Legacies: A History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas, Volume 20, Number 1, Spring, 2008 Page: 14 of 64
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Dallas Clubwomen and
World War I
BY MELISSA J. PRYCER
Jn July 1917, The Dallas Morning News
described one of the first major deployments
of the Great War: "Women dressed in the finery
of Dallas's best shops, wearing white kid shoes
and accessories to match, struggled through the
three-inch coal dust with never a thought of
their clothes ... .With no more a thought for the
onlookers they lifted themselves up to the car
windows and kissed said uniformed boys."' This
image illustrates some of the changes war
brought to women; although still in their comfort
zone, these women are reaching out to the
future. More than in any previous war, women
during World War I were active and directly
involved in the war effort. Large marketing campaigns
quickly began to encourage women to
practice economy at home, as well as get
involved in various fund-raising efforts and bond
campaigns in the community. However, this
inclusion was still limited to what women often
did at home or in their existing social circles. For
many Dallas women, their war work was organized
through their club work.
By the 1910s, most middle class and upper
class women were involved in at least one organization
or women's club. Called clubwomen,
these movers and shakers had launched successful
campaigns for the public library, art museum,
playgrounds, and many other causes. When the
war broke out, these clubs quickly and easily
shifted into war work. Many of these groups
consolidated their efforts in order to be most
efficient, forming the National League of
Women's Service. They, and later the City
Federation ofWomen's Clubs, combined to educate
women about food conservation, register
women's skills for possible war work, and sell war
bonds. Women were already connected in a way
they had not been before, which enabled them
to move quickly once war was declared. Their
involvement in World War I was unprecedented,
and it would not have been possible without the
existing network of clubs.
Well before the United States entered the
war in April 1917, many of these clubs were both
talking about the war in Europe and donating
12 LEGACIES Spring 2008
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Dallas Heritage Village. Legacies: A History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas, Volume 20, Number 1, Spring, 2008, periodical, 2008; Dallas, Texas. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth46805/m1/14/: accessed June 16, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Dallas Historical Society.