From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Anderson, Myrtle E.

(born: 1907  -  died: 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.


Cited in this Entry

NKAA Entry: Jones, Margaret Ellen Barnes
NKAA Entry: WACs' Protest at Camp Breckinridge, KY
NKAA Source: Plaindealer, The (newspaper) (Kansas City)
NKAA Source: To serve my country, to serve my race (book)
NKAA Source: Philadelphia Afro-American (newspaper)
NKAA Source: Arkansas State press (newspapers)
NKAA Source: The Kentucky encyclopedia (2000)
NKAA Source: History of Camp Breckinridge, Kentucky
NKAA Source: Plaindealer, The (newspaper) (Kansas City)

Related Entries Citing this Entry

NKAA Entry:  Jones, Margaret Ellen Barnes
NKAA Entry:  WACs' Protest at Camp Breckinridge, KY
NKAA Entry:  Duncan, Lillian W.
NKAA Entry:  Haskin, Vera A. Harrison

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Anderson, Myrtle E.,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed July 27, 2021,

Last modified: 2017-07-19 17:51:25