Thursday, March 03, 2011

On Women & History

Two things I am passionate about- women and history.  I was a history major with a minor in women's studies.  If I had only known I was one class short of getting my certificate I would have done it.  C'est la vie.  March is Women's History Month.  Each week this month I will showcase a woman who made history.  Think of it as a light bit of education and a break from the pop culture snark we all take a big bite of these days.

Loretta Walsh (1896-1925)  I'm a softy for this one.  She has my maiden name.  I like to think we are kin folk.  At age eighteen Loretta wanted to do her part to help with the war effort. She enlisted in the US Navy on March 17, 1917 becoming the first woman in the Armed Forces in a non-nursing role.  On March 19, 1917 the Navy became the first service branch to accept women in this capacity.  Taking on roles in ammunition factories, clerical duties, radio transmissions and being stationed in places like the US, Guam and France these women recruited and produced a lot of goods for the Navy and Marines.  Guess what else?  Women service members made $28.75 a month in salary in the service. The same wage as men. 

Walsh went on to serve until her four year commitment was up.  Sadly, she died in 1925 at the age of 29.  Her tombstone reads-
 Loretta Perfectus Walsh
April 22, 1896–August 6, 1925

Woman and Patriot

First of those enrolled in the United States Naval Service

World War 1917–1919

Her comrades dedicate this monument

to keep alive forever
memories of the sacrifice and devotion of womanhood

*Image courtesy of

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