Context: This image is from 1943 and depicts five women working in the engine room onboard the USS Nereus.
Icebreaker Prompt: Analyze this image and write down three things that surprise you about this image. Why are these things surprising? Discuss what stood out to you with a partner.
Response: One thing that surprises me is that these women are wearing pants and overalls because during this time period women typically wore dresses. Another thing that surprised me is that there is a Black woman working on the same crew as four white women. This stood out to me because this photo was taken prior to the Civil Rights movement and segregation was still very common. Finally, I noticed that these women are doing mechanic work that would normally be considered a “man’s job” during these era. These anomalies lead me to conclude that the necessity of the war was greater than social norms and as a result women of various backgrounds had access to opportunities and spaces that they would normally have been denied if the men had not been at war.
Context: This cartoon is from 1943, the caption at the bottom reads “It’s either that, or time off until a day nursery is organzied!”
Icebreaker Prompt: After looking at this cartoon, brainstorm a list of questions. Rank them in order of interest, with (1) being the question you are most interested in knowing the answer to.
Response: Was the policy on absenteeism unfair to low-income female workers that could not afford childcare? Did female workers organize themselves into any sort of union to make demands such as having a day nursery? What kind of quotas were in place in these jobs – was there punishment or reward for not meeting or exceeding quotas? Were these job sites a dangerous environment for children? Did all female workforces during the war have male leadership/management?
Context: This photo depicts a WWII female Ambulance Transport Corps completing training in San Diego, California.
Icebreaker Prompt: After looking at the image, what do you think the people in this photograph are thinking or saying?
Response: Officer: “They’re stronger than I thought they would be……” Man in Stretcher: “This isn’t the worst task I’ve volunteered for” Women Carrying Stretcher: “This would be a lot easier if I wasn’t in a skirt”