Creator: Natalie Hays Hammond; various
Dates: 1940-1943
Quantity: 0.5 linear feet (1 manuscript box)
Acquisition: Accession #: Unknown ; Donated by: Corinna Fisk, 1/23/2013
Identification: A74 ; Archive Collection #74
Citation: [Document Title]. The WWII Women’s Defense Corps., Natalie Hays Hammond Collection, [Box #, Folder #, Item #], Cape Ann Museum Library & Archives, Gloucester, MA.
Copyright: Requests for permission to publish material from this collection should be addressed to the Librarian/Archivist.
Language: English
Finding Aid:  Processed by Bing McGilvray, 2013; supervised by Stephanie Buck, Librarian/Archivist. Updated by Karla Kaneb, June 2020.


Natalie Hays Hammond (1904 - 1985) was the only daughter of millionaire adventurer, businessman and philanthropist John Hayes Hammond and his wife Natalie (Harris) Hammond, and sister of the inventor John Hays Hammond, Jr. She was educated in California and presented at the English Court and the Vatican. She was an artist, Broadway costume and set designer, author, collector of art and antiques, and inventor of a process to apply metal to fabric.

In 1914, at the age of ten, she inspired her mother to start the War Children’s Christmas Fund to provide much needed clothing and Christmas presents to children in war torn Europe. In 1939, at the outbreak of WWII, she contemplated going to Europe with two friends to help organize Civilian Defense but the British Government were not amenable. Forced to remain in Gloucester she founded an organization titled the Gloucester Civic Patrol and held classes to train young women in air raid precautions and communications in case Gloucester was bombed. This scenario was considered so unlikely that the organization foundered and she turned her attentions to the newly reactivated Massachusetts Committee on Public Safety through which she established the Women’s Civilian Defense School in Boston.

The school offered women five courses: Motor, Mobile Canteen, Civilian Defense, Wardens, and Radio. Women who attended were expected to take their new skills and organize and instruct other women in their communities. It quickly segued into a paramilitary organization, the Massachusetts Women’s Defense Corps., and Natalie Hays Hammond appointed herself colonel. Despite early drawbacks (the uniforms were expensive, being designed by Abercrombie & Fitch, and the upper-class women attracted to them were not given to obeying orders without question) the movement grew. By the end of 1941 more than one hundred auxiliary defense schools were located around the state, sending thousands of well-trained women out into their communities.

However, the national civil defense effort was given sweeping powers by President Roosevelt which overrode state organizations, and the WACs, Waves and Spars began to attract more women. Natalie Hays Hammond resigned in 1943, and the Corps faded away.

During the war she built a compound on Lookout Hill in Gloucester, designed by Eleanor Agnes Raymond, but in 1957 turned her attention to North Salem, New York, where she built what was to become the Hammond Museum and Japanese Stroll Garden to house her enormous collection of art and antiques. She died there at the age of eighty-one.


Brief Description: Collection of photographs, newspaper clippings, correspondence and printed ephemera about the WWII Women’s Defense Corps. started by Natalie Hays Hammond in Gloucester in June 1940.


Series I. Photographs

Series II. Newspaper clippings

Series III. Correspondence

Series IV. Miscellaneous Printed/Typed Material


Series I

FF1 Photographs

1. Capt. Helen Patch & Capt. Helen Patch Gray, b&w 5x7

2. Helen Patch Gray, color 5x7

3. Isaac Patch III, b&w 5x7

4. Col. Hammond @ Red Roof, b&w 5x7

5. Helen Gray, b&w 5x7

6. John Hays Hammond & Natalie Hammond, b&w 5x7

7. Regiment of Women (MWDC) at Attention, b&w 5x7 


Series II

FF2 Newspaper clippings

1. MWDC to Mobilize, Corps Communiqué, photo, April 1942

2. WDS Holds First Graduation, Gloucester Daily Times [GDT] July 26 1941

3. No. Bennett St. School Serves Many, photo/story ND NP

4. WDC to Stage Demonstration, GDT ND

5. 3 small clippings: Nurses hear defense talk, ND WDS Convoy on 50 mile trip, 10/6/41

6. Corn Belt Champions, CSM photo/story, Oct. 11, 1941

7. WDS Gets First Taste of Drill

8. Civilian Defense, GDT, editorial, July 29,1941

9. WDC launches Newspaper, photo, ND NP

10. WDC on Parade, CSM, photo, Oct. 1941

11. 2 clippings: First Aid for Shock WDC hears Dr. Babson, 11/15/41 Essex. July 26 ~ 12 graduates of 225 WCDS

12. Women ...are Learning Canteen Cooking, photo essay, ND NP

13. 2 clippings: Mrs. Isaac Patch Spoke..., July 13, 1941 NP Mrs. Stewart Gives ARP Lecture Today, ND NP

14. Experts Ponder ...Heavy Bombing, ND NP

15. Dad & Ma Must Learn ABCs of ARPs, ND NP

16. Mr. Low Takes Turn on the London Fire Watch, photo, ND NP

17. Landis Says 80,000 Training in CD in State, ND NP

18. Second Story Woman, photo, June 24, 1940 NP

19. Lunch Tomorrow at WRC, Boston Herald April 20, 1942

20. Roadside Staff Conference, photo Boston Herald Sept. 18, 1941

21. Light in Blackout leads to Wardens, ND NP

22. Raid Students Hear Briton, June 1, 1941 NP

23. Volunteers Needed as Women Air Wardens, ND NP

24. Farley tells Briton’s Place as MA Safety Teachers, CSM Aug. 2, 1941

25. Hub Plate Glass Ready for Bombs, photo, ND NP

26. All Out Civil Defense, editorial, Boston Herald, May 21, 1941

27. Course Offered on Wartime Cookery 1/4/43 NP

28. Defense Instructors, photo, Boston Herald, Apr. 3 1941

29. 150 Women of State Inducted into CDS, Boston Herald, Apr. 3,1941

30. Ellen Wilkinson Labors to Improve ARS..., ND NP

31. Putting on Anti-gas Clothes, MOMA, ND NP

32. GOP Women Plan Lectures on Air Raids, CSM, Oct. 31, 1941

33. Hub GOP Women Hear Talk...ARP at Home, ND NP

34. Duties of First Aid Units..., ND NP

35. Blackout Tests Discussed, Boston Herald, Nov. 5, 1941

36. Second lecture on Air Raid Peril Tonight, Boston Herald, Jan. 8,1942

37. 5 small clippings: Discussion of Defense Work..., ND NP

38. New Air Raid Wardens, photo, Boston Herald, Dec 12, 1941

39. Bombs Likely, Farley Tells Defense Corps, ND NP

40. War Conditions/State Defense Officials, 2 photos, Boston Herald ND

41. 2 small clippings ...Mrs. Hammond, Mrs. Isaac Patch, ND NP

42. Civilian Defense, editorial GDT, July 29, 1941 (same as #8)

43. Last Night’s Storm Worst in Many Years, July 26 ND NP

44. Essex Echoes, Gl. Times, July 1,1941

45. 2 clippings: Women’s Defense School, ND NP

46. Col. Hammond, photo, 1941 NP

47. Three Majors, photo, ND NP

48. Women’s Defense School, Boston Herald, May 14, 1941

49. “To Help Our Neighbors”, ND NP

50. To Change the Subject~Slave & Free by Alice Myers, 1941 NP

51. Brookline Women Rapped - Defense Corps Row, Boston Globe, 7/17/41

52. 2 small clippings: Our Women Defense... ND NP

53. Col. Natalie Hays Hammond, photo, ND NP

54. Mrs. Isaac Patch, small clipping, ND NP

55. 2 small clippings, War Service in the Home..., ND NP

56. 7 Leaders Pledge Support of Corps Policy, GDT, Feb.3, 1941

57. Women’s Defense Corps...Barracks Life, ND NP

58. 3 clippings: Convoy-Course-Lectures, GDT, Oct. 31, 1941

59. CDW in NYC. Air Raid Demo, photo essay, New York Times, Nov. 16.1941

60. Jeannette MacDonald, Boston Herald, Oct. 1, 1942

61. Experts Ponder Heavy Bombing, ND NP

62. Why Isn’t Hitler Using Gas...? photo/story, Boston Sunday Globe, 10/5/41

63. MA Women face War Emergency..., photos/story CSM, Dec. 12,1941

64. Salem Women Get Defense Awards, ND NP

65. The Corps Communiqué, entire issue-cut up, April 1942

66. If Enemy Bombers Come, Fiorello LaGuardia, ThisWeekMag. 8/17/41

67. Putting Sky to Work as Air Raid Tattler(radio), Boston Herald 11/2/41

68. British Air Raid Warden, Mrs. Herbert de Roth, Sept.24, 1941


Series III

FF3 Correspondence to Capt. Helen (Mrs. Isaac) Patch and/or Capt. Helen Patch Gray

1. 24 (twenty-four) Postcards from March 1941 – May 1942

Most to Capt. Helen Patch Gray or variation; Eastern Point Rd.,Gl.

Most relate to meeting notices, some personal.

2. Receipts from:

a) Curran Stamp Co.(ten) 6/41 – 1/42

b) Visual Education Services (three) Dec. 1-16, 1941

c) MWCD School, signed Phyllis Bellick Apr. 10, 1941

3. Manila Envelope 10”x12” addressed to Mrs. Isaac Patch

From Air Raid Precaution School, posted July 8, 1941

Contents: Letters/Info about Chemical Warfare and Incendiaries

4. Miscellaneous Correspondence to Capt. Helen Patch/ Mrs. Gray

June 1941 – June 1943


Series IV (A,B,C)

FF4 Miscellaneous Printed/Typed Material

1. Warden Report Forms, 66 complete/5 blank, possibly as an exam

2. Scale Map (1”= 40ft.) Gloucester @ intersection of Western Av & Washington St. with location of “Time Bomb”

3.       a) 3 (three) Gloucester maps dividing city into wards/precincts

b) Notes on Field Obstetrics. Course by Dr. Draper (5 pages)

c) “The Birth of a Baby” – movie storyboard in photos

d) Bill of Rights Day – booklet 1941 – Sesquicentennial

4.       a) Invitation to Graduation MWCD School 9/9/41 signed Natalie Hays Hammond

b) Invitation to Graduation MWCD School 12/15/41 signed Natalie Hays Hammond

c) Invitation for Mrs. Isaac Patch, Sturbridge 10/25/41 w/program

d) Frank Knox for President Committee, card

e) Notice: WRCM – Defense Lectures ND

f) Poem written on a Western Union form

g) Notice: WRCM “Calling All Women” Lectures, nursing, cooking...

h) Recipes from Mrs. Farmer’s School. Soup for 100 etc.

i) Message form for use at Report Centers

5. Loose pages from a Grading/Attendance Record Book; Mrs. Patch

6.       a) Flyer for Air Raid Precaution

b) 20th Birthday Celebration program for WRCM, May 6. 1942

c) Page (4/9) from pamphlet. Civilian Defense Course. Mrs. Patch, chr.

d) 7 (seven) blank certificates of completion, various sizes

e) MWCD School – card – “agreement”

f) Page from pamphlet (4/5/8/9) Defense Courses, Mrs. Patch, chr.

7.       a) Aug. 22, 1941, For Defense, clipping: North Shore Breeze.

b) MWCDS – MA Public Safety Committee – pamphlet #1, ND

c) MWCDS - “ “ “ “ - pamphlet #2, ND

d) MWCDS – May 26 – June 27, 1941, prospectus.

e) MWCD – Meeting and graduation. Dec. 15, 1941.

f) 2 (two) clippings ... “Mum’s the Word”

g) Poem by Elizabeth A. Quirk “A Call Has Come...”

8. Radio Operating. Manual of Questions and Answers, 13 typed pages. McGraw-Hill Book Co., Inc. 1940

9. Radio Script w/ Miss Hammond and Mrs. Gray. 10 typed pages ND, No station indicated. Also revised copy.

10. Radio Script. WMEX 9/10/41. Interview w/Capt. Gray and others. Also w/copy & postcard from Maine.

11.     a) Text of speech given by Mrs. Patch to Salem group. ND.

b) Picture of American Flag on paper bag. “...a grateful pupil.”

c) Corps Setup. Jan. 6, 1942

d) Envelope from Gloucester Safe Deposit. Canceled checks. GWDS.

12.     a) Boston Police/ City of Boston. Course on ARP.

b) “ “ “ “ Course on High Explosive Bombs.

c) “ “ “ “ Use of Chemical Weapons

d) “ “ “ “ Lecture notes on evacuation.

13. Radio Script. WAAB. Maj. McSweeney, Capt Gray and others. Aug. 1941. “Before Pearl Harbor”

14. LISTS. 1941. Names, some with addresses. Diploma Candidates.

Names w/grades in various classes. Ex.) Motor Corps, Canteen, Mechanics, Stretcher drill, Gas defense, Warden, etc. Also, schedules of class times.

15. Printed/Typed Material 8.5”x11” pertaining to Civil Defense

Examples: Air Raid Warden Duties, Motor Transport Corps Activities, Wardens report form, Info on Blackouts, Home Shelters, Types of Bombs, Decontamination, Fire, First Aid, Chemical Warfare, Once the War is Over...etc.

Principles of Teaching.

ARP = Air Raid Precaution.

Organization charts of community ‘units’.

16. Booklet: ARP Personnel & Training in England. 

May 19 – June 30,1941

From J.W. Farley, Ex. Dir., MA Committee on Public Safety

WDC vs. Red Cross

17. Printed /Typed Material 8.5” x 11”. Miscellaneous.

a) Sample Warden Exams

b) Text of lecture: Chemical Warfare. Nov. 25, 1941

c) Course outlines from Newburyport: Convoy Instructions

d) Press release: Women to run Patriots Day, Lexington

e) Press release: Col. Happy Leapman of Cumberland, England...

f) Memorandum from Lt. Col. Alice Laughlin, Jan.8, 1942

g) Course offerings: Gloucester , N’port, Amesbury

h) After the Raid is Over.

i) Air Raid Protection for Animals.

j) Map of Boston covered by Divisions 1, 2 , 3.

k) Welsh Hymn Melody (poem) by J.R. Lowell. 1845.

18. Miscellaneous ‘orphan’ pages dealing with aspects of Civil Defense that fit no particular category; an odd recipe, scribbled notes, manuscripts missing key pages, etc.