Private First Class Johnnie Mae Welton, Women’s Army Corps, a laboratory technician trainee, conducts an experiment in the serology laboratory at Fort Jackson Station Hospital, Fort Jackson, South Carolina.
March 20, 1944. Jensen, photographer.
National Archives and Records Administration
During World War II, 6,520 black women served in what became the Women’s Army Corps (WAC). The US Army’s specialist and technical training schools were integrated in 1943, but enlisted women served in segregated units, participated in segregated training, lived in separate quarters, ate at separate tables, and used separate recreational facilities. Following World War II, racial and gender discrimination and segregation persisted in the military. By June 1948, only 125 African American women served in the WAC, four officers and 121 enlisted. After President Truman integrated the armed forces by signing Executive Order 9981 on July 26, 1948, WACs began integrated training and living in April 1950.