Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Women With Power Tools

The Library of Congress has started a Flickr account with freely available images from it's collection. To date there are only two categories, "1930s-1940s in color" and "News in the 1910s". The collection includes some great photos of women working as mechanics and machinists during WWII, a la Rosie the Riveter. Women who had previously been housewives or store clerks were trained for their new job. The pay was good, and many shipyards and other facilities provided child care. When the war was over and the men returned home, many of the women who worked for the war effort went back to being housewives or found new jobs at much lower pay.

Some were inspired to further their education, like Susan Taylor King. From her reminiscences:

After 10 months of work at Eastern Aircraft, I decided to enter college. I felt strongly that there must be a way to help my community. I entered college and later received my Bachelor of Science and my Masters Degrees from Morgan state University in Baltimore , Maryland . My career continued after riveting and I worked in the Baltimore City Public School System as a science teacher and a guidance counselor.
Read more of their stories.

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From the LoC Flickr collection:

Operating a hand drill at Vultee-Nashville, woman is working on a "Vengeance" dive bomber, Tennessee (LOC)
Originally uploaded by The Library of Congress