Skirt Patrol: American Women in Uniformed Service, 1915-1950

Date of Award

December 2016

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn


fashion, uniforms, women, Women's Army Corps, World War I, World War II

Subject Categories

Arts and Humanities


"Skirt Patrol: American Women in Uniformed Service, 1915-1950" explores the intersection of uniform dress and American women's martial citizenship during the world wars. In both World War I and World War II, women in uniform formed the vanguard for the expansion of women's role as American citizens. In the first half of the 20th century the contours of that expansion were military. Women seeking to expand the boundaries of their roles in American life--whether fighting against or allying themselves with existing structures--garbed themselves in military dress to do so. They presented themselves as uniformed citizens in their own military or volunteer service, as well as their official correspondence and newsletters. Organizations saw the uniform as an integral component of membership, even when made up of civilian volunteers, and presented themselves as such in materials intended for the public. Popular media used references to uniforms as means of both praising and criticizing the military service of women, and the women's military services used their uniforms to respond. This dissertation argues that military and military-style uniforms provided a means to press for and a vocabulary to discuss women's martial citizenship in America during the World Wars. Uniforms were an integral part of the expansion of women's public roles in wartime.


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