<Women's Army Corps (WACs)>
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African American WACs Who Were Born in Kentucky
Start Year : 1943
End Year : 1945
This is a partial list of the African American women born in Kentucky and served in the WACs. The information comes from the WWII Army Enlistment Records. Martha L. Bell, b.1918, Daviess County; Georgia A. Bradley, b.1900; Lena C. H. Bruce, b.1923, Kenton County; Sarah M. Carr, b.1911, Jefferson County; Gladys L. Collier, b.1923; Lula B. Collins, b.1910; Dorothy C. Davis, b.1919; Ethel W. Fields, b.1922, Jefferson County; Alma C. Fischer, b.1924; Edna M. Griffin, b.1909; Willia M. Griffin, b.1920; Zelma H. Grooms, b.1922; Elizabeth Hardyster, b.1921, Jefferson County; Ann M. Highsaw, b.1917, Jefferson County; Florence J. Hoard, b.1919, Jefferson County; Ruth Holt, b.1911; Hannah E. Huley, b.1911, Grant County; June C. Ingram, b.1921; Juanita M. Irvin, b.1920, McCracken County; Julia M. Jackson, b.1911, Jefferson County; Lula M. Johnson, b.1918, Fayette County; Alma E. Kairson, b.1918; Emma L. Lutz, b.1917; Hollie B. Martin, b.1903; Anna C. Morrison, b.1923; Mary E. Neal, b.1914; Dorthea M. Owens, b.1920; LaVenta M. Penn, b.1916; Thelma L. Pruden, b.1923, Daviess County; Catherine Roberts, b.1920, Bath County; Beaulah C. Simms, b.1924; Emma Smith, b.1922, Lincoln County; Marjorie Smith, b.1923; Mattie L. Sproul, b.1917, Barren County; Vivian Steward, b.1918; Susie D. L. Tardy, b.1920; Annie B. Thurman, b.1921, Fulton County; Ora L. Tichenor, b.1915; Anna S. Townsend, b.1923, Jefferson County; Effie M. Turner, b.1923; Joanna M. Turner, b.1900; Anna M. Wall, b.1924, Fulton County; Lena M. Warden, b.1923; Helen C. Washington, b.1919, Bourbon County; Alice T. White, b.1923, Fayette County; Thelma M. Wimbley, b.1921; Daisy B. Utterback, b.1922, Graves County; Dorothy J. Young, b.1921.
See photo images of African American WACs, including Kentuckian Willa B. Brown [Chappell], at flickr website.
See history of African American women WACs, a video by "African American History is American History (AAHIAH)" Episode #11 Black Soldiers, Part 2.
Subjects: Military & Veterans, Women's Groups and Organizations, Women's Army Corps (WACs)
Geographic Region: Kentucky
Aikens, Julia E. Jackson
Start Year : 1901
End Year : 1993
In 1959, Julia Aikens became the first African American switchboard operator at the U.S. Post Office in South Bend, Indiana. Born in Hancock County, KY, she was married to Arthur Aikens; the couple moved to South Bend, IN, in 1946. Julia Aikens was a graduate of Knox Beauty College and Grigg's Business School in Chicago. She had owned a beauty shop. Aikens also served as a WAAC and a WAC during World War II, enlisting March 23, 1943, in Columbus, OH. For more see the Julia Aikens' entry in The Black Women in the Middle West Project, by D. C. Hine, et al.; and the Julia E. Aikens Collection at the Northern Indiana Historical Society.
Subjects: Cosmetologists, Beauty Shops, Hairdressers, Beauty Supplies, Migration North, Military & Veterans, Postal Service, Women's Groups and Organizations, Women's Army Corps (WACs)
Geographic Region: Hancock County, Kentucky / South Bend, Indiana
Anderson, Myrtle E.
Birth Year : 1907
Death Year : 1978
Myrtle E. Anderson was from Boston, MA. In 1943, she was a 1st Lieutenant in the Women's Army Corps (WACs). Anderson and 2nd Lieutenant Margaret E. Barnes Jones arrived in Camp Breckinridge, KY, with 175 enlisted African American women. The enlistees and officers were the first African American women of the U.S. Army to be stationed in Kentucky. The enlistees were given menial tasks such as cleaning latrines, and some of the women resigned from the WACs. Majors Jones and Anderson fought for better work assignments for the women. Ft. Breckinridge, also referred to as Camp Breckinridge, was disposed of by the U. S. Army on December 5, 1962. Prior to becoming a WAC, Myrtle E. Anderson had been a member of the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAACs) Officers Training Camp at Ft. Des Moines, IA. The WAACs was transitioned into the Women's Army Corps (WACs) during 1943. According to her World War II Army Enlistment Records, Myrtle [D.] Anderson enlisted in the Army on November 25, 1942 in Los Angeles, CA, Inactive Reserve, Aviation Cadet. It was noted on her record that, as a civilian, Anderson had been an actress. While at Ft. Des Moines, she continued her acting career on stage and in film; she performed throughout the run of the play "Run Little Children" and other government-sponsored stage plays for the military [source: H. Levette, "Gossip of the movie lots," Plaindealer [Kansas], 04/02/1943, p. 6]. In June of 1943, Anderson was ill in an Army hospital in Maine, and it was thought that she would have to leave the Army [source: H. Levette, "Gossip of the movie lot," Plaindealer [Kansas], 06/18/1943, p. 6]. Anderson recuperated, however, and continued in the WACs until she was discharged June 1, 1943 [source: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS Death File]. She continued her acting career with small uncredited roles in films. She had first appeared in the film The Green Pastures in 1936, and her last film appearance was around 1957. Myrtle Anderson was born May 26, 1907 and she died October 5, 1978, in Los Angeles, CA. For more about the African American women enlistees see To Serve My Country, To Serve My Race, by B. L. Moore; "6 WACs Resign: WAC Clerks Decline to Scrub Floors," Philadelphia Afro-American, July 10, 1943, p. 1; and see photo image with Myrtle Anderson and others above the photo caption "WAACs departure from Des Moines" in the article "Speaking of WAACs," Arkansas State Press, 01/01/1943, p. 3. For more about Camp Breckinridge, see the Camp Breckinridge entry in the Kentucky Encyclopedia; and History of Camp Breckinridge, Kentucky, by P. Heady. See also the NKAA entry WACs Protest at Camp Breckinridge, KY.
*Please note that there were other African American WAACs named Myrtle Anderson, one being Myrtle Estella Anderson in Kansas City, MO, who arrived at Ft. Des Moines around July of 1942 [source: "Myrtle Anderson feted by business group," Plaindealer [Kansas], 07/31/1942, p. 12]. Anderson had resigned her job as a dietician at the Wheatley Hospital, a job she had held for a year and a half before enlisting in the WAACs. Just prior to returning to Ft. Des Moines in July of 1942, she was voted vice-president of the Business and Professional Women's Club in Kansas City. [Wheatley Hospital was established and run by African Americans in Kansas City, MO, from 1902-1972 - - source: Wheatley-Provident Hospital—Kansas City, a flickr site].
*This may be the same Myrtle Anderson mentioned above. She was recognized for her military service with the American Campaign Medal; her hometown is given as Kansas City, MO.
Subjects: Actors, Actresses, Military & Veterans, Women's Groups and Organizations, Women's Army Corps (WACs)
Geographic Region: Fort Breckinridge [or Camp Breckinridge], Henderson, Webster, and Union Counties, Kentucky (no longer exists) / Boston, Massachusetts / Los Angeles, California
Anderson, Zelda W.
Birth Year : 1921
Death Year : 2010
Zelda W. Anderson, born in Baltimore, MD, was one of the first African American women to enter the military in the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC), which was later renamed the Women's Army Corps (WAC). She was a second lieutenant when she arrived at Camp Breckinridge, KY. The post commander, Colonel Throckmorton, attempted to make Anderson the mess officer. When Anderson refused his orders, Colonel Throckmorton had her name removed from the list of WACs who were to go overseas, and she was made the assistant to the (non-existent) post publications officer. Her job was to organize a warehouse of Army regulation manuals with the assistance of 12 other WACs, two German prisoners, and a white civilian who quit rather than take orders from a Negro. When Camp Breckinridge was closed, Zelda Anderson was sent to Fort Knox, KY, where she again was under the command of Colonel Throckmorton. Anderson's new assignment was to make arrangements for Negro entertainment at Fort Knox. Those who entertained the troops included Duke Ellington, Lena Horne, and Earl Hines. Anderson would greet the entertainers at the airplane landing site and find them lodging in Negro hotels, rooming houses, or private homes. The hotels in the area were not integrated. Zelda Anderson died August 13, 2010 in California [source: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS Death File]. For more see the Zelda Anderson entry in War Stories, edited by R. T. King; and the Zelda Anderson oral history transcript at the University of Nevada Oral History Program.
Subjects: Military & Veterans, Women's Groups and Organizations, Women's Army Corps (WACs)
Geographic Region: Baltimore, Maryland / Camp Breckinridge, Henderson, Webster, and Union Counties, Kentucky (no longer exists) / Fort Knox, Bullitt, Hardin, & Meade Counties, Kentucky
Clarke, Anna Mac
Birth Year : 1919
Death Year : 1944
Anna M. Clarke, born in Lawrenceburg, KY, was a graduate of the Lawrenceburg Colored School and a 1941 graduate of Kentucky State College [now Kentucky State University]. She was one of the first African American woman from Kentucky to enlist during World War II, the first to become an officer, and the first African American WAC over an all-white regiment. Clarke led the protest that desegregated the Douglas Army Airfield theater. A Kentucky Historical Marker [#1970] has been placed on the Lawrenceburg courthouse lawn in her memory. Anna Mac Clarke is buried in Stringtown, KY. For more see Women in Kentucky-Military; LWF Communications website, Anna Mac Clark answering the call to arms; WWII and the WAC by J. M. Trowbridge; and J. M. Trowbridge, "Anna Mac Clark: a pioneer in military leadership," Cochise Quarterly, vol. 26 (Winter 1996).
See photo image and additional information about Anna M. Clarke at "Lest We Forget," a Hampton University website.
Subjects: Activists, Civil Rights, Military & Veterans, Women's Groups and Organizations, Grade Schools & High Schools in Kentucky, Women's Army Corps (WACs)
Geographic Region: Lawrenceburg, Anderson County, Kentucky / Douglas Army Airfield, Arizona / Stringtown, Anderson County, Kentucky
Duncan, Lillian W.
Birth Year : 1914
Lillian Duncan was an officer with the African American WACs at Fort Knox, KY, in 1945. Duncan was the Plans and Training Officer. When her unit was shipped to England, Duncan became a Second Lieutenant and was Executive Officer in Company C. The WACs who had been at Fort Knox, KY, became a part of the 6888 Postal Unit, the only African American women's military unit to go overseas during WWII. Lillian Duncan was born in 1914 in Taladega, AL, and enlisted at Fort McClellan on September 30, 1942, according to her enlistment record. She was a graduate of a four year college and was employed as a teacher. She had also been a WAAC at Fort Huachua, AZ, and was a member of the 32nd and 33rd WAACs basketball team. There is a photo of the team playing basketball outside, the photo is within the New York Public Library Digital Gallery [photo available online]. For more see "WAC overseas postal unit does good job in handling mail," New York Amsterdam News, 05/05/1945, p.8A. For information on earlier WAC unit in Kentucky see Myrtle D. Anderson and Margaret E. B. Jones entries in the NKAA Database.
Subjects: Basketball, Education and Educators, Military & Veterans, Women's Groups and Organizations, Women's Army Corps (WACs)
Geographic Region: Taladega, Alabama / Fort Knox, Bullitt, Hardin, & Meade Counties, Kentucky
Haskin, Vera A. Harrison
Birth Year : 1919
Death Year : 2005
Vera Harrison [Haskin] was an officer over the unit of African American WACs at Fort Knox, KY, in 1945. She had been a member of the first WAACs Officer Cadet School at Ft. Des Moins, IA in 1942 and was a member of the advance group of WAACs at Fort Huachuca, AZ. She was executive officer of the old 33rd Post Headquarters Company. At Fort Knox, KY, Harrison was Company Commander, and in England and France, she was Commanding Officer of Company C, and Central Postal Director, Company C. In England, the WACs who had been at Fort Knox became a part of the 6888 Postal Unit, the only African American women's military unit to go overseas during WWII. Vera A. Harrison was born in 1919 in Sadieville, KY, the daughter of Anna M. and Bradley Harrison. In 1930, the family of six lived in Hamilton, OH, on Wallace Street [source: U.S. Federal Census]. Bradley Harrison supported his family as a laborer at a foundry. Vera Harrison enlisted at Fort Hayes on July 18, 1942, according to her enlistment record. She was a graduate of a four year college and was employed as a secretary. Photos and additional information on Vera Harrison Haskin are available at the National Association of Black Military Women website. For more see "WAC overseas postal unit does good job in handling mail," New York Amsterdam News, 05/05/1945, p.8A. For information on earlier WAC unit in Kentucky see Myrtle D. Anderson and Margaret E. B. Jones entries in the NKAA Database.
Vera Haskin at the National Association of Black Military Women website.
Subjects: Migration North, Military & Veterans, Women's Groups and Organizations, Women's Army Corps (WACs)
Geographic Region: Sadieville, Scott County, Kentucky / Hamilton, Ohio / Fort Knox, Bullitt, Hardin, & Meade Counties, Kentucky
Jones, Margaret Ellen Barnes
Birth Year : 1911
Death Year : 2000
A major in the U.S. Army, Margaret E. B. Jones was with the only African American military women's unit (the 6888th Postal Unit) to go overseas during World War II. Her first post as an officer was in Kentucky, where she was over a unit of African American women assigned to clean floors and latrines in the Camp Breckinridge hospital. After that, she began lobbying for better work assignments for the women she commanded. She and Myrtle Anderson were the first African American women Army officers stationed in Kentucky. Jones' maternal grandparents had been slaves in Kentucky, and her mother, a well known community leader, was born in Monticello, KY; her name was Margaret E. Sallee Barnes. Margaret E. B. Jones, born in Oberlin, OH, was a graduate of Howard University. Her brother-in-law, Sam Jones, was athletic director at the school; he was also one of the first African American officers commissioned in the Navy. For more see C. Levy, "Maj. Margaret E. B. Jones Dies," Washington Post, 04/25/2000, Metro section, p. B7; The New York Times, 04/27/2000, late ed. Final, p. B13; To Serve My Country, To Serve My Race, by B. L. Moore; and "6 WACs Resign: WAC Clerks Decline to Scrub Floors," Philadelphia Afro-American, July 10, 1943, p. 1. For more about Camp Breckinridge, see the Camp Breckinridge entry in the Kentucky Encyclopedia [available on UK Campus and off campus via the proxy server], and History of Camp Breckinridge, Kentucky, by P. Heady. See also the entry about the WACs Protest at Camp Breckinridge, KY.
Subjects: Military & Veterans, Women's Groups and Organizations, Women's Army Corps (WACs), Grandparents
Geographic Region: Oberlin, Ohio / Fort Breckinridge [or Camp Breckinridge], Henderson, Webster, and Union Counties, Kentucky (no longer exists)
Scott, Anna W. Porter
Birth Year : 1925
Scott was born in Fulton, KY, the daughter of Jevvie R. Patton Porter and Thomas M. Porter. She is the wife of John T. Scott. Anna W. Scott served with the U.S. WACs, 1944-1947, and returned to Fulton before moving to Urbana, IL, in 1958. She was the first woman elected to the Democrat State Central Committee in Illinois and was vice-chair of the State Democrat Party, 1974-1976. She ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 1976 and the Illinois House of Representative in 1977. In 1984, she was the coordinator of the 21st Congressional District for the Jessie Jackson campaign. In 1993, Scott was appointed to the Illinois Real Estate and Banking Board by Governor Jim Edgar. Anna Scott is a 1958 sociology graduate (B.S.), a 1960 education graduate (M.A.), and a 1964 social work graduate (M.S.W.) of the University of Illinois. She is a full-time sociology professor at Parkland College. For more see the Anna Wall Porter Scott entry in The Black Women in the Middle West Project, by D. C. Hine, et al.
Subjects: Education and Educators, Migration North, Military & Veterans, Politicians, Politics, Appointments & Elections, Sociologists & Social Scientists, Women's Groups and Organizations, Women's Army Corps (WACs)
Geographic Region: Fulton, Fulton County, Kentucky / Urbana, Illinois
Stone, Kara L.
Birth Year : 1929
Death Year : 1995
Stone was born in Richmond, KY, the daughter of J. Lynn Stone. She was a graduate of Richmond High School and Knoxville College. After teaching for a couple of years, she joined the WACs and spent three years in France. Stone returned to the U.S. and in 1960 became the first African American graduate student at Eastern Kentucky University (EKU). After completing her masters degree, Stone taught at the Louisville School for the Blind, in the Paris, KY, School System, and was a history professor at EKU. A. B. Dunston completed Stone's oral history in 1993; the recording is part of the African American Community of Madison County Oral History Project in the Eastern Kentucky University Libraries. See also Who's Who Among African Americans, 1980-2004; and M. Bailey, "Richmond teacher has made a lasting impression," Lexington Herald-Leader, 10/10/1984, Lifestyle section, p. D1.
Subjects: Education and Educators, Military & Veterans, Women's Groups and Organizations, Women's Army Corps (WACs), Blind, Visually Impaired
Geographic Region: Richmond, Madison County, Kentucky / France
WACs Beaten in Elizabethtown, KY
Start Year : 1945
In 1945, three African American members of the Women's Army Corps (WAC) were beaten by police officers for sitting in the waiting room for whites at the Greyhound bus station in Elizabethtown, KY. One of the women, PFC Helen Smith of Syracuse, NY, was taken to jail and released a few hours later, bleeding from her injuries. PFC Georgia Boson, from Texas, and Pvt.Tommie Smith, were also beaten. The women continued on their return to Fort Knox. When they arrived on base, they were summonsed by the commanding office, then lectured about obeying the supposed segregation laws of Kentucky pertaining to public buildings and transportation. The women were court-martialed. They were defended by Lieutenant W. Robert Ming, base legal officier at Godman Field under Colonel Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. The charges were later reduced to disorderly conduct. Helen Smith spent a week in the hospital recovering from her injuries. For more see Harry McAlpin, "Beat by cops: WACs to stand trial, violated Ky. Jim Crow," Indianapolis Recorder, 08/04/1945, p.1; "Wac's Beating Case" in The Negro Handbook, 1946-1947 edited by F. Murray; Creating GI Jane by L. D. Meyer; To Serve My County, To Serve My Race by B. L. Moore; and "Council demands investigation of WACs' beating," Baltimore Afro-American, 08/11/1945, p.12.
Subjects: Military & Veterans, Women's Groups and Organizations, Women's Army Corps (WACs), Court Cases, Bus Transportation: Employees, Owners, Segregation
Geographic Region: Elizabethtown, Hardin County, Kentucky / Fort Knox, Bullitt, Hardin, & Meade Counties, Kentucky / Syracuse, New York
WACs' Protest at Camp Breckinridge, KY
Start Year : 1943
In 1943, six African American members of the Women's Army Corps (WACs) resigned from the Army after their unit staged a protest over job assignments. The unit was under the command of 1st Lieutenant Myrtle Anderson and 2nd Lieutenant Margaret E. B. Jones. They were the first group of African American women enlistees to be stationed in Kentucky. They were a division of the first Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAACs) that had been established at Fort Des Moines, Iowa in 1942; a total of 118 African American women were trained at the location. In 1943, the WAACs were being transitioned over to the WACs. The unit transferred to Kentucky had been trained to become supply clerks, but once stationed at Camp Breckinridge, they were assigned tasks such as stacking beds and scrubbing the floors of the warehouses and latrines. The women protested, and Anderson and Jones complained to their superior officer Colonel Kelly, but nothing was done. There was also the complaint that white soldiers had entered the women's barracks at night and officers had to protect them. As the tension continued to increase, the last straw came when the women were told to wash the walls of the laundry; the women went on strike. After five days, the Army responded by allowing the women to leave the service without honor. Those who resigned were Beatrice Brashear, Gladys Morton, Margaret Coleman, Mae E. Nicholas, and Viola Bessups, all from New York, and Ruth M. Jones from New Jersey. The Army's official response was that the "girls" had not been given a proper assignment and there was a disturbance. The Camp Breckinridge Public Relations Office acknowledged the resignations but had no additional comments. For more see "6 WACs Resign: WAC clerks decline to scrub floors," Philadelphia Afro American, 07/10/1943, pp. 1 & 15. For more about Camp Breckinridge, see the Camp Breckinridge entry in the Kentucky Encyclopedia, and History of Camp Breckinridge, by P. Heady.
By the final months of 1943, African American WACs were performing mail clerk duties at Camp Breckinridge, KY, as seen in photo image of Pfc. Ruby O'Brien from Beaumont, TX; Pvt. Millie Holloway from Louisville, KY; and others in photo dated November 30, 1943. Photo at NYPL Digital Gallery from U.S. Office of War Information.
Subjects: Activists, Civil Rights, Military & Veterans, Rioting, Insurrections, Panics, Protests in Kentucky, Women's Groups and Organizations, Women's Army Corps (WACs)
Geographic Region: Camp Breckinridge [or Fort Breckinridge], Henderson, Webster, and Union Counties, Kentucky (no longer exists) / Fort Des Moines [Fort Des Moines Museum], Des Moines, Iowa