African Americans in World War I
Courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society.
The American Red Cross was one of the first support organizations approached by black women seeking to help the war effort. In many northern cities, they worked side by side with white women, while in the South black women served in segregated units such as the Booker T. Washington branch in Tampa, Florida. Excluded from national service until June 1918, black women eventually served in six black base hospitals registered by the American Red Cross that served approximately 38,000 black soldiers. While few black nurses were called to overseas duty before the armistice, it is estimated that over three hundred black nurses served overseas by passing for white. This photograph from a postcard shows Red Cross workers at a surgical dressing unit in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1918.