World War I era Yeomen (F)
Overview and Special Image Selection

The first really large-scale employment of women as Naval personnel took place to meet the severe clerical shortages of the World War I era. The Naval Reserve Act of 1916 had conspicuously omitted mention of gender as a condition for service, leading to formal permission to begin enlisting women in mid-March 1917, shortly before the United States entered the "Great War". Nearly six hundred Yeomen (Female) were on duty by the end of April 1917, a number that had grown to over eleven thousand in December 1918, shortly after the Armistice.

The Yeomen (F), or "Yeomanettes" as they were popularly known, primarily served in secretarial and clerical positions, though some were translators, draftsmen, fingerprint experts, ship camouflage designers and recruiting agents. Five went to France with Naval hospital units and a modest number of others were stationed in Puerto Rico, Guam, Hawaii and the Panama Canal Zone. However, the great majority were assigned duties at Naval installations in the Continental United States, frequently near their homes, processing the great volume of paperwork generated by the war effort.

Yeomen (F), all of whom held enlisted ranks, continued in service during the first months of the post-war Naval reductions. Their numbers declined steadily, reaching just under four thousand by the end of July 1919, when they were all released from active duty. Yeomen (F) were continued on inactive reserve status, receiving modest Retainer Pay, until the end of their four-year enlistments, at which point all women except Navy Nurses disappeared from the uniformed Navy until 1942.

Many honorably discharged Yeomen (F) were appointed to Civil Service positions in the same Navy Yards and Stations where they had served in wartime. Entitled to veterans' preference for Government employment, they provided a strong female presence in the Navy's civilian staff through the decades after World War I. One former Yeoman (F), who had risen in rank to Chief Petty Officer while in uniform and became a Bureau of Aeronautics civilian employee afterwards, was Joy Bright Hancock. During World War II, she became one of the first women Naval officers, and, with the rank of Captain, was the director of the WAVES during the late 1940s and early 1950s.

This page features an introduction and special image selection on the Navy's World War I era Yeomen (F), chosen from the more comprehensive coverage presented in the following pages:

  • Yeomen (F) - Activities
  • Yeomen (F) - Artworks & Cartoons
  • Yeomen (F) - Individuals
  • Yeomen (F) - Group Photographs
  • Yeomen (F) - Uniforms
  • Yeomen (F) - Artifacts & Documents

    Textual information on Yeoman (F) uniforms

    Click photograph for a larger image.

    Photo #: NH 53178-KN (Color)

    Chief Yeoman (F), U.S. Naval Reserve Force, World War I

    Painting by Anne Fuller Abbott, 1925.
    This artwork was commissioned by the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations for use in an exhibit on Navy uniforms at the Sesquicentennial Exhibition at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1926.

    Courtesy of the Navy Art Collection, Washington, DC.

    NHHC Collection

    Online Image: 123KB; 580 x 765

    Photo #: NH 94945-A

    Yeoman First Class (F) Joy Bright, USNRF

    Photographed in February 1918, while serving tn the Office of the Naval Superintendent of Construction, New York Shipbuilding Corporation, Camden, New Jersey.

    Courtesy of Captain Joy Bright Hancock, USN (Retired).

    NHHC Collection

    Online Image: 79KB; 480 x 765

    Photo #: NH 65337

    "His Sister"

    Cartoon featuring a Navy Yeoman (F), drawn by Charles Donelan of the "Boston Traveler" and published in the Boston Navy Yard newspaper "The Boston Salvo", Volume 1, Number 4, September 1918.

    Courtesy of Marion F. Walsh Driscoll (Mrs. D.F.), 1968.

    NHHC Collection

    Online Image: 173KB; 575 x 765

    Photo #: NH 52947

    Yeomen (F)

    At the U.S. Naval Hospital, Mare Island, California, 1918.

    Collection of Rear Admiral Ammen C. Farenholt, USN(MC).

    NHHC Collection

    Online Image: 108KB; 600 x 765

    Photo #: NH 53175

    Yeomen (F)

    Group photograph, with a large U.S. flag, taken at the Portsmouth Navy Yard, Kittery, Maine, 30 October 1918.
    Some of them are wearing USS Southery hat bands. Other hat bands read "U.S. Navy" and "U.S. Naval Reserve".

    NHHC Collection

    Online Image: 137KB; 740 x 560

    Photo #: NH 52909

    Navy Department, Washington, D.C.

    Military and civilian personnel in a Navy Department office in the Main Navy or Munitions Buildings, in 1918 or early 1919.
    Many of the women present are Navy Yeomen (F). There are two male Chief Yeomen at the first two rows of desks and typewriters on most desks.
    Note name tag for "Miss Anderson" in the lower right foreground.

    NHHC Collection

    Online Image: 150KB; 690 x 640

    Photo #: NH 44939

    Captain George R. Slocum, USN (Retired)

    With a Yeoman (F) secretary, in his office at the Puget Sound Navy Yard, Bremerton, Washington, during the World War I period.
    Captain Slocum was a retired officer, recalled to active duty during the war, when he served as Commanding Officer of the Yard's Receiving Ship.

    Donation of Musician First Class J.H. Steen, USN.

    NHHC Collection

    Online Image: 91KB; 740 x 485

    Photo #: NH 53165

    Yeomen (F)

    Being inspected by Rear Admiral Victor Blue (left center), Chief of the Bureau of Navigation, on the Washington Monument grounds, Washington, D.C., in 1918.

    NHHC Collection

    Online Image: 95KB; 740 x 575

    Photo #: NH 53171

    Navy Yeomen (F)

    In New York City where they assisted in Navy recruiting and in putting the Victory Loan drive "over the top", 8 May 1919. These "Yeomanettes" were stationed in Washington, D.C.
    Note advertising structure built to resemble a battleship's superstructure. In addition to its recruiting and Victory Loan signs, it features copies of the two Howard Chandler Christy recruiting posters: "I Want You for the Navy" and "Gee!! I Wish I Were a Man".

    NHHC Collection

    Online Image: 87KB; 545 x 765

    Photo #: NH 53168

    Yeomen (F)

    Surround a bemused sailor, while being entertained by the League of Catholic Women at the Cardinal Farley Club, New York City.
    250 of these Navy women, who had done excellent work at Washington, D.C., went to New York to aid in putting over the Victory Loan drive, 8 May 1919.
    Note shoulder patch worn by the Yeoman (F) in the left center foreground: an anchor with the initials "Y" and "B".

    NHHC Collection

    Online Image: 126KB; 740 x 590

    Photo #: NH 97239

    Rear Admiral Joseph L. Jayne, USN
    Commandant, Twelfth Naval District

    Bidding "adieu" to some of the "Yeomanettes" who served in Twelfth Naval District offices in San Francisco, California, during and shortly after the First World War. Photographed circa mid-1919.
    Halftone photograph, copied from the publication "The Compass", published by USS Boston, the Receiving Ship at Yerba Buena Naval Training Station, San Francisco, California, 1919.
    Note recruiting poster "Join the Navy and Naval Reserve" on the wall behind RAdm. Jayne.

    Collection of Ora Hirsch Merritt, 1968.

    NHHC Collection

    Online Image: 118KB; 595 x 765

    Photo #: 80-G-44492

    Lieutenant Commander Joy Bright Hancock, USNR
    (left) and
    Lieutenant Eunice Whyte, USNR

    Photographed circa 1943. Both had served in the First World War as Yeoman (F) and were the only World War II WAVES eligible to wear the World War I Victory Ribbon.

    Official U.S. Navy Photograph, National Archives collection.
    Online Image: 69KB; 740 x 620

    Reproductions may be available through the National Archives


    For higher resolution images see: Obtaining Photographic Reproductions

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