Registration of America's woman power begun by many private organizations---Confusion results---That taken by Woman's Committee recognized as official by Government---All organizations then cooperate for common good and work proceeds throughout the nation

ENGLAND found it necessary to register its women for war service, and both France and Canada later took such a registration. Therefore the Government and the women leaders of America realized very early in the struggle that it was highly advisable, if not absolutely necessary, for the country to know to what extent it might depend on its women should they be needed in large numbers to meet the new situation The proportion of men to women being much greater in this country than it is in England, it is extremely doubtful if women will ever be called upon here to the extent to which the women of England have been called. However, the demand created in the early days of the European war for increase of workers in certain of our industries was immediately felt among the women industrial workers and this demand has been steadily increasing since 1914.

Confusion resulted regarding registration in various parts of the country because many private organizations were registering women for war service.

Some of these registrations were taken for the benefit of the organization taking the registration and others were intended to help the Government. In the chapter devoted to "Women in Industry "and also in that containing the history of the National League for Woman's Service, mention is made at length of the registration taken by that organization. This was begun soon after war was declared in Europe and was of such practical value that the Secretary of the Department of Labor approved of the registration and made use of the information the National League for Woman's Service was able to furnish. This registration was designed purely to facilitate the work of the government and to help the women, by ascertaining from the firms holding government contracts the number of women workers needed; it sought to register the women of the country who wanted paid work under government contracts and then to bring the job to the woman and the woman to the job. That the registration was of the highest value to all concerned is shown by the fact that the Committee in charge of registration in six months received from firms holding government contracts more than nine thousand calls for women workers. The practical value of the registration is also shown by the wide use the Department of Labor has been able to make of it, and by the recognition of the work by Government officials in a position to judge of its value. This registration should not have been confused with the more general registration of women for war service which was undertaken by other organizations, and which included both voluntary and paid service of all kinds.

The General Federation of Women's Clubs very early began to take a complete registration of its women for war service, and the Daughters of the American Revolution likewise made a thorough registration of its members, as did other such organizations. All doubtless were of great value to their respective organizations. It was very natural, then, that when the Woman's Committee, at the request of the National Council of Defense, announced in July a general registration of the women of the country, that there should have arisen much confusion. In order to clear up the situation the Woman's Committee, on July 2, 1917, sent out a letter to the state chairmen as follows:

We send you herewith a correct form for the registration card, which has been approved by the Council of National Defense and the Woman's Committee. The Registration for the service of women, which will be taken on these cards, is not intended to be a census in the government meaning of the word, because it will not be obligatory and will not be undertaken by the national government but through the states. The aim of the registration of women is, however, to record in definite form, the training, capacity, and the willingness for service of as many women as can be reached throughout the country. This registration is, we repeat, entirely voluntary, but every woman should be given an opportunity to register for patriotic service if she so desires. This card has been prepared after consultation with the Census office so that if later the government wishes to take a census of its woman power, these cards can be utilized for this purpose.

Much confusion has resulted in many states from private organizations of all kinds taking a registration, either of their own membership or for general purposes. The issuance of this official registration card should clear up this situation, because this card will supersede all others for women's service. It may be possible that women having registered once, or even many times, with private societies may not wish to register again. In this case some arrangement should be made in each state whereby the registration taken by the private societies may be so summarized and placed in the state, or local headquarters of the State Divisions of the Woman's Committee, it may be utilized in conjunction with these registration cards. It would be preferable to have all previous registration reentered upon the official cards, or invite all women, whether or not they have registered elsewhere, to register again on these cards. This matter will have to be worked out according to the best judgment of the women in the several states. The official card will be retained in the local headquarters and summaries of the registration sent to State and National headquarters.

The Council of National Defense has agreed to print $2,000 worth of these cards at the Government Printing Office in Washington. They figure this will amount to about half a million cards, with instructions to accompany them. This, of course, will be only a beginning. Therefore, Mr. Gifford, Director of the Council of National Defense, has requested that in such states as have appropriations for defense work, the State Councils be asked to print these cards for recording the service of women. If the cooperation of the State Councils can be secured in this matter, it will make it possible for the government to supply immediately such states as have not yet made any appropriations for defense work.

Several states, where the Woman's Committee has not sufficient funds to carry out this work, will adopt the plan of asking every woman who registers for voluntary contribution; in some cases, from one cent to one dollar; others, leaving the contribution entirely unlimited. In still others, a request will be made to each woman registering that she pay ten cents to help cover the expense of the registration throughout the state. You are at liberty to adopt any financial plan which your State Division and the State Council of Defense approves. We shall send you also complete instructions as to just how to file this card, but in order to make it perfectly comprehensible, we will add a few words now. The idea is, that after filling in the upper half of the card with the personal qualifications of the woman who applies, she should select below either the occupation in which she has already had training, and wishes to serve, or in which she desires training. Let us suppose, for instance, that she is volunteering for gardening, under the general heading of Agriculture. After she has made her choice, encircle No. 4 to show that she has had training in this line, or underline Gardening if she wishes to learn this branch. Then, in the tab at the top marked Agriculture, if her service is trained, the "U," meaning untrained, will be stricken out, leaving the "T" and No. 4 entered after it indicating the woman is trained in the No. 4 division, or Gardening, under the general heading of Agriculture. If she is untrained and wishes to study this branch, the "T," indicating trained, will be stricken out and the "U" left, followed by the No. 4, showing that she wishes training in Gardening, under the general heading of Agriculture. This having been entered, if the woman offers no other service, either in the form of contribution or in training that she may have had, all of the other tabs are cut off on the line below this heading, leaving the one tab of Agriculture standing up on the card. If the woman should also offer some other service, under Domestic or Industrial, for instance, then the tabs for the two services she offers will be left standing, and all the others will be cut off.

The registration card is as follows:


In order further to assist the women to understand clearly the full meaning of registration the Woman's Committee issued another letter on September 22, 1917, containing the following:


1. To give every woman an opportunity to offer to her country such service as she is best fitted to render.
2. To interpret to the Government the possibilities of the woman power of the country.
3. To furnish accurate information to the Government of the capacities in which women are now serving, whether in their own homes or in paid pursuits, trades, or professions.
4. To have in every community lists of women carefully classified, who are willing to be called upon for trained or untrained service to the State or the Nation.
5. To ascertain which women are available for service outside the home, and which are not.
6. To list the women who wish to take training in order to give more efficient service.
7. To be able to furnish women for local paid positions, whether in Government service or not.
8. To be able to place women who can volunteer their services in positions of usefulness in many fields.
9. To have a registry of the capacities and training of the women of the country as the basis of the work of the Woman's Committee of the Council of National Defense.


The Registration for Service of the women of any state will be successful in so far as-
1. It reaches all classes of women.
2. Distinguishes accurately between trained and untrained service.

3. Suggests possibilities for lines of service and training which are of the greatest value to the Government at the present time, or are new to women.
4. As it has sufficient publicity to secure its complete understanding by women.
5. As it has the full approval of the State authorities as it has of the Council of National Defense.
6. As it fits women to the needs of the Government and the community.
7. As the cards are so filed as to enable the state or local committees to respond promptly and adequately to any Government calls for the service of women.

These objects can only be attained by careful study of the registration card itself, with its many possibilities, and of the Government "Instructions," and after organization of the Woman's Committee in any State has been extended to reach the women in every part of it.


Registration may be conducted in two ways:-
1. On a special day or during a period of time (one or two weeks), set aside by proclamation of the Governor or the State Council of Defense; or
2. Conducted gradually as the work of the Woman's Committee grows. The former is advised as it makes the Registration official (though not obligatory) in the State, makes a good "Talking point" for publicity and work of the Committee and serves to get the Registration started.

The general chairmen of counties, cities, wards and precincts may serve as Chairmen of Registration, but preferably there should be a special Chairman of Registration selected for the local work. It should be definitely assigned to some one, as it requires much study and care to produce the inspiring result of a successful registration.

Registration may be conducted either by school districts or voting precincts, depending upon the best manner of reaching the women in the individual state. It should, however, be undertaken by means of one or the other of these units whose confines are known, so that overlapping and duplication may be avoided. Assigning definite places for registration is a preferable method to a house to house canvass for several reasons. The latter requires too many women as registrars for all to be well trained. Registration is a privilege which should be sought by women-not forced upon them-and there is a fine psychological effect in all women doing the same thing at the same time of their own volition.

The State Chairman of Registration Department should choose her Committee very carefully, securing, if possible, some prominent librarians on it, as they are experts in classification, and taking care to include women from all classes of the population and from some of the larger women's organizations in the State. The Chairman of "Women in Industry" and "Training Classes" for women should be members of this Committee. This Central Committee on Registration should plan the work of the state with the approval, of course, of the Executive Committee of the State Division.

The local Chairman of Registration in counties and cities may either be chosen by this Central Committee on Registration, or the choice left to the general Chairman of the county. The city Chairman of Registration will, of course, choose the ward and precinct registrars, or "captains and lieutenants of registration" as they have been called in some states. From five to eight women should be trained for each precinct or school district registration. These registrars should be responsible for furnishing all supplies for the registration posts, tables, chairs, pens, ink, blotters etc.


The Central Committee on Registration will of course make themselves thoroughly familiar by careful study with the registration cards, the official "Instructions," which will be found a good guide, the methods of filing, the particular needs of the State or the Government for the service of women, the professions or trades open to women, the particular points upon which opposition may possibly be met, the localities which need more special education, the general methods of local publicity, etc.

This Central Committee should then designate certain places in the State where the county chairmen of Registration can be assembled for training, expert leaders or teachers being provided. In some states one expert goes from place to place holding these classes in registration. In others a group is first trained and these women go to different localities throughout the State to hold these classes.

The County Chairmen of Registration then take up the work of passing on their training to the city ward and precinct registrars. In all the larger cities open meetings should be held where the registration is explained in detail, the women being gathered to such meetings by adequate publicity, general announcements at club meetings, etc. The training should be conducted in groups, and questions particularly encouraged. The queries of the prospective registrars represent fairly well the questions which will be asked them on registration day and uniform interpretation should be given. The registrars should be drilled in actually making the registrations as this practice work will greatly facilitate the filling of the cards at the registration booths. In certain states it has been found advisable to have the large organizations of women register their own membership, but this should be done by a member especially trained as a registrar, meeting the club members at a special time and place. The cards should not be sent out to the members to fill. Though the cards are arranged 80 that they may be filled out by the individual woman who is registering, that is not a good plan, as so many questions arise which should have a uniform interpretation given by the trained registrars.


Certain misconceptions concerning the cards are certain to be met, and the following items should be emphasized in the clearest and most definite way possible.

1. Registration is voluntary; women will not be drafted in the Government service.
2. Women will not be taken from their homes for Government service either here or in Europe, unless they definitely offer themselves for such service.
3. If a woman registers as "trainee" and capable of self support this will not give cause for her husband to be drafted.
4. If a woman registers for service at this time, and when called later finds herself unable by changed conditions to respond to the call, no punishment or criticism will fall upon her.
5. Women should register for what they are doing now and for what they have been trained to do, whether or not they can give any extra service now.
6. Registration along industrial lines is not intended to remove women from their present positions, nor to permit them to be exploited by unauthorized appeals for "war service."
7. Registration is intended for women loyal to America whether or not they are naturalized citizens, and should not be forced on unwilling or disloyal women.
8. Children under 1 (or under the age of the Compulsory School Law) are considered as "dependent" upon the mother whether or not she provides the actual money for their support.
9. Whereas experience for many years may be considered equivalent to "training" in some trades, or occupations the experience must be carefully weighed as to its value before a woman registers as trained. In other words a woman who has fed a few chickens at the back door, can hardly be called a "trained" poultry raiser. If she has raised chickens for profit for some years, and conducted a business, she might be considered trained.
10. Women will not be forced to give their exact age, but are advised to do so, as certain Government positions are open only to women between certain ages. The age should at least be given in decades "over 30 or under 40," etc.


1. The cards should not be numbered (in left hand upper corner) until after the registration day, or period, is over and then numbered consecutively for the precinct or school district, and entered on the summary card. Further registration cards filled at later periods should be numbered by the person making the summaries and to whom is assigned the filing and care of the cards.
2. The reverse side of the card is not to be filled necessarily at the time of registration. This is to be filled when the woman desires or takes a definite position either paid or voluntary.
3. The classification of "Graduate Nurse" is omitted on the card at the express request of the American Red Cross Nursing Bureau It was felt that as the Red Cross was taking its own registration of graduate nurses, another would be confusing. If it is desired to register a graduate nurse (as it will be in some cases) the vacant space at the end of the "Professional" class may be used and the title written in.


Methods of publicity should include cooperation of all newspapers in the State, daily and weekly. Some larger daily papers will undoubtedly consent to stereotype the face of the registration card, and then after use in its own paper give the form to the Committee for general use. Copies can then be printed very inexpensively and used for publicity in other papers and for general information. Announcements of the plans and objects for registration in the churches, schools, and of all meeting of women's societies. Patriotic rallies and meetings should be held to popularize registration; the movie theatres should be used and every possible means taken to spread knowledge of the purposes of registration and the meaning of the classifications on the card. Local officials and men generally should be interested so far as possible in the registration and should be used as speakers in many cases.


As previously suggested in our second letter on registration, the closest cooperation should exist between the Departments of Registration, Education, Maintenance of Social Agencies and Women in Industry. Only through such association can the talents and training of the women as revealed through the registration be brought to fit and fill the need of the community, the state, and the National Government. A wise and experienced woman as Director of volunteers will be found of the greatest service in connection with the registration, and after it, to give counsel and advice to women seeking the best avenue of service.

The states, being left much freedom in the working out of the suggested plans, developed many novel and clever ideas. In Louisiana, registration was made compulsory by proclamation of the Governor. The governors of Arkansas and Missouri named July 28 as Registration day, and Wyoming held its registration July 17. Many of the states registered women in the food campaign at the same time they registered them for service. In many of the state registrars were trained in schools created for this instruction. In Ohio and Illinois these schools were systematically organized. Illinois, Maryland, Missouri, Wyoming, Connecticut, California, New Mexico and Oregon printed their own cards. Each of the other states had its proportion of the half million cards printed by the government at Washington.

As an evidence of the cooperation on the part of the various large organizations with the Woman's Committee in this nation-wide registration of the women, the following resolution, passed in October, 1917, is of interest:


WHEREAS: The function of the Woman's Committee of the Council of National Defense, appointed by the Council for National Defense, is primarily to act: first, in an advisory capacity to the Council, and, second, to be the official clearing house of all organizations of women to coordinate their activities in a cooperative manner throughout the United States, and,

WHEREAS: The Woman's Committee is recognized as the official Government agent through which all women's organizations may work out their own programs, in no way losing their identity or curtailing their activities thereby, and,

WHEREAS: Through the Woman's Committee, the Government may at any time require concerted action of the women's organizations to carry out a specified piece of work according to uniform instructions laid down by the Woman's Committee of the Council of National Defense, therefore, be it

RESOLVED: That the undersigned Presidents and Chairmen of National organizations, and members of the Woman's Committee, urge upon their State Presidents and Chairmen the importance of getting in direct relationship with the Chairmen of the Woman's Committee in their respective States, so as to express through this Service their unfailing loyalty to their country in this time of crisis,

IT IS FURTHER RESOLVED: That all unofficial registrations made for the purpose of enrolling women members in the individual association shall be called enrollment of members and that all registrations taken by the Woman's Committee acting through the State Divisions, under the authority of the Council of National Defense, shall be known as official registration.


Maude Wetmore, Chairman of the National League for Woman's Service.
Mrs. Philip N. Moore, President National Council of Women.
Mrs. Josiah Evans Cowles,, President, General Federation of Women's Clubs.
Carrie Chapman Catt, President, National Woman's Suffrage Association.
Mrs. Joseph R. Lamar, President of the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America.

Chapter V. Food Conservation

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