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Community Roots: Selections from the Local Legacies Project
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WACs at Camp Lee (late 1949) enjoyed recreational activities
WACs in the Post Exchange, Camp Lee (late 1949), enjoying recreational activities. Photo courtesy U.S. Army Women's Museum

Fort Lee and the Legacy of Army Women

The U.S. Army's new museum, which will be called the "U.S. Army Women's Museum," is planned to open in a new building at Fort Lee in May 2001.

From as early as the fall of 1917, women have been in the service to the Army at Fort Lee. Many of them served at the Base Hospital, Camp Lee, (later to become Fort Lee) and performed valuable services during World War I. Nurses were a central part of that service.

On February 5, 1946, Chief of Staff Dwight Eisenhower charged the assistant chief of staff to prepare plans to establish a Women's Army Corps (WAC) in the regular army with concurrent Reserve Corps status. For two yeas, between 1946 and 1948, Congress debated status for women in the armed services, then, on June 12, 1948, it passed the Women's Armed Service Integration Act.

After a ten-month search for a new training center for the "women's army," the Women's Army Corps Training Center at Camp Lee was selected in 1948. The Women's Army Corps Museum officially opened in Fort McClellan, Alabama in 1955, the 13th Anniversary of the Women's Army Corps. In 1997, when Congress announced that Fort McClellan would close on September 30, 1999, Fort Lee was chosen as the museum's new home.

Fort Lee has significant historical ties to the Women's Army Corps. It was the home of the first regular Army WAC Training Center and WAC School from 1948 to 1954, before moving to Fort McClellan. The groundbreaking for the new museum was held on April 9, 1999. The museum will be located next to the Army Quartermaster Museum on Avenue A.

Documentation includes a pictorial history, with text, of Army women serving their country at Fort Lee.

Originally submitted by: Norman Sisisky, Representative (4th District).

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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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