World War II opened a new chapter in the lives of Depression-weary Americans. The United States of America had an unusual importance in the war, it had been spared the physical destruction that had taken place throughout the world. Americans on the home front did not see the fighting and brutality as other countries experienced it. However, the events and changes on the home front due to the World War transformed America. One of the greatest conversions was that of the American woman. Women around the country were transformed from the average house wife into a person with a voice and most importantly a purpose.
For the first time women were working in the industries of America. As husbands and fathers, sons and brothers shipped out to fight in Europe and the Pacific, millions of women marched into factories, offices, and military bases to work in paying jobs and in roles reserved for men in peacetime. Women were making a living that was not comparable to anything they had seen before. They were dependent on themselves; for once they could support the household. Most of the work in industry was related to the war, such as radios for airplanes and shells for guns. Peggy Terry, a young woman who worked at a shell-loading plant in Kentucky, tells of the money that was to be made from industrial work (108). “We made a fabulous sum of thirty-two dollars a week. To us that was an absolute miracle. Before that, we made nothing (108)." Sarah Killingsworth worked in a defense plant. " All I wanted to do was get in the factory, because they were payin more than what I'd been makin. Which was forty dollars a week, which was pretty good considering I'd been makin about twenty dollars a week. When I left Tennessee I was only makin two-fifty a week, so that was quite a jump (114)." Terry had never been able to provide for herself as she was able to during the war. " Now we'd have money to buy shoes and a dress and pay rent and get some food on the table. We were just happy to have work (108).” These women exemplify the turn around from the peacetime to wartime atmosphere on the home front. The depression had repressed them to poverty like living conditions. The war had enabled them to have what would be luxury as compared to life before.
As women began to enter the male work force and achieve pride and an income, they became oblivious to the war...
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...he was not on the home front, she was a WAC officer. Never before this time had women been given the chance to help defend this country as much as during WWII, non the less a black woman. It was a major break through. The help that Fraser provided towards the war cause enabled her to achieve the GI Bill. She used it in her full advantage (128). “I used part of the GI Bill to go to Northwestern and then full time to Roosevelt U. (128).”
Never before this time had women across the country been given the chance to express themselves and hold responsibilities outside their own households. They felt that they were needed and enjoyed their ability to contribute to the war effort. They were given opportunities to prove to the male society that they could be independent and financially secure on their own. These new opportunities were not only for the white women of the population but also the blacks. World War Two acted as a catalyst for change for the women of the United States. Many feel that it was the beginning of a whole new era for the Women of America.
Terkel, Studs. "The Good War": an Oral History of World War Two. New York: Pantheon, 1984. Print.
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