American Women Through Time
1940s
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Go to: II. RESEARCH SOURCES (Historical Overviews, Primary Sources, and Secondary Sources)

I. TIMELINE

1940
Mary Church Terrell's autobiography, A Colored Woman in a White World, is published.
Women's Suffrage: The Final Push, part of Library of Congress' American Women guide, includes pages from five different drafts of the autobiography.

1941
Japan attacks Pearl Harbor.
After the Day of Infamy: "Man-on-the-Street" Interviews Following the Attack on Pearl Harbor [Library of Congress]

Jeannette Rankin is the only legislator to vote against the declaration of war on Japan after the raid on Pearl Harbor.
Rankin discusses the vote in an oral history interview (Suffragists Oral History Project, Regional Oral History Office, Bancroft Library). See "World War II" in the Index to the oral history interview.
Visual Information Access provides access to many photographs of Rankin, including "Jeannette Rankin seated in a House of Representatives's cloakroom telephone booth after casting her vote against a declaration of war on Japan."

Sound Bytes from Stanford's Archive of Recorded Sound includes Eleanor Roosevelt's radio program, "Over Our Coffee Cups," from Sunday evening, December 7, 1941.

1942
Incarceration of Japanese Americans
The Japanese American Internment section American Women's History: A Research Guide includes numerous links to digital collections.

Oveta Culp Hobby is appointed Director of the The Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC).
See the online exhibit, Oveta Culp Hobby and the Women's Army Corps (Fondren Library, Rice University).

Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP)
See The Women Airforce Service Pilots Collection at Texas Woman's University.

1943
The All-American Girls Professional Baseball League is formed.
Listen to the Talking History interview with Gai Berlage, author of Women in Baseball: The Forgotten History.

Cornelia Fort becomes the first American woman pilot to die flying a military aircraft.
Read Fort's article At the Twilight's Last Gleaming ("Fly Girls," PBS).

Jacqueline Cochran is appointed head of the Woman's Airforce Service Pilots (WASP).
Jacqueline Cochran and the Women's Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) (Dwight D. Eisenhower Library) includes letters, reports, and photographs that document Cochran's career.

Mildred Harnack is executed for treason on Hitler's orders.
Brysac, Shareen. Mildred Harnack [online]. Interviewed by Bryan Le Beau. Talking History, 27 August 2001. Available from: http://talkinghistory.oah.org/arch2001.html. See also Honoring Mildred Harnack Fish: From Wisconsin Born and Educated to Resistance Fighter During World War II With the Red Orchestra

Norman Rockwell's Rosie the Riveter appears on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post on May 29, 1943.
In the Library of Congress webcast, Rosie the Riveter: Real Women Workers in World War II, Sheridan Harvey explores the evolution of the Rosie the Riveter image.

1944
Martha Graham's Appalachian Spring
American Treasures of the Library of Congress: Appalachian Spring

Ruth Gruber, as a special assistant to Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes, helps escort almost 1000 Holocaust survivors from Europe to Oswego, New York. See Blanche Wiesen Cook's interview with Gruber, part of CUNY TV's Jewish Women in America series.

1945
Eleanor Roosevelt is appointed by Presidnet Truman to serve on the United States delegation to the United Nations.
The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers website offers a variety of online documents, including articles, book excerpts, "My Day" columns, correspondence, and speeches.
Allida M. Black's presentation [video; 19 min., 43 sec.] on the challenges of being the director and editor of the Eleanor Roosevelt Papers was part of the Library of Congress Symposium, Resourceful Women: Researching and Interpreting American Women's History [2003].

Harvard Medical School admits women for the first time.
Harvard's Countway Medical Library features First class of women admitted to Harvard Medical School, 1945 in its "Image of the Month" series.

Photographs from World War Two by Dickey Chapelle [Wisconsin Historical Society]

U.S. drops atomic bombs on Hiroshima (August 6) and Nagasaki (August 9). See the interview with Shigeko Sasamori, a survivor of the atomic bombing. Sasamori was one of 26 women who were brought to the U.S. for reconstructive surgery by Norman Cousins.
A letter from the John and Priscilla Holloway Papers [Marquette University Libraries] provides an American woman's reaction to the bombing of Hiroshima.

1946
Mendez v. Westminster decision dismantles the segregated school system in Orange County, California.
Mendez v. Westminster: Desegregating California's schools [Teachers' Domain] includes an overview of the case, questions for discussion, and a Quicktime video (8 min., 36 sec.) of an interview with Sylvia Mendez.

1947
Marjory Stoneman Douglas' The Everglades: River of Grass is published.
Reclaiming the Everglades: South Florida's Natural History, 1884-1934. Use the "Author Index" to locate Douglas' articles, correspondence, and a photograph.

1948
Eleanor Roosevelt presents the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to the UN General Assembly for adoption.
The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers site offers the text of Universal Declaration of Human Rights and answers the question, What role did ER play in the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights?.

Margaret Chase Smith becomes the first woman elected to both houses of Congress.
First Woman Elected to Both Houses of Congress is one the "Historical Minute Essays" on the U.S. Senate site.

1949
Burnita Shelton Matthews is named Federal District Court judge for the District of Columbia.
Burnita Shelton Matthews: Pathfinder in the Legal Aspects of Women, part of the Suffragists Oral History Project, includes a section on Matthews' Federal Judicial Appointment.


II. Research Sources

Advertising

Ad* Access [online]. [Durham, NC]: Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library, Duke University, c1999.
Images of over 7000 advertisements from U.S. and Canadian newspapers and magazines between 1911 and 1955. "Beauty and hygiene" is one of the five areas of concentration.

Medicine and Madison Avenue [online]. Durham, NC: Digital Scriptorium, Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library, Duke University, 2002 [cited 28 September 2002]. Available from: http://scriptorium.lib.duke.edu/mma/.
Images of 600 health-related advertisements that appeared in newspapers and magazines from the 1910s through the 1950s.


Clothing and Fashion

Clothes Make the Woman: 1940s Style on Display [Morning Edition, National Public Radio] offers a brief overview of the Kennedy Center exhibit.

Digital Dress Costume Collections allows researchers to search four collections simultaneously. Enter 1940-1949 to search for items from the 1940s.

Wisconsin Historical Museum Children's Clothing Collection [online]. Madison: Wisconsin Historical Society, updated 26 June 2001 [cited 10 December 2001]. Available from: http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/museum/collections/online/.
Tour the collection by decade (then by gender and type of clothing).


Historic Films

Greek Games: Rehearsal and Performance (1944?) (Barnard College)


Historical Statistics

Historical Census Browser
Researchers can examine state and county topics for individual census years and over time, as well as generate maps of selected data.

Historical Statistics of the United States, Colonial Times to 1970. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1975.
Also available online in two parts: Part 1 and Part II.

Statistical Abstract of the United States [online]. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1879- .
A valuable online tool for locating historical statistics for a given year.


Public Opinion

See the Public Opinion section for citations to print and electronic sources.


Secondary Sources

The database America: History & Life offers a simple option for limiting a search for articles and other sources to a specific time period. If you are searching for articles that cover the 1940s, enter 1940d in the "Time Period" row of the search screen. See Searching America: History & Life by Time Period for an example using another time period.



American Women Through Time

Ken Middleton
kmiddlet@mtsu.edu
Middle Tennessee State Univ. Library
Murfreesboro, TN 37132