After I did my previous post on WAC uniforms, a reader asked about the types of work that WACs did. Well, here’s the answer. According to a 1944 recruiting brochure:
The WACS . . . They do 155 important Army jobs
Already the WACS are doing 155 vital Army jobs. Some of these jobs are arduous. Some may seem routine. But every one of these jobs is essential to winning this war.
Thousands more women are needed in the WAC to take over these jobs. Women with special skills and business experience are needed. Women who have had no special training, who have never worked before, are needed too. The WAC will train them for Army jobs. And many of the skills they learn will prove valuable after the war—in a career, or in running a home.
… hit upon the idea of a head of Pallas Athene, a Roman and Greek Goddess associated with an impressive variety of womanly virtues…She was the goddess of handicrafts, wise in industries of peace and arts of war, also the goddess of storms and battle, who led through victory to peace and prosperity. Accordingly, the head of Pallas Athene, together with the traditional US, was selected for lapel insignia, cut out for officers and on discs for enlisted women.
Source: United States Army in World War II: The Women’s Army Corps by Mattie Treadwell (Published by the Department of the Army in 1954)
Several readers recently wrote wonderful comments about the role of women in the Women’s Army Corps (WAC). The comments made me think about something that was commonly referred to as the “Slander Campaign.”
In 1943, as the women’s unit was converting from the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corp (WAAC) to the WAC, some people were concerned about women getting the same pay and benefits as men—and being an actual part of the army.
The media took a very active role in questioning why women were in the army—and sometimes argued (very inappropriately) that the women were not much more than “camp followers.” Many cartoons, such as the one I’m posting today, were considered to be part of the Slander Campaign.
An old WAC songbook of Aunt Marian’s was one piece of memorabilia that I found. Some of the songs were traditional patriotic songs like the Star Spangled Banner and America, the Beautiful. Others were fun songs like The K.P.’s Are Scrubbing Away (WAC Version):
I’m still trying to figure why Aunt Marian had a box of military badges—and what units the badges represent. But I have determined that some of them represent various WAC ranks.
I found this chart in a 1944 recruiting publication aimed at parents, called Someone to be Proud Of: Your Daughter in the WAC, which not only shows the grades, but also the monthly pay received at each level. Who won’t want to join the WACs when they get $50 a month in “spending money”?
WAC badges in Aunt Marian’s Collection
Marian Solomon's midlife transition from the farm to the Women's Army Corps (WACs)