1940s War Fashion – Black Women serving in WW11

Rare Images of African American Women in Service –

african-americans-wwii-WAVES-Ruth-C

Three girls from the WAVES

Researched by Barbara Lewis Burger- National US Archives

It is difficult enough to find photographs of ordinary African Americans who served in the US Forces in the 1940s, and extraordinarily difficult to find images of women who served, as many thousands did. Most of these photographs were picked from the holdings of the Still Picture Branch (NNSP) of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).

Riveter-at-Lockheed-Aircraft-Corporation,-Burbank,-California

Riveter-at-Lockheed-Aircraft-Corporation,-Burbank,-California

Compiled by researcher Barbara Lewis Burger, a retired National Archives Still Picture Senior Archivist, in her effort to redress the imbalance in Black military history.

WAVES-Lt.Harriet-Ida-Pickens-and-Ens. Frances Wills

The first African American Waves to be commissioned.-Lt.Harriet-Ida-Pickens-and-Ens. Frances Wills

The embodiment of the ideal american woman during WW11 is the image of Norman Rockwell’s Rosie the Riveter – patriotic, feminine and white.There were no black women on recruitment posters.

Dolores-Aldrich-is-employed-in-the-Long-Beach-Plant-of-the-Douglas-Aircraft-Company

Dolores-Aldrich-is-employed-in-the-Long-Beach-Plant-of-the-Douglas-Aircraft-Company

There were in fact two “Rosies”.
Not only were black women battling fascism and sexism, but racism too – serving in segregated units and continuing to face on-going discrimination. The photos in the archive include black women in the 1940s military forces, women on the home front, and black women entertaining the troops.

WAACs-at-work---Lts. Harriet West ( Harriet M Waddy) and Irma Cayton,

Lts. Harriet West ( Harriet M Waddy) and Irma Cayton,…going over their recruiting schedule report

Some 6,500 black women joined the Womens Army Corp (WAC). Harriet M Waddy became its first African American woman major and while she had some detractors for holding the rank while other 1940s black women suffered discrimination, she argued that “joining a segregated military was not a retreat from our fight but a contribution to realising the ideal.”

Dora-Miles-and-Dorothy-Johnson-at-Douglas-Aircraft-Co.-plant-in-Long-Beach,-CA

Dora-Miles-and-Dorothy-Johnson-at-Douglas-Aircraft-Co.-plant-in-Long-Beach,-CA

In the aircraft factories of the Douglas Aircraft Co and Lockheed however, it appears that women of all colours and races worked tirelessly together for the war effort.

Kathryn-Polinaire-and-Vivian-King-are-employed-in-the-Long-Beach-Plant-of-the-Douglas-Aircraft-Company

Kathryn-Polinaire-and-Vivian-King-are-employed-in-the-Long-Beach-Plant-of-the-Douglas-Aircraft-Company

Here are just a couple of gems:

WAC - Sgt.-Tommye-Berry,-Acting-1st-Sgt

WAC Sgt.-Tommye-Berry

Capt. Della H. Raney, Army Nurse Corps

Capt. Della H. Raney, Army Nurse Corps

SPAR-Olivia-Hooker-and-behind-her-is-SPAR-Aileen-Anita-Cooks---us-national-archives

SPAR-Olivia-Hooker-and-behind-her-is-SPAR-Aileen-Anita-Cooks—US-national-archives.

Willa-Beatrice-Brown---Lieutenant---US-Civil-Air-Patrol---national-archives

Willa-Beatrice-Brown—Lieutenant—US-Civil-Air-Patrol—national-archives

Hattie-McDaniel-in-the-middle,-with-concert-singer-Miss-Virginia-Paris-to-her-right-leading-a-troupe-of-entertainers-to-Minter-Field.

Hattie-McDaniel-in-the-middle,-with-concert-singer-Miss-Virginia-Paris-to-her-right-leading-a-troupe-of-entertainers-to-Minter-Field.

NAS-Seattle--Jeanne-McIver,-Harriet-Berry,-Muriel-Alberti,-Nancy-Grant,-Maleina-Bagley,-and-Matti-Ethridge

NAS-Seattle–Jeanne-McIver,-Harriet-Berry,-Muriel-Alberti,-Nancy-Grant,-Maleina-Bagley,-and-Matti-Ethridge

Phyllis-Mae-Dailey,-the-Navy's-first-African-American-nurse,-is-second-from-the-right

Phyllis-Mae-Dailey,-the-Navy’s-first-African-American-nurse,-is-second-from-the-right

That’s all !
©Glamourdaze 2016

You can now download rare WW2 women memorabilia packs !

Conflicting-Portrayals-of-WW2-Women-in-the-1940s

Read also World war Two – The Home Front

Read the Concise Illustrated History of 1940s Fashion – 1940 to 1949
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