Riveting and Rationing in Dixie: Alabama Women and the Second World War

By Mary Martha Thomas | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 2
The Recruitment and Training of Women

As Alabama women responded to the war, they faced the same choices that all American women did. What could they do to aid the war effort? Should they take defense jobs? Should they volunteer for the Red Cross, the USO, or the war bond drives? Or could they serve their country better by remaining at home and caring for their husbands and children? Their choices might involve some combination of all three. Alabama women did choose to enter the work force in record numbers, especially in Mobile, where labor was critically short in supply. Women who were employed before the war were able to upgrade their jobs and increase their income during these boom years. Women who worked before they were married returned to the work force. Older women with grown children were particularly interested in jobs and often became long-term employees. Some women entered the work force for the first time, encouraged by good pay and patriotic motives. Whatever their reasons or circumstances, women chose to enter the work force in increasing numbers.

To encourage women to enter the work force, recruitment drives were conducted at both the national and state levels. The War Manpower Commission promoted both a national campaign to acquaint the public with the problem and intensive local campaigns in areas short of labor. Active recruitment of women occurred in areas

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