Women against the Good War: Conscientious Objection and Gender on the American Home Front, 1941-1947

By Rachel Waltner Goossen | Go to book overview

3
No Girl Should Marry
into This Kind of Life

Louise Wilson of Amherst, Massachusetts, was one of the first women to follow her husband into Civilian Public Service. In July 1941 the thirty-five-year-old Quaker woman arrived at Patapsco, Maryland, with her infant daughter, Lucy, and dog, Glory, to assist her husband, Eugene "Bill" Wilson, in directing the newly opened AFSC camp. Bill Wilson, who was above draft age, was a short-term volunteer for the American Friends Service Committee, and he and Louise had decided to send their two older children to a summer camp in the Pocono mountains while they worked at Patapsco. Defending these arrangements to her skeptical parents, Louise Wilson explained that "I could not just do this any other summer. . . . These [CPS] camps will be made or lost before next May."1

Conscientious objectors at Patapsco lived in the public eye, for the camp was located in a state park, adjacent to both U.S. Highway 1 and a main line of the B&O railroad. Media and Selective Service scrutiny of the newly opened camp were intense. No one was more curious about the C.O.s at Patapsco than the soldiers stationed at nearby Camp Meade. Two weeks after her arrival, Louise Wilson wrote home:

The army has been going by all day, again. I was cleaning baby's shoes at the bathroom window and heard [a soldier] say 'Geez, they got dames!' Glory barked steadily at them, really seeming ferocious, and I went to the door and called her. Just as I did, they had the order to rest, so they all stood and stared. I got her in and smiled and said, 'Sorry my dog is such a poor pacifist, boys.' But the boys didn't change expression. 2

-44-

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Women against the Good War: Conscientious Objection and Gender on the American Home Front, 1941-1947
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations and Tables ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Abbreviations xiii
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - The Conscripting of Civilians 11
  • 2 - Am I Worth Dying For? 29
  • 3 - No Girl Should Marry into This Kind of Life 44
  • 4 - Looking for a Few Good Women 69
  • 5 - Collegiate Women Pacifists 94
  • 6 - in the Aftermath of War 112
  • Conclusion 129
  • Appendix - Questionnaire on Women and Civilian Public Service 133
  • Notes 137
  • Bibliography 159
  • Index 175
  • Gender and American Culture 181
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