Into the Breach: American Women Overseas in World War I

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9780670839360: Into the Breach: American Women Overseas in World War I

During the First World War, thousands of American women sailed to Europe, some to try to end the war, most to participate in its conduct or succor its victims. A few hundred were members of the U.S. Army; more than 10,000 held quasi–military status as nurses (but without military pay, benefits, or pensions); another 10,000 found or created their own wartime jobs.

Although most of these women have vanished completely from memory, the accounts they left of themselves remain to reveal them in all their remarkable diversity. Memoirs, letters, newspaper reports, novels and diaries, from doctors, pilots, photographers, journalists, interpreters, telephone operators and entertainers tell the story of these neglected veterans of World War I.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

A comprehensive and moving record of American women's participation in WW I, when for the first time women served in ways that went beyond the traditional. Drawing on memoirs, diaries, novels, and personal papers, the authors (Sound Off! American Military Women Speak Out, 1987) chronicle the experiences of socialites, scholars, entertainers, journalists, the handful of courageous black women who were with the YMCA, and pacifists who worked energetically to end the war. There were those--mostly upper-class and already living in Europe- -like Gertrude Stein and Alice Toklas, who drove a van distributing supplies to hospitals; or Edith Wharton, who started and funded hostels and workrooms for the thousands of refugees. Others organized Red Cross and YMCA operations at the front, taking care of the wounded and the men in battle. Some, like novelist Mary Roberts Rinehart, covered the war as journalists, venturing even into Russia during the Revolution. Most not only endured the rigors and dangers of war, but had to contend with pervasive male prejudice: women doctors made to serve as nurses; women librarians thought unequal to the task of maintaining military libraries; and that most poignant group, the Signal Corps Telephone Unit, who took the customary oath on enlistment but were not granted veterans' benefits until 1977, by which time the youngest survivors were nearly 80. A long overdue tribute. (Eight pages of b&w photographs--not seen.) -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Library Journal:

The Schneiders have culled hundreds of primary and secondary resources, including novels, to create a history of the 25,000 American women who served in Europe during World War I. Among the groups considered in this extremely comprehensive account are journalists and peace activists as well as nurses, canteen workers, and Salvation Army and YMCA workers. The authors also consider groups rarely discussed elsewhere, e.g., the handful of African American women who succeeded in overcoming great obstacles to provide at least some limited services to black American soldiers in France. Because of the paucity of material that exists on this topic, both public and academic libraries will want this book. This makes it more unfortunate that some historical inaccuracies mar it, such as the description of Jennie Churchill as the Duchess of Marlborough.
- Ann H. Sullivan, Tompkins Cortland Community Coll., Dryden,
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Schneider, Dorothy, Schneider, Carl J.
Published by Viking (1991)
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