Y is for Yard #AtoZChallenge
The A to Z Challenge asks bloggers to post 26 posts, one for each letter of the English alphabet, in April. Most of us choose to make these posts on a particular theme. My theme for 2023 is 1943 Washington D.C., the setting of the novel that I’m writing. Visit daily in April for a new post on my topic.
Y is for Yard
My novel is about codebreakers working at Arlington Hall. Those women, like many “government girls” in Washington D.C. worked office jobs — either working at desks or running machines like tabulators or proto-computers.
The famed “Rosie the Riveter” who worked at mechanical jobs across the country was less of a feature in Washington D.C. One exception to that rule was the Washington Navy Yard, affectionately known as the “Yard.” A Washington Post article on January 10, 1943, highlighted the contributions of 1400 women who worked at the Yard.
The Yard traditionally hired women in clerical roles but in the previous year began hiring women to run “machines needed in producing guns, sights and other ordnance equipment.”
The article describes several individual women in greater detail.
- Vivian McConnell, age 19. Lathe operator from Danville, Virginia. Moved to DC to be nearer her boyfriend who was deployed at the Yard and other friends who moved to D.C. for work.
- Alice Gauvreau, age 30. Mother of two, aged 10 and 11, old enough to be left at home. Pictured in the article.
- Thelma Clem, age 33. Worked at the Yard along with her husband. Pictured in the article.
- Juliette Jasmin, age 25. Arrived in Washington D.C. as a tourist, but got a job at the Yard and never left.
- Mrs. Arbutus Howlett. Previously a farmer from Virginia, she scaled down the farm business and left her mother to handle it while she took a job at the Yard.
By Margaret A Lang Post,Staff Writer. (1943, Jan 10). 1400 women at washington navy yard win praise for handling machines: Efficiency indorsed by men they help in producing ordnance. The Washington Post (1923-1954) Retrieved from https://www.proquest.com/historical-newspapers/1400-women-at-washington-navy-yard-win-praise/docview/151630240/se-2
An inspiring post! The descriptions are interesting as well, with some women working there to be near the men in their lives while others approached it as a unique career opportunity for themselves. Excellent photo.