Final Class Work on Hello Girls

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Signal Corps class, 1918 Hartford

Throughout the early part of our research when we were learning different stories in the commemoration process of WWI, the term “Hello Girls” story did not dominate the historic landscape.  We then looked back at our serious and insightful sources such so far but did not find a mention of these heroes. We first discovered these heroic young women through a book titled The Hello Girls by Elizabeth Cobbs. It was a great book and we furthered that research by trying to discover more information online. We reached out to the twittersphere to see if anyone had any lists of the members from Connecticut. No one had anything, and the UCONN archives reached out and gave us an image of a training class for these female operators. We then pooled all of our information together and added it to our presentation. After our presentation, we found a whole newspaper full of these brave women’s stories. We also discovered that the WWI Musuem curated a presentation that Elizabeth Cobbs delivered. Viewing her lecture became a homework assignment the next night: https://www.theworldwar.org/visit/upcoming-events/women-at-war-hello-girls

We primarily focused on three Connecticut girls; however, we first wanted to understand the conditions and what it was like to be a Hello Girl. Usually the majority of the French speaking Volunteers went to France, which meant they all had to speak the language fluently. Women did not have prior experience with telephones and only had one month to train; however, many felt they would need three months to be fully prepared. The idea of the Hello Girls was to connect people as quickly as possible. Many women also had to learn the abbreviation language Taylorism, which was a quick and snappy way to get messages relayed quickly. Taylorism was also used in the U.S at factories to speed up manufacturing and labor. WWI first time women had a large role in war. Men who held these jobs were seen as rude and impatient with people, while women were more caring and understanding.

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Aurelie Austen, a “Hello Girl”, standing in uniform.

We also learned some valuable information from The New York Times. These impressive women had much more vigorous duties and responsibilities than we originally had thought. Some things that the women had to do were wear a standard uniform that was approved by the War College at all times. When they were fighting for their recognition as veterans in the 1970’s they used this argument. Also, if they were captured while in uniform they would become prisoners of war and were not just considered civilians.  They also had to understand French well and translate messages correctly and quickly, and finally sleep in cramped conditions and sometimes even on the roofs of buildings. A common argument was that women were still civilians, but since they wore uniforms at all times Mark Hough said these women were called prisoners of war, which means they were technically soldiers and should have been recognized a lot earlier.

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Image of Beatrice Savard in a special ceremony from the Hartford Courant

Our first Hello girl was Beatrice P. Savard or maiden name Bourneuf was born on March 11, 1891, in Haverhill, MA and was a Signal Corps Telephone Operator in WWI. In the departure papers that we observed, Beatrice was shown as a supervisor in the Signal Corps and residing in New London, CT. Beatrice and a select group of other women were also a special Signal Corps operator in France during WWI. Sixty-two years after the war on May 29, 1980, Beatrice was given a victory pin, honorable discharge papers, and officially became Connecticut’s first female veteran from WWI in a special ceremony. “They told us within a year or two after it was signed [the armistice] we would be getting discharges,” Beatrice said, “It finally happened. It was a great affair.” Beatrice died two years later on June 11, 1982, in Waterford, CT.
Our next Hello Girl was Mildred Wakefield, a resident of Connecticut who joined the signal corps. She was a graduate of Wellesley College class of 1913. While at Wellesley she learned about the Hello Girls through the school newspaper. Before joining the Hello Girls, she was an english teacher at East Hartford High School. She was 23 when she joined the Signal Corps, and that made her the youngest girl in the unit. To enter the Signal Corps she had to pass a rigorous examination which was impressive for her to do at such a young age. She then became a cadet in the signal corps. After the war she went back to teaching at East Hartford High School. It was very interesting to learn about someone that was so close to Suffield that was involved in this unit. Through this information we took the bare minimum that we knew and we tweeted out to Connecticut Historical Society and Wellesley College to see if they had any more information about Mildred Wakefield. To confirm our information before tweeting out to these organizations, we looked Mildred Wakefield up on Ancestry.com, which is a very valuable resource. Through Ancestry we found that her father was from Maine, which contradicted some other information that had said he was from Canada. Due to finding that all other family members matched up with our information, we concluded that due to people taking a census during this time, people might lie about some of their information to avoid any conflict with the government. This is why a lot of information from the census is not completely accurate. She was a very interesting person to learn more about considering we found so much information instantly on her through ancestry.

Out last Hello Girl was Elizabeth Roby. We could only find a single document that contained information on Elizabeth Roby and her life as well as her role in the company. Although we could only attain a single source in an old newspaper bulletin, we found out she had the role of the assistant to the head of the department in Chicago and was an instructor for the telephone company, as well as being a Smith College graduate with a specialization in French. This would have meant she was very useful for the Hello Girls and might have had a higher position and duty with her knowledge of French.

Source: http://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20002%3A199708048

For more on Taylorism, see a Tweet from the UConn Archives: https://twitter.com/caisct_pbl/status/993831353966911490

Blog post byline:   okinne88, CHASE M Rory Tettemer bensylvester8dylanchase62400freemmylessedleyb1617

 

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Leaving the Killingly Homefront – WWI

In 1914 began one of the most significant wars that happened across the world, World War I. President Wilson had campaigned on the slogan, “He kept us out of the war.” So in 1917, when he declared that the United States would enter the war, he needed to convince the homefront to support the war efforts. He created the Commission on Public Information (CPI) to persuade citizens to support the war. 

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Merrill Clinton Jacques

The activities of the CPI were successful in that there was a massive outpouring of support for the men when they left home for the armed services.

Here is the story of one young man from Killingly, Connecticut, Merrill Clinton Jacques, about the time when he left for the war and the support he received from family and friends. The photograph is of Merrill when he was on the East Killingly baseball team.

From his draft registration card, we learn that Mr. Merrill C. Jacques was a Caucasian male who registered for the draft on June 5, 1917 at precinct 3 in Windham County, CT, USA when he was 25 years old. He was born July 4, 1891 in Killingly, CT. He wasn’t married when he filled out the card.

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Draft Registration Card

His physical characteristics were short, medium build, brown eyes, and he was bald. Mr. Jacques worked at White Stone Worsted Company, a cotton mill located in Elmville, CT.  An interesting entry on the card is that in response to the question on prior military experience he stated he had for two years and four months been a private in the C.A.C.

When it was time for Merrill to leave for the war, 75 of his family and friends gathered and gave him a party at his father’s house. There even was a dance! He was given a watch, and Mrs. R.P. Gates wrote him a poem, which was read at the party. The poem is about when you go to the war and you feel lonely, look at the watch and think of us, your family and friends.  Our prayers will be with you “until Merrill returns to us at last.” I found this poem in the Fall 2017 issue of the Killingly Historical Journal.

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Danielson, CT Railroad Depot

The Historical Society has a 1917 photograph of crowds of people at the Danielson train station sending their men off to the war, the same station from which Merrill probably departed.  Merrill survived the Great War and at 50 years old was drafted in World War II. He is buried in the South Killingly Cemetery.

From this research, I Iearned that during the World War I period, the U.S. government wanted to convince people to join and support the war. I believe we need to respect and be grateful for the men who went to war.  If they had not done so, my classmates and I may not be able to come to this school and country to study. Thank You.

Sources:

“United States World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:KZFK-X3M : 13 March 2018), Merrill Clinton Jacques, 1917-1918; citing Windham County no 16, Connecticut, United States, NARA microfilm publication M1509 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 1,570,495.

“When Leaving for World War I.”  Killingly Historical Journal. Fall 2017. Volume 23. Page 10.

Coolidge, Natalie L., and Robert A. Spencer. Images of America. Killingly. Arcadia, 1999.

Photo Credits:

https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:KZFK-X3M

Picture of Merrill C. Jacques. Photo courtesy of Killingly Historical Society.
Picture of Killingly Railroad Depot. Coolidge, Natalie L., and Robert A. Spencer. Images of America. Killingly. Arcadia, 1999.

Our Connection to Seicheprey

Over the course of our school year, our class has had a deep connection with the town of Seicheprey in France. We first learned about Seicheprey through our research about Sergeant Stubby, the war dog of the 102nd US Infantry. After learning about Stubby’s heroic tales and service, we developed a curiosity to learn more about this significant battle for Connecticut history. Due to this battle being significantly historic for the Connecticut veterans specifically, the importance of this battle gradually faded in memory and history when the Connecticut veterans passed away in the 20th century. Our class discovered several interesting facts and stories from the Battle of Seicheprey, such as one of our Suffield veterans at the battle serving as a cook. When we learned of the details when the German storm troopers overwhelmed the trenches, we were shocked to learn that the cooks responded by picking up their knives and fighting off the Germans with hand-to-hand combat. Along with these facts we found new events that were happening in the town of Seicheprey today. We took the liberty to spread our findings across the social networks of our class blog and twitter. Our posts were immediately recognized by many WWI historians and eventually by Stéphanie Trouillard, a French journalist studying the history of WWI.

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More details on our academic network: https://twitter.com/Stbslam/status/957705999690936322

We reached out to Stephanie to find out if the town of Seicheprey was doing a commemoration for the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Seicheprey. She took the initiative to reach out to the town hall of Seicheprey and received a response from Gérard Andre, the Mayor of Seicheprey. From this information we discovered that Seicheprey was honoring this historic battle on April 21st, 2018 and intend to make a fountain with several representatives from Connecticut in order to honor the 102nd division and Sergeant Stubby. After this interaction from Stéphanie, we were able to continue communications with the Mayor and other citizens from Seicheprey as well as students from the nearby school of architecture. While we were not able to attend the commemoration, these architecture students shared their local history project with us. Then we shared slides from our presentation with them. It was great to get positive feedback from students doing the same type of work that we were doing here.

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An interactive exhibit from the commemoration

Pauline, a student from Seicheprey reached out to us and gave us a very detailed overview of what the town presented and the different activities that were going on in the town to commemorate this battle. These connections to Seicheprey have been the foundation of our class and we are extremely thankful to everyone who has helped spread the story of this forgotten battle.

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An invitation to the commemoration of April 21st.

 

A World War I Identification Tag

 

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Thomas Cuff’s 1918 Historical Dog Tag

Last January, my language skills class researched soldiers from Killingly, Connecticut, who fought in World War I. My soldier was Thomas Cuff who was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, on June 29, 1890. According to his June 5, 1917 draft registration card, Thomas was of medium height and build with black hair and grey eyes. He reveals that he had a broken wrist that was not set correctly and states that he had no prior military experience. Single at the time, he lived on Water Street and was employed as a teamster by a man named Leonard Morrison in Danielson, CT.

With the rank of private, Thomas Cuff was a motor machinist with the 36th Machine Gun Battalion. He enlisted on July 25, 1918 and was honorably discharged six months later on January 17, 1919. Thomas survived the war but sadly died on October 18, 1949 at 59 years old.  He is buried in St. Joseph’s Cemetery in Dayville, CT.

In the Killingly Historical Society’s museum, I found Thomas Cuff’s actual military identification tag, a discovery that led me to learn more about “dog tags.” I learned that early identification records were not very organized, but the soldiers wanted people to know who they were if they passed away. “During the American Civil War from 1861–1865, some soldiers pinned paper notes with their names and home addresses to the backs of their coats. Other soldiers stenciled identification on their knapsacks or scratched it in the soft lead backing of their army belt buckle.”  Although modern tags contain vital information such as blood type, Thomas Cuff’s WWI tag was a small circular disc with two punched holes and only his name and USA stamped on it. In 2015, the U.S. Army changed the “dog tag” for the first time in 40 years by removing the soldier’s social security number and replacing it with a random identification number. The change was to help guard against identity threat.

Sources:

https://www.armydogtags.com/dog-tag-history/

https://www.ancestry.com/

“United States World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918.” Database with images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : 20 September 2016. Citing NARA microfilm publication M1509. Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d. https://www.familysearch.org/search/collection/results?count=20&query=%2Bgivenname%3AThomas~%20%2Bsurname%3ACuff~%20%2Bgender%3AM&collection_id=1968530

http://www.civilwar.com/

https://www.cnn.com/2015/12/10/politics/army-dog-tag-changes/index.html

Photo Credit:

  1. Levesque, by permission of the Killingly Historical Society

Connecticut’s First WWI Female Veteran

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Image of Beatrice Savard in a special ceremony from the Hartford Courant

Beatrice P. Savard or maiden name Bourneuf was born on March 11, 1891, in Haverhill, MA and was a Signal Corps Telephone Operator in WWI. In the departure papers that we observed, Beatrice was shown as a supervisor in the Signal Corps and residing in New London, CT. Beatrice and a select group of other women were also a special Signal Corps operator in France during WWI. Sixty-two years after the war on May 29, 1980, Beatrice was given a victory pin, honorable discharge papers, and officially became Connecticut’s first female veteran from WWI in a special ceremony. “They told us within a year or two after it was signed [the armistice] we would be getting discharges,” Beatrice said, “It finally happened. It was a great affair.” Beatrice died two years later on June 11, 1982, in Waterford, CT. 

By:  Chase M  & Rory Tettemer

Connecticut High School Teacher was Youngest Signal Corps Member

 

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1910 Census

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1920 Census

Mildred Wakefield was a resident of Connecticut who joined the signal corps. She was a graduate of Wellesley College class of 1913. While at Wellesley she learned about the Hello Girls through the school newspaper. Before joining the Hello Girls, she was an english teacher at East Hartford High School. She was 23 when she joined the Signal Corps, and that made her the youngest girl in the unit. To enter the Signal Corps she had to pass a rigorous examination which was impressive for her to do at such a young age. She then became a cadet in the signal corps. After the war she went back to teaching at East Hartford High School. It was very interesting to learn about someone that was so close to Suffield that was involved in this unit. Through this information we took the bare minimum that we knew and we tweeted out to Connecticut Historical Society and Wellesley College to see if they had any more information about Mildred Wakefield. To confirm our information before tweeting out to these organizations, we looked Mildred Wakefield up on Ancestry.com, which is a very valuable resource. Through Ancestry we found that her father was from Maine, which contradicted some other information that had said he was from Canada. Due to finding that all other family members matched up with our information, we concluded that due to people taking a census during this time, people might lie about some of their information to avoid any conflict with the government. This is why a lot of information from the census is not completely accurate. She was a very interesting person to learn more about considering we found so much information instantly on her through ancestry. I look forward to seeing what we find from Wellesley and Connecticut Historical Society.

 

HARTFORD GIRL IN OVERSEAS SERVICE OF SIGNAL CORPS. (1918, Apr 08). The Hartford Courant (1887-1922) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/556566756?accountid=46995

Just One Way to Leverage a Classroom Twitter Account for #DoingHistory

Screen Shot 2018-05-08 at 9.26.25 AMThe following image was captured from our classroom Twitter Account (https://twitter.com/caisct_pbl) and resides in our shared Google Document, which is one of the many documents in our Shared Google Drive #PBL folder. Students are working in pairs on writing original history about three Connecticut women who served in the #SignalCorps Unit during World War I. Elizabeth Cobbs recently published an amazing book telling the national story of this untold chapter in American history. It’s titled, The Hello Girls. I suggest that you order it for your school library so that students can enjoy this topic when they encounter the usual WWI topics in the typical US History Survey approach. The current World War I commemorative process rightly celebrates this forgotten episode, and our class is trying to dig a little deeper into the aspects of Connecticut history that illuminates this important story. We call these moments in our #PBL approach: #CTUntold

Many colleagues ask me how I use Google Docs in class, and I think some are afraid to ask me how I use Twitter. Here’s a great moment to explain both.

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First Draft of Tweets

There are four small groups writing history about this topic, and everyone is approaching the stage of a good rough draft. We then thought it would be good for students to see what kind of feedback they could receive from experts outside our classroom before I grade a draft. Some teachers call this a #flatclassroom (paste #flatclassroom into the search bar of any Twitter account) moment because we are using social media to reach beyond the traditional walls of a classroom for this educational and authentic connection. Here are drafts of Tweets that we are peer-editing together in class before each student Tweets it from the one classroom account. With a standard of lyric poetry and a zeal to write unwritten history, I set a high bar for a tweet in that the composer should reflect on audience and have clarity of expression as well as a specific question (inquiry drives history!) that will hopefully illicit more useful information. I have included screen shots of some of this process.

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Second Draft of Tweets

As an educator and English teacher, I find revising Tweets to be akin to collaborating on poetry. We really want to refine our communication and be sure our question is clear. The first screen shot is early in the process and students are still in the composing stage. That’s good because writing is a process. The second shot is a more revised version from our collaborative work in class. Of course, the most final draft is on the Twitter Account itself. You will see that we take a little time in the Twitter Account window that opens when one begins composing a tweet and revise there one last time! Then rubber hits the road and the real test of authentic writing occurs. Will anyone respond? Follow our work here: https://twitter.com/caisct_pbl

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26 Minutes for Response Time

PS: I drafted this post after class, and before I hit the blue publish tab, The Connecticut Historical Society answered the students 26 minutes after they Tweeted! Wow! Get thee to Twitter, fellow educators. And model appropriate use, good manners, and excellent prose.