Women’s History Month: American Battle Monuments Commission first two female commissioners Josephine L. Bentley and Cora W. Baker

The American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) commemorates this Women’s History Month by celebrating its first two female commissioners. ABMC welcomed its first female commissioner, Josephine L. Bentley, at its creation in 1923. She was selected to represent Gold Star Mothers; her son, Paul C. Bentley, lost his life while serving as an ambulance driver with the American Field Service in World War I. He is buried at Oise-Aisne American Cemetery (Plot B, Row 12, Grave 2).

The second woman to become an ABMC commissioner was Cora W. Baker. She replaced Commissioner Bentley in 1929. She designed the battle map at the original Brest Monument as well as the artistic map of World War I sites that is displayed in the conference room at ABMC headquarters in Washington D.C. She also appears in the video of the dedication of the Tours Monument where she made the principal address:

The ABMC’s mission is to honor the service of the U.S. Armed Forces by creating and maintaining memorial sites, commemorating their service and sacrifice, and facilitating the education of their legacy to future generations. ABMC was founded in 1923 following World War I, and its 26 cemeteries and 32 monuments honor the service men and women who fought and perished during World War I, World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, as well as some who fought during the Mexican-American War. The contributions of women like its first two commissioners and all of those who have served with ABMC over the last 100 years, continue to move the agency and its mission forward.

Josephine L. Bentley in front of her son's temporary headstone


Headstone of Paul Cody Bentley at Oise-Aisne American Cemetery

Sources: Historical Services,, ABMC Archives, "American Honors Her Heroes" film.