Author Archives: burch2016

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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A Truly American Town

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The Liberty Cannon and Bond House on Waterbury’s town green.

The United States sold Liberty Bonds to raise money for the war time efforts. They still sell them to this day. “A Liberty bond (or liberty loan) was a war bond that was sold in the United States to support the allied cause in World War I. The general consensus was that subscribing to the bonds became a symbol of patriotic duty in the United States and introduced the idea of financial securities to many citizens for the first time. At one point in time, Waterbury had sold the most liberty bonds in the United States. This fact is made more impressive with the fact that Waterbury had only about 73,000 residents. According to an article published in the Hartford Courant in 1918, slogans for liberty bonds were advertised on automobiles. If seen on an automobile, that person was most likely a member of the Waterbury Rotary Club. The Rotary Club was a big deal in Waterbury as well. They were formed a year before the war started and really kind of found their footing during the war running Liberty Loan campaigns and running Red Cross campaigns.

The Rotary Club had a Liberty Bond house, which still stands today where they would hold rallies where thousands of people would show up and buy the bonds. Waterbury actually received a cannon as a prize for being one of the top Liberty Bonds sellers in the country. Only a few select towns across the United States got the prize.

It was learned that Waterbury was a hotbed for patriotism during the war time efforts. It was reported that the Waterbury green was held sacred by the citizens and anything that the town or anybody wanted to put on the green was often met with stiff opposition. However, once the war started the town decided to make the green a center for war time efforts and anything that was required by the war to happen on the green, the citizens would oblige and not put up any resistance for.

It is also believed that Waterbury led the state in recruiting men to enlist. It is reported that in just one day alone, 26 people filled out applications to enlist and in the best week of recruiting Waterbury had 74 applications filled out, of which, forty men were accepted. It is also believed that Waterbury had citizens in every single branch of the military. That does not include the many citizens that worked in munition factories. There was even a unit of 15 Red Cross nurses exclusively from Waterbury.

During the Liberty Loan Drive of 1917, Waterbury purchased in excess of $7,300,000. That has the same buying power as $139,186,853. That number is truly astronomical for a city with only 73,000 residents. That averages out to nearly $2,000 dollars per person. Waterbury was truly a patriotic city during The Great War.

 

 

Sources:

https://data.bls.gov/cgi-bin/cpicalc.pl?cost1=7%2C300%2C000&year1=191706&year2=201801

https://search.proquest.com/hnphartfordcourant/docview/556622645/9ABD06A5871F43B1PQ/5?accountid=46995

https://search.proquest.com/hnphartfordcourant/docview/556478480/9ABD06A5871F43B1PQ/2?accountid=46995

http://ctinworldwar1.org/waterbury-among-leaders-in-wwi-liberty-bonds-sales/

Bring Stubby Home

imagesSergeant Stubby was the official mascot of the 102nd regiment. Stubby was a dog that “served” for 18 months and was involved in or around 17 different battles in Europe. Some of the things that he did were detect mustard gas and comfort wounded soldiers. He was also able to detect incoming artillery fire because he could hear the whine of the incoming shells before the soldiers. Stubby was originally found on Yale’s campus in the summer of 1917, where the 102nd regiment happened to be training.

The 102nd regiment is one of the most famous of the United States from WWI. Many of the members were from Connecticut as the regiment was New England based. They were involved in the first action that the United States was a part of in WWI, which took place in Seicheprey.

There has been a great injustice done however. One would think that Sergeant Stubby would be buried or put on display in his native New Haven, or somewhere nearby in  Connecticut.  Instead, Sergeant Stubby is on display at the Smithsonian Museum in our nation’s capital. This is obviously a great honor, but Sergeant Stubby should be in Connecticut.

Stubby was originally found in Connecticut and that is where he resided before the army found him. The regiment that he joined had many members from Connecticut as well. Stubby’s eventual owner, Robert Conroy, was even from Connecticut. So during this commemorative anniversary of World War I, we must ask ourselves why is Stubby not resting peacefully in his native state? After everything he did for his regiment, he deserves to be returned to home.

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Sergeant Stubby

Sergeant Stubby was the official mascot of the 102nd regiment. Stubby was a dog that “served” for 18 months and was involved in or around 17 different battles in Europe. Some of the things that he did were detect mustard gas and comfort wounded soldiers. He was also able to detect incoming artillery fire because he could hear the whine of the incoming shells before the soldiers.

440px-Sergeant_StubbyThe 102nd regiment is one of the most famous of the United States from WWI. Many of the members were from Connecticut as the regiment was New England based. They were involved in the first action that the United States was a part of in WWI, which took place in Seicheprey.

Stubby was originally found on Yale’s campus in the summer of 1917, where the 102nd regiment happened to be training. The dog hung around the soldiers and one soldier (Robert Conroy) liked him so he snuck him on board the ship heading for Europe. Eventually, one of the higher-ups found Stubby. Rumor has it when this happened, Stubby saluted and the man took a liking to Stubby and let him stay.

Stubby was injured two times during the war but both times he recovered. Stubby had numerous war-time achievements that ultimately led to medals. Stubby was known for hating Germans and it is said that he had to be held back and restrained whenever German prisoners of war were nearby. There is a famous instance where Stubby helped capture a German spy. The spy was sitting out in no-man’s land and Stubby found him and began to furiously drag him back to the allied lines. A very impressive feat for a dog of his size! This led to Stubby’s “promotion” to Sergeant. Stubby was highly celebrated following the war and went on to receive a Gold Medal from the Humane Education Society.

Liberty For Sale

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The Liberty Cannon with the Liberty Bond House in the background.

The United States sold Liberty Bonds to raise money for the war time efforts. They still sell them to this day. “A Liberty bond (or liberty loan) was a war bond that was sold in the United States to support the allied cause in World War I. The general consensus was that subscribing to the bonds became a symbol of patriotic duty in the United States and introduced the idea of financial securities to many citizens for the first time. At one point in time, Waterbury had sold the most liberty bonds in the United States. This fact is made more impressive with the fact that Waterbury had only about 73,000 residents. According to an article published in the Hartford Courant in 1918, slogans for liberty bonds were advertised on automobiles. If seen on an automobile, that person was most likely a member of the Waterbury Rotary Club. The Rotary Club was a big deal in Waterbury as well. They were formed a year before the war started and really kind of found their footing during the war running Liberty Loan campaigns and running Red Cross campaigns.

The Rotary Club had a Liberty Bond house, which still stands today where they would hold rallies where thousands of people would show up and buy the bonds. Waterbury actually received a cannon as a prize for being one of the top Liberty Bonds sellers in the country.