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Traffic Cop: 1918

Washington, D.C., circa 1918. "Mrs. L.O. King, traffic cop." Badge 432, where are you? Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative. View full size.

Washington, D.C., circa 1918. "Mrs. L.O. King, traffic cop." Badge 432, where are you? Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative. View full size.


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How amazing!

I'm really surprised to see a woman cop in 1918. Very different from my country.

I've seen her before...

I think she entertained at my bachelor party.

Lovely Rita....

With the cap, she looked much older; and the strap across her shoulder, made her look a little like a military man......

Hem & Her

It was 1918 after all. Hems had been on the rise since about 1911.


Is an optical effect or she has a "Barbie" waist?

Beautiful uniform

I think that she is wearing a beautifully tailored uniform. Much better than the stretch polyester slacks they have women officers wearing today. Look at how well the jacket fits too.

Shoot To KIll

They would have been better off with Shorpy's old friend, NYC Detective Mary Agnes Shanley. She would have shot the errant motorist.

Leola's heater

I'm sure it's wrong of me to be thrilled that she was allowed to handle a firearm in her job. Officer King showed considerable restraint in not shooting the guy who hit her. Or, at least his tires.

You put your left foot in,

You put your left arm out,
You put your left foot in
Then you turn yourself about...

Nation's First Female Traffic Cop

Alas, It was a mere two weeks until a man ignored Officer King's directives resulting in her personal injury. No word on whether King returned to the traffic division after her recovery.

Washington Post, Nov 2, 1918

First of Women Traffic Officers

Mrs. L.N. King Takes up Duty at Seventh and K St. N.W.

Mrs. Leola N. King, wife of Capt. E. H. King, United States medical corps, became Washington's first woman traffic officer yesterday, and assumed her duties at the corner of Seventh and K streets northwest. Washington is the first city in the United states to have a woman traffic officer. There are many policewomen in the District, but most of them are employed to look after the welfare of children and young girls.

Not only is Mrs. King the first woman traffic officer, but she is also the first woman to be assigned to a precinct. Yesterday morning she was transferred from police headquarters to Capt. Flather, of the first precinct. Maj. Pullman says that Mrs. King has been placed on the traffic squad as an experiment. The superintendent wants to determine whether it is feasible to have women to replace several male members of the force who have entered the military service.

Washington Post, Nov 17, 1918

Truck Injures Policewoman

Mrs. L.N. King, Traffic Officer, Sustains Minor Wounds.

Mrs. Leola N. King, Washington's only traffic policewoman, was knocked down by a heavy automobile truck early last night while attempting to stop the driver for violating the regulations. She was taken to the George Washington Hospital, but her injuries are not serious, consisting only of a scalp wound and some bruises.

William J. Hines, 26 years old, a farmer living at Olney, Montgomery county, Md., was was driving the truck, was arrested. Riding with him were Mrs. G.H. Jones and her sister, who live near Rockville, Md., and had come to Washington to shop. Hines and the two woman say they did not know that Mrs. King had been struck by the truck.

Hines, who had brought his father's truck to Washington for some furniture, was returning home, going north on Seventh street, when Mrs. King signaled him to stop, it being claimed that he was on the wrong side of the street. He swerved the machine westward, and the rear fender struck her on the thigh, throwing her to the pavement.

Eyewitnesses questioned by the police say that Hines continued to drive his machine westward after Mrs. King, who was blowing her police whistle, was knocked down. He stopped a short distance away, however, an professed ignorance of any accident, after he was arrested.

Mrs. King is the wife of Capt. E. H. King, of the army medical corps, and the innovation of her appearance as a traffic officer attracted much attention several weeks ago. Maj. Pullman, chief of police, has praised her efficiency and fearlessness.

Anything Goes

I am surprised at the hemline.

In olden days,
A glimpse of stocking
Was looked upon
As something shocking.
Now, heaven knows,
Anything goes

Admittedly every inch of her exposed limbs are covered by leggings and boots. But this flapper length uniform way predates that era. Just look at the skirts in the background, on the women waiting to cross.


"And then if you'll look to your right, ladies and gentlemen, you'll see more examples of traffic ... "

Uniformed Women

Could you direct me to your house?


I'm imagining standing all day on pavement in those shoes. My feet hurt just thinking about it!

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