Helen Noble Curtis was a prominent race woman, peace advocate, Pan-African spokesperson, and the first African American woman to serve in France during the First World War. Although scholars have focused on the totality of the war moment for African American male soldiers, less attention has been given to the African American women who served as Young Men's Christian Association canteen workers in France. The fact that they were African American and women magnified the risks they faced and intensified the extent of their sacrifice. In applying a microhistorical analysis of Curtis's activism, this article describes the particulars of the African American female experience in the First World War and the processes by which these experiences cultivated and emboldened an internationalist and militant activism in the postwar period. It is imperative that the experiences of the African American women who served in France be brought out of the shadows of the past and their service acknowledged.


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pp. 109-133
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