Faithful to Our Tasks: Arkansas's Women and the Great War

Faithful to Our Tasks: Arkansas's Women and the Great War

by Elizabeth Griffin Hill


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The United States was a vital, if brief, participant in World War I—spending only eighteen months fighting in “the Great War.” But that short span marked an era of tremendous change for women as they moved out of the Victorian nineteenth century and came into their own as social activists during the early years of the twentieth century.

Faithful to Our Tasks provides the context for women’s actions and reactions during the war. It incorporates the mitigating factors and experiences of American women in general and compares Arkansas women’s Progressive Era actions with those of other southern women. The contextual underpinnings provide a rich tapestry as we attempt to understand our grandmothers and great-grandmothers’ responses to wartime needs.

Primary records of the World War I era, accessed in archives in central Arkansas, reveal that the state’s organized women were suddenly faced with a devastating world war for which they were expected to make a significant contribution of time and effort. “Club women” were already tackling myriad problems to be found in abundance within a poor, rural state as they worked for better schools, a centralized education system, children’s well-being, and improved medical care.

Under wartime conditions, their contributions were magnified as the women followed a barrage of directions from Washington, DC, within a disconcerting display of micromanagement by the federal government. The important takeaway, however, is that the Great War created a scenario in which Arkansas’s organized women—as well as women throughout the nation—would step forward and excel as men and governments stood up and took notice. After the war, these same organized women won the right to vote.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781945624001
Publisher: Butler Center for Arkansas Studies
Publication date: 03/01/2017
Edition description: 1
Pages: 270
Sales rank: 1,191,591
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Elizabeth Griffin Hill is an independent researcher and writer specializing in the history of Arkansas women and holds a master of arts degree in rhetoric and writing. She is the author of A Splendid Piece of Work, a history of Arkansas’s home demonstration and Extension Homemakers clubs. Hill also was a contributor to an anthology that explored the effects of World War I on the state of Arkansas—To Can the Kaiser (Butler Center Books, 2015). She expanded her research for that essay into Faithful to Our Tasks.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments 9

Introduction: "Faithful to Our Tasks" 11

Chapter 1 Organizing the Arkansas Woman's Committee 16

Chapter 2 Registering Women to Conserve 19

Chapter 3 Making Do in the Kitchen (1917) 28

Chapter 4 The Increasing Difficulty of Making Do in the Kitchen (1918) 35

Recipes for Making Do 41

Chapter 5 Doing Their Bit for the Boys 51

Instructions for Doing 59

Chapter 6 Taking New Jobs or Keeping the Old 63

Chapter 7 Registering Women for Service 73

Chapter 8 Recruiting New Teachers and Nurses 80

Photographs 87

Chapter 9 Fearing the Worst for the Cantonment City 100

Chapter 10 Performing Yeoman Duties for the City 106

Chapter 11 Making Things Better for the Children 110

Chapter 12 Trying to Help the Schools 114

Chapter 13 Helping Arkansans Survive a Pandemic 122

Chapter 14 Experiencing Political Change 126

Conclusion 137

Notes 141

Bibliography 161

Index 165

About the Author 174

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