Thursday, March 09, 2017

Women's History Month 2017: Help Wanted Female

When people think of women working to help the war effort, most conjure up Rosie the Riveter and the work of women during World War II. Factory work, driving ambulances, building ships and planes, working to help the home front while the men were fighting.

If you take the same image of women working over 20 years earlier, you have the American home front during World War I. Yes, women were doing the same types of jobs during World War I as their daughters would later do during World War II. Let's be clear, women have always had to work outside of the home. Not all women were able to tend to only home and families. Lower income women, immigrants, and women of color have always worked. But during wartime, even more women work. During World War I the message was clear, work until the boys come home.

One place to learn more about what jobs were available to our female ancestors during World War I is to read the local newspaper classified ads. During war time you may notice that the types of jobs available change and that women or girls are specifically marketed to. Remember that during this time Help Wanted classifieds are sorted by gender.

  • Did your female ancestor work during WWI? (Remember this could mean any woman over the age of 16 years)

  • Do you have photos of her working or in a uniform?

  • Any home sources that include work paperwork?

  • Did she later sign up for Social Security? Do you have her Social Security application?

Additional Resources:

Chronicling America

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