G.H.Q. American Expeditionary Forces. General Orders No. 73

France: AG Printing Department, 30 April 1919.

Thanked for their wartime heroism, women are nevertheless encouraged to go back to their homes (without veterans' benefits)

(Item #5562) G.H.Q. American Expeditionary Forces. General Orders No. 73. Women in the Military, John Pershing.

G.H.Q. American Expeditionary Forces. General Orders No. 73

France: AG Printing Department, 30 April 1919. First edition. Handbill measuring 195 x 127 mm with text to recto only. A Fine example of a scarce piece, which is not listed in OCLC.

As the American Expeditionary Forces under General Pershing faced the violence of the European warfront, women also took on more official military positions than they had in the past. "At the time of the First World War, most women were barred from voting or serving in military combat roles," but many professionally "provided support on the front lines as nurses, doctors, ambulance drivers and translators" as well as serving as secretaries, operators, and canteen workers (National WWI Museum & Memorial). In fact, "World War I marked the first major mobilization of American women in Europe in US history. More than sixteen thousand women served as part of the AEF in sex-segregated environments in non-combat roles. Thousands worked stateside in the armed services in order to free up men for war. Hundreds more traveled to France to work for newspapers, relief societies, and to staff wartime agencies...This was waged work, so it attracted women interested in serving but without the means to perform volunteer service" (Missouri Over There).

As the war ended, these brave women received some acknowledgement for their contributions, as evidenced here. Marked "for official circulation only," this small pamphlet contains Pershing's "desire to express my sincerest appreciation of the work done by the women of the American Expeditionary Forces. The part played by women in the winning of the war has been an important one...you have added new laurels to the already splendid record of American womanhood." Notably, however, the women of the AEF were not considered veterans and as such they did not receive the same types of benefits -- financial or otherwise -- given to their male counterparts. "Despite women's overseas actions, their heroism, and the celebration in the media of their work, most authorities continued to view women's wartime service as an aberration. Women who returned were urged to settle down and return to the domestic sphere" -- much as Pershing hints in his missive (Missouri Over There).
(Item #5562)

G.H.Q. American Expeditionary Forces. General Orders No. 73