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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 years ago in Spokane: Women needed in the workforce as men head to World War I

In an editorial, The Spokesman-Review explained “How women will help win the war” in the paper’s April 11, 1917 edition. (Spokesman-Review archives)
In an editorial, The Spokesman-Review explained “How women will help win the war” in the paper’s April 11, 1917 edition. (Spokesman-Review archives)

The headline of an editorial read, “How Women Will Help Win the War.”

Replacing men in offices, that’s how. With so many men going off to war, women would have to step in and keep the economy humming in Spokane and around the nation.

“Woman can be called to hundreds of thousands of clerical positions,” said the editors of The Spokesman-Review. “As men leave the offices, the hotels and restaurants, the banks and other financial institutions, capable women can step in and fill the vacant places. Large numbers are already trained for these duties, and others will seek training …”

The paper said the R.O. McClintock company already had announced such a policy. It was planning to employ women to take the place of about a dozen of its male employees who were heading into the army.

“Fortunately, Spokane has facilities for giving that training,” said the paper. “It has a number of excellent business colleges, and the high schools are also equipped to do considerable training.”

From the Red Cross beat: Meanwhile, in a letter to the editor, Lucille Newbery upbraided the women of Spokane for shirking their duties to the Red Cross.

“How many of them are sincerely willing to do real service for the preservation of the nation and all it stands for, or how many will go on giving ‘lip service,’ as they have been doing?” she asked.

She said Spokane’s monetary contributions to the Red Cross lagged “far behind towns half its size.”

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