Naval History and Heritage Command

National Museum of the U.S. Navy

Women in the Navy

In July 1942, Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES) were established folloiwng an absence of service since World War I.  During that war, women served in the enlisted rank of Yeoman (F).   In December 1944, Lieutenant Junior Grade Harriet Ida Pickens and Francis Willis became the first African American female officers in the U.S. Navy.  For more WAVES imagery, please refer to this exhibit's Recruitment Section. 

Other resources:

Downloadable African American Pamphlet

NHHC African American Experience

Image:  208-NP-8CC-1:  African American Women Recruits in the Naval Resserve, 1945.  Ensign Francis Willis, one of the first two African American officers in the U.S Navy, is interviewing two African American enlisted WAVES.   Official Office of War Information photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.