I Can’t Vote, But I Can Make Boxes – 1918 – Day 94

Day 94
Listening to: I Am Woman
Thought for the day: Get busy living, or get busy dying. (I have heard this numerous times this weekend via Shawshank Redemption and other TV)

Photo: Hagley Museum

Happy Women’s Suffrage Day! August 26, 1920

In 1918, women flooded the ranks of employment at the gun powder plant in Old Hickory, Tennessee to help in the effort to supply munitions to the allied forces in Europe during WWI. Though women couldn’t vote yet, their involvement in the WWI effort served as a stepping stone in the suffrage movement.

Approximately 10,000 women were employed at the gun powder plant. Initially, the only factory job women were allowed to work was in the box factory (most women held traditional jobs such as waitress, stenographic, or social services-type jobs). They were involved in the assembly of the boxes for shipping munitions. The job opportunities expanded as women proved their capability. Today’s photo is of the women who worked in the box factory.

There were 32 trains that transported employees from Nashville to Old Hickory daily. One of these trains was specifically used to transport women and was called the “Powder Puff Special.” A song written about this particular train demonstrates the determination and patriotism of the powder plant women.

We’re in the war, right in the game,
We’re fighting with our men,
We back the chaps who’re at the front,
From dear old Nashville, Tenn.

The Nashville girls are not afraid
to learn a real, real trade,
And it is well, for none can tell
Who may yit (sic) need our aid.

The spirit of these women and the women of this era capture my imagination. I stand in awe of them. I do plan to write about them more to celebrate who they were. Let us not forget!

Photo courtesy of Hagley Museum

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