Some of the eligible voters from Highland County, Ohio were not at home for the state election in October 1864. Service with the Union army had brought them to Atlanta, Georgia. However, with a recent provision enacted by the Ohio legislature, they were able to vote absentee. This pre-printed envelope contained a tally sheet of votes from the soldiers of Highland County at the Field Hospital 2nd Division 23rd Army Corps.
Over two million American military service men and women were stationed in Europe when the declaration of Armistice on November 11, 1918 effectively ended World War I. The deployed service personnel of the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) transitioned from combat readiness, advanced to occupy Germany and began preparations to demobilize. Many, who had hoped to return home to the United States by Christmas 1918 could not, but with the help of the Red Cross, military and postal officials already had plans to deliver Christmas by mail.
World War I was a watershed for global political, economic, and social change, and for women’s rights and labor in the United States. During the war, women officially served in and alongside the military in unprecedented numbers and in ways that shaped the professionalization of women’s work. Through the letters and artifacts of four women, visitors can explore unique, personal perspectives on life, duty, and service during the war.
Image: Army nurse, Camp Sherman, Ohio, 1918
Grace (Mechlin) Sparling Collection, Gift of Lillian S. Gillhouse, Women’s Memorial Foundation Collection
Soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen anxiously awaiting mail delivery is a familiar scene from movies, newsreels, and documentary photographs. Mail call is the moment when the frontline and home front connect. This exhibition tells the history of military mail from the American Revolution to 2010: How does this mail reach its destination? What roles does it play? Why does it influence morale? The exhibition explores the great lengths taken to set up and operate postal services under extraordinary circumstances. It also features letters that reveal the expressions, emotions, and events of the time. On the battlefront and at home, mail provides a vital communication link between military service personnel, their communities, and their loved ones.
As our nation first began its fight for freedom, George Washington understood the significance of acknowledging meritorious actions in combat. However, it was Abraham Lincoln on July 12, 1862, who signed statute 10 U.S.C. 3741 authorizing the first Medal of Honor to “be presented, in the name of Congress, to such non-commissioned officers and privates as shall most distinguish themselves by their gallantry in action.”
Eighteen-year-old Ruth Estelle Woodworth joined the US Navy on March 30, 1917, the same month the military opened enlistment to women for the first time. It was all possible because of an unintentional loophole in the Naval Reserve Act of 1916. The act authorized the enlistment of qualified “persons,” but did not specify any gender requirement for volunteers.