On June 13, 1942, some six months after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the Office of War Information (OWI) was created. In October of that year, the documentary photography unit of the Farm Security Administration (FSA) was transferred to the OWI to document the war effort, as it had the U.S government’s battle against poverty during the Great Depression. An important U.S. government propaganda agency during World War II, the OWI supported America’s mobilization for the war effort by recording the nation’s preparations for war in films, texts, photographs, radio programs, and posters. OWI photographers documented American life and culture during the early years of World War II, focusing on such subjects as aircraft factories, training for war work, women in the workforce, and the armed forces. Photographs were created to inspire patriotism in the American public.
This Girl In A Glass House is putting finishing touches on the bombardier nose section of a B-17F navy bomber. She’s one of many capable women workers in the Douglas Aircraft Company plant. Better known as the “Flying Fortress,” the B-17F is a later model of the B-17, which distinguished itself in action in the South Pacific, over Germany, and elsewhere. It is a long range, high altitude heavy bomber, with a crew of seven to nine men….
Pearl Harbor Widows have gone into war work to carry on the fight with a personal vengeance. Mrs. Virginia Young (right) whose husband was one of the first casualties of World War II is a supervisor in the Assembly and Repairs Department of the Naval Air Base. Her job is to find convenient and comfortable living quarters for women workers from out of the state, like Ethel Mann, who operates an electric drill.
OWI photographers also covered activities on the home front such as the relocation of Japanese Americans to internment camps and social change including the massive movement of women into the workforce and the advancement of African Americans in the military. The gains made by women and minorities during the war years would influence America in the second half of the twentieth century.
- Search on women, war work, pilot, high school or other keywords in America from the Great Depression to World War II: Photographs from the FSA and OWI, ca. 1935-1945, for photographs of Americans contributing to the war effort.
- Search the Library’s Veterans History Project database. Limit your search to conflict “World War II”, and then select from options such as: “Digitized Collection? = Yes“, to find the full text of interviews and other digitized materials and “Branch of Service = Civilian” to find accounts of home front activities.
- To learn more about the activities of women on the home front during World War II, watch the Library’s Webcast: “Rosie the Riveter: Real Women Workers in World War II”.
- To find additional resources on World War II, consult the Library’s Digital Reference Team’s “Guide to World War II Materials”.