Celebrating our ‘Women in Uniform’

“Navy WAVE and Coast Guard spar” by John Falter, circa 1940s. Photo courtesy of Leah Ash.

Story by Leah Ash, Culture Editor

In honor of women in the armed forces, the Gerald R. Ford Museum is hosting the “Women in Uniform” art exhibit. Containing pieces from the Naval History and Heritage Command’s collection, the exhibit highlights the role women have had in the Navy throughout the years: from nurses to engineers to being on the front lines. 

The goal of the exhibit comes from former President Ford himself: “For my part, I will do everything I can to see that our service men and women continue to receive the recognition and the respect that is their due. They have earned it.”

Originally, women served as nurses for the armed forces. As time passed, women integrated into the armed forces by enlisting in non-combat roles, like secretaries and radio operators. Essentially, women have been vital in supporting the Navy and other armed forces, and this exhibit is meant to recognize the efforts and roles women have had. 

The art incorporates many different styles and artists, including men and women, many of whom served in the military themselves. Some pieces were profiles of women, like John Falter’s work “Navy WAVE and Coast Guard spar.” This work is well known, as Falter designed many of the Navy’s recruiting posters for World War II.

Some women artists featured in the exhibit include Cecile Ryden Johnson, Anne Fuller Abbott, and Alice C. DeCaprio. DeCaprio herself served in WWII and afterward pursued art. One of her pieces is an acrylic portrait of a woman steering a ship, titled “Quartermaster.

“Quartermaster, USS Vulcan (AR-5), 1979” by Alice DeCaprio. Photo courtesy of Leah Ash.

This exhibit is a great visit to see the way in which women have influenced the Navy and how they have served their country. Not only that, but it also has amazing artwork from artists all around the country (and world) who respect the Navy. One notable inclusion of this exhibit is a wall covered with messages from women on their first tours in service.

Later this month, Special Agent in Charge Jacqueline Maguire will be giving a presentation in conjecture with the exhibit. In her lecture, “Women in Uniform: My Career in the FBI,” Maguire will share stories of her time in the FBI, including her work during 2001 following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. Registration can be found on the Gerald R. Ford Museum’s website.

The Women in Uniform exhibit will be viewable at the museum until May 6.