tv Lectures in History CSPAN May 22, 2016 12:01am-1:11am EDT
about women in life on the home front. the role of women in aiding the war effort in factories and military auxiliary units. joseph talks about the rise of women's baseball during the time including the all-american girls professional baseball league which operated from 1943 to 1954 classes about one hour and 10 prof williams: are you ready to talk about world war ii on the home front? last time you guys saw a part of the documentary called total war. i know that some of those images were probably pretty gruesome. one of the reasons i show that to you is to give you a sense of what that concept, total war means. war is never, i don't care what war we are talking about, it is never a simply -- simply about two armies fighting one another on a battlefield. it is all encompassing. i think the video probably helped to show that.
it gives you an opportunity to see, and i think the newsreels and things, images on there, give you an opportunity to see what that was like. what the beginning of world war ii was like in europe, specifically, and of course in japan as well. remember, the beginning of the semester, i told you guys my mantra. i don't know if you remember. it is all about perspective. that is how i teach. that is how i teach history. that is my mantra when it comes to my own research and scholarships. it is all about perspectives. when i talk to you about that at the beginning of the semester, i used world war ii as an example to illustrate that. we will come back to that. the images you saw from the battlefield and from the bombings in europe, that is one perspective.
if all you do is see the video, if all you do is hear the stories of the infantryman who were on the beaches in normandy. if all you do is talk about the impact of war on sailors, you are only getting one perspective. you really don't understand world war ii. you might understand one piece of that military history, but you don't really understand world war ii. as i said to you before, in order to really understand world war ii you have to look at world war ii from all different perspectives. in order to understand it, yes, it is important to look at it through the eyes of that 20-year-old marine on normandy. it is also important to look at it through the eyes of japanese-americans.
through the eyes of women. through the eyes of african-americans. you said we cannot understand the full impact, the total war impact unless you do that. what we are going to do today is sort of flesh that out. the greatest effect that war has on the people involved is change. in wartime change occurs. that seems like a simple statement. it is not just occur on a global scale or a national scale, it changes us individually. it changes the way that we see the world. it changes the way that we are in the world. whether we are talking about world war ii, or we are talking about vietnam, or we are talking about the war with iraq.
people change as a result of war. it is not just the people pointing guns at one another. people change as a result of war. one of the most incredible changes, and one that i guarantee you, if you spend any time talking about or studying world war ii, i suspect this is not a change or not a piece of it that you have talked about. one of the most incredible changes is in identity. individual identity. the changes that happen to us as individuals. world war ii specifically, as i believe you can make this argument for anywhere, but we happen to be talking about world war ii -- world war ii specifically enable people to learn about each other. about other cultures. different races, ethnicities, cultures. all of a sudden we are doing similar things out in the world.
i am not trying to suggest that, thank god there was a war because now african-americans and women have an opportunity to bust out and gain some equality. it was just the effects of war. it was a byproduct of war. keeping in mind, this idea of it is all about perfect. this idea that in order for us to truly understand world war ii, to truly understand the impact, the total war impact of the war, we have to look at individuals. we could spend the entire semester doing this. we could spend weeks and weeks talking about the impact of world war ii on japanese-americans.
we will talk more specifically about the connections between world war ii and the civil -- modern civil rights movement. african-americans, and i said this when we were talking about world war i, african-americans have served valiantly in every single war or conflict the country has ever been part of. certainly world war ii was no different. the figures for the numbers of african americans who served in world war ii are these.
first of all, prior to 1941, there were fewer than 4000 african-americans serving in the military. only 12, 12 african-americans could become officers. by 1945 more than 1.2 million african-americans were serving in the u.s. military. in the pacific, europe, and homefront. by 1945. we all have seen those images of what happened at recruiting stations after pearl harbor on after the u.s. was attacked by japan at pearl harbor, every young man, old man, middle-aged man, just about every man that could possibly do so went to a
recruiting office and signed up. you don't get to attack -- young men lied about their ages and got in. old men lied about their ages and got in. men who were probably physically not capable lied and got in. the same was true of african-american men. african-american men joined in huge numbers. unfortunately however the segregation that was present in the unit states at the time -- united states at the time spilled over into military life.
we did not want them in in combat -- in combat. they were often expected to do things like service duty, kitchen work, supply, maintenance, transportation. this was in the beginning of the war. many drove supplies during the day -- d day. how many of you have seen the movie "saving private ryan? i mentioned this before, but it is the perfect image. the first 30 minutes of "saving private ryan," horribly bloody, and as i understand, fairly accurate the trail -- the trail -- portrayal. there is a shot that is down the
beach, there is no one talking. there are bodies littered everywhere. --red from blood. in the distance for a few seconds you could see hot air balloons. african-american men highlighted piloted hot-air balloons over those beaches on d day. i am not sure what end of the gun to hold, but i could shoot that down. as are incredibly dangerous jobs. not really a movie critic here, but i will say, that appears to be the only non-towards african-americans in his movie.
the efforts of african-americans were second to none. the bravery, second to none. those were the kinds of jobs they were getting. it was invaluable. the information they were able to radio back from being at that vantage point. very valuable. very dangerous. they also loaded and unloaded live ammunition. still we did not want them" combat." that started to change as you can imagine as the war continued. we needed more and more men in battle. we started to include african-americans in some of those battalions.
one of the things that the army air force did was recognize that we needed more pilots. we needed people to protect fighters. a group of african-american pilots that became known as the tuskeegee airmen. really couple of good movies about them area --. the tuskegee airmen flew thousands of missions between may 1943 and 1945.
66 tuskegee airmen died in combat. certainly the tuskegee airmen were not the only african-american men to serve valiantly during the war. it is the one that most of us have heard of. african-american men continue to serve in every branch of the military. by the way, every branch of the military was segregated until 1948, when harry truman decided that was not appropriate. they served in segregated military units. they fought and died for democracy.
freedom for this country, they simply cannot take away your freedom when you get home. he helped to institute something called the double v campaign. v as in victory. it basically said victory overseas and equality at home. you cannot expect the united states of america to give you your freedom, your quality, earn it. the message was, victory overseas and equality at home. the doublev campaign was put into place to help encourage african-american men and women to do their part to during the war. it was randolph who convinced fdr he needed to stop racial discrimination in job programs -- in new deal job programs.
he also went to fdr and he said, this double v campaign, understand we are willing to fight for our country, but we expect you to fight for us when we get back. african-american men served tirelessly in the united states military. african-american women did their part as well, believe me. we are going to talk in a minute about the impact of world war ii on women in this country. we're going to talk very specifically about them -- some images you have seen, rosie the riveter for example. don't let these images fool you. most of these images are of white women because those are the women that the propagandist wanted us to see.
what is a pink collar job? what does that mean? any ideas? prof williams: suitable women's work. if you had to define that, what would that be? what is an example? i'm sorry. cleaning. what else? . seamstress. exactly. childcare. anything else? nurses. i'm sorry, go ahead. waiting tables. service industry. acceptable women's work. --low pay. it was perfectly legal to pay women less money. it might not be the time for me to have a conversation about pay equity. today.
it is not a career, it is a job. it is one of those things that women dead before they got married. after they got married, chances are they will not work outside of the home. at least that was the popular image. prior to world war ii, if women are working outside of the home, many were, they were working in these can color jobs -- pink collar jobs. there were exceptions, but not as many. after the war began, as you know many, many women go to work in factories. because so many men have gone off to war. we talked last week about the fact that it was fdr's move into world -- war production that ultimately got us, helped to get us out of the depression.
that war production had to continue, especially after the united states had entered the war. who is going to do that job? some people suggested to the war department, what if we let women into the factories? what if we allow women to do those jobs? initial response was, oh no. no, no, no. women are not going to get out of bed in the morning and go do these awful, dirty jobs.
they went to work in factories. you have all seen as image, having you -- haven't you? rosie the riveter. this was a propaganda poster, we can do it. propaganda was important in getting women to quote do their part. many of you may even have grandparents, or great-grandparents who worked in the factories.
all kinds of war industry reached out and recruited women from everywhere. they sent out -- you know the uncle sam posters. they did those kinds of posters directed at women. we need you to work. go ahead, go to the next. women answered the call and huge numbers -- in huge numbers. think about this -- these women, this is a really wonderful photograph of these women leaving -- i don't know the factory.
as you can tell, they are dressed like workers. these women had an opportunity for the first time in their lives, they left home. at this time women stayed home with their parents until they got married. and then they would move in with her husband. there were few opportunities for women to live on their own. all of a sudden these women are coming from small towns all over the united states into industrial cities, centers around the country. they can go to work dressed like
that. there is an incredible sense of independence that these women have. they live in an apartment with say to or three or four other women -- two or three or four other women. they go to work in hard hats and bring lunch pails. on their break they have a cigarette and lunch. afterwards they stop at the bar this sounds like no big deal to us, right? it was a huge deal. it was a sense of independence. it was also a sense of i am doing my part. had an opportunity with this to make your own money. to participate in the war effort. of course not, in fact, i am glad you brought that up. the kinds of jobs that women did in the factories married. -- varied. they became welders, electricians, all kinds of things.
jobs they never would've had access to before, but all was not equal. they worked in very unhealthy conditions. they worked long hours. certainly, their pay was nowhere near what it was for a man. here's an example -- if a woman had training and one year experience as a welder, she could make $31 -- $31.21 a week. if a man was trained as a welder and had one year experience he made $54 62 five cents a week. -- $54.65 a week. i am not suggesting women complained, that was just what happened. women, as i said, worked in all kinds of industry. go ahead and go to the next. this is another example of one of those war propaganda posters.
women were expected due to -- jobs as long as it was in the war industry. these kinds of posters put the pressure on women to do their part. do the next. do the job he left behind. again, there was all kinds of recruitment. these posters were everywhere. they were in women's magazines. they were on posters, in local small towns. go ahead.
and then, there is this. the propaganda against japanese-americans. this one is frightening. there is one coming up that is more frightening. one of the things that we needed to do was to convince women, and men for that matter, but specifically women, we needed to convince them that there is a big, bad enemy. if you take a day off, that was their biggest fear -- women were just not going to take it seriously. they were going to take too many days off. they would sleep in. they would not be able to handle the rigors of a full-time job. the images of japanese-americans are very animalistic. it is very clear here what will happen if you do not do your job. go ahead. again, beautiful women, very feminine, you have to do your job.
we understand that you are longing for your love, in addition to working, make sure you are buying war bonds. there are also posters that are directed at women that encourage women to do things like grow victory gardens. not all of them were about working in factories. . go ahead. this one is the one i was talking about. one of the most disturbing images of all -- i told you that women were often viewed he is a monster -- and he is after these poor, defenseless women. there are several of these.
the women's army corps, or the wac, the w-a-c, was established in the 1940's. again, much like the tuskegee airmen, the thought was, "we need more men going off to battle, so we need to have some of these jobs that are taken care of by military, male military personnel, we need some of those to be done why women, so let's create the women's army auxiliary corps."
that allowed the men who were in the military to then be trained for combat. but it wasn't just the wac, it wasn't just the women's army corps, it was also the wap, the women's army pilots. like the tuskegee airmen, they had to make a claim that they would be useful. a woman named jackie cochran, who was a pilot and a florida native, along with a test pilot named nancy harkness-love approached fdr at the beginning of the war and said, "you know, there are a lot of women who could fly some spy planes, there are a lot of women who could pull targets, who could transport planes from one factory to a base."
these women had a pilot's license, a commercial pilot's license, and they learned to fly, "the army way." they would not fly in combat maneuvers because they were not allowed to in any way participate in combat. more than 25,000 women applied to be a wasp. fewer than 1900 were accepted. after the training, wasps were stationed in over 120 airbases across the u.s. they flew 60 million operational flights from aircraft factories to bases.
38 wasps lost their lives. and listen to this. 38 lost their lives. and they were all over the world. but when their bodies were sent back home, they were not allowed to be sent home in a flag-draped coffin. you know as well as i do if you had never been part of a military family, and i have not been, really, but if you have ever been part of a military family and all you have done is watch the news, you know the significance of a fallen soldier being brought home in a casket covered by the united states flag. they were not allowed to have a u.s. flag. from as early as 1943, efforts
were made in congress to get them recognized. but once the war was over, and again, they were all over the world, once the war was over, their superiors went to them, they took their wings, they took their uniforms, and they were told to find their own way home. eventually, people continued to try and get the recognition -- them recogition. does anyone know when the wasps were finally given the recognition that they were due? does anyone know when that might have happened? take a guess. no? >> has it happened? ms. williams: it has happened.
president barack obama in 2009 was the first president. the remaining, the remaining members of the lost, there were only a handful, or brought on may 10, 2010 -- were brought on may 10, 2010, were brought to the capital and jointly given the congressional gold medal. yep. >> i heard recently they still don't have the ability to be buried in arlington national cemetery? ms. williams: that is correct, they cannot be buried in arlington national cemetery. now it is dangerous to compare, well, you know, well, more men died and men had a harbor time -- had a harder time, i am not comparing and we shouldn't compare, but what we should do is respect what they were able to do as pilots.
taken a class that has talked about the history of world war ii and the importance of individuals or groups, rarely if ever have you ever had a conversation about baseball. how many of you have seen the movie, "a league of their own?" oh, yeah, and if you haven't, please don't tell me. in 1943, as i said to you before, men of all ages, of all shapes and sizes, headed to war. and that included professional baseball players. we all know, don't we, that baseball is america's pastime? but as more and more
ballplayers, both major-league ballplayers and minor league ballplayers were leaving to go to war, a lot of the owners were concerned. remember, we were just coming out of a depression and were still in an economic depression. some of the best ballplayers had gone off to war. some of the owners, including a man named philip wrigley, you may have heard of philip wrigley, chewing gum, wrigley chewing gum, and of course, if you are a baseball fan, wrigley field. philip wrigley was concerned that baseball is going under. in fact, there was even a discussion about whether they should play baseball during the war. in a letter written by fdr to the commissioner of baseball that would become known as "the green light letter," fdr said, "no, it's important that we play, it's crucial that we play baseball. that's what these guys are
fighting for, they are fighting for the memory of that and what that means for their country." so philip wrigley went together with some other owners and came up with the idea, "what if we start a women's baseball league?" now, you have to have a little context here. you have to understand that women partial softball in the midwest was extremely popular -- women's softball in the midwest was extreme and popular, extremely popular. in fact, in 1939, women's softball brought in more fans than baseball in the midwest. that's softball. so wrigley said, "what if we take some of these ballparks that are, you know, minor-league ballparks, let's create a professional softball league?" a women's softball league.
it will get some attendance to some of these fields, they will make a little money, and it will also provide entertainment to citizens during the war. now there are couple of problems with this. first of all, female softball players had a kind of a bad image. as a former softball player, i can tell you some of it was probably deserved. but they were too masculine. not feminine enough. so wrigley said, "let's go out and recruit some of these softball players, but we have to be careful about who we recruit, we need certain kinds of people."
well, for those of you who have seen the movie, "a league of their own," you know that there are some scenes where the scouts go off into the farms and stuff and, you know, they are recruiting people and that is kind of the way it was. they recruited a bunch of softball players and they brought them to wrigley field. spring training, the first spring training, may 17, 1943. hundreds of women were brought to wrigley field for tryouts. ultimately, teams were chosen, many of the women, of course, didn't make the cut. initially, there were four teams. racine and kenosha in wisconsin,
rockford, illinois, and south bend, indiana. 1943, the first games took place. wrigley had no clue what to expect. go ahead and change the image. this is a group photograph. i believe this is the rockford team. but wrigley had to decide, "do i sell this as a novelty? women in dresses playing ball?" well, it didn't take long for him to realize, these are ballplayers, these are good ballplayers. as you can see, this is a very popular photograph.
these women played ball in dresses. but that didn't stop them. there is one of the former all players who is 89 years old and she still, she talks about, "yeah, i am still digging gravel out of my hip because of all of that sliding in those dresses." that is what it is like to play baseball in address. -- in a dress. remember me telling you women didn't have a lot of opportunities to work outside the home and certainly not a lot of opportunities to challenge societal norms? these women were given an opportunity to play professional baseball. now the first season, it was called the all-american girls softball team, and then wrigley
realized, these are good ballplayers, and people came and watched them play ball, and then ultimately it became the all-american girls professional baseball league. these women were paid $45 $85 a week -- $45 to $85 a week and an enormous amount of money. it was impossible to dream. this is also one of my favorite photographs. these women were very serious ballplayers. i spent a lot of time with these women, the ones who are still with us. they will tell you the single most important thing in their lives was that they had an opportunity to participate in
the war effort by saving baseball. i asked one of the ballplayers, a woman named "beans," they all have nicknames and it is impossible to keep up with them, that i first met "beans" at a conference for ballplayers. i asked her before she died, "what does it mean to you for you to have been able to play baseball?"
she shook her head and she said, "it meant everything, it was my life, and it was the best thing i ever did because we major that baseball stayed alive for those men who came back from war, that we also did something else. we created a foundation on which the young women of today could stand. we helped to bridge from the 1940's of women playing professional baseball to title ix." they understand their significance in the bigger picture of women's athletics. the league last 11 years. in that 11 years, over 600 women were given an opportunity to play baseball.
they traveled around the country. they played baseball in yankee stadium. over 30 canadians played in the 11 years of the league. they had spring training in mississippi and florida. what that opportunity gave them was an opportunity to go to college. they saved some of that money. they sent themselves to college, they sent some of their siblings to college, they became doctors and lawyers. one became the first female manager of any department -- of a department of northrup
airlines, they came generals, politicians, surgeons, and they were able to do that because they had access to professional baseball. so when i asked them, "what did it mean to you to play in the league?" and they say, "everything," that's exactly right. what did it mean for this country and these efforts of these women to help during wartime? it meant everything. i have asked a number of these women, "so, what was it like to have to play baseball in a dress?"
and of course, their answers very, some of them i can repeat and some of them i can't -- basically, their responses, they would have played naked. they believed they would have helped to keep baseball alive during the war. as i said, the league ended in 1954. it lasted 11 years. the league expanded over that 11 years from 4 teams to 12 teams. it is possible that this expanded to quickly but i think the fact that there was expansion in the league, the fact that the war was over,
women were being told to go back to some of those more traditional roles, including the advent of television, brought an end to the all-american professional women's baseball league. if we look at the impact of african-americans, women, japanese-americans, any other group you could possibly think of, if we start to pick that apart, if we start to look at their actual role in winning the war, in surviving the war in some cases, we start to see a more full picture of what life was like for people involved in the war and for those who were involved even on the periphery.
when we started this conversation today, this discussion today, we talked about the discussion of total war, that war was this completely, all-consuming thing, that it was not just about two armies shooting one another. we started to think about that and what that meant and how we can further understand world war ii if we bring all of these pieces and parts together. well, we can try. and that's what i am trying to do here is to get us to understand, again, my mantra is all about perspective. because there is not one of those pieces that is less important or more important.
we have to understand them all to have a full view of world war ii. for me, because, of course, i am a women's sports historian, for me, the role of women in professional baseball during world war ii is an extremely important piece of this story in part because it is not one that most of us know about. also because those women, those 600 women, they believe they made a difference in the war effort. and they did. the number of women that i talked to that worked in factories, those rosies, they believe they made a different in the war effort, and they did.
every single person who went to work in a factory, every single person who grew up victory garden, every single person who participated in blackouts, gas rationing, food rationing, every single one of those people participated in and helped to win world war ii. this is another picture, though, that i wanted you to see, standing in the lawn outside of the baseball hall of fame in cooperstown, new york is a statue.
and it is a statue patterned after this woman. by the way, that just happened in 2006. this is an example of what happened before every single baseball game. women lined up in a v for victory. and finally, "a league of their own," 1992, the movie that finally brought these womens' stories to the forefront. for every single one of these individuals, for every single one of these groups that we talked about, they play a role in world war ii, they played a role in surviving world war ii, and for us to fully understand it, we have to understand all of those perspectives.
questions, comments? yep? african-americans, too, right? no there were not. there were no african-american women in the league, it is a it of a contentious subject. there is probably one of the best themes in the movie, "a league of their own," is geena davis there in the catchers gear and she was try to catch the ball and the ball with pastor and two or three african-american women were standing off to the side and she ran to the woman and she told her to throw it to her and