Women in World War II: Stories of Utah Women

Maren Peterson

Utah women volunteered in droves to help the war effort in the 1940’s. There were several different ways to volunteer and serve. If women were trained medically they could be a nurse in the American Red Cross or any military division.

List of women with overseas service (Series 19959)

The United States Coast Guard (USCG) Women’s Reserve, known as the SPARS, was the World War II women’s branch of the USCG Reserve. It was established by the United States Congress and signed into law on November 23, 1942. SPARS let women take control of shore stations, and let the men who had previously occupied those positions go out into sea duty. 

Names of SPARS in WWII (Series 19959)

WAVES, which stands for Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service, was the women’s contingent of the Navy. Women trained to master clerical and secretarial functions, again freeing the men who were doing this work to go into active duty. WAVES also worked for the Bureau of Aeronautics where women repaired, inspected, packed, and tested parachutes.

“Mayor Earl J. Glade and Wave naval officer procurement” Photo courtesy of Utah State Historical Society

WAC was the Women’s Army Corps. Women worked in baking, clerical, driving, and medical fields. This is the area where we have the most information. A document in the Utah State Archives World War II collection titled ‘WAC Statistics’ talks about the effort from Utah during the war and the recruitment for WAC.

“Women working at men’s jobs” Photo courtesy of Utah State Historical Society

Priscilla Yasuda was listed as the first Utah Nisei to be in WAC. Nisei is a term for someone who is born in the United States to Japanese immigrants. 

Elizabeth Hampton is in the record as an officer in Ogden and possibly the only African American woman in WAC. This is doubtful as the Army’s history page states that 40 African American women showed up on the first day of recruitment to be trained as officers.

Velma E. Trotting Wolf is described as Indian royalty, as she was descended from Sequoyah, who invented the Cherokee alphabet. She traveled around the western states recruiting for WAC and was eventually permanently stationed in Ogden.

Caroline P. Hutchinson was a Utah native and was part of the first WAC band. She travelled with the band, and carried her 35 pound sousaphone. 

You can look through all the online records concerning World War II here.

Sources

“Creation of the Women’s Army Corps” Women in the U. S. Army. Accessed March 20, 2020. https://www.army.mil/women/history/wac.html

“SPARS: The Coast Guard & the Women’s Reserve in World War II” United States Coast Guard Historian’s Office. Accessed April 2, 2020. https://www.history.uscg.mil/Browse-by-Topic/Notable-People/Women/SPARS/

“Waves.” United States History. Accessed March 20, 2020. https://www.u-s-history.com/pages/h1708.html