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WAVES (Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Services Unit) Files, 1942-1996 (Bulk: 1942-1945)
8 boxes (3.5 linear ft.)
Collection number: RG 12

Abstract:
Smith College unit of of the women's Naval Reserve. Contains books, broadcasts, correspondence, printed materials, press releases, newspaper clippings, memoranda, notes, and photographs.

Terms of Access and Use:

Restrictions on access:

The collection is open to research according to the regulations of the Smith College Archives.

Restrictions on use:

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. Permission to publish materials from the files must be requested from the College Archives. Smith College owns the copyright of all the official correspondence. The Archives has no information on the literary rights of the remainder of the collection and researchers are responsible for determining any question of copyright.

Smith College Archives
Northampton, MA

Biographical Note

The United States entered WWII in 1941 and soon faced a serious shortage of manpower in the military. Congress, along with public interest and advocacy from various National organizations, forced the Department of the Navy (over considerable internal resistance) to start accepting women into their service to augment the many thousands of men already active in the war effort. On June 24, 1942, Congress passed an act to create a women's reserve as a branch of the Naval reserve; to be governed by the same rules and privileges and limited in that women could only work non-combat duty in the continental U.S. The idea was to free trained Naval men from desk jobs in order to increase the active fighting force--thus the rallying theme, "Free a man to fight." The new women's Naval Reserve units were called the WAVES (Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Services) and, with its sister Coast Guard Reserve the SPARS, proceeded to immediately set up training schools at many colleges and universities across the country. Basic training sites were located in Oklahoma (Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical College at Stillwater), Iowa (Iowa State Teacher's College at Cedar Falls), Wisconsin (University of Wisconsin at Madison), Indiana (University of Indiana at Bloomington), and New York state (Hunter College in New York City). Officer training sites were established in Massachusetts at Mt. Holyoke College in South Hadley, and at Smith College in Northampton.

The creation of the WAVES represented a fundamental change that was occurring in American society as the war effort increased. Women were moving from the home into the work force and gaining increasing independence. In WWI, 11,275 women served in the Navy, mainly in secretarial and office positions, but they were not recognized nor was their service publicized, and no formal program existed for their training. In 1942, for the first time women were in uniform, earning the same pay, doing the same work, following the same rules, and receiving the same respect as Navy men. The publicity surrounding the WAVES focused on their independence, intelligence and equality with their male counterparts. However, the naval officers took care to remind everyone of their gender when designing their uniforms. Pants were vetoed in favor of skirts, fitted jackets, and stack heeled shoes that served to emphasize the femininity of the recruits. Women came to the WAVES from all sections of society, bringing a wide variety of skills and experience. Originally, black women were banned from the WAVES, creating a great deal of friction at some of the training schools. The President lifted the ban in 1944 and later that year the first black female officers graduated from the Smith College training school.

By the end of the war over 83,000 women were serving in the Navy, a number significantly over the original estimate of 11,000. They filled positions such as parachute riggers, pharmacist's mates, instrument flying trainers, store keepers, radio dispatchers, clerks, mechanics, lab technicians, mail carriers, decoders, and navigators. Most of the officers were restricted to the rank of lieutenant with the notable exception of Captain Mildred McAfee (the president of Wellesley College) who was the director the WAVES. Soon after peace was declared in 1945, the WAVES and SPARS programs were dismantled and the women who had been in the Navy returned to their homes or civilian jobs.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The WAVES files contain books, broadcasts, correspondence, printed materials, press releases, newspaper clippings, memoranda, notes, and photographs documenting the Naval training school for women that was located on the Smith College campus from 1942-1945.

This collection is organized into three series:

The files are arranged in three series: Series I, General, Series II, Publications, Series III, Photographs, Series IV, Audio-Visual. The materials in the General and Photographs series are arranged alphabetically by subject. The Publications series is arranged by material type.


Information on Use
Terms of Access and Use
Restrictions on access:

The collection is open to research according to the regulations of the Smith College Archives.

Restrictions on use:

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. Permission to publish materials from the files must be requested from the College Archives. Smith College owns the copyright of all the official correspondence. The Archives has no information on the literary rights of the remainder of the collection and researchers are responsible for determining any question of copyright.

Preferred Citation

Please use the following format when citing materials from this collection:

WAVES (Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Services Unit) Files, Box #, Smith College Archives.

History of the Collection
Accruals:

Additions to these records arrive in the College Archives on a regular basis. Please contact the College Archives for the most up-to-date information.

Processing Information

Processed by Mariah Leavitt and Kate Baker '02.


Additional Information
Contact Information
Smith College Special Collections
Young Library
4 Tyler Drive
Northampton, MA 01063

Phone: (413) 585-2970
Fax: (413) 585-2886

Email: specialcollections@smith.edu
URL: https://www.smith.edu/libraries/special-collections
Language
English.
Sponsor
Encoding funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Contents List
Series I: General



Alumnae House Diary
1942-45

Box 1
Alumnae Relations
1942-43, N.D.

Box 1
Anniversaries
1943

Box 1
Anniversaries
1944

Box 1
Benefit Show
Feb. 1944

Box 1
Board of Directors
1942-43

Box 1
Broadcasts: correspondence
1942-44

Box 1
Broadcasts by Mr. Davis
1942-43

Box 1
Chaplain's Services
1943

Box 1
Citations
1946

Box 1
Cleaning Women
1942

Box 1
Commencements
1942-44

Box 1
Commencement Programs
1942-44

Box 1
Contract with Navy
1942-45

Box 1
Correspondence
1942-48

Box 1
Exhibit: Citron, Minna
Dec. 1943

Box 1
Film "WAVES at Smith College": correspondence
1943

Box 1
Note:

See also Series IV.

Financial: Alumnae House Agreement
1942

Box 1
Financial: Cleaning Supplies
1942-43

Box 1
Financial: Direct Charges
1942-44

Box 1
Financial: Direct Charges Paid
1943-45

Box 1
Financial: Direct Salaries and Wages
1944

Box 1
Financial: Employees at Alum. House
1943

Box 2
Financial: Expense Misc.
1942

Box 2
Financial: Final Reports
Oct.1943-Dec.1944

Box 2
Financial: Final Report
Aug.1942-Sept.1943

Box 2
Financial: First Proposal to Navy
1942

Box 2
Financial: Fuel - Electricity
N.D.

Box 2
Financial: Furniture
1942-44

Box 2
Financial: Installation Charges
1942-43

Box 2
Financial: Lavatory Supplies
1942-43

Box 2
Financial: Oil
1942-43

Box 2
History
1942-80

Box 2
History
1942-80

Box 2
Housing
1943

Box 2
Instructions Governing Naval Training School
1943

Box 2
Keys
N.D.

Box 2
George King
1942,1945

Box 2
Letter to Students
1942

Box 2
Helen Lord and Belle Norton
1942

Box 2
Marines
1944

Box 2
Miss Mason-Schopfer
1943-44

Box 2
Record of Meetings
1942

Box 2
Mt. Holyoke Naval School
1943

Box 2
Naval Records
1945

Box 2
Navy Day
1942

Box 2
Officers: Lt. Com. P. Baker
1942-43

Box 2
Officers: Lt. Com. Bullis (also office)
1942

Box 2
Officers: Crandall
1942

Box 2
Officers: Lt. Com. M. Disert
1942-45

Box 2
Officers: Mildred McAfee
1943-46

Box 3
Officers: Marianne McNees
1942-44

Box 3
Officers: Lt. Elizabeth Reynard
1942-45

Box 3
Officers: Lt. Schoonover

see also Furniture

1942-44

Box 3
Officers: Capt. Underwood
1942-44

Box 3
Officers: Louise Wilde
1942-43

Box 3
Plaque Presentation
Nov. 11, 1947

Box 3
Postals
1942

Box 3
Procurement
1942

Box 3
Public Relations
1942-43

Box 3
Publicity In Smith Alumnae Quarterly
1942-45

Box 3
Publicity Tour
1943

Box 3
Roosevelt, Eleanor
1943

Box 3
Schedules
N.D.

Box 3
Florence H. Snow
1944-45

Box 3
Songs
N.D.

Box 3
Speeches by Mr. Davis
N.D.

Box 3
Smith WAVES members
1942-45

Box 3
Smith participants
1942

Box 3
Tea
1942

Box 3
Tea for Wives
1942

Box 3
Tea for Smith WAVES
1942

Box 3
Tea
1943

Box 3
Tea for Smith WAVES
Feb. 1944

Box 3
WAVES Tea
May 1944

Box 3
Tea for Smith WAVES
Nov. 1944

Box 3
W.A.A.C. - Smith Alumnae
1945-47

Box 3
[Wanting] Lists
1942-43

Box 3
Series II: Publications



General
1943-44, N.D.

Box 4
"The Activities of the WAVES, SPARS, and the MCWR at the Naval Reserve


Box 4
Midshipman's School, Northampton, MA"
1943-44

Box 4
"The Naval Reserve Midshipman's School


Box 4
(WR) Northampton and the Naval Training


Box 4
School (Communications-W) South Hadley, MA"
N.D.

Box 4
Newsletter
1945-46

Box 4
"Wave Lengths"
12/4/42-3/11/43

Box 4
Book - Naval Customs, Traditions and Usage
1939

Box 4
Book - Angel of the Navy: The Story Of a WAVE
1943

Box 4
Book - The WAVES : The Story of the Girls in Blue by Nancy Wilson Ross [1943]
1943

Box *
Publications - clippings
Jun 1942-Apr 1943

Box 5
Publications - clippings
May 1943- Dec 1945

Box 6
WAVES Clippings
1946

Box 6
Clippings
N.D.

Box 6
Clippings
1996

Box 6
Series III: Photographs



Photographs


Box 7
General
N.D.

Box 7
Alumnae House Headquarters
N.D.

Box 7
Events
N.D.

Box 7
Marching
N.D.

Box 7
Officers
N.D.

Box 7
Students and Classes
N.D.

Box 7
Publications - Newsletter (Oversize)


Box 8
Sounding Off, vol 1, no. 1-52,vol. 2, no. 1-39
1943-44

Box 8
Series IV: Audio-Visual



Spars and Marines. Coast Guard, W.A., semper paratus?
1939-45

Box AV
"Waves at Smith"
1939-45

Box AV

Search Terms
The following terms represent persons, organizations, and topics documented in this collection. Use these headings to search for additional materials on this web site, in the Five College Library Catalog, or in other library catalogs and databases.

Subjects
  • Naval history--Massachusetts--Northampton.
  • Smith College--History--Sources.
  • United States. Naval Reserve. Women's Reserve--History--Sources.

Contributors
  • United States. Naval Reserve. Women's Reserve.


Questions about this collection? Contact the archives
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