We often hear the term “The Greatest Generation” applied to veterans of World War II, but it might not be wrong to expand that concept to include the women who worked to survive the impact of the Great Depression and World War II on their lives. In this assignment you’ll be focusing on how women’s roles change during times of crisis. How do times of economic, political, and military crisis disrupt and shape the lives of women? In what ways would such crises impact our lives today?
Primary Sources for the Essays:
- Read Dorothea Lange Photographs, in your textbook, pages 519-525 and view the following web exhibit:
- Article and Interview with Florence Thompson, “Migrant Woman.” Make sure you scroll down to view the video: Today Show interview with Florence Thompson
- Listen to the following podcasts of interviews from Studs Terkel’s Hard Times by clicking on the linked names below:
- Emma Tiller [Duration 2:37] – cook remembering giving food to the homeless.
- Pauline Kael [Duration 3:16] – her mother fed homeless people during the depression, discusses women who lived with violence and general fear of men.
- Kitty McCullough [Duration 1:30] – gave away her husband’s suit.
- Jane Yoder [Duration 2:00] – talks about her father getting work with the WPA and her roommate calling the WPA workers lazy. –
- Read Voices of “Rosie the Riveter” in your textbook, pages 526-231 and the attached document: Women in War Industries.
Topics for the Essay
Choose ONE of the three topics listed below and answer the questions in a 400-600 word essay.
- What insights do the Lange’s photographs and the stories by actual women who lived during the Depression give you about women’s lives and roles in the Great Depression?
- We know that Florence Thompson was later unhappy about becoming the face of the “migrant mother,” why do you suppose Thompson and the other women cooperated with Lange?
- How did migrant women’s roles compare to those of middle class women during the Depression?
World War II
- What limits were there on women’s work during the war?
- How did Race and Class impact women’s roles during the war?
- How might the Rosie’s have responded to the U.S. Women’s Bureau Report you read on pages 530-531?
- How did the experiences of the WASPS compare to that of women in the other services During World War II?
- Why do you think they weren’t granted military status?
- How did the WASPS experiences compare to those of women working in the factories during WWII?
- Respond to someone who did another topic and compare your findings.