Women's Overseas Service League. Madison Unit: Records, 1926-1943


The Women's Overseas Service League was founded in Philadelphia in May 1921 to unite women who had served overseas with the American Expeditionary Forces during World War I. The purposes of the League included maintaining friendships, aiding patriotic projects of various kinds, working for the welfare of men in the armed services and their families, assisting men and especially women who had served overseas, and promoting friendship between the United States and her allies.

One of the most important activities of the League was financial and medical relief to women who had served with the AEF and were not eligible for regular government benefits, including the construction and operation of homes for domiciliary care in Miami, Florida, and Dayton, Ohio. The League endorsed the bills creating the WAC and making it an integral part of the Army. It supported the George Washington Bicentennial Celebration, the work of the Red Cross, and the National Disabled Women's fund drives. It maintained a corps of trained hostesses to see to the social welfare of those at the summer Civilian Military Training Camps like Camp McCoy, Wisconsin. At the beginning of World War II the League supplied a Rolling Kitchen to feed civilians in England.

The national league was divided into corps areas following United States Army district lines. The Wisconsin Unit, organized in 1923, formed part of the Sixth Corps Area with Illinois, Michigan, and Missouri. This unit later became known as the Milwaukee Unit. A unit was formed in Madison in April 1926, by Mrs. Maude Webster Middleton. It was always a small unit, having no more than eight to ten members and consequently was more social than service oriented. Mrs. Middleton served as president (1926-1928) and secretary (1942) of the Madison Unit and as service chairman (1928) of the Sixth Corps Area.