On this page we will look back at life in the city during the war years. Here we will provide the visitor with the stories making the news, what was happening in sports and entertainment, city politics, the social scene and the prominent people at the time. So, check back often for new editions. To share your family or neighborhood stories, please email PhillyWWIyears@gmail.com
TODAY IN PHILADELPHIA – THURSDAY, MARCH 22, 1917
Warmer temperatures and clear fair skies are in store for Philadelphians today. The high will reach 54° with the low this evening 36°.
America is going on a war footing in anticipation of President Wilson’s speech to Congress on April 2nd. Like other states Pennsylvania is preparing to mobilize its resources to do its part. Governor Brumbaugh has appointed a committee to begin the immediate collection of information. The committee’s duties will include: taking a census to determine the number of eligible Pennsylvania men for military service; Compiling an industrial inventory of all factories, mills and other businesses; Compiling as inventory of all trucks and automobiles in the State; and preparing a listing of all “vulnerable spots” like bridges, ports and railway lines which will need to be guarded.
Yesterday here in Philadelphia American Naval history was made when Miss Loretta Perfectus Walsh became the first woman to be sworn into the United States Navy in a non-nursing capacity. Miss Walsh will now be addressed as Chief Yeoman. This all became possible on March 19th when the Navy became the first branch of the U.S. Armed Forces to allow women to enlist in a non-nursing role.
Yeoman Walsh explained she had been working as corresponding secretary of the Woman’s Branch of the Navy League of Philadelphia. She had tried to enlist before but her superior, Lieutenant Commander F.R. Payne, thought it best to wait till after Secretary Daniels’ order came down. Prior to being sworn in she had to undergo a rigorous medical examination. Now she is waiting for her first assignment
Yeoman Walsh now wears a snappy dark blue uniform and carries a fearsome cutlass on one hip and a .45 caliber Colt holstered on the other. Currently she lives at 734 Pine Street but she is originally from Olyphant, Pennsylvania. She is 20 years old with long brown hair and an infectious smile and could be described as dainty. Notwithstanding her petite appearance this lady is ready to do her duty and serve her country. Her only regret is she must now give up wearing her favorite French-heeled number three shoes. Navy regulations require she wear flats. Happily though she has been asked to help design the new uniforms that future female yeoman will be wearing.
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