1935 Mussolini invades Ethiopia;

1937 Japan invades China;

1938 Hitler invades Austria, Czechoslovakia 

1939 Germany, Italy & Japan -Axis alliance;

Hitler invades Poland; 

Britain & France declare war on Germany; 

spring 1940 German forces swept through Denmark, Norway, Belgium & Netherlands;

June, 1940 Germans swept into Paris;

bomb attacks on London;

Churchill, "We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas & oceans, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight in the fields, we shall never surrender."

June, 1941 Germans invade USSR;


June, 1940 Congress tripled budget War Dept

- nation's first peacetime draft;

FDR called US an "arsenal of democracy"; 

1941, US & Japan holding talks;

December 7, 1941 Pearl Harbor -

sank or crippled 3 cruisers & 8 battleships, killing 2400 soldiers & sailors, destroyed almost all planes;

Dec. 8 US declared war on Japan -

Germany & Italy then declare war on US.




1944 producing 96,000 planes per year – country’s biggest industry;

1940 12 million American women at work - 1945 19 million.

6 million women employed in war work,

almost 2 million in heavy industry;

"Rosie the Riveter" -

"the hand that rocks the cradle can also run a drill press."

Posters: "Victory is in Your hands," "Shopgirl Attacks Nazis," 

"War Workers Stay Womanly" 

"My brother went into the army & now I feel that I'm in the fight too." 

Eleanor  Roosevelt & Katherine Hepburn - government film "Women in Defense";

1941 3% vocational classes (non home-ec) female - 1942 women 30%.

48 hour workweek with overtime - up to 70 hour week.

Supervisors, "Many young men came to work with notions about plane-building being a romantic business, but after working at a machine that trims tiny pieces of metal, they are disappointed.  Women are more realistic.  After men have mastered a single operation they usually want to move on, but women are satisfied to stick to one job & learn to do it better, & will continue long after the men quit."

"Ages of sewing & knitting have conditioned women to monotony.  Their finger dexterity has proved superior to men & they have more patience." 

Lockheed - two African-American women with one year experience set record for riveting speed;

discrimination & sexual harassment;

dangerous - several dozen women killed in arms factory explosions;

women navy yard workers told, be "feminine & ladylike, though you are filling a man's shoes." 

Boeing - special clothing, makeup & personality classes for women to maintain "FQ" (femininity quotient);

"At day's end, her hands may be bruised, there's grease under her nails, but when she checks in next morning at 6:30 a.m., her hands will be smooth, her nails polished, makeup and curls in order, for Marguerite is not drudge but the heroine of a new order."

1943 ad in Saturday Evening Post: “She’s 5 feet 1 from her 4A slippers to her spun-gold hair.  She loves flower-hats, veils, smooth orchestras – and being kissed by a boy who’s in North Africa.  But man, oh man, how she can handle her huge and heavy drill press!”

Veronica Lake;


1943 Woman's Home Companion, "Give back the Jobs";

end of war, 2/3rds said wanted to stay;

veterans wanted wife whose "specialty must be homemaking", 3 or more kids.

"campaign to glorify the American homemaker.  We will have to sell them on the idea of the home, just as we sold them the idea of going into war work."



350,000 women joined various branches of military;

Army & Navy nurses -

marched through Africa & Europe, D-day invasion;

in prison camps;

War Dept refused to commission women doctors until 1943;

Surgeon General later testified that women doctors had "built up enviable records of exceptionally high professional standards - women have demonstrated their skill in the face of considerable prejudice."


1942 Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) (later Women's Army Corps WAC)

6000 women in aircraft spotting stations;

Congress - "Take women into the armed services in any appreciable number, who then will manage the home fires, do the cooking, washing and other humble tasks?" 

NY Congressman: "the silliest piece of legislation that has ever come before my notice - a woman's army to defend the US - think of the humiliation.  What has become of the manhood of America, that we have to call on our women to do what has ever been the duty of men?  The thing is so revolting to me that I cannot discuss it." 

Representative Edith Rogers;

Over 13,000 women applied for 450 slots;

Fort Des Moines,

Supervisor, "In all the years I've been in, I never saw a bunch of men rookies that caught on so quick.  You can't make the women complain."

master's degrees - 52 hour-week training;

serving in 401 out of Army's 625 occupational categories;

working at over 225 Army posts around world;


Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES) -

doubts whether women could "master charts, procedures, meteorological and radio skills"

college degree

extra training in aeronautical engineering;

aviation machinists, metalsmiths, instrument workers, flight & gunnery instructors.

"A woman taught me to walk, why shouldn't a woman teach me to fly."

Eisenhower , "From the day they first reached us, their reputation as an efficient, effective corps continued to grow."

Later, Marines & Coast Guard;


1930s, War Dept said women "too high strung for wartime flying".

Nancy Love -

1942 Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (WAFS);

needed 500 hours flying time & cross-country experience;

Jacqueline Cochran (5 national & international speed records);

Women's Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) -

200 hours flying time

WAFS & WASPS merged 1943.  


"stepped up version of the 9-month course developed for male aviation cadets"

ferrying planes, flight testing, target towing;

25,000 applications, only able to take 1800

flew over 60 million miles, every kind of plane;

1944 Cochran tried to get full military rights;

Cochran, "the WASPS should get military status or be washed out altogether";

1944 program cancelled;

37 WASPS died in program;

veterans' recognition 1970s.


340 major-league players & over 3,000 minor-leaguers enlisted or drafted;

Chicago Cubs owner Philip Wrigley;

1943 All-American Girls Baseball league;

more than 40,000 women playing semi-pro softball in small towns nationwide;

four teams (Kenosha & Racine, Wisc; South Bend, Ind. & Rockford, IL) -

more than 100-game schedule;

500 women opportunity to play pro baseball;

“like a dream… to get paid for doing something you liked so well.”

1948 ten teams in medium-size Midwest cities, almost one million fans;


combination of masculine talent & feminine beauty, “the highest ideals of womanhood”;

“amazing spectacle of beskirted girls throwing, catching, hitting & running like men.”

“Femininity is the keynote of our league. No pants-wearing, tough-talking female softballer will play on any of our teams.”

Helena Rubenstein “charm school”;

$50 fine for appearing “unkempt”, fired for smoking or drinking or hair too short;

Saturday Evening Post, “Femininity to be Featured in New Sport Unit”;

“Tomboy Tactics Out of Bounds.”

“nice girls” - ”no freaks or Amazons”

League lasted to 1954;