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Great site for specifics on what women in Virginia were doing on the Homefront:


"Hooverizing:" World War I on the Home Front


No rations here!
Women's lives changed a lot during World War I. Women were working to gain the right to vote and run for public office. Women were working to help the war effort, and working to stop the war. 35,000 women even journeyed across the Atlantic ocean to serve on the front lines.

chicago map

Women helped plant gardens and tried to use less bread, meat, and cheese so that the food could be sent to feed the soldiers fighting in the war. When so many men went to war, there was a lot of work to be done at home in America. Women began working in factories, post offices, on farms, and as traffic cops for the first time.

Women did work at an Iowa farm machine factory during WWI
I wanted to find out more about what life was like for women in America during WW I, so I decided to ask my favorite storyteller- my amazing grandmother! I call her Baubie, the yiddish name for grandmother, and she's 95 years old. I asked her to remember all the way back to the time of the War, when she was an 11 year old girl. Eager to help, Baubie spun a story for me, with songs and jokes , and with details and feelings.

Here are her stories:

Becky and Baubie:  living history
There was a parade on Halsted Street everytime our boys went off to the war. With all of the music, all of the fanfare. We would walk the boys all the way down to the train station, where they would leave for whatever training camp was their first destination. It was very patriotic and sad. But you always thought that they would come back . You expected them to. Two of my brothers served in the war, and happily, they both came home in one piece.

The vegetables Baubie used to grow in a community garden can now be bought with ease at your local grocery store
Each neighborhood had their community gardens, where a family would have its own plot. We would grow all sorts of vegetables there because food was so scarce - everything that was normally available was now used for the war effort.

We've got enough bell peppers these days   >

We even wore special dresses which used less fabric. It was a sort of apron that had two front flaps. And you could switch the flaps, so it really became two dresses in one! This way, after the first flap became soiled, you would wear the other flap out front the next day. There was also a lot of knitting. Even in school . We would knit little squares and socks for the soldiers, while women at home would knit sweaters for the soldiers, and get together to make bandages.

Everyone was knitting
And then we would write to soldiers from school. Everyone would be given the name of a soldier, and we would write back and forth with them - to keep the men happy. I used to write to an Italian man from Chicago. It helped keep their spirits up.

We didn't have radios in those days, so one of the things that boys and girls would do when they got together was gather around the piano and sing . One of the most popular songs "Keep the Home Fires Burning" which reminded people to keep their hopes high and their pride strong in their boys at war (while your hearts are yearning... turn the dark clouds inside out...)

If you could only hear the verses that Baubie sang to me! Her voice and stories brought to life a time period I had only read about. She sparked my imagination to picture a United States different from one I have ever known.


Welcome Surfer Bob!

And so I give these stories to you. We Trekkers are reporters of history. Our goal is to share stories, people and events which have been often ignored in our textbooks. With a little luck, we find the perfect source to learn from. Tonight I realized was that the perfect source was right in my family tree.


Please email me at: rebecca@ustrek.org


Links to Other Dispatches

Daphne - Women voters: You've come a long way, baby!
Daphne - An "untouchable" tour of a former gangster's paradise