First Officer Class

This photograph, dating from August 1942, shows the first WAVES’ officers class at Smith College, who Joy Bright Hancock referred to as the “great unwashed.” The officers didn’t have uniforms when they began and the Navy was developing policy as the women went through training. They would later be the women to train other officers at Smith, as well as enlisted women at facilities around the country.

The photograph comes from the National Archives.


  1. Alex says:

    Do you have any more information on this photo–a more precise location/collection name, perhaps? I’m trying to identify the man on the far right but have had no luck so far.

    1. The original photo at the National Archives doesn’t identify anyone in the image, unfortunately. It is from the very first training class at Smith College in August of 1942, and many dignitaries visited the camp (it was so early the women didn’t have any uniforms yet!). I believe the taller male officer is Captain H. W. Underwood, who left retirement to command the officer training facility. The shorter officer may be John Doran, who led the drills at the Smith training facility, but I’m not sure when he began there. This may have predated his tenure at WAVES’ officer training.

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