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Switchboard Soldiers - the Hello Girls of WWI

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Veterans Radio America

Veterans Radio America


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In June 1917, General John Pershing arrived in France to establish American forces in Europe. He immediately found himself unable to communicate with troops in the field. Pershing needed operators who could swiftly and accurately connect multiple calls, speak fluent French and English, remain steady under fire, and be utterly discreet, since the calls often conveyed classified information.

At the time, nearly all well-trained American telephone operators were women—but women were not permitted to enlist, or even to vote in most states. Nevertheless, the U.S. Army Signal Corps promptly began recruiting them.

More than 7,600 women responded, to aid the war effort by being Over There and near the front lines. This historical fiction is written by Jennifer Chiaverini, a New York Times best-selling author. She talks to host Jim Fausone about these heroic women of the WWI U.S. Army Signal Corps, their trials, successes, and discrimination.  

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