Thursday, September 24, 2015

In Their Own Words: American Women in World War I ed. by Elizabeth Foxwell

In recent years, there have been a number of books published about women and their roles in World  War II. We haven't seen as much about the women who served, in some capacity or another, during the first world war. Elizabeth Foxwell remedies that situation with her collection of letters and columns, In Their Own Words: American Women in World War I.

The first section of the book introduces women who served as relief workers of one sort or another. There are women who served as hospital workers. Some served in the Red Cross or Salvation Army in war zones. They were there during bombings and after the bombings. They tended children, injured soldiers. One woman was a Red Cross Searcher, who looked for answers as to missing men or men who worried about their families. There were women who served as entertainers, in just as much danger with bombs as the European villages.

There's also an entire section devoted to those women who were war reporters, reporting, when they were allowed, on wartime conditions. Mary Roberts Rinehart's articles will be of particular interest is mystery fans. She was a war correspondent, and received special permission to cover bases and hospitals in the U.S. She is very frank as to her disapproval of the conditions and even the officers. And, she's suspicious of activity at a hotel near her house.

As much as I admired all of these women, though, I, naturally, found myself intrigued by the women who served as librarians during the war. Foxhole quotes a document saying ALA (the American Library Association) was asked "to assume responsibility for providing adequate library facilities in the thirty-two cantonments and National Guard training camps." "By the time of the ALA's June 1918 War Library Bulletin, the war library service had established 41 libraries in large camps, 237 libraries in small camps, 249 libraries on naval stations and vessels, and 1,323 libraries in YMCA and Knights of Columbus facilities, as well as sent books to 91 hospitals and Red Cross facilities." Three different librarians wrote of serving the camps and the hospitals for returning veterans. I knew about the role librarians and books played in World War II. I didn't know about the roles in the first world war.

Readers may not think of the active roles women played during World War I. Foxwell's collection remedies that, showing women in the many heroic roles they played.

In Their Own Words: American Women in World War I edited by Elizabeth Foxwell. Oconee Spirit Press. 2015. ISBN 9780985910578 (paperback), 233p.

FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.


Nann said...

Thanks so much for writing about this book. I like women's history, especially the "human interest" aspect.

Lesa said...

You're welcome, Nann. I find women's history fascinating, with few men writing about it. Hmmm. Reminds me of today's politics.

Elizabeth Foxwell said...

Many thanks for the kind comments about my book. My blog American Women in World War I further covers the US women in the war and provides links to online resources.

Lesa said...

You're welcome, Elizabeth. And, thank you for the link to your blog!

Kelly said...

Librarians and War reporters! Huh...who knew? I've always known about the aide workers, nurses, etc. But I'm surprised there were female war reporters. And the librarian makes sense, I just never thought about it before! Great review, I'll be sure to look for this!

Lesa said...

Thank you, Kelly. You're right. Who really knew until Elizabeth Foxwell's book. Very informative.