The 1730 Conant House is open all year, Monday-Friday, 10 am to 3 pm for self-guided tours to see our exhibit, “Falmouth: Changing with the Times”. Our Cultural Center rotates exhibits throughout the year. Additionally, the Museums on the Green offers a full range of adult and family programs, including our 2019 Lecture Series. Costs to most lectures are $ 5 for members and $ 10 for non-members, and are usually held at our Cultural Center, 35 Katharine Lee Bates Road, Falmouth unless otherwise noted. We also offer historical trolley rides on Wednesdays during the fall (reservations required), and in the Spring and Summer, walking tours of Falmouth on Tuesday and Thursday mornings at 10 am (weather permitting).
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Elizabeth Cobbs, “The Hello Girls”
October 13, 2018 @ 2:00 pm - 3:30 pm$5.00
This is the story of how America’s first women soldiers helped win World War I, earned the vote, and fought the U.S. Army. In 1918, the U.S. Army Signal Corps sent 223 women to France. They were masters of the latest technology: the telephone switchboard. General John Pershing, commander of the American Expeditionary Forces, demanded female “wire experts” when he discovered that inexperienced doughboys were unable to keep him connected with troops under fire. Without communications for even an hour, the army would collapse.
While suffragettes picketed the White House and President Woodrow Wilson struggled to persuade a segregationist Congress to give women of all races the vote, these competent and courageous young women swore the Army oath. Elizabeth Cobbs reveals the challenges they faced in a war zone where male soldiers welcomed, resented, wooed, mocked, saluted, and ultimately celebrated them. They received a baptism by fire when German troops pounded Paris with heavy artillery. Some followed “Black Jack” Pershing to battlefields where they served through shelling and bombardment. Grace Banker, their 25-year-old leader, won the Distinguished Service Medal.
The army discharged the last Hello Girls in 1920, the same year Congress ratified the Nineteenth Amendment granting the ballot. When the operators sailed home, the army unexpectedly dismissed them without veterans’ benefits. They began a sixty-year battle that a handful of survivors carried to triumph in 1979. With the help of the National Organization for Women, Senator Barry Goldwater, and a crusading Seattle attorney, they triumphed over the U.S. Army.
Sponsored by First Citizens Federal Credit Union
This lecture made possible in part by a grant from Mass Humanities.