Research Publication Title

Out of the Kitchen and into the Factory: Advertising to Women in World War II

Major

History

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Aran MacKinnon

Keywords

women, WWII, WW2, ads, advertising, fashion, WAVES, SPARS

Abstract

This paper provides a critical analysis of advertising aimed at American women during World War II. Government and consumer ads directed at women during the war began emphasizing women’s physical prowess, the necessity of their contributions outside of the home, and how they could contribute to the war effort. This advertising was a dramatic departure from the days of the Great Depression, when women had been strongly discouraged from working outside the home where they would be taking jobs from men. With America’s entrance into the war, a drastic change on its own, the United States government suddenly had ads encouraging women to join the workforce and volunteer women’s military organizations (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES) and SPARS (Semper Paratus, Always Ready)), and offered lifestyle suggestions, such as growing victory gardens to combat food shortages and having clothing that could do double duty as work uniforms and outfits worthy of a night on the town. Rosie the Riveter took the cover of The Saturday Evening Post to show what women working in factories were capable of. The most compelling ads called on women to do their patriotic duty in military volunteer positions or government factory jobs. Based on research from articles on WAVES and SPARS uniforms, a poster series by John Falter, Sears advertisements for dual purpose pants and coveralls, and the Rosie the Riveter campaign, this paper will illuminate the way that wartime advertising shaped women’s identities during and after World War II.

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Out of the Kitchen and into the Factory: Advertising to Women in World War II

This paper provides a critical analysis of advertising aimed at American women during World War II. Government and consumer ads directed at women during the war began emphasizing women’s physical prowess, the necessity of their contributions outside of the home, and how they could contribute to the war effort. This advertising was a dramatic departure from the days of the Great Depression, when women had been strongly discouraged from working outside the home where they would be taking jobs from men. With America’s entrance into the war, a drastic change on its own, the United States government suddenly had ads encouraging women to join the workforce and volunteer women’s military organizations (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES) and SPARS (Semper Paratus, Always Ready)), and offered lifestyle suggestions, such as growing victory gardens to combat food shortages and having clothing that could do double duty as work uniforms and outfits worthy of a night on the town. Rosie the Riveter took the cover of The Saturday Evening Post to show what women working in factories were capable of. The most compelling ads called on women to do their patriotic duty in military volunteer positions or government factory jobs. Based on research from articles on WAVES and SPARS uniforms, a poster series by John Falter, Sears advertisements for dual purpose pants and coveralls, and the Rosie the Riveter campaign, this paper will illuminate the way that wartime advertising shaped women’s identities during and after World War II.