From the Museum

Women in the Military Rag Dolls (MO 1945.47.13-16)


Millions of young Americans served in America’s military during World War II. With FDR’s support their ranks included 350,000 women, who served as nurses and in special service branches established throughout the military.

In May 1941, Congresswoman Edith Nourse Rogers of Massachusetts proposed a bill to establish the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corp (WAAC, later the WAC). The bill was passed a year later and the first enlisted auxiliaries arrived for training at Fort Des Moines in July 1942.

In the same month, the U.S. Navy established the Naval Reserve “Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service” (WAVES). Later in 1942, the U.S. Coast Guard launched their Women’s Reserve, the SPARs (the group’s title was taken from the Coast Guard motto “Semper Paratus”—“Always Ready”). In February 1943, the U.S. Marine Corps created the Marine Corps Women’s Reserve.

These four dolls, made in 1944 by Mrs. W.W. McGee of Fitzgerald, Florida, represent different branches of the U.S. military and commemorate the service of American women in the Army, Navy, Coast Guard and Marine Corps during the war. Mrs. McGee sent these dolls to President Roosevelt as a gift.