropriate demeanor both on and off duty which the girls of the white race might do well to emulate.” The work of this section has proved highly efficient and satisfactory…

These pioneers are the following (with their home states noted):
• Sarah Davis (Maryland)
• Catherine E. Finch (Mississippi)
• Fannie A. Foote (Texas)
• Armelda H. Greene [Vawter] (Mississippi; sister-in-law of John T. Risher, the black chief of the muster roll section)
• Sarah E. Howard (Mississippi)
• Pocahontas A. Jackson (Mississippi)
• Olga F. Jones (Washington, DC)
• Inez B. McIntosh (Mississippi)
• Marie E. Mitchell (Washington, DC)
• Anna G. Smallwood (Washington, DC)
• Carroll E. Washington (Mississippi)
• Joseph (sic) B. Washington (Mississippi)
• Ruth Alma Welborne Osborne Davis (Washington, DC; maternal grandmother of the late Commerce Secretary Ronald H. Brown; buried in Arlington Cemetery)
• Maud C. Williams (Texas)