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Letter from Edith L. Stallings to the Chairman of the House Armed Forces Service Committee, March 11, 1948

Edith L. Stallings joined the Navy Women's Reserve (WAVES) in 1942. She served in administrative positions through 1947, when she became a dean at the University of Georgia. Rising Cold War tensions and the Army’s inability to recruit enough male volunteers convinced a reluctant Congress to permit women to serve as permanent members of the regular Army.

Records of the U.S. House of Representatives, National Archives and Records Administration

Letter from Edith L. Stallings to the Chairman of the House Armed Forces Service Committee

The Women’s Armed Services Integration Act

Congress gave members of the Women’s Army Corps (WAC), a branch of the U.S. Army, full service status during World War II. However, the legislation that did so was set to expire in 1948. As early as 1946, Army leaders requested that enlisted women be made a permanent part of the Army. Following two years of legislative debate, Congress passed the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act in 1948. The act granted women the right to serve as permanent, regular members of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and the recently formed Air Force.

[The] issue is simple—either the armed services have a permanent need of women officers and enlisted women or they do not. If they do, then women must be given permanent status.

Representative Margaret Chase Smith of Maine, Speech to the U.S. House of Representatives, April 6, 1948