The first wave for the feminist movement in the 20th century was between the 1920s and the 1940s and my mother, Nan M. Everhart, of Maryland made her own mark on the female activism. She grew as a young girl, knowing she and her mother now had the right to vote in any election. Nan secured a good college education, insisted on by her parents. Her father continued to provide confidence to his daughter by giving her the belief she could achieve anything she set her mind to.
Nan set her sights on medical academic courses and later switched to law. In her classes at the law college, she was the only woman, but she continued in spite of the negative comments by other male students and professors.
After graduation, her father encouraged her to serve the state of Maryland by running for a state legislative seat in the fall elections of 1938. In a field of four Republican candidates, she came in 3rd, but did set the bar as the first woman to run for a state seat in Maryland. With the law degree in hand, she applied to the Federal Bureau of Investigation to become a FBI agent. She had all the qualifications, a degree and she knew how to handle a gun, but had to run into the ‘brick wall attitude’ of the FBI head, J. Edgar Hoover. His reply to her application, “No way was he having a female agent in his Bureau.”
With America’s entrance into World War II and the creation of the Women’s Army Corp., this really offered Nan the opportunity to prove she was just as capable as any male. She became a Second Lieutenant and served as an information gatherer, a precursor to an CIA agent. As a First Lieutenant as her military assignments took her across the United States and into Europe, including serving as a lawyer during portions of the Nuremberg Trials in Germany. Her rank rose to Captain (the first such rank for a woman in Maryland) in the Women’s Army Corp. Reserve by 1948.
The end of the 1940s and back in the United States, Nan met my father, a Captain in the US Air Force and she was ready to start a family. However, during the 1950s, she was a stay at home Mom for only ten years before she was back in the work force, this time as a college admissions director in Miami. She had two daughters and two sons, and showed us with her ‘can do attitude‘, especially the girls, that nothing was out of our reach and we could achieve anything we set our sights on.
Photo: Lt. Nan M. Everhart, WAC – 1943< Return To Blog