Thursday, March 10, 2011

Artifact Spotlight: Captain Dorothy I. Council's Uniform, 1972

---Joshua Howard, Curatorial Volunteer


CDR D.I. Council, c. 1964

In honor of Women's History Month it is hard to think of a more fitting subject related to the Naval War College than Dorothy Irene Council. Captain Council joined the United States Navy in 1942 as an ensign in the newly created WAVES program (Woman Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service). Throughout her career, Council was a trailblazer among women in the Navy. In 1948, with the passage of the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act, she was among the first 288 women officers to be commissioned as a lieutenant in the regular Navy. Later, in 1967 while stationed at the War College, Council became one of the first seven women to be appointed captain.  When she retired from active duty in 1972, she was awarded the Legion of Merit and was recognized as the first female line officer to complete thirty years of continuous service in the U.S. Navy.



Capt. Council Uniform, c. 1972
During her time in the Navy, she served all over the country. Upon leaving Mt. Holyoke College in 1942 she served as a personnel officer at the Congressional Liason Office of the Navy Communications Department in Washington D.C.  From 1946 to 1950, she worked in San Francisco as an administration and personnel officer in communications.  Council's first tour in Newport, at the Central Torpedo Command, lasted from 1953 to 1957. For the next four years, Council worked in Paris at the U.S. European Command. Before transferring back to Newport and the Naval War College in 1964, she served as commanding officer of Recruit Training Command for women at the U.S. Naval Training Center in Bainbridge, MD.

From 1964-1968, she worked at the Naval War College as the Assistant Secretary in the Department of Administration and Personnel. Her final position before retirement, from 1968 to 1972, was with the Manpower Plans and Policies Branch at the Pentagon. After leaving the service she returned to live in Newport.

 Upon retirement she remarked, “We had a song called ‘Ensigns Forever.’ No one told us that we would ever be promoted. So the fact that I was able to make jay-gee then lieutenant… and then all the way to Captain! Is something I am very proud of.”  Captain Council was decorated with the Legion of Merit, the Army Commendation Medal, The National Defense Service Medal and several campaign medals from her service during the Second World War. Her uniform is on display in the museum's exhibit on the history of the Naval War College: Sailors and Scholars.
Images Courtesy of the Naval War College Museum

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