A University Goes to War: Illinois State Normal University Women of
World War I.
World War I drew many people affiliated with Illinois State Normal
University into service. As part of the home front efforts, ISNU
Librarian Ange Milner organized a letter writing campaign to ISNU
affiliates serving in the war in some capacity and carried out a survey.
Files for the 644 people contacted by this committee are now held by
Illinois State University Archives in the War Service Records
collection. The materials provide primary source information valuable
to scholars, students, and genealogists. While these fragile documents
are each a fascinating window into the WWI experience, this project
focuses on the thirty-one women's who wartime activities are documented
in the collection. This site includes the digital images of letters,
completed surveys, news clippings, photographs, and postcards that are
associated with these women.
The women represented in the collection provide excellent examples of
the roles that women played in World War I. Four of them were members of
the University faculty (including the director of the newly-opened
women's residence hall); six had graduated since 1910; five graduated
between 1900 and 1910; one graduated in 1890 and was in her early
forties at the time she entered service; seven did not graduate; three
were graduates of the University High School. Most had taught school
since graduation, but several had gone into nursing. During World War I,
most served as nurses, reconstruction aides or Red Cross workers, and
one spent the entire war as a Navy typist in Washington, D. C. About
half saw service in Europe. At least two served in hospital units that
came under fire in France, and one was among the twenty-plus women
awarded the Croix de Guerre.
About the Project