Barbour, Louise. Papers of Louise Barbour, 1917-1939: A Finding Aid
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe
Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Call No.: MC 219
Repository: Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe
Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
Creator: Barbour, Louise
Title: Papers of Louise Barbour, 1917-1939
Quantity: .21 linear feet (1/2 file box)
Language of materials: Materials in English.
Abstract: Papers of Louise Barbour, who served as a telephone operator with the Signal Corps
in France during World War I.
Accession number: 70-4
The papers of Louise Barbour were deposited with the Schlesinger Library in 1970 by
Processed: February 1976
By: Joellen Wlodkowski
Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Louise Barbour is held by President
and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library. Copyright in other papers
in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.
Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.
Louise Barbour Papers, 1917-1939; item description, dates. MC 219, folder #. Schlesinger
Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.
Louise Barbour served as a telephone operator with the Signal Corps in France during
World War I, 1918-1919. In August 1918 she was made Chief Operator of the Signal Service
at Large in Tours, a position she held for the rest of the war. These French-speaking
telephone operators were recruited by General Pershing from American Telephone and
Telegraph Company, for which Barbour had worked before the war, and were to help American
soldiers with no knowledge of French in telephone conversations. In 1935 AT&T began
planning an article for the Bell Quarterly on women in the telephone industry, including
a section on the Signal Corps, by sending out questionnaires to former employees.
Much of the correspondence in this collection has to do with this article. Helen Cook,
often mentioned in this collection, also served as an operator with the Signal Corps.
This collection includes Barbour's article for the Bell Quarterly, letters to AT&T and friends, and various personal mementoes of the Signal Corps.
- 1. Handwritten letter from Barbour to her mother, telling about trip to France, November
24, 1918; 3 postcards from Barbour to her family, 1918-1919; 2 postcards to Barbour
from other Signal Corps members, 1919, n.d.
- 2. Handwritten letter from Helen Cook to her father, telling of trip to England, [1918?]
written on back of printed message from Windsor Castle, wishing U.S. soldiers good
luck in battle, April 1918; 4 postcards from Helen Cook to the Barbour family, telling
of travels in France, 1919.
- 3. 2 lists of Signal Corps operators, with various notes on duties and hours, 1918, 1919?;
list of District of Paris telephone staff [1919?]; memorandum from George P. Player,
1st lieutenant, Signal Corps, noting Barbours transfer from Tours, 1918; letter of
commendation to Barbour from Captain George B. Dixon, Signal Corps, July 1919; letter
of commendation to Barbour from Lieutenant Colonel R.P. Wheat, Signal Corps, May 1919.
Newspaper clipping citing Pershing's tribute to the Telephone Girls, 1931; Barbours
citation for outstanding service as Chief Operator, Signal Services at Large, June
- 4. Memento of the telephone operating units of the U.S. Signal Corps in France, Christmas
1918, from Major R.P. Wheat, consists of photographs of Signal Corps, military officers
and letters of thanks to the telephone units; photograph of Barbour in uniform of
U.S. Signal Cops telephone operators, 1918; 2 photographs of Signal Corps telephone
operators in uniform, n.d.; photographs of Hotel Crillon in Paris, 1919.
- 5. Telephone directory of the Signal Corps in Paris, 1919; telephone directory of the
British Peace Congress, Paris 1919; provisional list of delegates to the Peace Conference,
- 6. 5 typed letters concerning the issuing of bonuses to women telephone operators, from
Major Roy H. Coles, Signal Corps, 1921; handwritten letter from Helen Carey to Barbour
concerning army discharges for telephone operators, and carbon copy of Barbours reply,
1939; Barbours Signal Corps membership card, 1941-1942.
- 7. 2 lists of women who served with the Signal Corps during the war, mimeograph, 1929,
n.d.; 2 lists of operators to whom questionnaire was sent, one typescript, one mimeograph,
[1930s]; correspondence leading to writing of Barbour's story, 1935-1937; 2 typescript
versions of Barbour's story of the AT&T operators in France during World War I, written
in September 1937, one copy signed; letter sent to all operators who answered questionnaire,
- 8. Miscellaneous mementoes of World War I and the Armistice: medal struck to mark United
States entrance into World War I, April 6, 1917; Barbour's United States government
thrift card; newspaper clipping of "Avenue of the Allies" by Alfred Noyes, 1918; copy
of Mar-Gaz, October 1918; copies of New York Herald, November 10 and 12, 1918, and Le Petit Parisien, November 12, 1918, reporting the armistice.
- 8a. 2 reproduced photographs of cemetery in Rheims, 1918; photograph of battle-struck
buildings in Rheims, n.d.
FILED WITH PHOTOGRAPHS.
- 9. Small disc-shaped metal box with the marking, Chateau-Thierry 1918; Contents: 2 Barbour
dog tags; 2 metal U.S. pins; 2 buttons with the United States Great Seal; 2 Signal
Corps pins; 1 Rainbow Division insignia; a small red and white pin with a blue star
in the middle, engraved "Mother from Louise," August 5, 1918 on the back; a small
United States--Armed Forces--Women
World War, 1914-1918--France--Communications
World War, 1914-1918--Participation, Female
American Telephone and Telegraph Company
United States. Army. Signal Corps