In Wartime Jobs

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“United Steel Workers of America, women in wartime industrial service,” 1944. Courtesy of the Georgia State University Library Special Collections and Archives via Digital Library of Georgia.

More than six million women were employed in wartime industrial services nationwide during World War II, providing support in areas that were vacated by men called away to fight in the war. Women helped meet national production demands for weapons, planes, tanks, and ships by learning how to weld, build aircraft, repair tanks, manufacture armaments, and work with machines. They proved to be a valuable source of trained personnel in the support of American military expansion. Women worked in the shipyards of Brunswick and Savannah, and in the naval ordnance plants of Macon and Milledgeville.

In Marietta, Georgia, the federal government-sponsored Bell Aircraft Corporation built a facility in 1942 that produced B-29 aircraft for the Army. Nearly 30,000 Georgians were employed at this plant, more than half of them were women; Bell employees ultimately produced 663 B-29 aircraft for the US Army Air Forces between 1943 and 1945. Training and support in how to handle tools and engage in proper shop practices were provided for women being placed on the assembly line, and tasks in the Bell facilities were broken down into components that could be readily assimilated by women who had never worked in factories before.