Loretta Walsh, 1917, First Woman to Enlist in the U.S. Navy

First woman to enlist in the U.S. Navy, Loretta Walsh
When Loretta Perfectus Walsh became the first women to enlist in the U.S. Navy in 1917, that service didn’t yet have uniforms for female sailors. She served as a yeoman at the U.S. Navy Yard in Philadelphia (background photo).

In 1917, twelve words opened the floodgates for women to serve in the military: “It does not say … anywhere that a Yeoman must be a man.” One year after the U.S. Naval Reserve Act of 1916 allowed qualified “persons” to enlist, history was made when 20-year-old Loretta Perfectus Walsh (1896-1925) did just that, earning herself a whole series of “firsts” in the process.

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Elizabeth Blackwell, MD: America’s First Formally Accredited Female Physician

Elizabeth Blackwell was one of America's most important historical female doctors.
Elizabeth Blackwell played a major role in organizing medical relief facilities for soldiers of the Union Army during the Civil War. The Women’s Central Association for Relief (WCAR) she founded led to the creation of the U.S. Sanitary Commission which operated 30 major facilities like this one in Alexandria, Virginia.

Elizabeth Blackwell, MD., was America’s first formally accredited female doctor. Admitted to medical school as a joke, she proved she who laughs last, laughs best. Continue reading “Elizabeth Blackwell, MD: America’s First Formally Accredited Female Physician”

Grace Hopper: The Navy Math Whiz Who Helped Design the First Computer

Grace Hopper, U.S. Navy Engineer and female scientist and inventor.
Grace Hopper was an early pioneer of computer technology and helped develop the COBOL programming system.

This Wednesday’s Woman is “Amazing Grace.” Grace Hopper was determined to join the U.S. Navy in the midst of World War II. But the 37-year-old associate professor¬† just barely squeaked in under the Navy’s cutoff age By 1943 Hopper had earned a Ph.D. in math from Yale and was teaching at Vassar. Continue reading “Grace Hopper: The Navy Math Whiz Who Helped Design the First Computer”