By Shirley Mccann Gee, Archives Manager 2017-12-22 15:57:54
"How Kappa Delta Helped Win the War" Women of all social classes were involved in World War I, which began in Europe in 1914. There were military and civilian jobs, paid and volunteer. As with every national crisis since Kappa Delta's founding, sorority members were inspired to act. Times and activities change, but loyalty to America doesn't. In every Angelos issue of 1916, stories were written to relay to members what was being done and to encourage educated women to get involved by volunteering for the Red Cross or taking paying jobs in government offices. As early as July 4, 19 15, a group of women in Washington, D.C., formed the Women's Section of the Navy League. The League hoped to unite women of various philosophical backgrounds under the banner of "Patriotism, Americanism and National Defense." In the February 1917 issue of The Angelos, Elsie Mauritzon Paddock, a Lambda-Northwestern alumna and national registrar from 1913-1917, wrote about the 150 women " rookies" in National Service School No. 3 that was part of the Navy League. They were training on the shores of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, learning "the rigid military discipline." After 6 o'clock reveille, they had 20 minutes to dress, including putting on hunting boots that took "hours" to lace. They went without the conveniences of home and lived in tents with their suitcases as makeshift dressing tables. The school lasted two weeks. Classes were offered in first aid, home nursing, dietary cooking, surgical dressings, sewing, radio, semaphoring (learning signals with arms or flags) and swimming. Certification could be received in each of these and other areas if individuals passed the examination. Radio and semaphore classes were popular, though Elsie said, "Many a message was missed because the amateur sender had forgotten how to spell." The second encampment of the first service school was held in Washington, D.C., in 1917 shortly after the U.S. entered the war. More than 1,000 attended. Again, Elsie wrote an article. It was noted: "The Navy League is not to make soldiers of the women, but to organize and teach them to help in the general work of keeping the community running smoothly when all civil life is disorganized and subject to the demands of war." Added to the list of subjects were classes in advanced wireless, motor repairing, map reading and surgical dressings. In the July 1917 issue of The Angelos came an appeal letter from the Department of Interior, Bureau of Education, encouraging women to stay in school. Some were quitting to take the jobs of men who had gone to war. The appeal read: "When the war is over, the world must rebuild with greater wisdom and more skill . . . in the new world women will play new roles, taking more direct influence on the public policies and creating a professional life. Therefore, I make this appeal to all young women in college to continue their studies to graduation so that they may be prepared to the fullest in the years of peace, which will surely come." World War I ended in 1918. The May 1919 edition of The Angelos was dedicated to war stories written by the women who participated. The caption was "How Kappa Delta Helped Win the War." Indeed, clusters of women volunteered. Chapters were encouraged to pick a project. During the school year, the women would knit socks or blankets and work for the Red Cross with projects such as wrapping bandages for use in the hospitals. Another story is titled, "With Red Cross Motor Corps." Lucile Campbell, Chi-Denver, told of joining the corps as the 11th volunteer and watching it grow to over 200. Before Lucile could be an active member of the motor corps, she had to study motor mechanics, first aid and military drill and learn to drive all makes of cars. She first drove a Secret Service agent and then the captain of the unit. As the U.S. sent troops to Europe, her duties picked up speed. In addition to escorting notables, she drove an ambulance and a salvage truck, assisted at military funerals and even supplied police duty. Ruth Kruger, Alpha Gamma-Coe, worked in the Chicago post office for the War Department. All of the mail west of the Mississippi River went to the Chicago terminal. It was labeled American Expeditionary Forces. She found melted Hershey bars and crushed candy in an envelope and funny postscripts on the outside of the envelopes, which made the job interesting. Remember that at this point in American history, few women were employed. Some Kappa Deltas worked as library assistants, helping with shipping thousands of books overseas for the soldiers and sailors. Others served as nurses and hospital dietitians. Some women were recruited to compile shipyard reports. Alice Stewart, Phi-California/Berkeley, was aware that five government boats were under construction at all times. The shipyards were enclosed and strictly guarded. She commented, "We were all much interested in the process of camouflaging, as the 'camoufleur' explained it. (How we loved to use that word.)" With so many farmers and farm hands serving their country, women were recruited to work farm jobs. Another story was entitled, "Managing a Peach Packing House." Fyrne Bryer, Phi-California/Berkeley, worked at one of the canning/packing houses. Most canneries were small and regional at the time. Fyrne explained that each morning the women would put powder on their faces, necks and arms to prevent the peach fuzz from stinging. The packing was on a strict schedule, and most of the women were very efficient. In "Tales of the Farmerettes," Katherine Stafford, Eta-Hunter, relayed the story of five "little KD Etas" who decided during a lunch hour in May that they'd like to be farmers. The government had a program called The Farmerettes that received a lot of advertising. The Etas completed their semester exams, and off they went to New Hampshire. "Our first week as farmerettes was filled with the classic aches and groans, as was the second, but by the time haying season came, we were capable of the most Herculean tasks," Katherine wrote. She went on to enlighten the reader with stories concerning the activities shared by the five women during the summer season – from weeding and planting tear-producing onions to cleaning the stables on a rainy day. As the war ended, another catastrophe struck: The influenza or flu pandemic of 1918 to 1919, the deadliest in modern history, infected an estimated 500 million people worldwide – about one-third of the planet's population at the time – and killed an estimated 20 million to 50 million victims, more than died during the war. Kappa Delta again responded, but we'll save that story for another time. "As with every national crisis since Kappa Delta's founding, sorority members were inspired to act."
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