The items in this online exhibition evoke the stories of American women through the ages.
Click on any image to begin.

Women's Army Corps uniform, 1943–1945

Photo by Kevin Grady/Radcliffe Institute

Photo by Kevin Grady/Radcliffe Institute


More than 350,000 women served in the US armed forces during World War II: in the Navy Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service, known as WAVES; the Coast Guard Women’s Reserve, or SPARs (a contraction of the Coast Guard motto, Semper Paratus—Always Ready); the Marine Corps Women’s Reserve; the Air Force Women Airforce Service Pilots, known as WASP; and the Women's Army Corps (WAC).
Derided as especially unattractive, early WAC uniforms were poorly tailored and considered a potential detriment to recruitment when compared to the women's uniforms of the other branches of the armed services. This WAC uniform, belonging to Katherine Keene, who served from 1943 to 1945 and whose “little wooly book” is also displayed on this website, features an "Ike" jacket, adopted for the European theater at the urging of General Dwight D. Eisenhower and designed to increase mobility. Keene’s uniform includes the gold pin with the embossed Pallas Athene, the WAC insignia; the honorable service lozenge, commonly called the "ruptured duck”; and service ribbons over the left breast pocket, representing (from left to right) the Good Conduct Medal, the European-African-Middle East Campaign Medal, and the Women's Army Corps Service Medal; and Keene’s WAC utility purse. 
Katherine M. Keene Papers

Catalog record:


Learn more:

See the Schlesinger Library research guides on women and the military and World War II.

Heather Min