Susan B. Anthony II (1916–1991)
From Reporting World War II: American Journalism 1944–1946
Seventy-five years ago next week, Susan B. Anthony II (the great-niece of the famous suffragist) published an essay in The New Republic on the surge of women who entered the workforce during World War II.
More than 350,000 women served in the armed forces as nurses, truck drivers, mechanics, engineers, and clerks—and some 500 of them died in such war-related incidents as workplace accidents, hospital-borne diseases, vehicle crashes, and even enemy fire. In addition, by 1944 the number of women hired to work in the defense industry had risen to more than four million, and there were over twenty million women working in the labor force overall.
Anthony, a journalist, was one of those women, having taken a job at the Washington Navy Yard. The drastic changes in the workforce were not without tensions, as factories and facilities that had been the preserve of men were now dominated by women—yet supervised by the men who remained on the home front. In her article, which we present as our Story of the Week, Anthony details her experience of these changes.