According to various accounts, the first woman to be employed by the Washington Navy Yard was Miss Nannie Dornin Barney (1860-1937), who started at the Office of Naval Records circa 1890. A member of a prominent naval family (great-granddaughter of Commodore Joshua Barney and daughter of Captain Joseph Nicholson Barney), she was appointed as a librarian for the records office.
Over time, the number of female employees increased. The need for workers during World War I resulted in the creation of a special Yeoman “F” (female) rating, allowing for the employment of a significant number of women at the Washington Navy Yard. By World War II, women were part of the skilled forces fabricating and manufacturing machinery and weapons. Women also performed administrative functions – by the 1920s, women outnumbered men in the Accounting and Supply departments.
In this photo Mrs. Freda M. Guy of Washington, DC operates a screw thread milling machine.