Women’s Work: How the Women of M. A. C. Contributed to World War I

14 05 2018

The needs of the war effort were vast and varied, which meant that there were plenty of ways to help that were opened up for women and women’s departments. Whether staying home or travelling the country and the world, women found a way to help.

In the fall of 1918, two young women joined the Red Cross in order to serve as army nurses.  Alice Latson, ‘09, and Elizabeth Palm, ‘11, became nurses in order to help with medical needs.  Latson was trained as a dietitian in Asbury Hospital in Minneapolis and would be stationed at Camp Gordon in Georgia while Palm would train at Camp Custer’s base hospital.

Mary M. Harrington of the class of ‘18 moved from Flint, Michigan to Fort Riley, Kansas to become a Red Cross dietitian at the U. S. A. Base Hospital. She worked to help feed 2,100 patients, all suffering from influenza. Harrington noted that there were “several other dietitians here, but none are from M. A. C.” In her letter to the newspaper, she asked for a copy of the Record to keep up with her Alma Mater, for “Michigan seems quite far away when one is out here.”

 

canning participants

Canning Course Participants, 1917

The home economics department stepped up during the war in the whatever ways they could, especially when it came to teaching the community how to help in crucial ways at home: “Fifty senior girls are taking a special course in canning this term, most of them with the idea of offering their services this summer as demonstrators when the canning season opens up.” During the summer of 1917, the home economics department made two food talks and canning demonstrations available for the East Lansing community. The July talk was available to women with two years of training from the home economics department and would later be volunteer canning demonstrators. The August class was open to everyone. The classes were taught by former home economic students who were contacted with emergency registration cards asking “the amount of their training and experience, whether they were available for summer or winter emergency work, and the approximate amount of time that could be devoted to the work.” The ladies were also asked if they would be willing to help “without remuneration or with expenses only.” All over the state, former M. A. C. women agreed to volunteer their time and energy into helping teach “kitchen thrift” to the East Lansing community. The talk in July had 3,419 attendees, and the August demonstrations had 3,000.

 

The women also gave their time and money to help everyone, soldier and victim alike.  In order to help, “about 200 co-eds” volunteered for the Red Cross Association, using their time to knit “helmets, wristers and scarfs for the navy.” When sickness began to take its toll on the student soldiers, the co-eds of M. A. C. didn’t have any access to the new gym during the influenza epidemic. It was where Company B was housed as everyone was moved around and buildings were used as bunks for the sick.

War often leaves orphans, but some of the women of M. A. C. decided to do something about it. They adopted two french children whom they raised money to care for. It cost $36 a year to care for each child. With an average donation of 40 cents per person, the women raised $130 for the care of the children. The extra money was “used to buy delicacies for the convalescent soldiers.”

They also took over the jobs that typically went to men. With all of the secretaries for the class of ‘17 in the men’s sections serving in the war, a young woman named Lou Butler took over for the entire class as long as the war lasted.

With so much needing to be done, women were able and willing to help in any way they could. The ladies of M. A. C. sacrificed and gave whenever they saw an opportunity, and their creativity in finding where their help was needed is admirable.

Written by Catharine Neely

“Two M. A. C. Girls Entered Red Cross,” MAC Record, 30 September 1918, vol. 24, no. 1, pg. 3.

“From Mary M. Harrington,” MAC Record, 25 October 1918, vol. 24, no. 4, pg. 7.

“News and Comments,” MAC Record, 8 May 1917, vol. 22, no. 28, pg. 7.

“Home Economics Department Active in War Work,” MAC Record, 28 September 1917, vol. 23, no. 2, pg. 3.

“MAC Coeds…,” MAC Record, 22 November 1918, vol. 24, no. 8, pg. 3.

“Two French…,” MAC Record, 1 November 1918, vol. 24, no. 5, pg. 3.

“For Class Secretaries of ‘17,” MAC Record, 1 November 1918, vol. 24, no. 5, pg. 5.

“Some of those in Attendance at the Canning Course,” MAC Record, 17 July 1917, vol. 22, no. 34, pg. 7.

Advertisements

Actions

Information

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s




%d bloggers like this: