Friday, March 07, 2008

Women in World War I

In honor of International Women's Day tomorrow -- and the arrival of the newly cataloged copy of Mobilizing Minerva for the PNW Archives Collection -- I share with you here another excerpt from Esther Pohl Lovejoy's Certain Samaritans:
How did the American women in our service happen to be in the immediate field at the time of this epochal call? How did I happen to be on the railroad pier at Smyrna when the Christian population of that old city left the land of their fathers to take refuge in the only country which would receive them? The answer to these questions might involve the history of the feminist movement since Eve moved out of Eden, or it might be covered by the universal answer to difficult questions, employed in France between 1914 and 1918, to wit, "C'est la Guerre."...

Our Government provided for the enlistment of nurses, but not for women physicians. This was a mistake. It is utterly impossible to leave a large number of well-trained women out of a service in which they belong, for the reason that they won't stay out.

The men of the medical profession were called to the colors.... The women of the medical profession were not called to the colors, but they decided to go anyway.
And the rest, as they say, is history -- ably and engagingly told by Lovejoy in this and other of her writings.

For information on International Women's Day events here in Portland, check out the Portland State University web site.

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