First Unit of Telephone Operators Ready for France - 1918

The First Unit of American Telephone Operators.

The First Unit of American Telephone Operators. “I Tried to Extend the System of Replacing Men by Women, and a Female Auxiliary Telephone Corps Was to Be Started,” Writes Ludendorff in His War Book. When the United States Went to War, American Telephones With Crews, Managers, and Operators Were Sent Across. Harper's Pictorial Library of the World War, Volume 2, 1920. GGA Image ID # 18c2fdbc1e

The First Contingent

These twenty-nine young women, including six who have been selected and trained by the New York Telephone Company, have been recruited from all parts of the country, and with four others who were not present when the photograph was taken, will constitute the first detachment of telephone operators requested by General Pershing for service in France.

All of them speak both English and French fluently. They will be attached to the Signal Corps, under the command of the Chief Signal Officer of the Army, Major General George O. Squier, at Washington, and will occupy a unique position in the American military organization.

This group includes one Chief Operator, four Supervisors, and twenty-four Operators. Rank is indicated by a device embroidered on a white brassard, on the left arm, which is worn in accordance with the require ments of international law, as the operators are non-combatants.

On the brassard worn by a Junior Operator is embroidered a black telephone transmitter. The brassard of a Supervisor has a laurel wreath below the transmitter, and the brassard of a Chief Operator has the two symbols mentioned surmounted by worked lightning embroidered in yellow.

The First Unit of Telephone Operators Trained for Foreign Service by the Bell System.

The First Unit of Telephone Operators Trained for Foreign Service by the Bell System. Photograph Taken in France, Where They Have Won the Praise of Secretary of War Baker for Their Efficiency. Photograph © Committee on Public Information. The Telephone Review, June 1918. GGA Image ID # 1982b87dda

Their uniforms are of dark blue serge, with the letters "U. S." on the collar.

The members of the group shown in the above picture are :

  1. Chief Operator: Miss Grace D. Banker, Passaic, New Jersey
  2. Supervisor: Miss Jean Cunningham, Westmont, Quebec
  3. Supervisor: Miss Elizabeth G. Hunter, Medford. Massachusetts
  4. Supervisor: Miss Renee Mosselin, San Francisco, California
  5. Supervisor: Miss Minnie R. Richards, Van Buren, Maine
  6. Operator: Miss Melina J. Adam, Swansea, Massachusetts
  7. Operator: Miss Eulalie I. Audet, Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts
  8. Operator: Miss Jean Bouchet, San Francisco, California
  9. Operator: Miss Almeria Capistran, North Yakima, Washington
  10. Operator: Miss Estella I. Caron, Brockton, Massachusetts
  11. Operator: Miss Josephine Davis, New Orleans, Louisiana
  12. Operator: Miss Cordelia Dupuis, Rolla, North Dakota
  13. Operator: Miss Sara Fecteau. West Lebanon, New Hampshire
  14. Operator: Miss Marie L. Ford, Worcester, Massachusetts
  15. Operator: Miss Esther V. Fresnel, New York City
  16. Operator: Miss Marie A. Gagnon, Grafton, North Dakota
  17. Operator: Miss Charlotte M. Gyss, Yonkers, New York
  18. Operator: Miss Winifred Hardy, Montreal. Canada
  19. Operator: Miss Leontine G. Lamoureux, Lowell, Massachusetts
  20. Operator: Miss Rose Langelier, Lynn, Massachusetts
  21. Operator: Miss Marie A. Le Blanc, Montreal. Canada
  22. Operator: Miss Louise Le Breton, San Francisco, California
  23. Operator: Miss Raymonde Le Breton, Berkeley, California
  24. Operator: Miss Minerva G. Nadeau, Boston, Massachusetts
  25. Operator: Miss Helen A. Naismith, Seattle, Washington
  26. Operator: Miss Frances Bigelow Paine, Bronxville, New York
  27. Operator: Miss Bertha Plamonden, San Francisco, California
  28. Operator: Miss Suzanne Prevot, New York
  29. Operator: Miss Georgette Schaerr, Omaha, Nebraska
  30. Operator: Miss Agnes M. Theriault, Presque Isle, Maine
  31. Operator: Miss Fernande J. Van Balkom, New York
  32. Operator: Miss Alice Ward, Montreal, Canada
  33. Operator: Mrs. Clara Whitney, Butler, Pennsylvania.

"The First Contingent," in The Telephone Review, Vol. 9, No. 3, March 1918, p. 74.

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