This month, The Great Republic is showcasing our extensive inventory of World War II memorabilia and antiques. In addition to our August catalog of WWII items, released earlier this week, our upcoming blogs will delve into the rich stories and histories told by these original WWII items.
On December 7, 1941, following the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, the United States declared war on Japan. Three days later, after Germany and Italy declared war on the United States, we became fully engaged in the Second World War. As American men left their jobs for the front lines, the United States was faced with massive labor shortages. Women were needed in the defense industries, the civilian service, and even the Armed Forces.
Despite the continuing 20th century trend of women entering the workforce, publicity campaigns during WWII were aimed at those women who had never before held jobs and women who had never worked outside of the clerical, office settings. Poster and film images glorified and glamorized the new roles of working women. Whether fulfilling their duty in the factory, office, or battlefield, women were portrayed as attractive, confident, and resolved to do their part to win the war.
More than six million women took wartime jobs in factories, three million volunteered with the Red Cross, and over 200,000 served in the military. General Eisenhower felt that he could not win the war without the aid of the women in uniform: “the contribution of the women of America, whether on the farm or in the factory or in uniform, to D-Day was a sine qua non of the invasion effort (Ambrose, D-Day, 489).
Women were also featured in War Bond propaganda. With many men serving overseas, women took charge of their family finances, as well as their own, for the first time. War bond posters encouraged women to contribute a portion of their new pay to the war effort, and depicted women writing checks, holding pocketbooks, and buying war stamps booklets.
These original posters tell the collective story of so many patriotic women who answered their country's call to action, when it was needed the most.