Women at the Naval War College
Women lived and worked at the War College almost from its establishment. Alfred Thayer Mahan and his family lived on the College grounds from 1885 to 1887. Naval War College Presidents and their families occupied the President's House, known as Quarter's AA, beginning in 1896 and the College hosted local guests and visiting dignitaries, however, it was not until after WWII that women joined the staff and student body of the College.
The first women on staff at the U.S. Naval War College joined in 1945. Lieutenant Clairece Black, USNR (W) and Ensign Ruth Chapin, USNR (W), worked with Captain R.C. Alexander in the Office of Information beginning in December 1945. Black and Chapin joined the new Department of Research and Analysis the following year and Chapin received a promotion to Lieutenant Junior Grade. The two women are pictured in the 1945 President and Staff photograph in the top row in uniform. Lieutenant Black remained on the Naval War College staff until 1949. She worked on the team Admiral Raymond Spruance put together headed by Commodore Penn L. Carroll that developed the War College's strategic problems and war games.
In 1958, Lieutenant Commander Erma Jane Potter, U.S. Naval Reserve (WAVES), joined the staff of the Naval War College as part of the Strategy and Logistics Department. The following year, 1959-1960, she became the first women to receive a Certificate of Completion for the Course in Naval Warfare as a member of staff.
A decade later, the first two women officers were invited to attend the Naval War College as resident students, joining 110 others in the Senior Course for 1969-1970: Commander Fran McKee and Captain Anne Ducey graduated in 1970.
Captain Ducey enlisted in the Navy almost immediatedly after roles opened for women. She commissioned as an Ensign in 1943 and moved up the ranks in the Women's Reserve. She became Commanding Officer, Recruit Training Command (Women) at Bainbridge, Md. in charge of basic training for thousands of women recruits. After attending the Naval War College, Ducey joined the office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon. She retired from the Navy in 1974.
Rear Admiral Fran McKee attended the Naval War College as a Commander. She joined the Navy in 1950 and served assignments including instructor at naval schools command, mobilization and classification officer at Naval Air Reserve Training Command and officer-in-charge of the Naval Women Officers School before arriving as a member of the class of 1970. Promoted to Read Admiral in 1976, she retired from the Navy in 1981. McKee's student thesis is included as part of this exhibition.