Women’s roles during WWII to be addressed
American women played important roles during World War II. Not only did they give their sons, husbands, fathers and brothers to the war effort, they gave their time and energy, and some even gave their lives.
On Wednesday, area residents will have the chance to learn about these women when “The Home Front and New Roles for Women during WWII” is presented 6-9 p.m. at the Connellsville Canteen by Julie M. Porterfield.
Porterfield is archivist at the Coal and Coke Heritage Center at Penn State Fayette, The Eberly Campus, where she teaches “Women in Modern History.”
She grew up in South Connellsville Borough and graduated from Connellsville Area School District. She received her bachelor’s degree in political science with an international studies certificate from the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown and her master’s in global history with a focus on women from Seton Hall University in South Orange, N.J.
Her thesis is titled “Friends Abroad: Transnational Cooperation and Women’s Organizations in Early Twentieth Century Chile.” She earned her MLIS from University of Pittsburgh with a focus on archives and records management.
“During WWII, with men away on the front lines of battle, nations that were involved in the conflict needed to find new labor sources for the products needed for battle, or in some cases, the products previously imported from enemy nations,” Porterfield said. “In the United States, the result was unprecedented opportunities for work and higher pay for women.
“Rosie the Riveter, a government-generated propaganda piece that encouraged American women to enter wartime industries, became the cover girl of the era and a symbol for subsequent women’s movements who believe that they, too, ‘Can do it!,’ ” she continued. “However, there was more to see beyond the surface of both the image of Rosie and the real life Rosies, whose image she tried to capture.
“Now, contemporary historians are left debating whether or not Rosies made a lasting or temporary impact on women’s rights,” Porterfield said.
The program is offered by Fayette County Cultural Trust with support of The Three Rivers Community Foundation, Williams Foundation and Community Foundation of Fayette County.
“As part of our ongoing effort to bring educational programs to the community, we are proud to be able to offer this lecture. It is through partnerships and collaborations such as this that help to engage the community,” FCCT Executive Director Daniel Cocks said.
“The canteen is a rich learning resource for our community,” Porterfield said. “Its exhibits and events are all valuable sources of information and continuing education. And they are free, or of little cost.
Although there’s no charge to attend, reservations are required. Call 724-603-2093. Refreshments will be served.
The Connellsville Canteen is located at 131 W. Crawford Ave., Connellsville.
Nancy Henry is a contributing writer.