Help on the Homefront, The Women of the USO

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Virginia Tech Department of History


When General Eisenhower described the “cooperative, voluntary undertaking” on the home front, he was referring specifically to the role and actions of the United Service Organization(s) (USO) during World War II. Established in 1941, the USO –a voluntary organization made up of an original six independent agencies –provided aid, both on the home front and overseas. Eisenhower put special emphasis on “the people at home” because of the constant aid and support generated by women remaining on the home front.1 Over the course of the Second World War, women experienced a shift in their gender roles as they stepped forward to maintain the American “War Machine” while many men were overseas. Women provided the necessary labor in mechanical jobs and volunteer organizations, such as the USO...

Women were never simply "given” the right to work, or vote, or stand side-by-side with men socially. It would be a long, hard-fought war, a war where they once more would have to break the norm, step out of the households, and confront their typical reality with the hope and determination to achieve something more for themselves. Organizations, such as the USO, provided a vital stepping-stone to propel women toward greater gender equality. By allowing women to labor alongside men within the workplace, the USO got women out of the household, out of the kitchens, and into a more equal society.





Carmen Bolt, Help on the Homefront, Virginia Tech Undergraduate Historical Review 2 (2013), 21-29