Who Were the Seven Sisters and What Did They Do?
The Seven Sisters
Providing Relief for the Troops!
April 6th, 1917 America declared war on Germany and entered WWI. Almost immediately social service organizations began to mobilize to support American men sent to hastily constructed training camps at home, Camp Custer on the west side of the state for Michiganders, or immediately sent ahead to France. Seven organizations YMCA, YWCA, the Salvation Army, the Jewish Welfare Board, the Knights of Columbus, the War Camp Community Service, and the American Library Association, known as the Seven Sisters, recruited volunteers to man the relief huts and collected donations of books, supplies, and money.
The YWCA had just celebrated its 50th Anniversary in January 1917, but for the first time in nine years, the Flint chapter was asking for donations to cover operating costs. That problem changed quickly in April when donations and volunteers rushed to support the war effort. The YWCA began organizing women to complete important war work at homes such as child welfare duties, food conservation, scrap metal collection, and Red Cross work. The YWCA also provided housing for single women and girls who took enlisted men’s positions on the factory line to produce the machines of war. Finally, the YWCA began organizing women to send directly to the American Expeditionary Forces camps in St. Nazaire, France. In France, the volunteers provided basic first aid, operated communication switchboards, and ran the camp huts providing relief for troops at home and abroad.