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S. 495, A Bill to establish a Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps for service in the Army of the United States, January 21, 1943

Congress and the American public initially had difficulty accepting the idea of women serving in the Army during World War II. Political and military leaders faced with fighting a far-flung, two-front war, however, concluded that women could supply desperately-needed resources and skills. Women’s units were later established in the Navy, Air Force, and Marines.

Records of the U.S. Senate, National Archives and Records Administration

S. 495, A Bill to establish a Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps S. 495, A Bill to establish a Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps S. 495, A Bill to establish a Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps

Serving the Nation: Women’s Army Corps

In 1941 Representative Edith Nourse Rogers of Massachusetts introduced a bill to allow women to volunteer for service in the U.S. Army in non-combat roles. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps Act into law in 1942. The following year, Congress approved legislation granting women full military status and allowing them to enlist directly in the Army for the first time. By the end of World War II, more than 150,000 American women had served in the Women’s Army Corps.

If we are to have total war . . . there is a very definite place for women in it. Modern war recognizes no limitations of battlefields, no gender of its participants. To win a total war every resource, every service must be utilized.

Representative Edith Nourse Rogers of Massachusetts, Speech to the U.S. House of Representatives, March 17, 1942