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Exhibition Echoes of the Great War: American Experiences of World War I

Woman at work on a "Venting Machine, U.S. Cartridge Co., Lowell, Mass." U. S. Signal Corps, between 1914 and 1918. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (051.00.00)

Arming the Military

During World War I, as men left for military duty, millions of women contributed to the war effort, not only through volunteer service but by entering the labor force as nurses, agricultural laborers, and office and factory workers. Women were critical to maintaining production in the nation's ordnance plants. In this photograph a woman is seated at a cartridge venting machine at the U.S. Cartridge Co. plant in Lowell, Massachusetts, as her right arm is resting on a tray of empty shell casings.