World War, 1939-1945--Women

= Audio Available Online
Rosalie Abney recounts her experiences working on airplanes at Curtiss-Wright, including the training she received at Ahrens Trade School. She discusses working conditions, women’s expectations with regard to the closing of the plant at the end of the war, and her perception of the influence these experiences had on women working outside home after the war.
Everylee Ashby discusses her employment, primarily with High Rock Bottling, DuPont and Reynolds, during the war. Ms. Ashby was one of the first two black women hired at the DuPont plant; she also describes an integrated workplace at Reynolds. She also describes her life after her husband returned from the war, and attitudes toward work during the war.
Virginia Bale shared her experiences as a working woman during World War II. Born in Larue County, Bales moved to Louisville in 1942, at the height of the war. She initially worked at Stewart's before securing a job at Curtiss-Wright, a defense company, through a connection. Bales worked in the maintenance department, checking tools in and out. She noted that while there were many women working in the plant, there were more men. After the war, she attended beauty school and worked as a manicurist for many years. Bales believes that the war gave women the idea that they could work and hold a job, leading to an increase in working women today.
Born in 1931, Mary Jane grew up in Madison, Indiana, moving between there and Corydon due to her father's job as a manager of various grocery stores. She recalls her childhood as innocent and normal, despite the war. Her family listened to the radio for news about the war and her father predicted the U.S. would join the war. When the U.S. did enter the war, Mary Jane's five male cousins and her brother-in-law enlisted. Her father also took a job at the Charleston powder plant, which manufactured ammunition powder. Mary Jane recalls the community of Madison becoming closer during the war and the town being considered a typical American town. She also mentions her uncle's involvement in the Manhattan Project, which he believed was for peaceful purposes until the atomic bomb was dropped.
Rosemary Block speaks about her experiences during World War II. Block was a child living in Louisville, Kentucky when the war began. She discusses her family's life during the war, including the drafting of her two older brothers and the death of her father in 1945. Block also talks about the impact of the war on her community, including rationing, collecting materials for the war effort, and changes in her neighborhood. She also reflects on the war's impact on race relations in her community.
Mildred Bradley is a retired worker at the South Louisville Shops. She was among a large group of women hired by the L&N Railroad during World War II. Main topics: Early life and jobs before employment with L&N; early working years at the L&N (good description of cleaning diesels and working with brick masons); postwar years; unionization and the importance for women; 1955 strike observations and experiences; limitations on women workers who continued to work at the South Louisville shops; background on International Brotherhood of Firemen and Oilers; special tools and aspects of Mildred Bradley's work; work experiences of father, Jess Davis; reflections on race relations in Kentucky and on the L&N Railroad. Wrap-up: comments on work including examples of how she dug the pits under the diesels and other heavy machines, and more explanation concerning union activities and records; reflections on what might have been if times had been different and compliments paid to Ms. Bradley.
Brennan grew up in Jefferson County and lived in various parts of Louisville throughout her life. She attended Holy Cross School from first to fourth grade and then St. Benedict's from fifth to eighth grade. She later attended Loretta High School. Marian had two older brothers, Louis Bertran Brennan Jr. and Charles Matthew Brennan, who both served in World War II. Her parents were both born and raised in Louisville, and her mother worked as a sewing machine operator during the war. Marian recalls her family's experiences during the war, including air raid drills, ration books, and her brothers' military service. She also discusses her family's religious practices as Catholics and their political views as Democrats.
Veterans History Project
Ethel Koch worked at Curtiss-Wright during World War II. Born in Grayson County, she moved to Louisville at nineteen to find work. She initially worked at Axton-Fisher and then at a defense plant bag factory in Indiana. After a tornado killed her father and brother, she returned home to help her family before moving back to Louisville to work at Curtiss-Wright. She worked as a drill press operator, in tubing, and as a clerk in a time study. After the war, the plant closed and she worked at the American Tobacco Company, where she met her husband. They had two children and she chose not to return to work. She believes the number of women working during World War II influenced women working today.
Margaret Hayden tells of her work as an inspector and a riveter at Curtiss-Wright. She discusses her work, the social conditions, and the influence of women’s work during the war on women’s subsequent participation in the labor force.