Virginia Gildersleeve

As the rumblings of World War II began in Europe, women in the U.S. began laying the groundwork for women to serve in the military here. Joy Bright Hancock began doing some of that work within the Navy, in her role as a civilian for the Naval Bureau of Aeronautics.

But other women also lobbied for for women’s military service. Virginia Gildersleeve was the Dean of Barnard College in New York. She wrote at the time:

It seemed as if Hitler were about to plunge Europe into war and I, having just returned from abroad, was profoundly distressed.  I felt that we ought to do something about it.  I was intensely interested in this problem … and the enormous contribution that women might make.

This photograph comes from the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies.

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