Golden 14

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Golden 14

The Golden 14 were a group of Black women who were the first to serve as Yeomen (F) in the United States Navy. The (F) indicated that they were female. They were also referred to as Yeowomen and Yeomenettes and they performed administrative duties rather than the more usual nursing or mess duties. Once the United States entered the Great War, later to be known as World War I, there was a great influx of new soldiers and these women served under John T. Risher, a Black seaman, in the Mustering Personnel Division, tasked with monitoring and tracking all these new seamen. Their nickname is a nod to the Golden 13, the first Black Navy Officers, but they did not come until World War II.

Their uniform consisted of a shirt-waist, a skirt, and a coat all in either Navy blue or white. They wore stockings and shoes that were either light or dark, depending on which uniform they were wearing. Also part of the uniform were dark blue neckerchiefs and white cotton gloves. In the winter, they wore military-issue capes and in all seasons, they work a straight-brim sailor hat with a ribbon that read, "United States Naval Reserve Forces." Their enlistment was for a period of four years. It is known that white yeowomen earned the same pay as their male counterparts, but it is not known if this held true for black yeowomen. After the war many yeowomen chose to continue their service with the Navy as a civilian. In this group, Sarah (Davis) Taylor worked as a clerk for the Navy Department for 23 years. She was also influential in civil rights circles. Ruth Wellborn went on to be the grandmother of Ron Brown - President Clinton's Secretary of Commerce. Please help determine what happened to the remaining yeowomen.

The name in bold is not necessarily the LNAB - it is the name they served under. In the case of Ruth Osborne, her LNAB was Welbourne, but she served under Davis and then married while in service to Osborne. Armelda H. Greene [Vawter] was the sister-in-law of John T. Risher, the black chief of the muster roll section.

Name Dates Home State Profile? Connected?
Armelda Hattie (Greene) Vawter12 Aug 1889 - 19 Feb 1966MSYesYes
Kathryn Eugenia (Finch) Boyd4 Nov 1890 - 24 Aug 1934MSYesYes
Pocohontas A. Jackson20 Dec 1890 - 6 Oct 1965MSYesNo
Fannie A. (Foote) Ward16 May 1897 - 14 Nov 1962TXYesNo
Ruth (Wellborne) (Davis) Osborne6 Aug 1899 - 31 May 1952DCYesYes
Olga F. (Jones) Earle15 Dec 1899 - 6 Sep 1971DCYesYes
Sarah (Davis) TaylorMar 1898 - 1 Sep 1990MDYesYes
Sarah E. Howard1891 - ? MSYesNo
Marie Etta Dories[ Mitchell] Brown 1898 - 1962DCYesNo
Anna G. Smallwood Johnson7 Jan 1886 - 3 Dec 1952DCYesYes
Maud Captola (Pigford) Queen13 Jun 1888 - 4 Apr 1957TXYesYes
Carol E. Washington27 Dec 1895- ?MSYesNo
Joseph "Josie" Bomar Washington10 Oct 1890 - 3 Jun 1946MSYesYes
Inez B. (McIntosh) Jackson28 May 1897 - 11 Sep 1935MSYesNo

Yeowomen; Employees of Navy Department, Washinton, D.C.
(Photo credit: "Kelly Miller's History of the World War for Human Rights" [1919])

A few of the women in this photo have been identified by John T. Risher's son.

Front - 2nd from left is "Josie" Washington
Front - 2nd from right is Armelda Greene
Back - 3rd from left is Catherine Finch
Back - 3rd from right is Sarah Davis


  • Miller, Kelly. Kelly Miller's History of the World War for Human Rights, Washington, D.C. and Chicago, Illinois : Austin Jenkins Co., 1919; digital images, Internet Archive ( : accessed 27 April 2021). View
  • Lebonick, Cara Moore. "Mustering Out: the Navy's First Black Yeowomen," Rediscovering Black History, blogpost, National Archives ( : accessed 26 April 2021)
  • Lee, Shaune. "Women at War: The Navy's First African American Yeomanettes," Boundary Stones, blogpost, WETA ( : accessed 27 April 2021). View Blog

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