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The Californians of the Hello Girls


by Courtland Jindra, Co-Director of the California WW1 Centennial Task Force


hello girls at chaumont switchboardsA bank of Hello Girls at the U.S. Headquaters switchboards at Chaumont, FranceThe Signal Corps Female Telephone Operators Unit better known as the Hello Girls were female switchboard operators during WWI serving with the AEF in Europe. General Pershing appealed for female bilingual (French/English) phone operators in 1917 to help with logistical network operations. Thousands of women applied, but only 223 actually made it overseas

California was home to at least 37 of these women, the most of any state. San Francisco was one of AT&T's main switchboard centers, so the city had a large number of women chosen for service. Many historians argue that service women provided in the war effort, including the Hello Girls, is what finally prompted the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920. hello girl inez crittendenUnfortunately after the war when the Hello Girls came home, government officials refused to give them discharge papers, saying they were never actually soldiers (Army regulations specifically said soldiers had to be male) and as such could not obtain benefits. It took 60 years for the Hello Girls to get official recognition for their service.

Inez Crittenden was the Paris Head Operator this group, so in effect she was one of the two highest ranked members (the other being the Head Operator for the front line unit). She died the day combat ended, of the Spanish Flu, and is buried at Surenes American Cemetery on the outskirts of Paris.



hello girl gravemarker result





Though it currently says "Civilian" on Crittenden's grave stone because of the earlier controversy, there are plans to replace her cross with the new one giving her rank of Chief Operator: Signal Corps Female Telephone Operators Unit.






Listed below are the names of the Golden State's Hello Girls.

Charlotte E. Anderson - San Francisco
Irma Armanet - San Francisco
Ruth Boucher - San Francisco
Jeanne Bouchet - San Francisco
Marie Louise Bousquet - San Francisco
Jessie D. Brown - Los Angeles
Marthe Carroul - San Francisco
Louise Chaix - San Francisco
Evelyn Tilleard Cooper - San Diego
Juliette Courtial - Los Angeles
Inez A. Crittenden - San Francisco
Miriam De Jersey - Covina
Lucile De Jersey - Covina
Helma Greenlund - Riverside
Laura Gridley - San Francisco
Bertha Matignon Hunt - Berkeley
Maude E. Johnson - San Francisco
Grace B. W. Knall - Los Angeles
Anna Laborde - San Francisco
Marie Lange - San Francisco
Marie A. Lassalle - San Francisco
Louise Le Breton - Berkeley
Raymonde Le Breton - Berkeley
Jeanne Legallet - Oakland
Marie Jennie Lemaire - San Mateo
Marguerite G. Mahony - San Francisco
Marguerite Martin - San Francisco
Marguerite H. Milner - Berkeley
Lalla Munoz - Oakland
Lillie Poirer Noble - Los Angeles
Anna May Ostrander - Los Angeles
Laurence Helen Pechin - San Francisco
Leonie Peyron - Los Angeles
Bertha Plamondon - San Francisco
Louise Ruffe - Pasadena
Hildegarde Van Brunt - Alameda
Melanie Van Gastel - Berkeley