The first black, female yeoman in the Navy joined in World War 1.
War changes everything, and it was war that changed the policy of the Navy to admit black women in World War I.
The Navy was woefully short of yeomen, those uniformed personnel who served as office managers and performed clerical and administrative duties. Because of this, 11,000 women were admitted to the Navy and, among them, The Golden Fourteen, black, female, uniformed yeoman, according to Atlas Obscura.
They worked under the tutelage of John T Risher, a black Navy civil servant in Washington, D.C., according to Richard E. Miller of LestWeForget. Risher’s job was to keep an accurate account of deployed Navy servicemen during time of war, according to Montford Point Marines. He was also responsible for staffing his Muster Roll office and he did so, with the first black Navy yeowomen.
Risher later told an author that the black yeowomen were “cool, clear-headed and well-poised.” Their demeanor, he said, was appropriate both on and off duty.
Today, few records exist that record the work of the Golden Fourteen, but research is underway among the great-grandchildren of the women to see if any stories still exist in families.