What are some ways that women contributed to the war effort during WWII?
After many of the regular farmhands joined the military or industrial forces in World War II, the Women's Land Army was formed in order to provide essential labor to American farms and farmers. From 1943 to 1945 the Women's Land Army recruited, trained, and placed millions of women on American farms. This program sent both rural and urban women to the farms, where they assisted in providing the necessary food products and commodities for a nation at war. This resulted in a major change in both societal roles of men and women, and in the manners in which farming had previously operated.
Inspirational, informative, instructive, imploring—posters were a major part of the war effort. Virginians would have seen many of these posters. Those most common in Virginia would have been placed in train stations asking for railroad workers or in the Tidewater area calling for experienced seamen. Other types of posters would have encouraged saving scrap materials, following restricted diets, contacting servicemen, and supporting the war effort through war bonds.
Display the poster to students without revealing any information concerning it. Have them:
• Analyze the purpose or intent of its message. How is its purpose communicated?
• Evaluate what impact the poster might have had on a citizen.
Consider the time period during which the poster was developed and used.
• Collect and analyze current advertisements. What products or messages are being communicated? How do these relate to current events? Compare the purpose of these messages to the purpose of the historic poster.
• Create a unique war poster for Korea, Vietnam, or one of the Iraq wars.
• Design a poster related to a current event. Explain the significance of your choice.
• Analyze the art form in the poster. Why was this medium chosen? How does the choice of color influence the message? What influence does object placement have?
• Is this poster considered art? Would the designation of the poster as art or not as art have changed over time? Compare the poster to popular culture art, for example: Andy Warhol's works. Do these relate? How?
Research and Discussion Questions:
• What is the purpose of this poster? Do you think it was effective?
• One aspect of being a good citizen is fulfilling responsibilities. What are those responsibilities? How do serving in the armed forces and farming relate to each other? Is one more important or significant? Why or why not?
• Research women's involvement in World War II. Answer these questions: What were some of the jobs women did during World War II? How did these jobs differ from the ones women traditionally did? What was the effect of women's involvement in the war effort on American society after the war ended?
Carpenter, Stephanie Ann. “Regular Farm Girl": The Women's Land Army in World War II” Agricultural History 71 no. 2 (1997): 163–185.
Nagy, Alex. “World Wars at Home: U.S. Response to World War II Propaganda.” Journalism Quarterly 67 no. 1 (Spring 1990): 207–213.
Colman, Penny. Rosie the Riveter: Women Working on the Home Front in World War II. New York: Crown Publishers, 1995.
Bird, William L., Jr.,. and Harry R. Rubenstein. Design for Victory: World War II Posters on the American Home Front. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1998.