Monday, March 9, 2020
In 1918, the U.S. Army Signal Corps recruited 223 women at General Jack Pershing’s request. They were masters of the latest technology: the telephone switchboard. While suffragettes picketed the White House for the vote, the “Hello Girls” ran battlefield communications in France. Cobbs reveals the challenges they faced in a war where male soldiers wooed, mocked, and ultimately celebrated them. When the veterans sailed home, the Army discharged them without benefits. They began a sixty-year battle that a handful carried to triumph in 1979.
Elizabeth Cobbs is a prize-winning historian, novelist, and documentary filmmaker. She is the author of eight books, including "The Hello Girls: America’ First Women Soldiers" from Harvard Press and the New York Times’ bestseller, "The Hamilton Affair." Her most recent book is "The Tubman Command," a novel on the Civil War military service of Harriet Tubman. Cobbs has won four literary prizes and four film prizes, and written for the New York Times, Washington Post, Jerusalem Times, Los Angeles Times, Politico, and Reuters. She previously served on the State Department’s Historical Advisory Committee and jury for the Pulitzer Prize. Cobbs holds the Melbern Glasscock Chair in American History at Texas A&M and is a Senior Fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution.
Professor Cobbs's Athenaeum presentation is part of the Women in Security series at the Athenaeum this spring.