Young Women Train for Telephone Service in France - 1918
Telephone Girls in Training for Service in France. Left to Right: Marjorie Thomas, Drucilla Palmer, Louise Béraud, Millicent Martin, Annie L. Gernon, Lillian R Verkler, Evelyn Thomas. Bell Telephone News, March 1918. GGA Image ID # 19a7c3a9d5
The seven young women pictured below are in the first group chosen from the numerous applicants from Chicago and vicinity to undertake an intensive training course in the sorts of telephone operating likely to be most useful “over there”—that is, with the American Expeditionary Force in France.
This “finishing course” is being given at a nearby Suburban office of the Chicago Telephone Company, where the conditions are presumed to be somewhat similar to those to be encountered in their future service abroad.
Following the example of the British Government, whose Women’s Auxiliary Corps has been eminently successful in this branch of army duty in France, the Signal Corps of the U. S. War Department recently determined upon a similar organization for the Pershing array and requested the telephone companies of the country to cooperate in securing, interviewing and training volunteers.
The first requisite of a volunteer is that she be able to speak French fluently, and five of this group have actually lived in France for from two to five years; the other two are of French parentage and have also studied French at the University of Chicago.
The spirit of patriotism that influenced these young women to apply for this service is indicated to some extent by the positions they have given up-one, a position with a real estate firm, paying more than most men of her age are earning; one, an established studio of commercial art; one, a lucrative private secretary’s position; one, her senior year at the University of Chicago, with private tutoring engagements.
The invariable answer to the question, "Why do you volunteer?" was "Because I am fitted and want to ‘do my bit’ to help my country." The purely adventurous spirit was notably absent, but a love for France could not be concealed.
When actually in service the operators will wear a standard uniform approved by the War Department, and, according to a War Department bulletin, the members of this unit will be the only women assisting Uncle Sam who will wear soldiers’ insignia —hat cord, arm brassard, etc.
Applicants for positions with future units are being interviewed in Chicago by a representative of the traffic department of the Chicago Telephone Company.
"Young Women Train for Telephone Service in France," in Bell Telephone News, Detroit Edition, Vol. 7, No. 8, March 1918, p. 23.