Organizations like the Red Cross relied on women during the war years. Here, women represent the Red Cross in a parade in Augusta, Wisconsin in 1917. Courtesy of the Chippewa Valley Museum.

This war is being fought by women. It is women who suffer and lend courage to us. Women... when the war is over... will deserve honor for their aid in establishing democracy." -General John J. Pershing, 1917

Photo of Margaret Thomas of Eau Claire, in her Red Cross outfit, taken just before sailing to France, March 8, 1918. World War I Service Records, Eau Claire MSS BN, UWEC Archives. 

In many ways, World War I created new momentum for the Women's Suffrage movement. At home and abroad, women's contributions to the war effort were vital. The war, viewed as a "total war," required everyone's contributions. For women in the Chippewa Valley, the "total war" efforts included employment in factories and other positions previously held by men, participation in organizations contributing to the war effort, service abroad through relief and support organizations, and even enlistment with the armed services in primarily nursing and clerical roles. Many of these women in uniform would serve overseas.

Nationally, over a million women entered the workforce, and over 30,000 women enlisted with the Army, Navy, and Marines. The suffrage movement leveraged the contributions of women to the war effort, both home and abroad, to help secure the vote after the war.

Learn more about women in the local workforce during the war years and service abroad through the featured stories linked below.

Florence Larkin: The Columbia Club

Women in the Workforce