[MENA, Ark. | October 24, 2018]
UA Rich Mountain is pleased to announce its next author talk & book signing will feature Elizabeth Griffin Hill, who is an independent researcher and writer specializing the history of Arkansas women. Her newest book, Faithful to Our Tasks: Arkansas’s Women and the Great War, provides the context for women’s actions and reactions during World War I.
The United States was a vital, if brief, participant in the Great War, spending only 18 months fighting in World War I. But that short span marked an era of tremendous change for women as they moved out of the Victorian 19th century and came into their own as social activists during the early years of the 20th century.
Hill superbly incorporates the mitigating factors and experiences of American women in general and compares Arkansas women’s Progressive Era actions with those of other southern women. The contextual underpinnings provide a rich tapestry as we attempt to understand our grandmothers and great-grandmothers’ responses to wartime needs.
Primary records of the World War I era, accessed in archives in central Arkansas, reveal that the state’s organized women were suddenly faced with a devastating world war for which they were expected to make a significant contribution of time and effort. “Club women” were already tackling myriad problems to be found in abundance within a poor, rural state as they worked for better schools, a centralized education system, children’s well-being, and improved medical care.
Under wartime conditions, their contributions were magnified as the women followed a barrage of directions from Washington, DC, within a disconcerting display of micromanagement by the federal government. The important takeaway, however, is that the Great War created a scenario in which Arkansas’s organized women – as well as women throughout the nation – would step forward and excel as men and governments stood up and took notice. After the war, these same organized women won the right to vote.
Elizabeth Griffin Hill is an experienced author, holding a Master of Arts degree in rhetoric and writing, also penning A Splendid Piece of Work, a history of Arkansas’s home demonstration and Extension Homemakers clubs.
She will be speaking on Monday, November 12, Noon - 1:30 p.m. in the Ouachita Center of the UA Rich Mountain campus. The event is free and is open to all members of the community.