Discover the Past
through the stories of those who lived it!

The Women’s Armed Services Integration Act of 1948 permanently opened the military’s doors to women like Rochester’s Irene Conole.

Although part of the regular corps, Conole and her fellow servicewomen identified not as sailors, but as WAVES, or Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service, an acronym left over from the Second World War. Use of this term into the early 1970s reveals the military's reluctance to fully integrate women into the Armed Forces.

When Conole graduated from boot camp at Bainbridge, Maryland, in 1953, she and her fellow graduates were given WAVES in Boots, an illustrated booklet about the phases of WAVES training. Although the booklet was meant to be funny, many of the jokes are at the women's expense. Written by a man, the illustrations were intended to emphasize "those little idiosyncrasies peculiar to women." 

 ICC Waves In Boots 01 Thumb

What do pages like these reveal about attitudes toward women in the Navy during the 1950s?

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