As I’ve mentioned before, in the course of working on Sigrid Schultz’s life, I’ve made an effort to track down women whose names appear in her correspondence.* I’ve found some interesting stories in the process.
I was scanning the Chicago Tribune looking for information on a woman named Ann (or Anne) Bruyere, who was reportedly filing stories from the front for the Tribune,** when I saw a boxed notice in the middle of a list of casualties in the February 4, 1945 paper. It read:
ARMY NEEDS WOMEN Lengthening lists of wounded have intensified the army’s immediate need of women to learn to be medical technicians, the army recruiting station here has announced. Women desiring information on the army’s medical technician program were urged to call Harrision 4390
I knew women had served in many capacities in the war, in and out of the military. But I had never thought about efforts to actively recruit women for jobs outside of the military.*** But of course, Rosie the Riveter didn’t just show up at the factory door and ask for work, did she?
In fact, that small ad in the Tribune was part of a major campaign coordinated through the Office of War Information to recruit women into the wartime labor force. Posters urged women to find their war jobs. Government flyers explained the types of jobs that were available and told women how to register for them In particular, magazines aimed at women encouraged women to enter male fields that were short of workers, directly in advertisements**** and indirectly in fiction with working women as heroines. The choice of the verb “recruit” was deliberate: women’s war work was portrayed as national service—and rightly so.
* I plan to discuss the why and the therefore what of this tactic in my newsletter in coming weeks. If this sounds like the kind of thing you’re interested in, you can subscribed here: http://eepurl.com/dIft-b
**Stay tuned for more on Anne Bruyere and other lesser known women reporters in later posts.
***And yes, I realize this ad is for an army program, but it seems to be for a program other than the Women’s Army Corps (WAC).
**** Ads for jobs ran alongside ads run by corporations to encourage women to join the war effort. For example, an ad run Eureka vacuum cleaners proclaimed “You’re a Good Soldier, Mrs. America.”