American-Indian Expo

This National Archives photograph was taken at the American-Indian Exposition at Anadarko, Oklahoma, 1944. The caption reads:

Two full-blooded Indian WAVES, Beulah and Delores Beaver, Specialist 2nd Class and stations at NAS Norman, Oklahoma, are being shown the new additions to the annual pageant by Jack Hokesh, Kiowa dancer.

“A Little Risqué”

Dorothy Turnbull wasn’t above using sex appeal to sell the WAVES – as long as it was wholesome sex appeal.

You see, well, they were showing the audience that we had that had gotten together. They were were showing how the women in the Navy were still women. And ladies. That was the whole thing was to let society know that our girls were their girls. They were mothers, perhaps — well, not mothers. They were daughters and sisters. This was one method of getting something a little risqué — bathing suits.

This photograph of a WAVES recruitment event in Galveston comes from the collection of Dorothy Turnbull Stewart.

A New Orleans Touch

When women got to the recruiting events, Dorothy Turnbull used creative methods to get the women excited about their new jobs in the Navy.

In this photograph, women are pulling charms from a Mardi Gras-style “King Cake.” The charms are of the various jobs the women could hold in the Navy, from yeoman to pharmacist’s mate, gunnery instructor to aerographer and everything in between.

It comes from the collection of Dorothy Turnbull Stewart.

The YWCA Brochure

Dorothy Turnbull worked several cities in Southern Texas, including Beaumont, where she coordinated with the local YWCA to host events for recruits.

These ar two of my recruits.  Women who came in to be tested, see, they’d come from these little towns down to Beaumont. They’d come from Port Arthur, Orange. We’d arrange for them to take the tests with me there.  Bring the doctors over, or they’d come over to Houston to take the physical.  They’d do everything before the physical in Beaumont area. Then in Houston, they’d come over and if they passed the physical they could be sworn in right then.

This brochure comes from the collection of Dorothy Turnbull Stewart.

On the Job

Dorothy Turnbull first was stationed in New Orleans, but later transferred to southern Texas to work as a recruiter.

We never had to sell the Navy openly. To me, when I’d go to a radio station and talk about what the Navy women were doing and so forth, talking about their lives before they went in service — see, you had to show their families were behind them. That they were still young ladies, even though they had this uniform on. They weren’t going to be different from their sisters were.  This kind of thing.

This photograph shows Dorothy on stage at a recruitment event in Texas. It comes from the collection of Dorothy Turnbull Stewart.


“Do For Yourself”

Even after her years with the Peace Corps, Jean Byrd Stewart still kept volunteering and giving. She shaded her stories. Wrote a book.

There was a to-do in Washington, DC, after the women had been in 50 years. I had to write of my involvement at the Navy. All of us that spoke at that particular affair, that was supposed to have been put together in a book form. Some of  them sent it back typed up and some didn’t.  I still have mine.  You should see the paper.  Even when I went to Africa, that was something.  I saved that.  I can add that to my book.  All those things blend together and come to something decent.

It wasn’t until late 2006 that Jean finally decided to stop volunteering.

I’ve done for others. As someone said, “Do for yourself.”   And that’s not being selfish because I’ve given a lot of years to other people.

This is a copy of a commendation Jean received from the state of New Jersey. It comes from the collection of Jean Byrd Stewart.

Peace Corps

In 1982, Jean Byrd Stewart volunteered yet again – this time with the Peace Corps. She was assigned to travel to the Philippines.

I went in as an agriculturist.  Agriculturist, that’s what was needed. My father had a place and with eight children, 200 feet deep on both sides and you learned to plant and this and take care of it and keep the ground nourished and keep the weeds out. So I went in as an agriculturist.  I have to work with the, around city hall, that was number one.  Then work with the farmers, upgrading them, so that they could raise a good crop of rice and this and that and the other thing. Green grass and shrubbery to hold the dirt whenever it rained. That was all a part of it too.

They had a day care center and I had to help with the children. There was some that were malnourished. We had to give them a one bone meal to keep them alive and going.  One lady was going to have a baby. She wanted me to deliver her baby because I had been in health.  You were here, you were there and the other place.  They had a day care center.  I could hardly pass there, they were waving to me.  I could hardly stop, because I had to go to the office and work.  You were needed in so many places.  The school needed someone to help raise money. Being from America, they knew I could touch and money would pop up.  Money for tables, money for chairs, for the children to do their homework.  The places they needed you and wanted you to work was endless.

This photograph comes from the collection of Jean Byrd Stewart.

“You’re Needed in the Government”

Jean Byrd Stewart found that her service to the United States didn’t end after World War II. When New Jersey began its urban renewal in the latter part of the 20th century, she was asked to represent the state in health matters. Then she volunteered with Title One, helping to improve opportunities for children at two economically disadvantaged Catholic schools. Next thing she knew, she was asked to volunteer with Service for America.

A lady who worked for the government said, “You’re needed in the government.” I was sent to, up to Hannibel, Missouri.  It was interested working with senior citizens.  Then there were some handicapped, disabled children there. And that was a learning experience. Being in the Navy, that’s an insignia that follows you through it seems.

When she returned home, her mother was sick, so Jean took care of her while attending college to help supplement her degree.

This photograph comes from the collection of Jean Byrd Stewart.