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  • Georgia's Women During World War II

    Three Georgia women performed very different jobs during World War II and represent the various roles of women in wartime. Pat Barrett of Norcross, worked at Bell Aircraft Company in Marietta--a true Rosie the Riveter. Creola Barnes Belton of St. Simons Island became a domestic worker in order to attend nursing school, eventually becoming an Army nurse. Helen Kogel Denton of Riverdale joined the Women’s Army Corps and found herself stationed in London and working for Gen. Dwight Eisenhower.

    Support Materials

    Discuss

    1. How did World War II make a difference in the employment of black Americans?

    2. Discuss the prevailing attitudes about women’s “place” in society at this time and following the war.

    3. Find a picture of Norman Rockwell’s “Rosie the Riveter” or J. Howard Miller’s “We Can Do It.” (Most have mistaken Miller’s painting as Rosie, but Rockwell named his painting, “Rosie the Riveter” and is the true Rosie.) Explain why posters such as these were prominent during World War II. Give reasons why women would be promoted this way at this time.  

    Expansion

    1. Discuss why women had to be encouraged to go to work during the war. Discuss what would be different for them after the war ended and soldiers returned home.

    2. Research the historical facts about how the name “Rosie the Riveter” came to represent the women who worked for the war effort during WWII. Report on “Rosie” including the picture painted by Norman Rockwell in 1943.

    Vocabulary

    Rosie the Riveter: a symbol (painted by Norman Rockwell in 1943) of the six million women who went to work, sometimes for the first time in factories and other places for the war effort during World War II
    WAC (Women’s Army Corps): the first women (numbering 150,000) other than nurses to serve in the armed forces of the U.S.
    V-mail (Victory Mail): a system of delivering mail during WWII; letters were reduced in size so that most of the cargo hold of a plane could carry war supplies; 2500 lbs. could be reduced to only 45 lbs.; reduced the time between mail deliveries
    D-Day: June 6, 1944, the day the Allies invaded the beaches of Normandy, France, breaking the grip of the Nazis on Europe

    For Teachers

    Discussion Guide

    1. How did World War II make a difference in the employment of black Americans?
    Because there were so many jobs that needed workers, black American women who had expertise in specialized fields such as nursing and other technical fields would be hired along with white women. The armed forces did not make a distinction between white and black soldiers, except that they were housed in segregated barracks.

    2. Discuss the prevailing attitudes about women’s “place” in society at this time and following the war.
    It was the accepted attitude of the time that women were to stay at home, raise families, and support their husbands. They were not to work outside the home, unless it was the only way the family could function (death or illness of husband, divorce, etc.) Following the war, most of the women were glad to give back their jobs to the men who had held them before the war. However, some women were glad they could earn extra money this way and continued to work.

    3. Find a picture of Norman Rockwell’s “Rosie the Riveter” or J. Howard Miller’s “We Can Do It.” (Most have mistaken Miller’s painting as Rosie, but Rockwell named his painting, “Rosie the Riveter” and is the true Rosie.) Explain why posters such as these were prominent during World War II. Give reasons why women would be promoted this way at this time. 
    Because so many of the men were needed as soldiers, women were hired to do the work men had been doing in the factories. When they found that women could do this work well, it was advertised and promoted through radio ads and posters, popular communications of the 1940s. It was very unusual for women to work in these male-dominated jobs, but they were needed and stepped up to help their country.  

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