Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Open Access Thesis


United States. Naval Reserve. Women's Reserve--History; Iowa State Teachers College--History; Women military cadets--Iowa--History; United States. Navy--Women--History; World War, 1939-1945--Participation, Female;


During World War II, Iowa State Teacher’s College (now known as University of Northern Iowa) was host to the first indoctrination school and later yeomen school (naval secretaries) of the United States Naval Women’s Reserve or the Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service (WAVES). The first class of 1,500 WAVES arrived at Iowa State Teacher’s College (ISTC) in December 1942. The women endured five to six weeks of an intensive introductory training. In April 1943, the indoctrination school was replaced by a yeomen school. The yeomen school remained in operation until it was closed in April 1945. During its twenty-nine months of operation the school trained 14,000 WAVES. This study serves as a first-time analysis of the WAVES’ experience at ISTC and Cedar Falls, IA through the use of primary sources, oral histories, local press coverage, and photographs.

The experiences of these women are best assessed through the study of primary sources, oral histories, local press coverage, and photographs found at the Cedar Falls Historical Society, University of Northern Iowa Special Collections, and Rod Library. These sources illustrate the experience of individual women who trained and served as WAVES at ISTC. This study also complicates the current scholarship on the experience of women in quasi-military organizations in World War II. Scholars have noted that such women had to deal with gender stereotypes of other servicemen, senators, journalists, and their own family. The evidence found in this study suggests that there was at least some public support for women in quasi-military organizations during World War II.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Department of History

First Advisor

Barbara Cutter, Chair

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (v, 98 pages)