In The Hello Girls, historian and novelist Elizabeth Cobbs tells the story of America’s first women soldiers, more than two hundred women inducted into the U.S. Army Signal Corps in World War I to operate the newest communications technology–the telephone switchboard–at the front and behind the lines in France. These women served alongside male soldiers, handling vital communications and placing their lives in danger, at the same time as feminist activists at home were demanding a federal suffrage Amendment. As Cobbs shows, the military service of these women pioneered a new engagement of women with the military and with the state. Altogether, the story told in the book explores how Americans mobilized for World War I, telephones transformed the United States, females joined the armed forces, suffragists won the vote, and women and men fought together for justice. It illuminates the battles that defined the twentieth century and still shape our own.
In the video below, Cobbs introduces the Hello Girls and all they meant to the war and the nation.