Prior to WWII, few women pursued careers outside of the home and those women who did choose to work held roles such as nurse, teacher, or secretary which were considered to be ‘traditional’ female roles.
All of that changed when the war broke out and millions of men left home to join the military. Suddenly jobs previously held by men were open and women began to fill them in droves, eager to aid in the war efforts. Women took jobs in factories as mechanics and supervisors. They ran heavy machinery. They sewed parachutes. They painted planes and used power tools. They assembled guns.
In an attempt to attract women to these factory positions, advertisers depicted their female workers as glamorous even under a layer of grime and dirt. After a look through the photographs from the era collected by the Library of Congress, I’m inclined to agree. Our grandmothers were fabulous.
Take a look at these fascinating color photographs of women in the workforce from the 1940s:
For more photographs from the 1940s visit the Library of Congress Flickr photostream.
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