When the U.S. entered World War II, women joined the war effort with as much gusto as men. Although often limited to duties that kept them off the front lines, unlike the Soviet Union, women contributed in a variety of ways on the home front or behind the front lines. Women in World War II performed a diverse range of jobs such as mechanics, pilots, nurses, journalists, farmers, and factory workers. In order to contribute they joined an alphabet soup of organizations. The WACs (U.S. Army), WAVES (U.S. Navy), WASPs (U.S. Army Air Forces), U.S. Marine Corps Women’s Reserve, SPARS (U.S. Coast Guard), the Victory Corps, and the Crops Corps were all ways for women to contribute to the war effort. This photo slideshow, while by no means comprehensive, is an effort during Women’s History Month to highlight their often unsung performance during World War II.
Women in World War II | Photos
Two women conduct marksmanship training at Roosevelt High School, Los Angeles, Calif., circa August 1942. The Victory Corps taught marksmanship to encourage girls to be proficient in handling firearms. National Archives photo U.S. Marine Corps Women's Reservists observe a demonstration by a Marine Corps flamethrower team, Camp Lejeune, N.C. U.S. Marine Corps photo Privates Neta Irene Farrell and Genevieve Evers, members of the first class of the U.S. Marine Corps Women's Reserve, position a depth charge as they prepare to load and arm it in the bay of a plane, Quantico, Va. U.S. Marine Corps photo Women mechanics work on a U.S. Army Air Forces airplane. National Archives photo Women Air Force Service Pilots (WASPs) check the schedule for target towing duty. U.S. Air Force photo A group of U.S. Marine Corps Women's Reservists work on a PBJ, the Navy designation of the B-25 Mitchell, at Cherry Point, N.C., March 9, 1945. U.S. Marine Corps photo U.S. Marine Corps Women's Reserve Sgt. Mary G. Rine and U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Milton R. Wuerth direct air traffic, El Toro Marine Air Base, Calif. U.S. Marine Corps photo Women often went to vocational schools before entering the World War II workforce. These women are at the Daytona Beach branch of the Volusia county vocational school, Fla., circa April 1942. National Archives photo Women work at a West Coast airplane factory in May 1942. National Archives photo Women war workers build assault boats for the U.S. Marine Corps, circa December 1941. National Archives photo Members of the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion take part in a parade ceremony in honor of Joan d'Arc, Rouen, France, May 27, 1945. They were the first African-American women to serve in U.S. military operations overseas, delivering a massive backlog of mail to G.I.s. National Archives photo Women's Army Corps (WAC) mechanics service a U.S. Army truck, Fort Huachuca, Ariz., Dec. 8, 1942. National Archives photo Women pick cotton for the U.S. Crop Corps in 1943. With so many men away in the military, women went to work in the fields, probably not always with a smile on their faces. National Archives photo A young woman sells war bonds and stamps and distributes war production drive literature in 1943. National Archives photo Women war correspondents working in the European Theater of Operations, Feb. 1, 1943. From left to right: Mary Welch, Time and Life; Dixie Tighe, International News Service; Kathleen Harriman, Newsweek; Helen Kirkpatrick, Chicago Daily News; Lee Miller, Vogue; and Tania Long, New York Times. U.S. Army photo Prospective Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES) and SPARS take the oath of enlistment in a ceremony held in front of New York City Hall, N.Y., Feb. 8, 1943. Naval History and Heritage Command photo U.S. Army nurses who have arrived in France after working in field hospitals in England and Egypt for three years pose for a photo, Aug. 12, 1944. National Archives photo Newly arrived U.S. Army nurses line the rails of their vessel while awaiting to debark in Greenock, Scotland, Aug. 15, 1944. National Archives photo Surgical ward treatment at the 268th Station Hospital, Base A, Milne Bay, New Guinea, June 22, 1944. National Archives photo African-American nurses, commissioned second lieutenants in the U.S. Army Nurses Corps, limber up their muscles in an early-morning workout during an advanced training course at a camp in Australia, February 1944. The nurses, who already had extensive training in the U.S., were assigned to Allied hospitals in advanced sectors of the southwest Pacific theater. National Archives photo