The year 2014 marks the one-hundredth anniversary of the beginning of World War I—the Great War that claimed more than sixteen million lives and left nearly twenty million wounded. In societies under foreign occupation, women suffered from the destruction of towns and villages, mass killings, and deportation; elsewhere women for the first time were mobilized on a vast scale to help with the war effort. Encouraged by calls to "do your bit," many women volunteered with relief organizations and auxiliary military operations on the front lines; some even joined in combat. Others pitched in on the home front by working in factories, conserving food, and raising money for their countrymen.
Individual women made headlines in the conflict. In Belgium, Edith Cavell, a British Red Cross nurse, was tried for treason and executed by a German firing squad, despite an international outcry for her release. In Russia, Maria Bochkareva led an all-female battalion into battle even as her country was swept up in revolution. American Jane Addams and women peace activists from around the world had tried to head off the outbreak of war; when they failed, they rallied against the violence and proposed resolutions to put an immediate stop to the fighting.
The varied roles and experiences of women in World War I are brought to light in the new exhibit Women and the Great War. The exhibit features posters, photographs, letters, diaries, postcards, handbills, pamphlets, medals, and memoirs drawn from the rich holdings of the Hoover Institution Library & Archives, a repository founded in 1919 to collect, preserve, and make available the records of that war.
Women and the Great War opened Thursday, November 6, 2014, and has been extended to April 25, 2015. The exhibit is open to the public, free of charge, Tuesday–Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. in the Herbert Hoover Memorial Exhibit Pavilion (next to Hoover Tower) on the Stanford University campus.
For more information, please call the Archives at (650) 723-3563