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Life Magazine - March 15, 1943

Seven WWII Recruiting Posters

World War II Recruiting Posers

Historian Susan Hartmann, in The Home Front and Beyond: American Women in the 1940s, explained why women were recruited to serve in the armed forces during World War II. "Women were able to serve in the armed forces for one very simple reason--there was a manpower shortage. Military technology meant fewer soldiers were engaged in battle, and for that matter, 25 percent of soldiers never left the United States and only 1/8 of the soldiers ever saw combat. With the reduction of soldiers actually going into battle, administrative assignments increased."

The expansion of the Army clerical sector was a prime example of the increasing civilian nature of many military tasks. Since women already had established themselves as secretaries in the civilian labor force and they were believed to possess greater dexterity than men, the Army naturally looked to women to fill the expanding secretarial ranks in the military.

When the Women's Auxiliary Army Corps was created in 1942, the Army set a 12,000 volunteer quota. Despite the high standards for admission into the WAAC, volunteers had to be turned away. Subsequently, quotas were increased as wartime demands accentuated the need for military personnel. The government and the Army carefully designed a campaign to attract WAC enlistees. The major themes emphasized in the posters and advertisements were patriotism, hastening victory, and helping to bring a loved one home sooner.

Military life held a strong appeal for many women, and they responded enthusiastically. Approximately 140,000 women joined the Women's Army Corps during World War II. While they cited a variety of reasons for enlisting, the women stationed at Camp Hale cited patriotism, helping the war effort, and gaining wider life experience as their primary motivations.

?Women on cover of Life Magazine, 3/15/1943
Life Magazine - March 15, 1943


These quotes and pieces of information are taken from Life and Saturday Evening Post. They give insight into what visual images (and captions) were circulated about the WACs. They show an interesting mix of the traditional and the non-traditional regarding gender roles and the trivial and glamorous perceptions of women in the military. The material shows a variety of companies, in addition to the government, that jumped on the bandwagon in publicizing the WAC. Advertisements illustrated national interest in the WAC or issues about gender and patriotism.

Source: Life 1942-1944.

November 9, 1942, p.28. "The Lady in Khaki [WAAC]"
For mimeograph duplicators
Because she is "serving with her head, heart, hand and soul," one more soldier is free to serve actively. The" girls and office equipment are on active duty," doing their part.

Jan. 4, 1943, p. 20. "These are Women Warriors Through History" Notes WAACs as first enrolled women soldiers serving with the U.S. Army
Woman has always been at man's side in war
Examples such as Molly Pitcher, Clara Barton

Jan. 25, 1942, p. 71. WAAC Recruiting Advertisement
How WAAC officers are selected
Pay scales from officer to private
"To join you must be 21 to 44, inclusive, a citizen of good repute regardless of race color or creed."

Mar. 1, 1943, p. 79. WAAC Recruiting Advertisement
"Life in the WAAC, some questions and answers of interest to every patriotic American women."

Mar. 15, 1943, p. 72. Pictures of WAACs and WAVES WAACs training at Daytona Beach

Apr. 19, 1943, p. 92. Picture of a WAAC at Penn Station
"A WAAC lost in thought ... Hardly anybody comes down to see the women soldiers go off."

 June 28, 1943, p. 96. Fisk Tire Dealer Advertisement uses WAAC "The WAACs have stepped up smartly to the man-sized job they have to do. There's a thrill in every American heart when the WAAC's [sic] go marching by."

Source: Saturday Evening Post

Mar. 14, 1942, p. 83. Cartoon
Two women in uniform walking down the street followed by two interested men
"It's the uniform that gets them every time."

Mar 21, 1942, p. ? Cartoon
Woman in uniform sitting in a beauty salon "We'll have to be quick, Mimi - I'm A.W.O.L."

Mar. 21. 1942, p. ? Advertisement for Several Electrolux Gas Fridge
Woman in uniform: "I understand a lot of things since I joined the motor corps [perhaps not the Army but the American Women's Volunteer Service]!"

May 9, 1942, p. 64. Cartoon
An assembly of women with a woman in uniform addressing them "She's going to speak on what part men should be permitted to play in the war."

Apr. 25, 1942, p. 82. Cartoon
A couple is getting married
The twist is that the woman is the one in uniform

Aug. 22, 1942, p. 36. Cartoon
This taps into the fear that the Army would masculinize women
Woman is shooting craps
"It's some game she learned in the Army."

Sept. 5, 1942, p. 37. Advertisement for International Harvester Photo images
"Women join the 'field artillery'" as International Harvester dealers teach power farming to an army of "Tractorettes"

Sept. 12, 1942, p. 40. Advertisement for Camel Cigarettes "Women in the War"
Pictures of women in uniform: British American Ambulance Corp, Motor Corp of the American Women's Volunteer Service
"The Camels are an important part of the uniform too!"

Sept. 19, 1942, p. 54. Cartoon "The WAAC Reveille"

Oct. 24, 1942, p. 82. Cartoon
Cartoon of a woman in uniform on guard duty, frightened by a mouse illustrated sex stereotyping.

Dec. 5, 1942, p. 64. Advertisement about eating right and nutrition
A women in uniform seated on a motorcycle
"This is no time to be frail!"

Dec. 26, 1942, p. 37. WAAC recruiting Advertisement
"And when you go to bed at the end of a strenuous day, there's a solemn, happy thought that comes before you go to sleep. It's the knowledge that you're helping where your country needs you most. You wouldn't trade that proud feeling for a mink coat and a bushel of orchids."

Jan. 9, 1943, p. 8. Advertisement for the Whitman Sampler with a WAAC
"It means a lot now... being remembered."

Jan. 9, 1943 p. ? Advertisement for Eureka Vacuums.
Group of women at attention, some in uniform
Implicit message was that women would go back home after the war
"And on that day, like you, Mrs. America, Eureka will put aside its uniform and return to the ways of peace...."

Jan. 30, 1943, p. 34. WAAC Recruiting Advertisement "How WAAC Officers Are Selected"

Feb. 27, 1943, p. 37. Cartoon
A male officer decorating a female soldier, a look of surprised disdain on his face

Apr. 10, 1943, p. 93. Advertisement for Eureka Vacuums
Three women in an at attention pose
WAC, Factory worker, Housewife "Uniform ... Slacks ... or Kitchen Apron"
"And you women of America have proved that you are among the world's best soldiers"

June 5, 1943, p. 34. Cartoon
Satirical cartoon of Oveta Culp Hobby [Director of WAC] lauding her achievements

Sept. 11, 1943, p. 50. Advertisement for Gem Razor Blades Pictured with a WAC and a WAVE
"Take it from the girls in blue and khaki that women like men who keep [their] chin - smooth all the time."

Oct. 9, 1943, p. 78. Cartoon
Cartoon of WACs marching into a canal showed the negative stereotypes women faced in the war effort.
"I think the phrase 'Column Halt!' on the next page is what you're looking for Sergeant Ditmarle."

Oct. 23, 1943, p. 62. Cartoon
This demonstrated the resentment shown WACs in 1943.
Cartoon of two soldiers on duty at night
"Sometimes I think I'd like to meet the WAC who released me for active duty."

Oct. 30, 1943, P. l. Advertisement for Nash-Kelvinator Corp.
A picture of a WAC telling why she enlisted after her husband was missing in action.
"The things you were willing to give your life for ... were worth your sacrifice and mine."

Oct. 30, 1943, p. 45. Advertisement for Camel Cigarettes Pictures women in the various branches of the military. WACS, WAVES, SPARS

Nov. 1, 1943, back page. Advertisement for Camel Cigarettes "With women in the Service, First in Fashion"

Jan. 8, 1944, pp. 26-27. Pictorial "This Woman's Army"
Al Packer, a noted glamorizer of the "American Girl," sketched the WACs as he saw them at Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia.

Jan. 24, 1944, p. ? Recruiting Advertisement
U.S. Cadet Nurse Corp
"Serve your country in the 'war job with a future'" Free training,...with pay ...Free uniforms

Feb. 28, 1944, p. ? Advertisement for sanforized compressive pre-shrunk fabrics
"But Sugar, You're Not Reviewing Me!"
Depiction of a wife and husband, the woman, a WAAC Captain and the man rather unkempt and in need of direction.

June 19, 1944, p. 7. General Electric Advertisement w/WAC "Interesting war jobs are made easier by GE Lamps" Thousands more WACs needed
"The Army needs your help on important. interesting jobs like these, 239 kinds of them."

June 19, 1944, p. 11. Beech Nut Gum Advertisement with WAC Recruitment Theme

Sept. 11, 1944, p. 75. International Sterling Advertisement Includes a WAC reflecting on her participation in the war effort, and proud of her involvement.

Sept. 11, 1944, p. 117. WAC Recruiting Advertisement "I'd rather be with them - than waiting for them." WAC referred to as good soldiers. Seen going up a gangplank and going overseas

Oct. 2, 1944, p. 73. WAC Recruiting Advertisement
Good image of angelic WAC with the silhouette of a soldier in the background --- the WAC is bathed in an inspiring ray of light from above
WAC contributions are measured by men's contributions




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