Norma was one of the “Hello Girls” who served in the Signal Corps Female Telephone Operators Unit during World War I. This was a special unit of women bilingual in English and French who went to France to support communications during the war. 

Information from the Bell Telephone News unearthed by Lois Sprengnether Keel found this information about her. 

Norma came from Litchfield and was an employee of the Michigan State Telephone Company. She sailed from New York on Aug. 5, 1918, and landed in Liverpool, England eight days later. Once in France she was assigned to work in Paris. Along with 49 other Signal Corps operators, she lived in the Hotel Ferres, which was called the Signal Corps House. 

Norma was in Paris at the time of the biggest air raid, which occurred on Sept. 16. But along with the terror of being attacked was the pleasure of being able to tour different parts of the country on her days off.

After five months Norma was sent to Bordeaux for an additional five months. She was there for the Peace Day celebration on June 28, 1919. After that she returned to Paris, where she spent the rest of the war. On July 4 Norma’s friend Elizabeth Shovar noted that “every one tried to see how much they could do for the Americans.” 

Elizabeth and Norma returned to the United States in August on the La Sovoie.” Norma went back to her position with the Michigan State Telephone Company.

In February of 1920 the Bell Telephone News announced the wedding of Norma to Ellis Joel Carman at the Episcopal rectory in Hillsdale. Joel had been a captain in the American Expeditionary Force in France. Norma went to Joel’s hometown of Denellen, N.J. She died in 1962.

For more information about the Hello Girls, CLICK HERE.

Lois Sprengnether Keel