American Women in World War II

Authored by: Kara Dixon Vuic

The Routledge Handbook of American Military and Diplomatic History

Print publication date:  June  2013
Online publication date:  August  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415888479
eBook ISBN: 9781135070991
Adobe ISBN: 9781135071028


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Before Norman Rockwell gave Rosie the Riveter a face on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post, a hit 1942 song told Americans who she was. Wielding her riveting machine and keeping “a sharp look out for sabotage,” Rosie proved that she could “do more than a male could do,” even if she was “smeared full of oil and grease.” “That little girl” who was “making history, working for victory” quickly became the most popular symbol of women during World War II. 1 Not all women riveted as Rosie did, of course, and indeed not all women worked in defense industries. Many volunteered their efforts in civic organizations, while others performed a variety of functions that were less frequently the subject of wartime media. Hundreds of thousands of women left home to join the military’s new women’s corps or the well-established nursing corps. Whatever their wartime experience, women everywhere found their lives radically changed.

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