Research Paper American Womens Everyday Life During World War Two.
On December 8, 1941, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the president of the United States, for the majority of World War Two, addressed Congress asking for a declaration of war, following the attack on Pearl Harbor. When the U.S. entered the war, men from all across the nation were enlisting in the various branches of the military. Yet, the nation wanted able-bodied men. With more and more able-bodied men enlisting in the military, the nation was having a hard time keeping up production. Between 1942 to 1945, American women did not just contribute materials such as weapons and ammunition for the men across the seas, making history and taking on man-power jobs for the first time, but never before in their life did war have a significant impact on American women's everyday life.
By October of 1942, owners of companies had lost over one hundred men to the armed serves. With no other option, employers began hiring women to keep production and the nation moving. Yet, women's job was the day shift. Therefore, with women being recruited into the workforce the government started recruiting women to fill the open jobs the men left behind. Using propaganda such as posters the government was trying to get women on board in doing their patriotic duty for the war. Radio programs, ads, newsreel, magazines, advertisements, and even bulletins also attracted women to join the workforce. In 1942, The War Manpower Commission released a flyer promoting women to register for war jobs. The first group called upon was single women, but with the demand of the war, more and more women we're being called. In 1943, the government called on married women to join the workforce. If it wasn't for Eleanor Roosevelt who urged women to work during the war, then a majority of women would have never have joined the union and help produce more for the war.. From April of 1940 to March of 1944, married women's number increased by two million. In 1943, The War Power Commission and the Office of War Information formed together to create a campaign targeted to attract more women in the workforce. Throughout the war, the government and many more companies created these tactics to get women out of the kitchen and into the workforce.
World War ll May have bought a number of married women into the workforce, but this was not the first time, where women worked. Before the war, women had always been working, however, it was mainly the lower class. Unlike the war, where it provided women with new job opportunities, women were limited to what specific work they could obtain and do. Therefore, some of the jobs included waitress, secretaries, nurses, factory work, and even working in department stores. Ruth Wolf, a former foundry worker, and furnace operator worked in the pottery trade before the war. She states that it was only women's work, and the pay was not excellent. Moreover, when women got married they often quit their job to became a housewife and to raise a family. Society in the 1940s considered married women to be in the house raising a family and taking care of the needs of the house. This war saw for the first time women working in manpower jobs. Moreover, it was also during this time that women proved themselves of what they were capable of doing. Surprisingly, many of these women took new jobs for multiple reasons including, needing a job, or for the patriotic duty of the war. In 1944, Mcall issued an article on women joining the workforce. No matter the reason, women joined the workforce at an alarming rate.
In October of 1942, Franklin Delano Roosevelt addressed the nation on his fireside chat regarding the home front in Washington D.C. The chat entitled, "On the Home Front," discusses the nation after one year at war. In this chat, Roosevelt addresses the nation of what he witnessed while he was on a two-week trip across the United States. Roosevelt reassuring the nation that if we want to win to this war, than the nation has to be one where everybody does their part for the war. After witnesses the nation's contribution towards the war while on his trip, he was amazed by the number of women working and the amount of work they had done already. Roosevelt is not just ensuring the nation, but calling on more women to join the work force.
The icon symbol throughout the war was, "Rosie the Riveter." A symbol that spoke to women, and to look upon, intending that women can do it no matter the obstacle. In 1943, the fictional character Rosie the Riveter appeared for the first time in a song by the Four Vagabonds. The song would be inspired by a women of the name Rosalind P. Walter, who recently passed away in March of 2020. May 29,1943, marked the day and year when Norman Rockwell's fictional character Rosie the Riveter appeared on the cover of Saturday Evening Post. This famous picture represents Rosie standing in front of an American flag, eating her lunch with a foot on Hitler's book mien Kampf. That same year, she appeared again, when J. Howard Miller painted the famous picture of Rosie for the Office of War Information. This is the most famous picture of Rosie. The picture displays Rosie flexing her arm under the slogan, "We Can Do It." Many women became the inspiration for Rosie, but it was Naomi Parker who was the original Rosie the riveter and inspired the famous picture of Rosie. Rosie became an inspiration for many women to take on jobs never before seen, including the future actress, Marilyn Monroe, who at the time was working in an aircraft factory and went by the name of Norma Jean Baker. Without Rosie, the United States would never have been able to gain an aptitude amount of women.
A married American women's main job in the 1940s was being a homemaker. That meant that she was responsible for the shopping, cleaning, cooking, taking care of the household, and raising a family In 1941, Life magazine published an article depicting an American housewife before the war. The article stated that an average American housewife was white, part of the middle class, and her main responsibility was taking care of the household. Therefore, it was the husband who was the breadwinner supporting the family by working and bringing in money.
Women who worked in factories worked as riveters, welders, and machine workers. Some of those included building tanks, planes, ships, and cars. Women not only work on machinery but, sewed parachutes and produced ammunition. Yet, women not only worked in factories, but also drove trucks, buses, became police officers, working on the farm, played baseball, and even worked in communication. Women also volunteered at blood drives, did sewing for men across the seas, stood a rationing table, even planted victory gardens, and did their part by recycling. War-related work was not the only work women held. Some also entered government service and office work, previously reversed for men. A majority of women who took jobs in the factories took training classes before stepping foot in the factories, as many women never before stepped forth in a factory, and did not have the skills to operate the machine. Overall women completed the class, join the workforce and produce weapons, and equipment at an alarming rate.
Having a child during the war became an extremely difficult task. Mothers took care of their children, and usually had someone to lend on in raising their child, including neighbors and friends. Sometimes children were even taken care of by older siblings. The emergence of childcare developed during the war. However, nursery had been around, since the Depression. Never before had anything like childcare existed. In 1942, Congress passed the Lanham Act. This act allowed the government to fund established childcare centers in communities affected by war production. Yet, it was only for the duration of the war. The creation of these centers emerged when married women with children's call came to join the workforce, and needed help with raising children. During the war women did not like this idea, given the fact that mothers did not want to leave their children alone with strangers in raising their children, thus making it a challenge for some women to find someone to look after their children. Many also found it a challenge with the cost of child care. Teachers and volunteers supervised the centers. In Baltimore, they had a Record Group eight-hour center, but only for preschoolers, and an after-school program for children. In New Jersey, some school systems provided child care services while the mother was at work. This system also provided breakfast and dinner for children in case the mother had to work late. Portland Oregon's shipyard Kaiser Shipyard established a day-care center for mothers employed in the shipyard. Surprisingly, there were three types of childcare services including workplace services for the children while the mothers worked, church-sponsored community, and state-funded centers. This caused some women to quit their jobs to raise their children. Moreover, when the war ended, these funded centers dissolved, and society went back to the way it was before where children were again raised by their mothers. Many women rejoice, when the center closed, knowing that it would never work out, while some went on strike to protest the closure.
Managing the household became an extremely difficult job during the war. Cleaning and managing the household was an all-day job. Many women in the 1940s, had no washing machines, dryers, or even vacuum cleaners. Many had to do ironing and washing clothes by hand and still had to clean the house. Soap an essential became scarce where women had a hard time locating it. Finding clothing, diapers, and even toys became hard to come across. Food became a challenge for many mothers as some had to spend long hours waiting in line to acquire small amounts of food, such as coffee, sugar, and eggs. With their husbands off fighting in the war running the household was a second job. Edith Sokol quotes "Since I have taken on this new job, it seems I haven't got a minute to myself." "The house was absolutely, positively the dirtiest, filthiest place I have ever been in." Transportation was another issue, given the fact that gas was ration and many women had a hard time getting from place to place.
Men were afraid that women were taking away the jobs from them. During the war, the Local 119, refused even to hire women quoting that "women are too hazardous for them." In 1943, a newspaper article released a section on steps and advice on how to deal with hiring women in the workplace. Women also faced the issue with wages in how men would get higher wages and paychecks than women. Consequently, since this was the first time where women are working, separated bathrooms did not even exist. Not surprisingly, working women also had to be careful in their appearance. A short film released displays the dangers of women working with machinery, and what women should be advised to wear for safety. Clothing became another issue. This was the first time in history where women were seen wearing pants, instead of dresses or skirts.
Never before in history have a women's group relating to the army existed. Other than working in factories, women also joined the military. Some of these groups included the W.A.C. and the W.A.S.P. In March of 1942, Congress passed the bill that gave women assess to partial military status. The group W.A.C was found by a Congresswoman of the name Edith Nourse Rogers, when she introduced a bill to Congress in May of 1941, in which she was calling for the creation of all-volunteer women's corps in the Army. In June of 1943, the Women's Auxiliary Army Corps became the Women's Army Corps or W.A.C. Women who joined the W.A.Cs had certain expectations to follow. They were not allowed to be married, or have children and were required to be at least twenty years old The other group was the W.A.S.P. This group consisted of women who could fly and had pilot licenses. Similar to the other group, this group was also founded by a woman of the name
African American women played a significant role during the war. At the time segregation was still taking place. Before the war broke out, the only job available to African American women was domestic work. However, it would not be until the end of the war that African American women would be hired. Throughout the war, the government was recruiting white women to go to work, given the circumstances that the posters throughout the nation only displayed white American women. Many were being discriminated against and even refused to be hired. In 1941, Franklin Roosevelt issued Executive Order 8802, which established the Fair Employment Practices Commission that outlawed discrimination in the defense industries because of race, color, or origin. Similar to what white American women did, they also took training class, but after completing the course, found it harder to find a job.
As the war was winding, many women were being laid off, so the men coming home, would have a job. Before the war was over the government was recruiting pictures of women returning to their traditional roles. One example is a woman kindly giving up her job, so, the men returning home can have a job. However, once the war ended and the men had returned home, women who were laid off and found it extremely difficult finding other industrial jobs. Gladys Belcher quotes "if you was a man, we'd hire you, but we can't hire you, you're a woman." Some jobs that women could get was a waitress, for a majority of women a housewife or back to their traditional roles prior to the war. Many women fought to keep the jobs they acquired during the war but were unsuccessful. No matter what, the war had given women a new perspective on life and how to support themselves.
Never before had a war such as World War Two, impact American women, in such away. Their lives were affected to an extreme. Systems like childcare emerge for the first time, as well as women holding down two jobs, war and homemaking. The war showed the world that women are capable of doing a man's job. With the war came the creation of the women's army, and their contribution to the war, while the men fought overseas. Through the war showed the world the work women can do, it not change their gender norms, but alert in the generation known as the baby boomers, and gave a new perspective on women, following the war. I came across a website called Homeworkfor.me. I was surprised to find there many topics for exemplification essay. No need to pay to read them.
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Tori Layne Bridges.