Tuesday, October 23, 2012

World War I Yeoman (F) Uniform

In our World War I gallery is this Navy uniform belonging to Josie Badger, who served as a Yeoman (F) during the war.  Yeoman (F) (sometimes somewhat rudely referred to as "yeomanettes") was a rate created by Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels. It allowed women to enlist in the U.S. Navy as administrative clerks and secretaries.  Daniels believed that, with women serving in administrative duties, more men could serve on ships.

Not a lot of thought went into the Yeoman (F) uniform, as it used commerically available designs.  The jacket is a "Norfolk jacket"-design that civilian police officers used.  Possibly named after the Duke of Norfolk, the "Norfolk-jacket" was originally designed for the well-off gentleman who wanted a stylish jacket that allowed him freedom of movement in his arms so he could quickly pull out his shotgun or rifle while hunting.   It would seem that police officers wanted the same qualities in their uniform.  For Yeoman (F), the Navy wanted them to look professional, but also distinctive from male sailors. The uniform was made from high quality wool with three buttons and belt just above third button.

The same thought process went into choosing the Yeoman (F)'s cover.  Fortunately, for the Navy, one of the hottest items in women's fashion at the time was called the "sailor hat."  Thus, the Navy simply went to the civilian cloth wholesalers and procured thousands of blue felt "sailor hats" for their female sailors.

Read more about the Yeoman (F), the official uniform regulations, and several more images at our command's website.

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