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About the Project

 

The two hundred women who formed the Women’s Army Corp Detachment at Camp Hale, Colorado were the reason for this research project and website. The initial stages of the project were made possible by a grant from the Colorado Endowment for the Humanities, awarded for the express purpose of writing women back into the history of Camp Hale. Subsequently, a research grant from the Provost of The Metropolitan State College of Denver allowed the completion of the oral histories and the background research.

The project actually began when I moved to Colorado in 1990 to take a position as assistant professor in the History Department of Metropolitan State College of Denver. In some respects, it was like establishing my home in a familiar place with fond memories. As a child, I had frequently gone through Denver and Leadville enroute to visit family in Utah. My mother had always taken time to walk through Leadville and drive past Camp Hale, reminiscing about her experiences as a WAC stationed there during World War II. One of my first excursions to the mountains in 1990 was to Leadville and Camp Hale. While there, I stopped by the Heritage Museum to see the display of the camp and the 10th Mountain Division. I asked the curator about information regarding the women stationed there. I was told there had been no women there. Over the next years I had occasion to visit the Colorado State Historical Society and the Western History Collection at the Denver Public Library and speak with Colorado historians. During conversations about World War II Colorado, Camp Hale, and the 10th Mountain Division, I frequently inquired about the women stationed at Camp Hale. I always was told either that there had been no women stationed there or that there was no information regarding their service. The historical questions about the lives and work of these women at Camp Hale needed to be answered.

The project could only be undertaken if it were possible to locate women that had been stationed there. One of the difficulties in doing women's history is tracing women after marriage. By invitation I attended the 46th Annual WAC Convention. I met Jeanette Berkery at that time and she was able to identify other women who served there. My mother had died in 1989, and I had saved her address book. I called everyone that I did not recognize and was able to locate other members of the WAC division. They subsequently provided me with additional names.

Margaret Coval of the Colorado Endowment for the Humanities was excited about the project an encouraged me to apply for a grant. When it was awarded, a team of experts was assembled to produce what was intended to be a documentary. When I had completed the research and the oral histories were done, I was approached by Dr. Stephen Ernst about working with the Center for Academic Technology and creating a project for the classroom. A prototype CD-ROM was made at the time. Final work was delayed as MSCD devoted academic computing resources to on-line classes. This was fortunate since the technology had improved dramatically enabling a more sophisticated presentation.

Many people have provided expertise to the project, all in the hope of restoring women to this chapter of World War II and presenting a more inclusive history of Camp Hale.


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