Archive of Women's Military History


In the process of our 20-year collecting initiative of material to document the role of women in military service over all time, we have accumulated a singular collection of archival documentation, exhibition scripts, photographs, manuscripts, oral histories, biographies and autobiographies, screphemera, some related to accessioned objects, but much of it without access points. This project also entails surveying collections in other Smithsonian units for relevant undocumented material. Highlights: WWI Photos, records, certificates, and personal memorabilia of the first women inducted into the US Navy (Yeoman (F), 1917-1920); WWI records of hundreds of uniformed women volunteers assembled by National Society of the Colonial Dames of America members who served in diverse secular, religious, and military organizations (1914-1923), and who represent the thousands of other women in their unique military service); Records, oral history and large collection of documents of the first US woman to achieve the rank of general (1930s-1980s); Collection of a woman in the UN Relief Agency (UNRA) in the 1940s; POW documentation of woman flight surgeon captured in Iraq, 1991; "Rosie the Riviter" documentation; Letters, diaries, oral histories, scrapbooks, and ephemera of military women during the past 60 years.


Cataloging Hidden Collections

Amount Awarded

Year Added



Armed Forces History


  • Margaret Vining

Collection Size

40 cubic feet

Date Range

1860 - 2011

Geographic Scope

United States and most nations worldwide where women have had a role in military organizations.