Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum


African American Women in the Military during WWII
Author:
Michael Young
Course:
U.S. and World History
Time Frame:
One to two 45 minutes classroom periods
Subjects:
Women's History
,
Civil Rights
,
Women's History
,
African-American History

Grade Levels:
9, 10, 11, 12

Classroom/Homework Activity to be performed:

This lesson can be integrated into a classroom activity by individual students, cross curricular with Language Arts, and/or as a cooperative learning endeavor.  Students will analyze Internet websites and access links to a variety of primary and secondary documents.

Rationale:
  • To assist students in developing analytical skills that will enable them to evaluate primary documents and images such as photographs, political cartoons and posters related to African American women during World War II

 

  • To introduce students to the Stanford History Educational Group’s Reading Like A Historian teaching strategies to help them investigate historical questions by employing the following reading strategies:

Sourcing, Contextualizing, corroborating and close reading

District, state, or national performance and knowledge standards/goals/skills met:


State: Nebraska 

NE Dept. of Edu. http://www.education.ne.gov/ss/Documents/2012December7VerticalNE_SocialStudiesStandardsApproved.pdf

 

SS 12.4.2 (US) Students will analyze and evaluate the impact of people, events, ideas, and symbols upon

US history using multiple types of sources.

SS 12.4.2.c (US) Analyze and evaluate the appropriate uses of primary and secondary sources

SS 12.4.3 (US) Students will analyze and evaluate historical and current events from multiple perspectives

SS 12.4.4.a (US) Compare and evaluate contradictory historical narratives of Twentieth-Century U.S. History

through determination of credibility, contextualization, and corroboration

SS 12.4.5.b (US) Obtain, analyze, evaluate, and cite appropriate sources for research about Twentieth-Century

U.S. History, incorporating primary and secondary sources (e.g., Cite sources using a prescribed format)

SS 12.4.5.c (US) Gather historical information about the United States (e.g., document archives, artifacts,

newspapers, interviews)

SS 12.4.5.d (US) Present an evaluation of historical information about the United States (e.g., pictures, posters,

oral/written narratives and electronic presentations)

 

Common Core http://www.corestandards.org/wp-content/uploads/ELA_Standards.pdf

 

Key Ideas and Details

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.1 Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, connecting insights gained from specific details to an understanding of the text as a whole.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.2 Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.3 Evaluate various explanations for actions or events and determine which explanation best accords with textual evidence, acknowledging where the text leaves matters uncertain.

Craft and Structure

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including analyzing how an author uses and refines the meaning of a key term over the course of a CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.5 Analyze in detail how a complex primary source is structured, including how key sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text contribute to the whole.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.6 Evaluate authors’ differing points of view on the same historical event or issue by assessing the authors’ claims, reasoning, and evidence.

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.7 Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., visually, quantitatively, as well as in words) in order to address a question or solve a problem.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.8 Evaluate an author’s premises, claims, and evidence by corroborating or challenging them with other information.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.9 Integrate information from diverse sources, both primary and secondary, into a coherent understanding of an idea or event, noting discrepancies among sources.

Secondary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed:

Book:

Taylor, Jon E.  Freedom to Serve.  Truman, Civil Rights and Executive Order 9981.  New York: Routledge Taylor and

            Francis Group, 2013.

 

Internet:

 

Buffalo Soldiers Research Museum. African American Women World War II 

            http://www.buffalosoldiersresearchmuseum.org/research/women.htm

 

Harry S. Truman Library and Museum. Teacher Lesson Plans

            Desegregation of the Armed Forces

            What Would You Do? Desegregating the Military Lesson Plan

http://www.trumanlibrary.org/whistlestop/lessons/index.php?br=grade#9

 

National Association of Black Military Women.

            http://www.nabmw.com/

 

Science Reference Services.  African American Women in the Military and at War: Selected Reading List.

      http://www.loc.gov/rr/scitech/SciRefGuides/africanamericanwomenwar.html

 

The African Americans.  What was America’s double war?

            http://www.pbs.org/wnet/african-americans-many-rivers-to-cross/history/what-was-black-americas-double-war/

 

Women In Military Service For America Memorial Foundation, Inc  .            http://www.womensmemorial.org/Education/BWOHistory.html

 

Women In Military Service For America Memorial Foundation, Inc.   Brief History of Black Women in the Military

http://www.womensmemorial.org/Education/BBH1998.html

 

Women In Military Service For America Memorial Foundation, Inc   Voices of Valor.

http://www.womensmemorial.org/Education/WHM08Kit.html

 

Women in the Military Service For America Memorial Foundation, Inc.   Volunteering For Risk: Black Military

            Women Overseas during the Wars in Korea and Vietnam

http://www.womensmemorial.org/Education/BWOHistory.html

Primary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed:

Internet

 

Experiencing War.  African American Pioneers.

            http://www.loc.gov/vets/stories/afam-pioneers.html

 

Harry S. Truman Library and Museum.  Desegregation of the Armed Forces

            http://www.trumanlibrary.org/whistlestop/study_collections/desegregation/large/index.php

 

Harry S. Truman Library and Museum. Executive Order 9981.

            http://www.trumanlibrary.org/executiveorders/index.php?pid=869&st=executive+order+9981&st1=

 

Library of Congress.  Prints and Photographs Online Catalog.

            http://www.loc.gov/pictures/related/?&pk=92521046&st=gallery&sb=call_number#focus

 

National Archives.  Archives Library Information Center.  “African-American Women’s Resources”

            http://www.archives.gov/research/alic/reference/womens-history.html

  National Archives. Research.  Pictures of African American During World War II. 

http://www.archives.gov/research/african-americans/ww2-pictures/#women

 

Naval History and Heritage Command First Female Officers - African-Americans and the U.S. Navy

http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/prs-tpic/af-amer/afa-wave.htm

 

National Women’s History Museum. Partners in Winning the War. African American Women in World War II.

            https://www.nwhm.org/online-exhibits/partners/3.htm

 

Pictures of African Americans during World War II.   National Archives

            http://www.archives.gov/research/african-americans/ww2-pictures/#women

 

Stories from the Veterans History project.  African Americans at War Fighting Two Battles. Library of Congress. 

            http://www.loc.gov/vets/stories/afam-pioneers.html

Full description of activity or assignment.

Background

 

The following excerpts are from the Women In Military Service For America Memorial Foundation, Inc.   Brief History of Black Women in the Military.   http://www.womensmemorial.org/Education/BBH1998.html

 

American women have participated in defense of this nation in both war and peacetime. Their contributions, however, have gone largely unrecognized and unrewarded. While women in the United States Armed Forces share a history of discrimination based on gender, black women have faced both race and gender discrimination. Initially barred from official military status, black women persistently pursued their right to serve


In January 1941, the Army opened its nurse corps to blacks but established a ceiling of 56. On June 25, 1941, President Roosevelt's Executive Order 8802 created the Fair Employment Practices Commission which led the way in eradicating racial discrimination in the defense program. In June 1943, Frances Payne Bolton, Congresswoman from Ohio, introduced an amendment to the Nurse Training Bill to bar racial bias. Soon 2,000 blacks were enrolled in the Cadet Nurse Corps.

The quota for black Army Nurses was eliminated in July 1944. More than 500 black Army nurses served stateside and overseas during the war. The Navy dropped its color ban on January 25, 1945, and on March 9, Phyllis Daley became the first black commissioned Navy nurse.

Black women also enlisted in the WAAC (Women's Army Auxiliary Corps) which soon converted to the WAC (Women's Army Corps), the Navy WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service), and the Coast Guard SPARS.

From its beginning in 1942, black women were part of the WAAC. When the first WAACs arrived at Fort Des Moines, Iowa, there were 400 white and 40 black women. Dubbed "ten-percenters," recruitment of black women was limited to ten percent of the WAAC population—matching the black proportion of the national population. Enlisted women served in segregated units, participated in segregated training, lived in separate quarters, ate at separate tables in mess halls, and used segregated recreation facilities. Officers received their officer candidate training in integrated units, but lived under segregated conditions. Specialist and technical training schools were integrated in 1943. During the war, 6,520 black women served in the WAAC/WAC.

Black women were barred from the WAVES until October 19, 1944. The efforts of Director Mildred McAfee and Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune helped Secretary of the Navy Forrestal push through their admittance. The first two black WAVES officers, Harriet Ida Pikens and Frances Wills, were sworn in December 22, 1944. Of the 80,000 WAVES in the war, a total of 72 black women served, normally under integrated conditions.

The Coast Guard opened the SPARS (from the Coast Guard motto Semper Paratus, "Always Ready") to black members on October 20, 1944, but only a few actually enlisted.

The Path to Full Integration

Following World War II, racial and gender discrimination, as well as segregation persisted in the military. Entry quotas and segregation in the WAC deterred many from re-entry between 1946 and 1947. By June 1948, only four black officers and 121 enlisted women remained in the WAC. President Truman eliminated the issues of segregation, quotas and discrimination in the armed forces by signing Executive Order 9981 on July 26, 1948. WACs began integrated training and living in April 1950. Affirmative action and changing racial policies opened new doors for black women. During the Korean and Vietnam Wars, black women took their places in the war zone.

 

The following excerpt is from Women in the Military Service For America Memorial Foundation, Inc.   Volunteering For Risk: Black Military Women Overseas during the Wars in Korea and Vietnam

http://www.womensmemorial.org/Education/BWOHistory.html

 

The Vietnam War coincided with a strong movement for racial equality in the United States. Some African-Americans believed that they were being drafted in disproportionate numbers. Opposition to the Vietnam War also led to criticism of the draft. As the war ended, the decision was made to end the draft and to institute a "Volunteer Army." For a volunteer army to work, women of all races would be needed in larger numbers. Public Law 90-130, passed in 1967, made it possible to increase the number of women in the military services beyond the previously imposed two percent ceiling. As the number of women in the military increased, so did the numbers of jobs open to women. Women were allowed to join the National Guard and admitted to ROTC programs. In 1976, women were allowed to attend the service academies. Black women shared equally in these gains. As the barriers have come down one by one, American women have moved inexorably toward full equality in the military services.

 

 

  •  
    1. Provide students with the following U.S. World War II poster and instruct them to analyze the following poster and answer the questions following the poster

 

Poster A: It’s a Woman’s War Too!

 

 

Naval History and Heritage

http://www.history.navy.mil/ac/posters/wwiiwomen/wave1.html

 

Posters/Advertisements

 

Instructions: Number all answers and respond to all questions on a separate sheet of paper in a minimum of a total 500 words.

 

1. What is your initial reaction upon seeing poster this for the first time? Is it

appealing? Informative? What emotions (if any) does it bring forth in you?

 

2. Who created this poster?   When was it created?

 

3. List any objects depicted

 

4. List any persons portrayed. 

 

5. Describe any symbols or logos found

 

6. Explain the message(s)

 

7. Who is the poster/advertisement’s “target audience”?

 

8. Does the layout and artwork of this poster or

advertisement appeal to you? __ yes __no

Why?

 

9. The creator is hoping you will take what

action as a result of seeing this?

 

10.  Are all women serving in the U.S. military in World War II represented by the image?  If not which women are not represented?  Why?

 

Truman Presidential Museum & Library (Modified)

http://www.trumanlibrary.org/educ/posters.pdf

 

 

  •  
    1. Discuss the Stand ford History Educational Group Reading Like A Historian teaching strategies  http://sheg.stanford.edu/rlh   to help students investigate historical questions by employing the following reading strategies: sourcing, contextualizing, close reading and corroborating.

Provide students with a copy of the following handout:  Thinking and Reading Like A Historian and discuss the information with students.

 

Reading Like a Historian

 

3. Assign students to groups of three or more (via cooperative learning teaching strategies) to analyze the following Document B and Image C using the four components (sourcing, contextualizing, close reading or corroborating)of the Reading Like A Historian as a basis for their analysis..  Each group could be assigned a specific component to use in their analysis of the document and/or image.

 

Document B. James G. Thompson Letter to The Pittsburgh Courier

In January 1942, James G. Thompson, wrote a letter to the African American newspaper The Pittsburgh Courier in which he reflected upon the dilemma that he and other black people faced as they contemplated what their role in the Second World War would be:

Being an American of dark complexion and some 26 years, these questions flash through my mind: Should I sacrifice my life to live half American? Will things be better for the next generation in the peace to follow? Would it be demanding too much to demand full citizenship rights in exchange for the sacrificing of my life? Is the kind of America I know worth defending? Will America be a true and pure democracy after the war? Will Colored Americans suffer still the indignities that have been heaped upon them in the past? These and other questions need answering; I want to know, and I believe every colored American, who is thinking, wants to know...

The V for victory sign is being displayed prominently in all so–called democratic countries which are fighting for victory over aggression, slavery, and tyranny. If this V sign means that to those now engaged in this great conflict, then let we colored Americans adopt the double V V for a double victory. The first V for victory over our enemies from without, the second V for victory over our enemies from within. For surely those who perpetrate these ugly prejudices here are seeking to destroy our democratic form of government just as surely as the Axis forces.1

Footnote 1. James G. Thompson, January 31, 1942 letter to The Pittsburgh Courier quoted by Sharon Shahid, Newseum senior writer in "Power of the Black Press" Newseum.org, retrieved March 20, 2009.

Ray Elliot - 1939-1945: "Two Wars to Win "http://www.americancenturies.mass.edu/centapp/oh/story.do?shortName=elliot1939vv

Image C: Double V Symbol

In response to James Thompson's letter, The Pittsburgh Courier published the  logo shown below, without explanation, in early February 1942. The next week the paper reported:

Last week, without any public announcement or fanfare, the editors of "The Courier" introduced its war slogan—; double "V" for a double victory to colored America. We did this advisedly because we wanted to test the response and popularity of such a slogan with our readers. The response has been overwhelming. Our office has been inundated with hundreds of telegrams and letters of congratulations, proving that without any explanation, this slogan represents the true battle cry of colored America. ... Americans all, are involved in a gigantic war effort to assure the victory for the cause of freedom–the four freedoms that have been so nobly expressed by President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill....therefore we have adopted the Double "V" war cry–victory over...our enslavers at home and those abroad who would enslave us. WE HAVE A STAKE IN THIS FIGHT....WE ARE AMERICANS TOO!2

The "Double V" logo designed by the largest black newspaper of World War II, The Pittsburgh Courier, urged two victories for America. Pittsburgh Courier archives, used with permission.

Footnote 2. Quoted in William F. Yurasko, "The Pittsburgh Courier during World War II, an Advocate for Freedom, VV campaign.org Website, retrieved May 19, 2009.

http://www.americancenturies.mass.edu/activities/oralhistory/cappics/elliot1939vv_doubleVlogo.jpg

 

 

 

 

http://www.americancenturies.mass.edu/centapp/oh/story.do?shortName=elliot1939vv

 

The "Double V" logo designed by the largest black newspaper of World War II, The Pittsburgh Courier, urged two victories for America. Pittsburgh Courier archives, used with permission.

Footnote 2. Quoted in William F. Yurasko, "The Pittsburgh Courier during World War II, an Advocate for Freedom, VV campaign.org Website, retrieved May 19, 2009.

4.Analyze photograph D  by answering the questions that follow the photograph.

                                                Photograph D

 

 

"Somewhere in England, Maj. Charity E. Adams,...and Capt. Abbie N. Campbell,...inspect the first contingent of Negro members of the Women's Army Corps assigned to overseas service." 6888th Central Postal Directory Bn. February 15, 1945. Holt. 111-SC-200791. (african_americans_wwii_149.jpg)

 

Instructions: Number all answers and respond to all questions on a separate sheet of paper in a minimum of 500 words.  Include an annotated bibliography.

 

1.Study the photograph carefully. List the appropriate information for the following:

 

People

 

Objects

 

Activities

 

2.What is the subject of the photograph?

 

3. List three conclusions about the subject that you can make from studying the photograph

 

4.What questions does this photograph raise in your mind?

 

5. Why is this photograph important to history?

 

6.Write your own caption for the photograph

 

7. How would you crop this photo to further bring out a main theme?

 

Truman Library. Photograph Analysis (modified)     http://www.trumanlibrary.org/educ/photo.pdf

 

 

5. Analyze poster E  by answering the questions that follow the photograph.

 

Poster E

 

 

NYPL Digital Library

http://digitalgallery.nypl.org/nypldigital/dgkeysearchdetail.cfm?strucID=612763&imageID=1260343

 

 

Instructions: Number all answers and respond to all questions on a separate sheet of paper in a minimum of 500 words.  Include an annotated bibliography.

 

1. What is your initial reaction upon seeing poster this for the first time? Is it

appealing? Informative? What emotions (if any) does it bring forth in you?

 

2. Who created this poster?   When was it created?

 

3. List any objects depicted

 

4. List any persons portrayed

 

5. Describe any symbols or logos found

 

6. Explain the message(s)

 

7. Who is the poster/advertisement’s “target audience”?

 

8. Does the layout and artwork of this poster or

advertisement appeal to you? __ yes __no. Explain why.

 

9. The creator is hoping you will take what action as a result of seeing this?

Full explanation of the assessment method and/or scoring guide:

Directions: Select one of the following choices.  Your essay should contain a minimum of 500 words and include an annotated bibliography.  Include copies of any photographs or posters used in your responses.

 

1.Select a photograph related to African American women in the military during World War II and various ways that the photograph could be used (i.e. sell a product, promote an idea, sway public opinion).

 

2. Write a companion story, poem, diary entry, or song for the photograph. Include a copy of the photograph.

 

3. If you could select five photographs to tell the story of life for African American women in the military during World War II, which ones would you choose?  Give a reason for your choices.  The analysis of each photograph should be a minimum of one hundred words. Include a copy of the photographs.

 

4. Describe two or more photographs of individuals from your family collection that you could use to tell the story of the effects World War II had on their lives.  Include copies of the photographs you use to write your analysis.

Truman Presidential Museum & Library (modified version)

 

Truman Presidential Museum and Library (Modified)

 http://www.trumanlibrary.org/educ/photo.pdf

 

  1. Choose a topic, issue or product and create your own poster or advertisement related to the role played by African American women in the military during and post World War II. Who is your target audience? How will you appeal to them?
  2. You work for a government agency and a high ranking government official is to soon meet with you. At this meeting you (or your team) are to lay out a whole national advertising campaign utilizing posters to encourage African American women to enlist in one of the branches of the U.S. military.  Describe the procedures you will use to market the goal of encouraging African American women to enlist in the military. What message(s) will your poster(s) include to influence African American women to enlist? What other types of media will you use and why?
  3.  

Truman Presidential Museum & Library (Modified) http://www.trumanlibrary.org/educ/posters.pdf