Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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  • nhhc-topics:women
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Wars & Conflicts
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Location of Archival Materials
Yeomen (F); WAVES; all-female-crew combat mission

Left: NH 52947. Yeomen (F) at the U.S. Naval Hospital, Mare Island, California, 1918. Center: NH 95359. Members of the first class of WAVES to graduate from the Aviation Metalsmith School, Naval Air Technical Training Center, Norman, Oklahoma, 30 July 1943. Right: U.S. Navy photograph by MC2 James R. Evans, 120125-N-DR144-012. Arabian Sea, 25 January 2012. First all-female-crew combat mission in an E-2C Hawkeye aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70).

Women in the U.S. Navy

The first women to serve in the U.S. Navy were nurses, beginning with the “Sacred Twenty” appointed after Congress established the Navy Nurse Corps on 13 May 1908. The first large-scale enlistment of women into the Navy met clerical shortages during World War I, and the second came months before the United States entered World War II. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Public Law 689 creating the Navy’s women reserve program on 30 July 1942, which paved the way for officer and enlisted women to enter the Navy. Today, women serve in every rank from seaman to admiral and in every job from naval aviator to deep-sea diver.

Digital Resources

Significant Dates and Historical Events for Women in the U.S. Navy

Women Trailblazers

Ships Named in Honor of Women

Collections Focused on Women in the U.S. Navy

Oral Histories


Further Reading

WAVES Collection

Collection photo # UA 45.01.01 - WAVES in formation for inspection

Published: Wed Nov 07 12:58:37 EST 2018