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

By Mary Martha Thomas | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 6
Housewives during Wartime

The work of the housewife has seldom been viewed as important by anyone, including housewives themselves. When asked what they did during the war, countless women replied, "Oh, I was just a housewife." Housework is essential to family life and the economy, but it has often been unnoticed, unrecorded, and unappreciated. The conditions of war made the usual tasks of homemaking--buying, cooking, nursing, consuming, washing, cleaning, and childrearing-- more difficult. In addition, the war brought new problems of housing shortages, insufficient schools in areas of increased population, and inadequate medical facilities. These problems were especially critical in Mobile, but they also affected women in Birmingham, Childersburg, Gadsden, and Huntsville. The war subjected women to emotional stress because of the disruption of families, the uncertainties and fears with loved ones in the armed forces, and the shifting employment patterns of husbands. Women coped with all of these problems as they have always done; they met the challenge of maintaining family life during these difficult years. 1

Nationwide housewives were urged to "use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without." Women were viewed as soldiers and their "kitchen a combination frontline bunker and rear-echelon miniature war plant." They saved fats and took them to their butcher, where they were exchanged for red points. They were encouraged

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

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction 1
  • Chapter 1 Home Fronts: the Nation and Alabama 4
  • Chapter 2 the Recruitment and Training of Women 21
  • Chapter 3 Women as Defense Workers 36
  • Chapter 4 Adjusting to Women Workers 63
  • Chapter 5 Women and Volunteer Activities 81
  • Chapter 6 Housewives During Wartime 99
  • Conclusion 112
  • Notes 122
  • Essay On 137
  • Index 141
  • About the Author 146
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