Skip to main content
Select Source:

SPARS

SPARS. The Women's Reserve of the Coast Guard was created by an act of Congress signed into law on 23 November 1942. It was modeled on the one the U.S. Navy had created a few months earlier, with similar restrictions: women could not (a) serve in combat; (b) be stationed outside the continental United States; or (c) be given command authority over men.

Capt. Dorothy C. Stratton, former dean of women at Purdue University, served throughout the war as director of the Coast Guard Women's Reserve. She suggested that its official nickname—SPARS—be based on the Coast Guard motto: “Semper paratus—Always Ready.”

During World War II, the SPARS recruited about 12,000 women, including 955 officers. SPARS and female civilian employees did most of the clerical work in the Coast Guard's Washington headquarters. Other specialties gradually were opened to enlisted SPARS, who eventually held forty‐three ratings from boatswain's mate to yeoman. Twelve SPARS staffed the Chatham, Massachusetts, LORAN station, part of a highly secret electronic navigation system. In September 1944, Congress lifted the ban on stationing women outside the contiguous states; about 200 SPARS were sent to Alaska and 200 more to Hawaii.

SPARS enlisted for “duration plus six”—the length of the war plus six months. After the surrender of Japan in August 1945, the women's reserve branches of all the services were disbanded, though the label SPARS continued to be applied informally to female Coast Guardsmen. In 1956, twenty‐one women were serving in the Coast Guard Reserve. Though it continued to accept a few female recruits, the service made no further systematic effort to recruit women until the 1970s when women were admitted into all of the U.S. armed forces.
[See also Women in the Military.]

Bibliography

U.S. Coast Guard Public Information Division , The Coast Guard at War, Vol. 22: Women's Reserve, 1946 (one of a series of unpublished monographs available through the Coast Guard Historian's Office, Washington, D.C.).
Mary C. Lyne and and Kay Arthur , Three Years Behind the Mast: The Story of the United States Coast Guard SPARS, n.d.
Malcolm Willoughby , The U.S. Coast Guard in World War II, 1957.
Jeanne Holm , Women in the Military: An Unfinished Revolution, 1992.

John A. Tilley

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"SPARS." The Oxford Companion to American Military History. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Feb. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"SPARS." The Oxford Companion to American Military History. . Encyclopedia.com. (February 22, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/spars

"SPARS." The Oxford Companion to American Military History. . Retrieved February 22, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/spars

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Spars

Spars [from the motto "Semper Paratus," Lat.,=always prepared], the women's reserve of the U.S. Coast Guard, created in Nov., 1942, to release men for sea duty. Wartime enlistment reached a peak of 10,000. The service was demobilized in 1946; but it was reactivated in 1965, and women were recruited for a variety of positions.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Spars." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Feb. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Spars." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (February 22, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/spars

"Spars." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved February 22, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/spars

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.