“Our Girls Over There”: The Hello Girls of World War I

Three women with headphones sit at a switchboard with helmets and gas masks slung on the back of their chairs.

Telephone Operators at St. Mihiel. National Archives and Records 

How to register:
We offer two field trip scheduling options:

All audiences. Content appropriate for Grades 6-12.

Goal: Recognize the commitment, challenges, and sacrifices of the Hello Girls during World War I.

Program Description:
On March 2, 1918, a U.S. Army Signal Corps unit boarded the Celtic, a transport ship, destined for England and eventually the battlefields of France. The unit, comprised of female telephone operators, would make history as the first women to actively support combat operations on a regular basis. In doing so, they paved the way for expanded roles for women both in the U.S. Army and at home.

Telephone communications were vital to the success of U.S. Army operations during World War I. The first troops shipped overseas were members of the U.S. Army Signal Corps to establish telephone lines at the front. These lines required hundreds of operators to connect calls between the front and higher headquarters. The Army turned to French speaking, female, telephone operators to connect calls. Over 200 women served the American Expeditionary Forces in the First, Second, and Third Army Headquarters. The women, nicknamed the “Hello Girls,” worked tirelessly, under at times combat conditions, to connect calls on behalf of the Army.

Explore the commitment, sacrifice, and challenges of the Hello Girls during World War I. Learn more about how these female telephone operators were recruited for specific skills and how their contributions were critical to effective U.S. Army wartime communications. Also examine how they fought to achieve appropriate recognition and military benefits after the war. This Virtual Field Trip is supported by the U.S. Army Women’s Museum.

Objective: At the end of this lesson students, will be able to

  • Recognize the commitment, challenges, and sacrifices of the Hello Girls.
  • Understand how women have used military service as a strategy to advance civil rights.
  • Describe women’s contributions to the U.S. Army in World War I.
  • Explain how developments in communication changed American life.

Guiding Questions:
How did women use military service to expand civil rights?

Curriculum Connections

Common Core Standards


  • Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of the source distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.

History and Social Science Standards of Learning for Virginia Public Schools

  • United States History: 1865 to the Present
    • USII.6 The student will apply social science skills to understand how the social, economic, and technological changes of the early twentieth century by
      • Explaining how developments in factory and labor productivity, transportation (including the use of the automobile), communication, and rural electrification changed American life and standard of living;
  • Virginia Studies
    • The student will demonstrate an understanding of Virginia during the twentieth century and beyond by
      • Describing how national events, including women’s suffrage and the Great Depression, affect Virginia and its citizens.
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