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


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.
Learn more About this book from Google Book Search.

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

1941 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."

1941 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.

1942 Historian Mary Ritter Beard and archivist Margaret Storrs Grierson establish the nation's first women's manuscripts collection at Smith College.
Creating Women's History: The Sophia Smith Collection at Smith College
This short film chronicles the founding and evolution of this groundbreaking collection.
Preview A Woman Making History: Mary Ritter Beard Through Her Letters (Yale University Press, 1991). This volume includes Beard's letters to Grierson during the 1940s.

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).

1942 Mary Lasker and husband Albert found the Lasker Foundation to support medical research and health programs.
Mary Lasker is featured in Notable New Yorkers [Oral History Research Office, Columbia University Libraries]. The site includes streaming audio and the transcript from the oral history interview, a biographical profile, and a small photo gallery.

1942 Women's Auxiliary Flying Squadron (WAFS) is formed.
WAFS: Women's Auxiliary Flying Squadron [Texas Woman's University Libraries] describes the role of Nancy Harkness Love in the formation of the WAFS.

1943 Agnes de Mille choreographs Oklahoma!.
Creative Mind: The Choreographer as Creator [audio; 30 min.] includes an interview with de Mille from the 1950s.

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.

1943 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).

1943 Mildred Harnack is executed for treason on Hitler's orders.
Preview Shareen Blair Brysac's Resisting Hitler: Mildred Harnack and the Red Orchestra (Oxford University Press, 2000).
Listen to the Talking History interview with Brysac: Mildred Harnack (note date: 27 August 2001).
See also Honoring Mildred Harnack Fish: From Wisconsin Born and Educated to Resistance Fighter During World War II With the Red Orchestra.

1943 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.

1943 The Women's Auxiliary Flying Squadron (WAFS) merges with the Womens Flying Training Detachment (WFTD) to form the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP). The Women Airforce Service Pilots collection at Texas Woman's University Libraries includes photographs, oral history interviews, and archival finding aids.
Jacqueline Cochran and the Women's Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) (Dwight D. Eisenhower Library) includes letters, reports, and photographs that document Cochran's career.

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

1944 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.
Gruber recalls this defining moment in her life in the first part of an interview from 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].

1945 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.
Dr. Raquel Eidelnan Cohen, a member of this first class and an international authority on the psychological effects of disasters, is featured on the Changing Face of Medicine site.

1945 More than 80,000 Holocaust survivors will immigrate to the United States between 1945 and 1952.
Life After the Holocaust, an oral history exhibit from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, documents the experiences of six Holocaust survivors who immigrated to the United States.

1945 Josefina Niggli's first novel, Mexican Village, is published.
See Mexican Village and Other Works (Northwestern University Press, 2007) and Elizabeth Coonrod Martinez' Josefina Niggli, Mexican American Writer: A Critical Biography (University of New Mexico Press, 2007).

1945 Photographs from World War Two by Dickey Chapelle [Wisconsin Historical Society]

1945 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 Mamie Clark founds the Northside Center for Child Development in Harlem.
Mamie Clark is featured in Notable New Yorkers [Oral History Research Office, Columbia University Libraries]. The site includes streaming audio and the transcripts from the oral history interviews, a biographical profile, and a small photo gallery. See the Table of Contents for coverage of the Northside Center for Child Development.

1946 Mary Lou Williams' Zodiac Suite is performed at Carnegie Hall.
Jazz Profiles from NPR: Mary Lou Williams 1910-1981 includes excerpts from interviews with Williams and others.
Listen to Tavis Smiley's interview with Linda Dahl [audio; 9 min.], author of Morning Glory: A Biography of Mary Lou Williams (New York : Pantheon Books, 1999).

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.
A Tale of Two Women: Marjory Stoneman Douglas and Marjorie Carr includes audio and video clips of an interview with Douglas in 1983.
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?.

1948 Margaret Chase Smith becomes the first woman elected to both houses of Congress.
Preview Patricia Ward Wallace's Politics of Conscience: A Biography of Margaret Chase Smith (Praeger/Greenwood, 1995).
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


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:
Images of 600 health-related advertisements that appeared in newspapers and magazines from the 1910s through the 1950s.

Advice Literature

Kelsy Peterson's annotated bibliography, Glory of Woman: Prescriptive Literature (Sallie Bingham Center for Women's History and Culture), includes a section on 1940-1949.


Featured artifact: "Rosie the Riveter" Coveralls [Wisconsin Historical Society] highlights the coveralls worn by Teresa Kuykendall while she worked in Beloit, Wisconsin.

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:
Tour the collection by decade (then by gender and type of clothing).

First-Person Accounts

American Women's Letters & Diaries: 1940s lists WorldCat records for collections written by women during this time period.

In the First Person indexes diaries, letters, and oral histories.

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.

Explore Further

America: History & Life [online]. Santa Barbara, CA : ABC-Clio, Inc., 1998- .
This database offers a simple option for limiting a search for articles and other sources to a specific time period.

American Women Through Time

Ken Middleton
Middle Tennessee State Univ. Library
Murfreesboro, TN 37132