From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (African American Women Veterans in and from Kentucky)

Dunham, Ruth B.

(born: February 24, 1919  -  died: August 31, 2008) 

Military Branch

Women's Army Auxiliary Corps
Women's Army Corps

Active Duty Entered

February 1943
September 1, 1943

Active Duty Exit

September 1, 1943
January 20, 1946

Awards & Decorations

Victory Medal, American Theater Ribbon, Good Conduct Medal Meritorious Unit Award, WAAC Ribbon Award


This entry was updated with additional information provided by Marcia L. Wilson, the niece of Ruth B. Dunham. The additional information is enclosed in quotation marks.

"Ruth B. Dunham first enlisted in the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps in 1943. She elected to remain in the military when the WAAC was incorporated into the regular army as the Women’s Army Corps." Her enlistment took place in Cincinnati, OH, according to her record in the National Archives, Access to Archival Databases.

Ruth Dunham was born in Lexington, KY, the daughter of Lula Washington and Henry Dunham. The family is enumerated in the 1920 U.S. Census when they were living with Ann Scott. Ruth Dunham's mother was a widow when the family was enumerated in the 1930 U.S. Census. The family was also enumerated in the 1940 U.S. Census. 

In 1935, she served as secretary of the newly formed nondenominational community church school in Lexington. The following year in September, Dunham was one of the students to receive a diploma from a cooking school. The closing program was held at St. Paul Church in Lexington. Four years later she was listed in the 1940 Lexington city directory, employed as a maid. "Ruth B. Dunham was a graduate of Dunbar High School in Lexington and Packard Business College in New York City. She attended the University of Cincinnati and New York University."

She enlisted in the military in 1943, and the next year she was listed among the 153 WACs from Kentucky serving in the Army. "She served in Fort Des Moines, IA; Fort Dix, NJ; and Halloran General Hospital on Staten Island in New York. Her job entailed handlng the payroll (in the Personnel Department) to distribute the Army pay to returning wounded European servicemen. According to her military personnel records (St. Louis, MO), she received several citations and decorations during her time in the service." [They are listed above.]

"Ruth B. Dunham received an Honorable Discharge and separated from the Army in 1946: S/SGT 9th WAC Hospital." After her military service, she lived in New York City. Her post-military career was in banking. "She was employed at Empire Savings Bank from which she retired after 33 years, having attained the position of assistant manager. Ruth was also a dedicated member of the 369th Veterans Association in New York (for 45 plus years). She was the recording secretary and treasurer and advanced to the national level as an officer, serving as the national secretary and becoming a deputy marshal in 2006."

"Ruth purchased her home in March 1952 in South Ozone Park, NY and continued to live in it independently until deciding to move to Ohio in 2006." There she lived in Cleveland, where she died in 2008. She is buried in Cleveland Memorial Gardens.  

Sources: Kentucky Birth Index in Ancestry; U.S. Social Security Death Index in Ancestry; U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS Death File in Ancestry; Ruth B. Dunham in Find A Grave; "Colored Notes: Mrs. Lula Dunham," The Lexington Leader, 3/15/1955, p. 19; Polk's Lexington (Fayette County, KY.) City Directory, 1940-41, p. 193; "Colored Notes: A community church school," The Lexington Leader, 9/12/1935, p. 15; "Colored Notes: Closing program," The Lexington Herald, 9/7/1936, p. 9; "Wac anniversary finds 153 central Kentuckians serving," Sunday Herald-Leader, 5/14/1944, p. 10; and email messages from Marcia L. Wilson, 1/31/2022 through 2/6/2022.

*Ruth B. Dunham's mother was Lula Washington Dunham. Lula was the daughter of Priscilla and George Washington. Priscilla Burton Washington was a sister of Matilda Burton Dunbar, who was the mother of Paul L. Dunbar.

*Ruth B. Dunham's father was Henry Dunham, who was the brother of Dr. Norman Earle Dunham.

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Fayette County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Lexington, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Item Relations

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Dunham, Ruth B.,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed July 20, 2024,

Last modified: 2023-05-17 17:08:08