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Guide to the Women's Army Corps and WAC African American Band scrapbook from Fort Des Moines, 1941-1945

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Summary

Collection consists of a 44-page scrapbook belonging to an unidentified compiler, that documents the history of Fort Des Moines as a Women's Army Corps training center, and more specifically the 404th Women's Army Corps (WAC) band, the first African American female band in the United States military. In addition to the approximately 100 photographs, there are photographic postcards, and clippings from official Fort Des Moines publications. The scrapbook begins with a photograph of the front page of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin from 8 December 1941, followed by a short history of Fort Des Moines, with clippings and photo postcards documenting its conversion to the first Women's Army Auxiliary Corps training center. The second half of the scrapbook documents the African American women's band, with photographs showing the women in and out of uniform; many of the photographs are signed or are otherwise identified in ink. Scenes include the practice room, women marching with instruments, and band members enjoying off-duty pastimes. There are at least two photographs of Major Charity Adams Earley, the first commissioned African American WAC. Acquired as part of the John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture.

Collection Details

Collection Number
RL.11173
Title
Women's Army Corps and WAC African American Band scrapbook from Fort Des Moines
Date
1941-1945
Extent
0.5 Linear Feet, 1 box
Repository
David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
Language
Materials in English

Collection Overview

Collection consists of a forty-four page scrapbook belonging to an unidentified compiler, documenting the history of Fort Des Moines, Iowa, as a Women's Army Corps (WAC) training center, and the 404th Women's Army Corps band, the first African American female band in the United States military. The scrapbook contains 100 photographs, all but one black-and-white, ranging in size from 2 x 3 inches to 7 1/2 x 8 3/4 inches. The creator also included photographic postcards as well as clippings from official Fort Des Moines publications. The covers for the scrapbook are missing.

The first page contains a photograph of the front page of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin from December 8, 1941. The following early pages provide a short history of Fort Des Moines, with clippings documenting its conversion to the first Women's Army Auxiliary Corps training center. The clippings are augmented by photo postcards depicting the grounds, along with one showing a woman blowing a bugle into a oversize megaphone.

Documentation of the African American women's band begins on page 21, with a group portrait. Other photographs show the women in uniform; many of the photographs are signed or are otherwise identified in ink. Images include the practice room, women marching with instruments, and off-duty band members relaxing, riding bicycles, traveling together, preparing for sleep, or playing with pets. There are at least two photographs of Major Charity Adams Earley, the first commissioned African American WAC.

Acquired as part of the John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture.

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Collection is open for research.

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The copyright interests in this collection have not been transferred to Duke University. For more information, consult the copyright section of the Regulations and Procedures of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

More copyright and citation information

How to Cite

[Identification of item], Women's Army Corps and WAC African American Band scrapbook from Fort Des Moines, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.

Contents of the Collection

Related Material

The Rubenstein Library at Duke University holds a number of photograph albums created by African American soldiers. To find their collection guides, search the Rubenstein collection guides site using the string "African American troops."


Click to find related materials at Duke University Libraries.

Provenance

The Women's Army Corps and WAC African American Band scrapbook from Fort Des Moines was received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library as a purchase in 2016.

Processing Information

Processed by Alice Poffinberger, March 2016.

Accession(s) described in this collection guide: 2016-0032.