This morning — bright and early at 7 a.m. — I got to jump on a call with some of my local heroes: Peter Onuf (18th century guy), Ed Ayers (19th century guy), and Brian Balogh (20th century guy) aka “The American History Guys” from the University of Virginia. Our topic was World War I.
As an avid listener of the show, I sent in two questions on the topic:
1. What was the role of women in the U.S. military during WWI? What was the Yeoman (F) class that first allowed white women into active duty in the Navy? I understand that Loretta Walsh was one of the first non-nurse women to serve and actually get full benefits. And were there African-American women who served in the military during WWI? I know that the Harlem Hellcats went with the French forces and I think there were African-American women nurses who were recruited specifically to care for wounded black soldiers.
2. We hear so much about the European and British poets, artists, and novelists of “The Lost Generation,” but less about the Americans: Dos Passos, Stein, and others. What was the American art and literature that arose from the American “Lost Generation”?
The guys took up my first question and we didn’t go into the second one. (If you’ve got responses about art and “the Lost Generation,” send them in to me!)
Our conversation was fun, lively, and brought up complex questions about whether war and the military has been a force for progressive social change when we look at women and minorities and about the military’s use of women as “pin up girls” lure in male recruits.
Listen for this show on Sunday, August 24, 2014 (or listen to the podcast). Find out where to hear Backstory.