Inez Ann Murphy was born in California, the daughter of T. P. Murphy and Emily Murphy.
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. 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. 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. She and her unit sailed for France in March 1918. "We were among the first girls to go across, and arrangements were very sketchy in those days," recalled a member of her unit. Crittenden was soon transferred to work for the public relations bureau at the American Embassy in Paris.
Inez Murphy married Nathaniel P. Crittenden in 1911; they divorced in 1917. She was living with her mother at the time of her appointment to the U. S. Telephone Corps. 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. She was given a military funeral, which was unusual for a civilian telephone operator.
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.
- "Ranks as Lieutenant in Army" Gaffney Ledger (March 2, 1918): 3. via Newspapers.com
- "Trade Personals" California Fruit News (February 23, 1918): 13.
- "American Telephone Girls in France" The Chicago Daily News Almanac and Year Book (Chicago Daily News Company 1918): 689-690.
- Pauline Hess, "Interesting Westerners", Sunset Monthly (June 1918): 47-48.
- "Woman Ranks as Lieutenant in Army; Mrs. Crittenden on Way to France" San Francisco Chronicle (February 17, 1918): 7. via Newspapers.com
- Millicent Martin, "My Great Adventure" Green Book Magazine (October 1919): 32.
- Elizabeth Cobbs, The Hello Girls: America’s First Women Soldiers (Harvard University Press 2017): 92-93, 135-136, 272. ISBN 9780674978546
- "Divorce Decree is Granted Wife" Oakland Tribune (June 24, 1917): 36. via Newspapers.com
- Inez Ann Crittenden, American Battle Monuments Commission.
- "Mother Denies Reconciliation" San Francisco Chronicle (November 30, 1918): 6. via Newspapers.com