First Female Officers - African-Americans and the U.S. Navy



In November 1944, Harriet Ida Pickens and Frances Wills graduated from the Naval Reserve Midshipmen's School (Women's Reserve) at Northampton, Massachusetts. Commissioned as WAVES officers, they were the first female African-American U.S. Navy officers.

The following pictures feature Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Pickens and Ensign Wills.

Additional coverage, African Americans and the U.S. Navy
African-Americans and the U.S. Navy during World War II

Click the photograph for a larger image.

Photo #: 80-G-297449

Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Harriet Ida Pickens
(left) and
Ensign Frances Wills

Photographed after graduation from the Naval Reserve Midshipmen's School (WR) at Northampton, Massachusetts, in December 1944.
They were members of the school's final class, and were the Navy's first African-American "WAVES" officers.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, National Archives.

Online Image: 83KB; 590 x 765

Reproductions may be available through the National Archives.

 
Photo #: 80-G-47025

Frances Wills
(left)
and
Harriet Ida Pickens

Are sworn in as Apprentice Seamen by Lieutenant Rosamond D. Selle, USNR, at New York City.
In December 1944, they became the Navy's first African-American "WAVES" officers.
Photograph released 16 November 1944.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, National Archives.

Online Image: 89KB; 590 x 765

Reproductions may be available through the National Archives.

 
Photo #: 80-G-47027

Harriet Ida Pickens


Is sworn in as an Apprentice Seaman by Lieutenant Rosamond D. Selle, USNR, at New York City.
In December 1944, she became one of the Navy's first two African-American "WAVES" officers.
Photograph released 16 November 1944.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, National Archives.

Online Image: 73KB; 590 x 765

Reproductions of this image may also be available through the National Archives.

 
Photo #: NH 90006

Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Harriet Ida Pickens
(left), and
Ensign Frances Wills

Congratulate each other after being being commissioned as the first African-American "WAVES" officers, December 1944.
They were members of the final graduating class of the Naval Reserve Midshipmen's School (WR) at Northampton, Massachusetts.

U.S. NHHC Photograph.

Online Image: 67KB; 740 x 635

 
Photo #: 80-G-297437

Ensign Frances Wills
(left)
and
Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Harriet Ida Pickens

Enjoy lunch following their graduation from the Naval Reserve Midshipmen's School (WR) at Northampton, Massachusetts, circa December 1944.
They were members of the school's final class, and were the Navy's first African-American "WAVES" officers.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, National Archives.

Online Image: 95KB; 740 x 615

Reproductions may be available through the National Archives.

 
Photo #: 80-G-297441

Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Harriet Ida Pickens
(left) and
Ensign Frances Wills

Close a suitcase after graduating from the Naval Reserve Midshipmen's School (WR) at Northampton, Massachusetts, circa December 1944.
They were the Navy's first African-American "WAVES" officers and graduated with the Northampton school's final class.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, National Archives.

Online Image: 69KB; 590 x 765

Reproductions may be available through the National Archives.

 
Photo #: 80-G-297443

Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Harriet Ida Pickens
(left) and
Ensign Frances Wills

Packing following graduation from the Naval Reserve Midshipmen's School (WR) at Northampton, Massachusetts, circa December 1944.
They were the Navy's first African-American "WAVES" officers and graduated with the Northampton school's final class.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, National Archives.

Online Image: 84KB; 590 x 765

Reproductions may be available through the National Archives

 


For higher resolution images see: Obtaining Photographic Reproductions





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