Monday, October 30, 2017

WWII - American Red Cross Girls

Women’s Experience in the Red Cross during WWII – Just scratching the surface for the Reenactor
About Laughing Moon Mercantile Pattern #139, WWII Red Cross Uniform and Civilian Skirted Suit
JoAnn Peterson
I am a patternmaker who has made 19th C sewing patterns.  Before I publish patterns I include what I have learned about the garment, usually in a section called "History Notes".  Sometimes it’s like documenting an Easter Egg Hunt.  I record little nuggets of information I have dug up in the innards of a huge book written by a smart textile historian or show a photograph of a raggedy piece of clothing rescued from eBay.  This time I found so much information about the WWII era woman’s Red Cross uniform it was more like the well-known phrase “taking a drink from a fire hose.”  Information about WWII and the American Red Cross abounds.  WWII ended in August of 1945 with the surrender of Japan.  At the time of this writing that was only 72 years ago.  There are eye witnesses still with us.  There are countless photos and films.  And fortunately, there are many written accounts.  And for the costumer, there are lots of surviving primary sources and actual clothing.  So, I am only writing this so that I might make some of this information easier to find.  I cannot hope to list all of it.

Here is a link to the pattern on our website:

Here is a link to the extant uniform copied for this pattern:

The best book I read while researching WWII and women was “Our Mother’s War:  American Women at Home and at the Front in WWII” by Emily Yellin written in 2004.  No matter what impression you might want to do for a WWII reenactment, this book will give you information about it.  It will also help orient you to the wider view of different roles American women played in the period.  It is so good and complete I think it should be required reading.  You can purchase a hard copy or you can read it online here: