Inez Crittenden

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Inez Crittenden, from a 1918 publication.

Inez Ann Murphy Crittenden (1887 – November 11, 1918) was a leader of the "Hello Girls", the U. S. Telephone Corps in France during World War I.

Early life[edit]

Inez Ann Murphy was born in California, the daughter of T. P. Murphy and Emily Murphy.[1]


Inez Crittenden worked as a telephone operator in California at age fourteen. She later worked as a secretary to the president of the California Packing Corporation in San Francisco.[2] She was one of the first women to join the United States Signal Corps, where her fluent French skills were in demand during World War I.[3] In January 1918, she became Chief Operator, Second American Unit of Telephone Operators, in charge of hundreds of American women who worked as interpreters in war-related telephone communications.[4] She and her unit sailed for France in March 1918.[5] "We were among the first girls to go across, and arrangements were very sketchy in those days," recalled a member of her unit.[6] Crittenden was soon transferred to work for the public relations bureau at the American Embassy in Paris.[7]

Personal life[edit]

Inez Murphy married Nathaniel P. Crittenden in 1911; they divorced in 1917.[8] She was living with her mother at the time of her appointment to the U. S. Telephone Corps.[7] Inez Crittenden died in Paris, on Armistice Day in 1918, from pneumonia, a complication of influenza. She was 31 years old. Her grave is in the Suresnes American Cemetery and Memorial in Suresnes, France.[9] She was given a military funeral, which was unusual for a civilian telephone operator.[7]

Crittenden's ex-husband was wounded in France during the war; his family told newspapers that the two planned to be reunited after the war. Emily Murphy denied these reports.[10]


  1. ^ "Ranks as Lieutenant in Army" Gaffney Ledger (March 2, 1918): 3. via Newspapers.comopen access publication – free to read
  2. ^ "Trade Personals" California Fruit News (February 23, 1918): 13.
  3. ^ "American Telephone Girls in France" The Chicago Daily News Almanac and Year Book (Chicago Daily News Company 1918): 689-690.
  4. ^ Pauline Hess, "Interesting Westerners", Sunset Monthly (June 1918): 47-48.
  5. ^ "Woman Ranks as Lieutenant in Army; Mrs. Crittenden on Way to France" San Francisco Chronicle (February 17, 1918): 7. via Newspapers.comopen access publication – free to read
  6. ^ Millicent Martin, "My Great Adventure" Green Book Magazine (October 1919): 32.
  7. ^ a b c Elizabeth Cobbs, The Hello Girls: America’s First Women Soldiers (Harvard University Press 2017): 92-93, 135-136, 272. ISBN 9780674978546
  8. ^ "Divorce Decree is Granted Wife" Oakland Tribune (June 24, 1917): 36. via Newspapers.comopen access publication – free to read
  9. ^ Inez Ann Crittenden, American Battle Monuments Commission.
  10. ^ "Mother Denies Reconciliation" San Francisco Chronicle (November 30, 1918): 6. via Newspapers.comopen access publication – free to read