Honoring World War II Women War Correspondents

The American Airpower Museum’s newest historical display was dedicated on Friday May 23rd 2014 kicking off our Memorial Day Weekend “Legends of Airpower” Weekend. The display designed and constructed by museum volunteers, led by Historian Julia Blum, and master craftsman Len Partiss highlights the amazing story of women war correspondents who braved the front lines of WWII primarily in the European theater of operations to tell the soldiers story to Americans back home.

Seven decades ago the events of World War II were the daily trepidation of all Americans. Everyone was touched in a profound way by the global conflict arising in Europe and the Pacific. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, nearly every family in the U.S. had a close relative serving in the military, working on the homefront or in a production plant on a fueled civilian mission. The American attitude of patriotism and national purpose toward the war effort was unprecedented. Rationing of food, clothing and petroleum became the order of the day so as to redirect the supply to the cause toward Allied victory over the Axis whose mindset threatened to unravel the fabric of society and trample the soul of humanity.

As Americans became involved in keeping pace with the enormity of the war at both home and the workplace, an essential factor of this national discipline was the vital role that media communication played in keeping the public informed and giving perspective as to why it was necessary for all to endure hardship.

At the dawn of the Second World War, the ramparts of gender bias in the U.S., which previously obstructed women from pursuing non-traditional professions had eroded considerably. While the barrier of sexism still remained firm within much of the American psyche, out of socio-economic necessity provoked by the war, it was no longer an unrealistic goal for a woman to consider making her own way in male-dominated occupations. Alongside other previously barricaded career opportunities that women had confronted, this barrier also related to the field of the news media, particularly the reporting of ‘’hard news’’ in print and photo journalism.

With the arrival of World War II came the emergence of American women in the field of journalism who reported the “hard news” from both stateside and overseas assignments, producing countless news reports and some of the most compelling imagery and absorbing written description and documentation of the era. Armed with pencil, typewriter and camera, women found their voice; a powerful voice that became a prime vehicle for bringing home the sights, the sounds and the feel of the war. These courageous women who brought the war home did so from the land, the sea and the air; from the home-front and behind front lines, as well as alongside the troops, reporting, documenting and capturing images from rugged field hospitals and battlegrounds, to the liberation of Buchenwald and Dachau.

Many of the journalists and photographers were already, or would become famous for their work in the years following WWII. These were some of the first women on the front lines during WWII. Be sure and stop in to see this fantastic exhibit and learn their story!