Kansan Doris Gillette wore this stewardess uniform at a time when women were still pioneers in air travel.
Doris Gillette of Herington, Kansas was hired to be a stewardess for United Air Lines in 1933. She was honored to be one of only 13 women accepted out of 1,587 applicants. Wages were good, especially since it was the Great Depression.
United Air Lines (UAL) began in 1926 as a mail express, adding commercial passengers shortly thereafter. Early commercial flights were long and sometimes uncomfortable. UAL stewardesses were required to be trained nurses and attended to the medical needs of passengers. They also served coffee and meals, made out traffic reports, provided conversation and reading material, and called attention to points of interest along the way.
The day Doris and her peers left on their first flights, an article appeared in a Kansas City, Missouri, paper complaining about the introduction of women into the air industry. The author, a pilot himself, stated that women had "mooched, argued, and horned their way into about every business in the land and on it." Despite this complaint, women continued to play a vital role in UAL and other air travel companies.
Doris wore this uniform for the year she flew with United Air Lines. During that time she remembers accompanying flights with Eleanor Roosevelt, Will Rogers, Lillian Cashman, and Katherine Hepburn. In 1934 Doris wed and gave up her job. At that time stewardesses were not allowed to be married.
Entry: Stewardess Uniform
Author: Kansas Historical Society
Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.
Date Created: June 2001
Date Modified: December 2014
The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.