During the First World War (also known as the Great War), the United States military decided to utilize the technology of the telephone to assist with carrying out war operations for the first time ever. However, they needed skilled telephone operators to work the switchboards. Back then, placing a call required more mechanical operation than electrical operation. Grace Banker worked for AT&T as a trainer of telephone operators, and in 1917, she joined other women in the Signal Corps of the United States Army on the front lines in France. She became the chief operator over a team of 32 other operators. She was just 25 years old.
Grace Banker and the Hello Girls Answer the Call, written by Claudia Friddell and illustrated by Elizabeth Baddeley, captures the tension of air raids and the dedication of the operators when their barracks caught fire.