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Operational Archives Branch
Naval Historical Center
805 Kidder Breese Street SE
Washington Navy Yard, DC 20374-5060

WAVES National
G.I. Bill Survey

Historical Note

Women's use of the G.I. Bill was scarcely considered by its planners. Although the G.I. Bill technically applied equally to both men and women, there were several things that showed this was not the case. First, while the virtues of the G.I. Bill were extolled to male veterans, the same effort at spreading the information was not made for women. Upwards of one-third of female veterans did not even know they were eligible for the G.I. Bill. There were also several provisions of the bill that discriminated against women, specifically the portions that dealt with the reception of benefits by widowers.

While WACs, SPARs, Women Marines, and WAVES were included from the beginning in the G.I. Bill, it was not until the end of the 1970’s and the beginning of the 1980’s that WAACs and WASPs were awarded benefits, most of which had expired. The discrimination against male dependents and survivors of female veterans lasted until 1972.

In studies of the G.I. Bill's significance, too, its importance to women has received far less attention than that given to use by male veterans. From 1994 to 1996, an organization of former WAVES, WAVES National, surveyed its members on their use of the G.I. Bill. The organization was established some 15 years earlier by Jeanne Palermo, a Sacramento, California Korean War veteran. She wanted to locate as many former WAVES as possible, with the goal of establishing a network for old shipmates to contact and keep in touch with each other. Palermo collected hundreds of names, addresses, phone numbers, maiden names, and home states of WAVES in an effort to locate all 80,000 former WAVES.

In July 1979, Palermo, with Treasurer Lila Mae Dobbins and Secretary Esther Gavorchin, created Articles of Incorporation for a Non-Profit organization in Sacramento, formally establishing WAVES National. The first convention was held in Sacramento from 26-30 July 1980. Two hundred former WAVES attended and drew up a charter for WAVES National Corporation. In 1988 there were 4,830 members of WAVES National and 57 chartered units and by September 1999 the organization had grown to 147 units throughout the United States.

Scope and Content Note

This collection contains letters responding to the survey questions published in WAVES National's newsletter, Whitecaps. The survey pertains to members of the Navy WAVES who used their G.I. Bill (Serviceman's Readjustment Act of 1944) benefits to secure a home or pursue higher education. All of the collection relates to World War II except one letter, which relates to the Korean War.

This collection is organized in two series. The first, Background Information, contains a copy of the survey distributed to WAVES National members, an interim report on the survey results prepared by Mrs. Bonnie Selb, and a copy of the article "Invisible Veterans: Women and the G.I. Bill" from the 13-19 March 1995 issue of The Stars and Stripes. This series is arranged alphabetically.

In the second series are responses to the survey submitted by members of WAVES National. The responses are arranged alphabetically and are filed, when possible, by maiden name. In cases where the respondent's maiden name was not given, responses were filed by surname at the time of enlistment or current surname.

Preferred Citation

This collection should be cited as WAVES National G.I. Bill Survey, Operational Archives Branch, Naval Historical Center, Washington, D.C.

Subject Headings (LCSH)

United States. Navy--History--Sources.
United States. Navy--Women.
United States--Naval Reserve--Women’s Reserve.
Veterans--United States--Education.
Veterans--United States--Loans.
Women Veterans--United States.
WAVES National


0.5 cubic feet

31 July 2002