Film Screening of "The Hello Girls," a documentary of American women in World War I
- Wednesday, October 17, 2018 at 7:00pm
- Howard Hall, Reynolds Hall - view map
American women fluent in French & English answered the urgent call for telephone operators needed in France during World War I. Known as the “Hello Girls,” they took oaths to join the U.S. Army Signal Corps, connected 26 million calls & ultimately proved to be a critical factor in winning the war. And then they were forgotten. This film documents the newly uncovered story of these American women and their 60 year struggle to gain veterans’ status.
Merle Egan of Great Falls, Montana was one of those women. Because of her technological expertise, Egan instructed male soldiers in switchboard operation and at the end of combat, she served as chief telephone operator for the American Peace Commission in Paris until May 1919. Upon her arrival home, she was shocked to discover the Hello Girls were not considered veterans. Egan spearheaded the campaign for their rightful recognition. By the time their veterans’ benefits were processed in 1979, only 18 of the 223 women who served in the Signal Corps were still alive.
In 2018 Montana Senator Jon Tester of Montana and Nevada Senator Dean Heller introduced a bill in the U.S. Congress to award a Congressional Gold Medal to the “Hello Girls.”
Join us for a screening of the film and an update on the Hello Girls Congressional Gold Medal Act.
For an interview with Jim Theres, the film’s director, see https://www.pbs.org/video/jim-theres-the-hello-girls-rwzl4e/
This lecture is part of “Memories and Legacies of World War I: Commemorating the Armistice," co-sponsored by the MSU Center for Western Lands & Peoples and the Gallatin History Museum. Additional community support provided by the MSU Library, the Bozeman Public Library, MSU Department of History and Philosophy, Bozeman High School, and the Museum of the Rockies.