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Viola Brown Sanders Collection

Identifier: WV 0323

Content Description

The collection includes an oral history transcript, 14 June 2005; various photographs of Viola during her service with the United States Navy WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service), 1943-1966; various newspaper clippings featuring Viola or military related articles, 1971, 1999-2005; letters written to Viola that honor her work and career.


  • 1943-2005

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright is retained by the creators of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information. Please see our Sensitive Materials Statement.

Biographical / Historical

Viola Brown Sanders (1921-2013) of Sidon, Mississippi, served in the United States Navy WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) from 1943 to 1966, the last four years as Director of Women in the Navy.

Viola Brown Sanders, daughter of John S. and Viola Brown Sanders, was born on February 21, 1921 in Sidon, Mississippi. She graduated from Greenwood High School and went on to attend Sunflower Junior College (now Mississippi Delta Community College) in Moorhead, Mississippi, for two years. In 1941, she received a BS in education from Delta State Teachers College (now Delta State University) in Cleveland, Mississippi, and was later chosen as the college's first outstanding alumna. She then taught grades seven to twelve in Glen Allan, Mississippi.

Sanders enlisted in the WAVES in March of 1943. She attended Officer Candidate School at Smith College in Massachusetts, and completed communications training at nearby Mount Holyoke College. On October 19, 1943, she was assigned as communications officer at Naval Air Station in New Orleans, Louisiana. She was next transferred to Naval Station Great Lakes, where she worked in recruit training. When women's recruit training was transferred to Naval Training Center, Bainbridge, Maryland, in late 1951, Sanders was assigned to set up the facilities for the women's regiment.

After completing the move, she became the regimental commander in Bainbridge, a position she held for a year. In 1953, Sanders was sent abroad to Naval Supply Depot, Yokosuka, Japan, where she served as a naval intelligence officer. She returned to the United States in 1955 as administrative officer for United States Antarctic Programs, and aided in the office of Admiral Richard E. Byrd in Washington, D.C. In 1958, she was asked to be deputy director for Winifred Quick, the Director of Women in the Navy. She later worked with the Naval Reserve at Norfolk, Virginia, for a year. She was then called back to Washington to serve as Director of Women in the Navy in 1962.

Sanders retired from the navy on August 31, 1966." After her retirement Sanders lived in Southern Pines, North Carolina, for a short time before returning to Greenwood, Mississippi, where she was very active in civic and veterans affairs. Sanders died on April 28, 2013


0.21 Linear Feet (9 folders )

Language of Materials


Metadata Rights Declarations

  • License: This record is made available under an Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International Creative Commons license.

Condition Description

The condition is good.

Offensive Language Statement

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Processing Information

Processed by Matthew McCarthy.

Viola Brown Sanders Collection
Matthew McCarthy
2023 February
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections and University Archives Repository

P.O. Box 26170
320 College Ave.
Greensboro NC 27402-6170 US