Girls to the Rescue

Young Heroines in American Series Fiction of World War I


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About the Book

During World War I, as young men journeyed overseas to battle, American women maintained the home front by knitting, fundraising, and conserving supplies. These became daily chores for young girls, but many longed to be part of a larger, more glorious war effort—and some were. A new genre of young adult books entered the market, written specifically with the young girls of the war period in mind and demonstrating the wartime activities of women and girls all over the world. Through fiction, girls could catch spies, cross battlefields, man machine guns, and blow up bridges. These adventurous heroines were contemporary feminist role models, creating avenues of leadership for women and inspiring individualism and self-discovery. The work presented here analyzes the powerful messages in such literature, how it created awareness and grappled with the engagement of real girls in the United States and Allied war effort, and how it reflects their contemporaries’ awareness of girls’ importance.

About the Author(s)

Emily Hamilton-Honey is an associate professor of English and gender studies at SUNY Canton, specializing in series fiction, girlhood studies, and postbellum and Progressive Era American women’s literature and history. She lives in Canton, New York.

Susan Ingalls Lewis is a professor emerita in the department of history, SUNY New Paltz, specializing in American women’s history, the Progressive Era, and New York State history. She lives in Rosendale, New York.

Bibliographic Details

Emily Hamilton-Honey and Susan Ingalls Lewis
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 252
Bibliographic Info: 22 photos, appendices, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2020
pISBN: 978-1-4766-6879-6
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4041-9
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface 1
Introduction 5
One. Preparedness 31
Two. Girls Who Stay at Home 50
Three. Girls Who Nurse and Do Relief Work 74
Four. Girls Who Drive and Fly 99
Five. Uncovering Spies and Saboteurs 116
Six. Girls Who Rescue Men 138
Seven. Girls Who Fight 157
Conclusion 177
Appendix A: Book Series in Order of Publication 193
Appendix B: Series Authors 198
Appendix C: Summaries of the Wartime Volumes from Individual Series 201
Chapter Notes 231
Bibliography 235
Index 243

Book Reviews & Awards

• “A meticulously detailed and accessibly written analysis of a broad range of fictional book series about girls in the WW I era…Hamilton-Honey and Lewis conclude that these heroines were far more feminist than those in the following decades…recommended”—Choice

• “An intriguing examination of a comparatively underexamined body of literature: girls’ series fiction of the First World War era… This study offers an important new contribution to girls’ studies, among a variety of other disciplinary and interdisciplinary fields”—The Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth

• “This volume provides a detailed analysis of girls’ series books that came out during World War I. The authors show the various ways in which the central characters in these stories contribute to the war effort by playing supportive roles on the home front and by participating directly in wartime activities. The authors argue that in some cases the adventurous heroines in these stories provided girl readers with feminist role models.”—Children’s Literature Association Quarterly

• “This book provides significant, well-researched, and much-needed information about early 20th century America and the role girls’ series fiction of that era played in the changing dynamic of girlhood and young womanhood.”—Diana V. Dominguez, The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley