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

 

Funded by an Educate and Automate
Digital Imaging of Illinois History and Culture Heritage Material grant
from the Illinois State Library

April Anderson - University Archivist
Milner Library, Illinois State University
aander2@ilstu.edu

Last Revised April 14, 2012